Oases in an Oasis: Where to Stay in Palm Springs
By Andrew Belonsky
Though originally built for California's leisure class, Palm Springs has become more accessible in recent years, allowing travelers from all walks of life a chance to revel in the desert breeze.
More than just an "It" hot spot, The Ace Hotel and Swim Club became an institution almost overnight. Opened by a trio of gay owners in 2009, The Ace's retro camp aesthetic, bohemian vibe, and comfortable rooms have made it a favorite for young artists, celebrities and stylish travelers looking for refined environs with dollop of wholesome kitsch.
Similar in clientele but more sleek, The 74-room Viceroy Hotel's interior reflects its decades-long relationship with Hollywood. Crystal chandeliers hang above mirrored tables. Bursts of yellow are interspersed among the predominantly black-and-white furniture. And the pool, cabana and lush lawn seem pulled from Tinseltown's Golden Age, and so too do their luxurious villas, complete with parlor and fireplaces.
The Willows is open September until May and remains one of the most magnificent of luxury hotels in Palm Springs. Built in 1924 as a winter retreat for prominent California businessman William Mead, The Willows became a hotel after Mead's death, and for years hosted a parade of famous faces, from Shirley Temple and Albert Einstein to Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers. Though it fell into disrepair over the decades, it has since found new ownership but lost none of its luster. Rooms adorned with cherry wood and mahogany open onto private gardens brimming with garden flowers, and the views of the San Jacinto Mountains can't be beat.
The Ingleside Inn's well-manicured grounds and 1920s Spanish-style architecture are ideal for both weekend warriors or lovers looking for privacy (pictured). Hosting many famous faces of its years, including Frank Sinatra and Liberace, this boutique hotel rents rooms both affordable, like 135/night suites, and pricier, such as $395/night villas.
Back in the realm of trendy stays, the vibrant Saguaro is becoming increasingly popular with younger city-dwellers. Lounge by their extra large pool, dine at their restaurant, El Jefe & Tinto (read about the restaurants' award-winning chef here), take one of their daily yoga classes or book an appointment at the on-site spa. And those of you who go to Palm Springs regularly may want to join their social club, membership to which can help you get special rates.
And if you want a gendered excursion, The Bearfoot Inn lets men let it all hang out, while women looking for a female-only experience should try Queen of Hearts (pictured).
The city's newest hotel is it's most youthful: the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. A formerly faded 163-room downtown hotel, the property was renovated, the pool enlarged, and the lobby redesigned by Jonathan Adler. Click here for pics from the October opening.