Most Palm Springs folks will tell you straight up: There’s no better, more consistent weather in the entire United States than the climate that washes in the sunshine-soaked Southern California desert. Time passes slower here as the sun rises, then dips back behind the mountain, signaling the start of a nightlife scene that’s as soothing or sexy as you want it to be.
A weekend in Palm Springs is spectacular; a week or more is paradise. A range of honeymoon suites in restored historic boutique hotels to grand golf-and-tennis resorts makes the area a prime destination for couples. With swaying palms, endless mountain views, and aqua-blue swimming pools, it’s easy to see why Sinatra, Garbo, Elvis, and many others never wanted to leave.
Check in for a few nights of wedding prep surrounded by family and friends. After they leave, linger behind with a two-person party of your own. With so many decadent thrills in one area — luxurious spas, fabulous restaurants, world-class art galleries, mountainview golf, hiking trails, horseback riding, Jeep tours, and those bluebottom pools — you might need a few more days off.
Congratulations on finding your love. Now comes the fun part: the anticipated honeymoon escape!
Resort To Luxury
The 450 acres of Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Palm Desert mix lush green fairways and manicured gardens with pools, lakes, and lagoons. Take a gondola ride, play golf or tennis, indulge at the spa, or enjoy the hip sushi bar. Nearly 900 rooms include 50 suites with patio or balcony and oversized tub. JW Marriott’s Honeymoon Registry lets friends and family help pay for the ultimate honeymoon experience. 1-760-341-2211.
Tuscan-inspired Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells enchants with an intimate maze of bubbling fountains, piazzas, gardens, and Italian architecture. Past the Villa Suites’ candlelit entrance, enjoy a terrace, large flatscreen television, Bose stereo system, and marble bathroom with Jacuzzi. A favorite for its amenities and indoor-outdoor spa treatments, the hotel offers romantic packages with rose petal turndown. 1-760-341-2200.
Golfers and spagoers choose romantic accommodations at La Quinta Resort & Club. Request a Spa Villa with fireplace, patio, and pool access. Several restaurants, including fine dining at Morgan’s and afterdinner drinks around the fire pits, make it easy to settle in and stay a while. 1-760-564-4111.
Executive suites offer expansive views of the gardens, lakes, and mountains at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage. French doors open to a cozy sitting and dining area. Catch rays at the mini water park, Splashtopia, with a sand beach and lazy river; sip cocktails or dress up for dinner at posh bluEmber; work out in the fitness center; golf; hit the spa or the tennis courts; or rent a poolside cabana. 1-760-568-2727.
Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells offers variety in 530 rooms, suites, and private villas. Pick your pleasure. Marble baths, terry robes, iPod docking stations, and private balconies are just the starters. Live the high life in a private villa with fireplace, flatpanel televisions, raised whirlpool tub, garden courtyard, barbecue, and personal butler. If you decide to leave the room, you’ll find tennis, golf, and spa experiences, plus cabanas surrounding seven pools. 1-760-341-1000.
Cozy Up In Historic Charm
A best-kept secret, Villa Royale Inn in Palm Springs sits on three lush, walled acres near downtown. Request a villa with a cozy fireplace and private patio, then wander through tranquil courtyards with two heated pools and a mountain-view Jacuzzi. The honeymoon package includes an in-room massage, champagne, and dinner for two at the onsite Europa Restaurant. Wake to a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast. 1-760-327-2314.
Dating to 1936, the Spanish Colonial-style Colony Palms Hotel lures newlyweds with its casitas. Each has a private patio with sun umbrellas, outdoor lounge bed, and bathtub for two with Jacuzzi jets. Junior suites have a king bed, fireplace, and clawfoot tub. Head to the Moroccan-themed spa, then the poolside Purple Palm Restaurant for Mediterranean cuisine. 1-760-969-1800.
Enjoy the simple pleasures at Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn, an early-1900s complex of citrus trees, bougainvillea, open lawns, and a solarheated pool. The quaint bed-and-breakfast has ties to Buffalo Bill Cody, Gen. Patton’s officers, and Charlie Chaplin. Choose a one-bedroom cottage (relocated here from the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics) or the authentically restored two-bedroom adobe. 1-760-320-9346.
Play It Cool
A boutique hotel a block off the main strip of downtown, Viceroy Palm Springs buzzes with a nightly scene. The black, white, and yellow Hollywood Regency décor by Kelly Wearstler lends a crisp look to this property with 1930s’ roots. Get pampered in the Estrella Spa before dinner at Citron restaurant. The mojito menu reigns, but the sophisticated, contemporary American menu is equally delicious. 1-760-320-4117.
With interior design by Jonathan Adler, Parker Palm Springs exudes a funky sensibility with retro-kitsch décor. After alfresco breakfast or lunch at Norma’s or dinner at the clubby Mister Parker’s, sip lemon drops in the 1960s-infused lobby lounge with fire pit and swings. A slow stroll through landscaped grounds reveals hammocks, more fire features, a croquet course, tennis courts, and two pools. Order a massage or romantic dinner on the enclosed patio of a Villa Suite with king bed, marble bath, and living room with hanging chair and wet bar. Or check into Gene Autry’s two-bedroom residence. 1-760-770-5000.
Other hip, midcentury-style hangouts include The Horizon Hotel — quiet and low-key, with detached rooms and era architecture. 1-760-323-1858. Spread out in a private townhouse at Movie Colony Hotel. The living room’s French doors open onto the pool with curtained poolside seating. Upstairs, the bedroom suite includes two robes, a terrace, bar, television with DVD player, and a 400-thread-count duvet. 1-760-320-6340.
Take In A Trendy Scene
Riviera Palm Springs, a revitalized Palm Springs scenemaker that once hosted Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., draws a crowd for its nightlife and pool. Wildly colorful rooms and suites, two swimming pools, and indoor-outdoor lounge areas complete the experience. Book a Balinese, Thai, or Indonesian ritual at SpaTerre. 1-760-327-8311.
Even if you don’t bring your dog along (though you could), Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs welcomes couples to join the ongoing party around the pool. Sitting on the foundation of a 1965 Howard Johnson hotel and old Denny’s restaurant, the Ace’s nostalgia runs deep with vintage furnishings and a restaurant, King’s Highway, which has a roadhouse diner feel with an innovative menu. On site, find a spa, scooter rental, free-to-use bicycles, hot tubs, and hammocks. Several rooms have vinyl-record players and private patios with a fireplace. 1-760-325-9900.
Reserve Ultimate Privacy
Live like Hollywood stars did, starting at The Lucy House. This historic, hacienda-style venue was a favorite hideaway for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the 1940s and ’50s. Many luminaries joined them at this 3,000-square-foot house for cocktail parties or a swim in the garden pool. 1-760-775-9553.
Legendary architect Albert Frey’s stunning midcentury gem, the hilltop Russell House, inspires awe with its valley views, infinity pool, and modernist angles circa 1959. It’s one of many exclusive properties available through luxury home-service company Beau Monde Villas. Styles range from avant-garde estates to historic hacienda bungalows. 1-877-318-2090.
Spend your first wedded night where Elvis and Priscilla spent theirs on May 1, 1967. They escaped the limelight at what is now the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, a Little Tuscany estate known for its iconic diamond-shaped pool and circular master bedroom with panoramic mountain views. 1-760-322-1192.
Feel Far Away Lands
Only at El Morocco Inn & Spa can you stay in a room called Sultan’s Playpen. And you should! Couples adore the "sheik," fantasy-inspired bedchamber at this Desert Hot Springs retreat, decked out with a 7-foot round bed swathed in color-drenched sheers. Only 10 rooms huddle around the mineral water pool, each one with a DVD player, microwave, and mini fridge. Pull on a bathrobe to sneak a midnight dip in the 24-hour hot tub. Wake to another sunny day that starts with French-press coffee and an exotic, help-yourself breakfast. 1-760-288-2527.
Or retreat to Korakia Pensione, where whitewashed walls, global marketstyle furnishings, and flowing curtains whisk you to a tranquil, romantic oasis. The 1920s villas, one Moroccan and one Mediterranean, were a hideaway for artists and creative types. Spend an afternoon playing bocce ball, riding bicycles, or playing vintage board games. After dark, lanterns and fire pits flicker, illuminating the heated pools. 1-760-864-6411.
FOUR MORE GREAT IDEAS
- Sip hot cocoa atop the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (it’s 30-40 degrees cooler up there).
- Hot-air balloon over the canyons or ride through them on horseback.
- Dine on the garden patio at Zagatrated Le Vallauris.
- Make a date for a couples’ treatment at your hotel’s spa.