Palm Springs first charmed travelers in the early 1900s with its dry heat. They came to Nellie Coffman’s famed Desert Inn, then a sanatarium with modest tent lodgings. The inn evolved through the ’20s into a resort refashioned with Spanish Mediterranean–style suites for an upscale clientele, and by the time the city was incorporated in 1938, Coffman’s inn had become the geographical and social center of town.
The swinging ’60s ushered in an era of swanky cocktail parties and experimental architecture, and celebrities descended upon the Coachella Valley to pal around Palm Springs’ tennis clubs and golf greens.
Thanks to vigorous preservation efforts, many historic buildings remain intact today; midcentury hotels now deliver stylish, modern amenities. Locally owned businesses provide products and services not found elsewhere. An expanded downtown plaza has added an array of new shops and gastronomic haunts to explore.
Home to the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Modernism Week, and many other signature events, the city continues to live up to its legacy as America’s playground for the hip and cool.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF ACE HOTEL & SWIM CLUB
ace hotel & swim club
701 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Ace Hotel & Swim Club is a midcentury marvel, a desert oasis at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains with two pools, a stargazing deck, and super cozy beds. There are nightly events at the Amigo Room, refined diner fare at King’s Highway, and organic treatments at the Feel Good Spa (and did we mention there’s a vintage photo booth?). Some guest rooms feature a garden patio, some have a fireplace, and some come with record players and old vinyl you can spin. Ace collaborates with friends to curate sun-drenched soundscapes of old hits and new treasures, day through night, from the lobby to the pools. Bring your kids, bring your dogs — they’re pet and family-friendly. The 179-room resort is within biking distance of downtown, the myriad vintage shops and modern architectural gems, and close to local curios like Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, and Salvation Mountain.
100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way
Named to Condé Nast Traveler’s 2018 Hot List (and arguably the most eagerly anticipated new hotel to take shape in the desert, unveiled in November of 2017), the Kimpton Rowan anchors Palm Springs’ freshly revamped downtown area.
At seven stories, it’s the tallest building within city borders and sports the only penthouse pool deck in the city, where you can make waves or just kick back with a mixologist-crafted drink and chill. Washed in a warm, sumptuous desert palette to maximize decompression from “real” life, the property’s 153 spacious, sun-soaked rooms and suites (some with private balconies) enjoy unparalleled views of the San Jacinto Mountains and our
oasis beyond through crystal clear, floor-to-ceiling windows.
Not a guest? Not a problem. Monday to Friday, locals and visitors can get a Day Pass to the pool and rooftop High Bar. For dinner, reserve a seat at the posh top-floor eatery 4 Saints. Thoughtfully prepared by executive chef Stephen Wambach, the menu intends to whisk diners on a flavorful journey around the Mediterranean and beyond — with a Palm Springs twist. The restaurant also serves traditional high tea
Keep it low-key at the lobby-level Widow Bar or try Juniper Table, a breezy café with a coffee bar and easy grab-and-go items (plus a tasty sit-down menu) open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL HUSVAR
200 W. Arenas Road Palm Springs
The 1951 brainchild of architectural designer Herbert W. Burns, one of the most influential arbiters of Palm Springs modernist style, Holiday House is now operated by the folks behind Sparrows Lodge and the Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells. Interior designer Mark D. Sikes festooned the 28 rooms with custom textiles, oversize showers, and Waterworks bath hardware. Whimsy indeed permeates the air, with artwork by the likes of David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Herb Ritts adorning the walls. The Pantry is the inn’s signature eatery, serving homemade fare, with breakfast included in the price of your stay.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BEARLEADER CHRONICLES
ORANJ PALM VACATION HOMES
1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 205
Planning the perfect Palm Springs weekend? Done. Oranj Palm has been curating vacation rentals in the desert since 1972. Find a private pad for any Coachella Valley get-together, from a romantic weekend for two in a Tuscan-style villa on the golf course to a luxe girls’ trip at a midcentury estate to a six-bedroom pool house fit for unwinding with the fam. Their Instagrammable rentals tick all the boxes and encompass the most desirable neighborhoods for morning walks, mountain views, and peaceful surroundings with proximity to all the action — available from Palm Springs to La Quinta and also at Catalina Island. Cook, sip, swim, sun, sleep in, repeat.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BEARLEADER CHRONICLES
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF RIVIERA PALM SPRINGS
riviera palm springs
1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive
A vibrant fusion of chic style and unique experience, this Palm Springs luxury resort — once a hot spot for Hollywood’s elite in the 1960s (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley are just a few of the notable guests who once traipsed about) —
is an escape designed for adventure and relaxation. The playful environment overflows with pops of color, geometric patterns, and general glam, from the sunshine-soaked Soleil Pool and Bar, where contemporary California cuisine and craft cocktails entice, to the award-winning Azure Spa and Salon, specializing in cross-cultural treatments and body rituals (their Chi Massage, based on Asian traditions, is a must for muscle relief and de-stressing). Top it all off with a nightcap at The Gypsy Rose, an on-site bar serving whimsical twists on classic libations.
411 E. Palm
Are you in a coconut shrimp and Mai Tai mood? Look for the iconic A-frame entrance that has welcomed celebrities and tourists to this tropically themed destination since its 1964 unveiling, when it was known as The Tropics Hotel. The Rat Pack once crooned here, as did Elvis. While its Polynesian Tiki style — one of the foremost examples of such in Palm Springs — has been retained, the resort has been entirely modernized. With 92 rooms, it’s easily one of the largest “small”
hotels in the desert. But there’s nothing tiny about the rolling lawn, 100,000-gallon swimming pool, 12-person spa, or full-service workout facilities. Dining options are twofold: There’s Mediterranean restaurant Evzin, or the Reef Bar (a reimagining of the historic Conga Room).
PHOTOGRAPH BY BEARLEADER CHRONICLES
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF RENAISSANCE PALM SPRINGS HOTEL
888 Tahquitz Canyon Way
Enjoy a slice of paradise at the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel. This newly renovated spacious retreat boasts the largest pool complex in the city of Palm Springs, which stays open late for those who fancy a relaxing moonlit swim in the desert air. Delicious cocktails are available inside at the Rocks bar or outside on the patio, and when you’re ready to dine, be sure to save room for a piece of date cheesecake at the on-site Date Restaurant. Want to venture out and enjoy the area? Look no further than local expert Navigator Will, who will be happy to give you the 411 on what’s happening around town.
Spa Del Sol provides a variety of massages, facials, and body treatments at the Renaissance.