You made a wise choice to visit Palm Springs, where the sun shines 360 days a year. As you pull up in front of the Avanti Hotel, the contemporary exquisite stone entrance affirms that you also made the right decision for your home away from home…especially if you brought your pup.

The secure hotel requires newcomers to ring the doorbell. Suddenly, Jim Rutledge, the owner, and manager opens the door, for he lives on site. His huge smile and very welcoming greeting immediately help you understand you are about to have a memorable experience.

Pets are always welcome at the Avanti Hotel in Palm Springs.

Dogs are very welcome at Avanti. Next to the registration area is a knee-high dog constructed of real looking plants sitting beside a chalkboard welcoming your dog with their name and a water dish. When is the last time your dog has been welcomed in such a gracious manner?

Avanti View as you enter into the complex.

When you look around the space, you see the spacious pool surrounded by the ten rooms identified by bright sunshine-yellow doors. Framing the doors are full-length beige drapes, which help define each space.

Lucky room 88 at Avanti Hotel in Palm Springs.

If you are fortunate, you will be checked into the lucky room, Room 88. Why the number 88 when there are only ten rooms, you ask?  The number four is considered unlucky by those with traditional Chinese beliefs. When management learned about the number four, they had already numbered all the rooms. Since eight is deemed lucky, they decided to make room number four twice as lucky by labeling it 88.

The hot tub is open 24/7 at the Avanti Hotel.

It is not often you will find a spacious hot tub separated from the main pool. In this case, it is not only separated from the main pool, but it also has its own private walled space. Comfy benches are strategically placed around the perimeter, and artwork adorns the walls. Once again, the long beige drapes make an appearance adding to the elegance of space.

The jacuzzi holds 12 people. Can you imagine having a retreat here and saying, Let’s meet at the hot tub for a brainstorming session? By the way, the hot tub and pool are open 24 hours a day. However, there are rules, and they will be enforced.

Avanti Hotel patios offers refuge from the world.

 

Four rooms have kitchenettes and one a full kitchen. So even though snacks are freely available, it is good to know you can prepare your own romantic dinner if you so choose.  Or order from a Palm Springs restaurant that will deliver meals complete with cocktails. Some of the rooms have large patios with a dining table. These patios are an excellent place to hang out if you want to do some quiet reading.

Breakfast is Served Poolside at the Avant Hotel in Palm Springs.

Breakfast is served around the pool. As Jim was quick to point out, it is a cold breakfast. However, there is more than enough to get you on your way for the day.

After a day of sightseeing, you will want to get back for Happy Hour, which will be the perfect time to mingle with other guests, often from other countries. For example, the Avanti has the same visitor from Iceland come back a year and after year.

Avanti owner and Manager Jim Rutledge with doggy diva Maya

Jim Rutledge is the owner and has been watching over the development of the space for ten years. Here he is pictured with his companion, Maya, who is the diva of the Avanti.

He keeps a close pulse on the community. Thus, guests have access to a wealth of information to decide how they spend their time exploring the Coachella Valley.

When asked what brings him joy about living here and managing the Avanti, his reply was with a large smile, “It’s the people I meet from all over the world.”

Are you looking for a place with a serene setting to relax and forget about your hectic schedule? Look no further than the Amin Casa boutique hotel, where you can spend hours sitting and listening to the sounds of a three-tiered water fountain and birds chirping. 

Located just steps away from bustling downtown Palm Springs in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood, you can park your car at Amin Casa and take a rest from the congested roads that may be part of your daily life. If you fly in, no need to rent a vehicle — the airport is a quick 10-minute trip by taxi. 

Amin Casa owner and manager Nelson Cooley. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Owner and manager Nelson Cooley is quick to bounce out of his office to greet you upon arrival. He has your keys in hand, and the online registration filled out ahead of time told him everything he needs to escort you to one of the property’s eight bungalows, your home for the next few days.

A historic place

This repurposed hotel was once the home of famed Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson, considered one of the most photographed women of her time. Indeed, there are numerous photos around the property of her walking the grounds with people from the entertainment world. It is rumored Joe Kennedy was a frequent visitor, so imagine the entourage he brought with him.

Another interesting factoid: During this period, Swanson was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. She starred as Norma Desmond in the 1950 classic Sunset Boulevard, one of the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.

The Amin Casa grounds. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Gorgeous grounds

Swanson recognized quickly that the four-bedroom house needed a swimming pool and, of course, a guest house to help maintain her privacy. The pool and tennis court were added to entertain her guests, who were also summoned to participate in Swanson’s famous movie nights. Today, the tennis court has been replaced by a lawn, which is home to a 100-year-old cactus.

A new chapter 

As Swanson’s career skyrocketed, she decided to sell her home to a newspaper heiress from Rhode Island, and moved to a new place in the Movie Colony neighborhood. The Swanson property was transformed into a hotel, with a kitchen added to the guest house (those quarters still have the original all-oak paneling). The inn was called Arenas Garden Hotel, which gave homage to the road it is located on and the gardens that wind their way through the property. 

New owners bring life back to the property

In recent years, the property languished for lack of visitors and no caretaker to make sure repairs were done. It was becoming an eyesore, and fear was mounting that this beautiful place would come to face the fate of a wrecking ball.  

Cooley and partner Ramon Bautista were frequent visitors to Palm Springs, and when they saw the hotel, they appreciated the architecture of the building and understood its historical significance. By chance, Bautista went to a dinner party in Los Angeles and was seated next to a woman he knew well, who told him, “I need your help. I have a friend who owns a small boutique hotel in Palm Springs inherited from a childhood friend who had no heirs, so he left the place to my friend. She lives in Chicago and does not know what to do with it. Would you look at it?”

Yes, it was the hotel the two men had admired from afar. In March 2016, they bought the property and the work began. Cooley, a former high tech executive, took over the outside and interior structural aspects and day-to-day management of the hotel. Bautista is the mastermind behind interior design while continuing his medical practice in Pasadena, where he specializes in international travel medicine. Their goal was simple: to maintain the integrity of the architectural structure, interior, and grounds

Amin Casa’s bungalows are fully equipped for your stay. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Staying at the Amin Casa

When getting ready to launch Amin Casa, the men wrote down everything they disliked about going to other hotels. The list included parking fees, resort fees to use the amenities, and extra charges for special cleaning, satellite television, and Wi-Fi. Today, when you go to check out at Amin Casa, you will find no surprises on your bill — everything is included in the cost of your room. 

This hotel heats its pool all year, giving guests the opportunity to swim or read a book and sip a cocktail poolside during winter, spring, summer, and fall. Since Palm Springs has 350 days of sunshine, you can work on your tan at the same time. 

Amin Casa’s sparkling swimming pool. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Longterm guests are welcome, with many already booked for years to come. Amin Casa’s bungalows are well-appointed with everything one may need to live comfortably — in the deluxe bungalow, I was surprised to see fine china displayed in the glass-door cupboards. If you want to prepare a gourmet dinner for special friends, you have everything you need to impress even the most persnickety.

The bungalows have lovely living rooms, which could be used as part of a movie set. Attention to every detail has been magnificently executed throughout the entire property. 

Yes, there is a great deal of history in this 94-year-old structure. It is one of our premier Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels standing open and ready to invite you to bring your family here for a reunion or a wedding. However, most of the year, it is a beautiful place to relax and meet fascinating people. If you want to escape the real world for a bit, this is the place to step back in time and be pampered. 

Amin Casa embodies the quiet sophistication of Palm Springs, with a twist of old Hollywood glamour.

Once the residence of actress Gloria Swanson, Amin Casa made its debut in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood in November 2016, following several months of major renovations both inside and out. “Amin” means “ours” in Tagalog, while “casa” is Spanish for “home,” and owners Ramon Bautista and Nelson Cooley want it to feel like “your home away from home.” 

“On property, guests will find the relaxing, club-like ambiance and genuine, heartfelt hospitality they have come to treasure,” Ramon said. 

The compound dates back to the 1920s, and when fully occupied, the property only accommodates 14 guests, adults only. The bungalows come with living rooms, kitchens complete with microwaves, coffeemakers, blenders, and dishes, eco-friendly toiletries, and bathrobes and slippers, plus the Swanson residence with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, and the property’s largest kitchen. There are stunning gardens, fountains, a swimming pool, cabanas, and an outdoor dining area with a grilling station.

Above all else, Ramon and Nelson, who have experience at some of the finest hotels in the world, strive to give the patrons of Amin Casa one thing: “Intuitive, gracious service provided by a staff passionate about pleasing our guests.”

This mid-century modern hotel has everything you need for a fabulous vacation.

At the beloved Desert Riviera, guests become family. This mid-century modern hotel has a loyal — and even international — fanbase, with some guests coming to stay multiple times a year.

The Desert Riviera has everything you need for a fun, carefree getaway.

Poolside firepit at the Desert Riviera

Built in 1951 and designed by Herbert W. Burns, this mid-century modern hotel is now under new ownership, but nothing will change for guests. The Desert Riviera still offers fantastic complimentary amenities, including use of retro bikes, continental breakfast, and concierge services to help with everything from restaurant reservations to golf tee times.

“We’re all about the customer service and community,” general manager Misty Roland says.

The Desert Riviera has a loyal fanbase, with repeat guests coming back annually — and in some cases, multiple times a year. They love that the pool is heated to 93 degrees in the winter, and parties are held throughout the year to mark special occasions — on Valentine’s Day, guests might find a chocolate fountain set up outside, and on the Super Bowl, the big game will be on, with a big spread of snacks.

“Guests like that we’re a boutique property, where the pool is open 24 hours,” Misty says. “There’s an open layout, and they enjoy that we have a lot of greenery and sunshine, instead of a concrete pool area.”

The Desert Riviera attracts guests from around the world — China, Russia, Kenya, England — who love the Palm Springs experience.

“Sometimes, we don’t even have anyone here from the United States,” Misty says. “It’s about understanding one another, and we’ll all sit around the fire pit and talk and play card games.”

Korakia Pensione (https://www.palmspringspreferredsmallhotels.com/stay/korakia-pensione) is one of Palm Springs’ most unique hotels.

It’s actually three separate buildings — an adobe dating back to 1918, a bungalow built in 1924, and a 1930s villa. There isn’t just one vibe, as Korakia Pensione has touches of Northern African and the Mediterranean; there are arches and fountains and candles everywhere, with guests able to slip into one of two saltwater pools at any time of day. There’s also a library, which has been a gathering place for writers and artists and musicians for decades.

The property’s one-of-a-kind feel makes it perfect for photo shoots. The hotel has been prominently featured in several of the world’s most popular magazines, including VogueElle, and Architectural Digest. Of course, it’s also been the backdrop in countless wedding pictures, as the hotel and its stunning views of the San Jacinto mountains and palms have attracted brides and grooms from around the world.

Gorgeous rooms? Check. Relaxing spa with a variety of services? Check. A sparkling pool? Check. Restaurant with rooftop lounge and intriguing cocktails? Check.

Everything you need for the perfect Palm Springs stay is at La Serena Villas. Originally built in 1933 as a 26-unit hotel, this resort in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood was redeveloped as a luxury hotel in 2016 by architect May Sung. The 18 secluded villas each have a private patio with a clawfoot tub, fire pit, and built-in benches, with Avenue Interior Design behind every room’s furniture, finishes, and materials.

Whispers Spa offers facials, massages, and body treatments, while Azucar restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy dining in the restaurant or sipping cocktails at Sugar High, the rooftop lounge. The hotel, owned by Lars Viklund, has a Spanish colonial feel, and is next door to one of his other properties, the Del Marcos Hotel, and across from his latest acquisition, The Three Fifty Hotel.

Can you take a dark-brown cement bench and turn it into art while still maintaining its function for resting or people-watching? The answer in Palm Springs is an unequivocal, yes.

Mainstreet Palm Springs’ Downtown and Uptown Business Association have upgraded the benches throughout the entire area thanks to a grant by the Palm Springs Art Commission. Local artists, representing  the culture and diversity of  the valley, were each paid a stipend for giving a new look and life to 70 benches, including 8 at the Palm Springs International Airport.

Initially, local artist Tysen Knight was commissioned to paint ten benches to test the concept. And they were a big hit. Functional and eye-catching, the colorful benches became the focus of many visitors’ photos. With the success of the first phase, phase two was approved.

Each bench looks like this before it receives its new life. As you can see, the artists have a blank canvas to design and apply their art.

A before shot of the plain brown benches have been transformed by local artists.

A before shot of the plain brown benches have been transformed by local artists.

Here are examples of the benches created by our local artists from our culturally diverse community.

Abe Alvarez Tostado

Abe Alvarez Tostado colorful bench in Palm Springs evokes community heart and unity.

A resident of Yucca Valley. In his younger years, he was interested in comics. Then with his Mom, who was an artist, he started going to art galleries. His artistic talents were encouraged by friends that surrounded him at Long Beach, California. He has painted murals in San Francisco, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs for over 30 years. 

Susan Gresto

Artist Susan Gresto’s bench in iconic Palm Springs hues of oranges and blues features free-spirited winged humans greeting one another.

A resident of Palm Springs. It brings her great joy to mentor students, support community art programs. Her work has been exhibited and sold at the Palm Springs Art Museum Store, University of California Riverside, the Community Gallery at Palm Desert City Hall, Indio Senior Center, and CREATE Center for the Arts Palm Desert.  

Tim J Leary

Tim Leary created a bold geometric and linear bench design.

A resident of Indio.  His work as a visual merchandiser spanned 28 years and three states: Florida, Connecticut, and California. After moving to San Francisco, he completed his formal education, studying spirituality and art, and art therapy. He has a studio in the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs.

Jessica Frederic

A bright lime-green bench with palm fronds and yellow and black birds came to life by artist Jessyca Frederick.

A resident of La Quinta. After years of searching, she now uses her creativity and problem-solving skills to create art. With encouragement from friends and artists, this bench is her first piece of public art.

Paul Kole

Paul Kole created a word-art bench with a bright white background and multi-colored letters that remind visitors of the joys found in Palm Springs.

He resides in Orange County, Palm Springs, Arizona, and International resort stay-cations. His abstract work on wood and other materials are in the United States and international collections. He has a working studio in Palm Desert, California.

Stroll up and down Canyon Drive to see these creative benches. They most certainly will bring a smile to your face. Oh, if you need to stop and rest, be our guest, and remember, we have great people-watching in Palm Springs.

We always love it when travel writers visit Palm Springs and stay in one of our uniquely beautiful, independently-owned Palm Springs boutique hotels. But it is particularly heartening when a writer like Joanna visits us and is completely captivated by the charm of her hotel and Palm Springs. Joanna recently stayed at the Alcazar and here’s what she had to say about her trip.

Old Ranch Inn in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan
Contributed by: Brittany Ryan

Nestled between Indian Canyon and bustling downtown Palm Springs, sits the historic Old Ranch Inn. Here, in this intimate eight-room boutique hotel catering to adults and their pet dogs, is where travelers come to find a home away from home. Although Old Ranch Inn has been offering guests a peaceful escape since the 1930’s, it has recently come under new ownership. Old Ranch Inn is now being looked after by Troy and Jason, and they have big plans for the Inn’s future including an extensive renovation of the guestrooms and public spaces.

Troy, who is a retired partner from the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young, has 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, loved the idea of customers being able to feel like they were staying at a close friend’s guesthouse.

“Old Ranch Inn is designed to offer privacy and intimacy.” Troy explained to me. “Because the property accommodates 16 people total, we are able to provide a completely customer-centric experience for our guests from the time they check in to the time they check out, which is reflected in our Expedia rating of 4.7 out of 5 and a 9.6 rating out of 10 on hotels.com” And since the hotel is located in a residential neighborhood, it’s a peaceful setting.

This customer-centric experience is made apparent in all of the details of the property. When you arrive at this slice of paradise, you’re welcomed by the trickling sound of fountains and birds singing in the trees. Western lanterns line the property offering a peaceful amber glow in the evenings.

Old Ranch Inn Courtyard in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Courtyard in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

The pool is surrounded by bright teal lounge chairs, each with their own pillow. It’s easy to see why some guests spend their entire trip just relaxing by the pool. Jason and Troy see to it that all of your poolside needs are taken care of – cold water, sunscreen, pool noodles, and floaties. The patio offers a variety of umbrella-covered seating areas. This is a favorite spot for guests to enjoy cocktail hour and dine al fresco under the string lights as the sun begins to set.

Old Ranch Inn Pool in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Pool in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn is set in the Historic Tennis Club area – one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, founded in 1937. Just minutes from the famous Palm Springs Walk of Stars, Palm Springs Art Museum, the bars/restaurants on Arenas, the Tennis Club was once an under-the-radar destination for Hollywood celebrities, politicians, statesmen, and infamous world travelers. Today, the desert community is considered one of the premiere locations for upscale boutique hotels.

The eight pristine guest rooms at Old Ranch Inn create an instant feeling of coziness. Tasteful western design elements, like Tiffany-style lamps and white quilted linens, are seamlessly blended with modern amenities, like a kitchenette, walk-in shower, and a private patio.

“We wanted to pay homage to the western desert roots that the Old Ranch Inn is known, while still providing a contemporary, relaxing experience for our guests,” says Jason.

Old Ranch Inn Bedroom in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Bedroom in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Troy and Jason’s vision for a comfortable home away from home is quickly coming to life. The guesthouse caters to both short and long-term travelers. Old Ranch Inn is set in a very walkable location, just a few blocks from local favorites like FARM, a charming, French-inspired eatery, and Wilma & Frieda Palm Springs, a brunch spot with reinvented comfort food. Head in the opposite direction toward the mountains, using one of the Inn’s free bike rentals, to hike one of the popular Tahquitz Canyon hiking trails and get some grand views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. If you’re lucky, you might even see some big horn sheep.

“We have active guests that love the ease of access to hiking, golfing, shopping, and local dining, and we also have guests that come simply to enjoy the quiet pleasures of relaxing poolside for the majority of their stay,” says Jason.

Old Ranch Inn at Dusk in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn at Dusk in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

In short, Troy and Jason’s vision for Old Ranch Inn is to provide a luxury level experience in an intimate setting. The fact that this boutique hotel is perfectly located between the San Jacinto Mountains and Downtown Palm Springs is icing on the cake!