The Wesley is essentially a gated community, ensuring privacy

The Wesley is all about the fun. From giant Jenga and Connect 4 to the splashworthy courtyard pool, guests make memories here that will last forever.

The Wesley is essentially a gated community, ensuring privacy

The Wesley is a mid-century modern micro resort, where the flats are fully-stocked and the pool is always the perfect temperature.

The property, managed by AvantStay, has nine flats, and each one has its own kitchenette, toaster, refrigerator, and microwave, with Flat 10 equipped with a full kitchen, complete with a stove top and oven. The flats range from studio to two-bedroom, two-bath, and most have gas grills and private patios with views of lush gardens.

Thought went into every aspect of the property. There are complimentary bikes and board games for guests to use, a common grill area, and fun activities around the beautiful pool and spa area, including giant Jenga and Connect 4 and corn hole.

“You feel really invited to just relax and unwind when you get there,” AvantStay Customer Experience Specialist Dylan Perese said. “There’s robe to pool appeal — literally you can wander out with your morning coffee and take a dip in the pool. It’s right there and completely available to you. It’s your pool, it’s your pool house.”

Guests rave about the low-key vibe and how private the property is — The Wesley is essentially a gated community, and in order to gain access to the grounds, guests must have a code to put into the lock pad, and another code to enter their room. There isn’t a front desk, which gets guests to their flats faster, but assistance from hotel staff is just a phone call or text away.

The hotel attracts guests from all over the world, as well as locals looking to have a staycation. “We see a lot of overseas guests, and it’s really exciting that they get to experience the magic of Palm Springs,” Perese said. The Wesley also offers buyouts — families can rent all of the flats for a reunion, while corporations can have their own private oasis for team building.

“That’s when people can really relax and unwind and stretch out on their own time,” Perese said. “This is a place for you to create memories.”

The Wesley is what you make it, Perese added, and they are always looking for ways to make the property “more spectacular.”

The Aloha Hotel is a woman-owned property in the Tahquitz River Estates

The Aloha Hotel embraces its vintage vibes. Built in 1947, this Tahquitz River Estates property has 11 poolside rooms containing original furniture and decor (don’t worry — the mattresses are new!).

The Aloha Hotel is a woman-owned property in the Tahquitz River Estates

A visit to the Aloha Hotel is a step back in time.

“People like the nostalgia of the 1950s, and we own it,” the hotel’s owner, Mona, said

Built in 1947, the property was purchased in 1971 by Mona’s mother, who previously owned the Four Trees Restaurant in Hollywood. She came to Palm Springs because it helped with her asthma, and ran the hotel for 40 years before Mona took over.

“I am so blessed to meet so many wonderful travelers,” she said. “The foreigners love it, and most feel like it’s home.”

The 11-room Aloha Hotel is the first property in the Tahquitz River Estates, and while the poolside suites are all restored with new beds, they contain the original 1950s furniture and decor. Several movies, music videos, and magazine spreads have been shot at the kitschy hotel, and when upgrades are available, especially mid-week, Mona gives them to guests, free of charge.

At one time, the hotel was called the Palo Verde Inn — the building once had a big “P” on it, and Mona found a vintage key and embroidered blanket with the name — but it was renamed the Aloha Hotel in order to be the first hotel in the phone book.

“Aloha means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye,’ and everyone comes back, even 30 years later,” Mona said. “So, there are no goodbyes. Aloha, and mahalo!”

Step foot on the Dive Palm Springs property, and you’ll immediately be transported to the French Riviera of the 1960s.

Dive Palm Springs opened in August 2019 after a two-month renovation. The hotel was built in 1954 as the Sunrise Villa, a western-style hotel. Over the years, it changed names and themes, ultimately becoming the Alpine Gardens before transforming into Colt’s Lodge in 2015. Since being purchased earlier this year, the 11-room property has been “extensively redesigned, both inside and out,” new owner Abdi Manavi says. “We have developed a sense of luxury in all the rooms, and a feeling of serenity throughout the different areas of the grounds.”

The hotel features furnishings by Serena & Lily and Anthropologie, premium linens, and original murals. Most of the King rooms come with an outdoor patio, complete with an oversized daybed, and one has a private hot tub. The most magical room is the La Reve, French for “The Dream.” This room has a custom ceiling mural and wallpaper by Christian Lacroix, a solid brass queen bed with an ultra-comfortable Tuft and Needle mattress, and a red-tiled bathroom with a rainfall shower and smoked glass two-way mirror between the bedroom and shower.

“Dive is more than a hotel,” Abdi says. “It’s a private luxury time machine. Evoking the casual elegance of Saint Tropez in the 1960s, we created Dive to transport our guests to a romantic forgotten world where it’s still safe to relax, play, explore, and release all the trappings of modern life.”

Dive is an adults-only property, and can host events for up to 150 people, including weddings, retreats, and reunions. Guests have been raving about the lush grounds, cozy daybeds, the restored original Libott pool, the koi pond, and The Orchard — Dive calls this its “vacation spot within a vacation spot,” as it has a two-person swing chair, waterfall, comfortable couches and loungers, and a vintage neon sign of a diving girl, affectionally nicknamed Lulu.

“My business partner Dale Fox and I have created an intimate atmosphere for our guests, as you would have staying at a friend’s house,” Abdi says. “We are here to provide magic and ensure our guests are relaxed and happy during their stay. Though I take on the role of an owner and general manager, my business card says ‘Liaison to Happiness.'”

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.”

Next up in our series of articles on the most Instagram-worthy small hotels in Palm Springs is Villa Royale. This beautiful property reopened in 2018 after an extensive renovation by its new owners, turning the property into a very popular destination that is full of photo ops.

Villa Royale was originally built in 1947 and was one of the first small hotels in south Palm Springs. It was frequented by Hollywood celebrities as a getaway that met the “two-hour rule” implemented by Hollywood studios at that time, which required that actors under studio contracts could not be farther than two hours from set.

The redesigned Villa Royale retains the charm of its past roots, while adding unique contemporary design details, such as custom murals and artwork throughout the property. A large mural welcomes guests to the property, entitled “Welcome to Your Paradise,” by Sagent Staygold.

A series of geometric murals by Los Angeles-based artist Sara Radovanovitch are located around the property, as well as her travel-inspired “El Viaje” painting in the poolside lanai, and portraits of Hollywood stars in some of the guest rooms. Additional paintings by Juan Casas and Lou Kregal were painted on site at the hotel, featuring desert landscapes, classic cars and movie and music icons.

Villa Royale is a pet-friendly property, so you can enjoy this beautiful hotel with your four-legged friends!

There are three pools on the property, all with gorgeous mountain views that make them the perfect spot for enjoying the scenery with a cocktail in hand. And speaking of cocktails: the team at Del Rey, the hotel’s onsite restaurant and bar, are known for their excellent drinks, as well as a delicious Mediterranean-inspired tapas menu.

Other Instagram-able details we love include the intricately patterned tiles around the property, the bikes available for guest use during your stay, and the vintage 1960 Oldsmobile 88 parked out front by the hotel’s entrance.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore other great Instagram-friendly small hotels in Palm Springs in this series of blog posts coming out each month!

Images via Instagram and courtesy of Villa Royale.

Mother and daughter getway to Palm Springs

By Susan Montgomery

My daughter (who is 40-something) is a busy surgeon in San Diego.  I love to travel with her, but she does not have much time to get away. The challenge is: Where can we enjoy a weekend getaway that is not too far away and still feels like a real retreat? Fortunately, we have a lot in common when it comes to our travel preferences. We both love nice hotels with all the amenities (including a fabulous pool of course), wonderful restaurants and cocktails, unique shopping, and lovely weather in the great outdoors.

We have taken a few trips to Palm Springs together and found everything we want in a getaway, including beautiful weather almost any time of year. This article highlights a few of our wonderful experiences on several trips. If you would like to visit Palm Springs with your daughter (or your mother or your sister or your best friend), you might like to stop at some of these spots too.

Stay at The Weekend

We love staying at the small boutique hotels in Palm Springs where we find privacy and serenity in lush settings. While we’ve had relaxing stays at several delightful hotels, I think The Weekend Palm Springs is an ideal choice for a mother/daughter getaway because it offers stylishly furnished two-bedroom suites. My daughter and I prefer our own rooms so this works well for us. At The Weekend, we can stay together but have our own separate rooms for sleeping. (I’ve heard that I snore, but that can’t possibly be true.)

A classic example of mid-century modern architecture, this sleek, luxurious hotel in the lovely Old Las Palmas neighborhood was once a retreat for many of the “rat pack” Hollywood celebrities. The structure has recently undergone a stunning, multi-million dollar renovation but still retains its historical character. These suites surround a beautiful, inviting pool with lounge chairs and benches. (I can just imagine Marilyn Monroe languidly lounging by the pool.) The Weekend is a peaceful getaway but still within easy walking distance of hip bars, restaurants, and shops. Included with each stay is a delicious, ample continental breakfast delivered right to your room every morning. We both love savoring early morning coffee and really looked forward to the delectable breakfast trays.

Eat and drink

There are so many special spots in Palm Springs for great food and cocktails. Here are just a few suggestions for places my daughter and I love.

Azucar is the restaurant at La Serena Villas and is a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The setting is modish and open with an upstairs deck overlooking the mountains and the pool. The cocktails are innovative and the food is equally tantalizing. We loved the fish tacos and watermelon salad with feta, but there are many other enticing choices.

Cocktails at Azucar in La Serena Villas

Holiday House is another chic restaurant in a small hotel. Its bar focuses on creative cocktails (such as the Aperol Spritz or the Club 55 martini (made with gin, elder flower liqueur, lemon, and rosemary-infused syrup). For lunch, if you are really hungry, you will love the juicy Pantry Cheeseburger or for a healthier option, try the Baby Kale Salad topped with salmon.

Cheeky’s (adjacent to the Alcazar Hotel) is the perfect place for a tasty breakfast or lunch before exploring Palm Springs. We love their cheesy eggs and unique bacon flight accompanied by great coffee or a spicy bloody mary. (Start the day with a zing!)

Wexler’s Deli at another small hotel, Arrive, attracts a lively youngish crowd, but this older babe loved it too. The vibe is rocking and the drinks are refreshing. We tried the savory smoked fish platter that paired well with some unique cocktails, including one that looked just like a snow cone (but was infused with vodka)

For Late Night Fun

When traveling with your daughter, you can’t go to bed too early. After dinner, the night has just begun and there is lots to do in Palm Springs.

My daughter particularly enjoyed the cozy speakeasy, Seymour’s, which is hidden away in the famous steakhouse Mr. Lyons (also an excellent dining choice). Its secret location and dimly lit atmosphere capture the ambiance of prohibition days. Creative cocktails are imaginative and delicious.

The Purple Room in the Trinidad Hotel is an iconic supper club with live entertainment Tuesdays through Sundays and vintage cocktails like Old Blue Eyes, the signature old-fashioned that was evidently Frank’s favorite drink. The dinner menu also offers traditional, nicely prepared steak, fish and pasta options. When we were there most recently, the talented owner, Michael Holmes, was performing a special show with nostalgic rat pack songs that carried us back to a bygone era. I almost expected Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to stroll out on stage to soothe us with their old favorites.

Also harking back to the Hollywood era is the Casablanca Lounge in Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn. (Melvyn’s is also a romantic spot for classic dishes like Steak Diane and Bananas Foster prepared flambè at your table.) Guests sip cocktails and dance to live music most nights, making this a perfect stop for an after dinner drink.

To do:

Besides eating and drinking, there is lots to do in Palm Springs—all activities that appeal to both my daughter and me. Most of the small hotels have bikes for guests and plenty of tours are available from celebrity home bus tours to walking tours around various neighborhoods. We love the entrancing Palm Springs Art Museum. The impressive collections focus on art of the Americas and California, including Native American artifacts and contemporary glass art, highlighted by a stunning Chihuly sculpture. My daughter and I have also really enjoyed the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In ten minutes, you can ride in a unique tramcar (with a rotating floor) from the Coachella Valley desert up 8,500 feet to a top peak of the San Jacinto Mountains. At the top you can savor the gorgeous views, hike around, and then have lunch. And of course once you are back from your tram ride, you can shop, shop, shop in the many small boutiques with unique items you can’t find anywhere else. We particularly like the shops with mid-century furnishings and décor.

We never get tired of visiting Palm Springs. There is so much to see and do — and eat and drink — and it’s so special to share the experience with your daughter — or your mother. I hope to go back with my daughter for my birthday soon.

The Villa Royale has long been a desert hideaway, and now, it’s more stunning than ever.

The 38-room property, built in 1947, reopened in the fall of 2018 with a fresh, modern look. Co-owner and co-designer John Janulis told the Desert Sun the property is “a true Palm Springs time capsule. We did our best to not disturb the overall feel and charm.”

There are bold patterns, bright colors, and beautiful tile work made possible by artisan pieces from Spain, Mexico, and Portugal. The 21-and-over property has three pools, all with mountain views, and is pet-friendly. The intimate Del Rey offers up libations and small plates featuring Spanish and Mediterranean flavors. Led by Chef Louis Martinez, the Del Rey has a beautiful 12-seat oak and marble bar, as well as booths and an outdoor patio with firepit.

The Villa Royale is home to more than 50 original pieces of artwork, commissioned exclusively for the hotel. Prior to the property’s reopening, artists Sara Radovanovich, Lou Kregal, and Juan Casas lived at the Villa Royale while creating their oil paintings of everything from pop culture icons to desert scenes.

The art’s not just inside. Muralist and tattoo artist Sagent Staygold spray painted the “Welcome to Your Paradise” piece that guests see when they arrive, and Radovanovich made the geometric “El Viaje” mural that stands guard poolside.

Walking into the Palm Springs Rendezvous, blogger Jan Smith was taken aback by the hotel’s “timeless elegance.” Her visit only got better when she learned she would be staying in the “Pretty in Pink” room, where Marilyn Monroe would spend the night during her visits to Palm Springs.

The Orbit In embraces its mid-century modern roots, wowing guests with its retro furnishings, lively pool area, and — of course — those irresistible Orbitinis, served every night during happy hour.

During their second stay at the Orbit In, husband and wife Kevin Miller and Jinny Park had the place all to themselves, and as they sat outside, looking up at the sky, they started talking about their dream of selling everything in order to buy and run the hotel.

Orbit In owners, Kevin Miller and Jinny Park

“Right then, a huge shooting star went across, and we made a wish,” Kevin said. “Three years later, we bought it. We are guests who ended up buying the hotel, and we try to run it from a guest perspective.”

The Orbit In is a mid-century modern hotel built in 1957, purchased by Kevin and Jinny in October 2007. Guests spend their days gathering around the Boomerang Bar, beating the heat in the pool and under the misters, enjoying Orbitinis during happy hour, and taking advantage of cruisers they can take around the neighborhood.

“It kind of feels like a hotel, but it also feels like you’re coming to someone’s house,” Kevin said. “It splits the difference there. We see a lot of repeat guests, and that’s just terrific.”

Although he is always improving the hotel, Kevin listens to his guests who like the retro vibe and want things to stay exactly the way they are.

“They always say, ‘Don’t change anything,'” he said. “They love it the way it is. They really like the staff. Everyone is personable and knows them by name, and they feel at home here.”

By: Susan Montgomery

Palm Springs attracts visitors for so many reasons—from its wonderful weather (the best in the country some say) to its charming boutique hotels, but did you know that this fabulous travelers’ destination is also a haven for some of the most imaginative and delicious cocktails in the world?

My travel partner, Linda, and I recently went on a cocktail tour of Palm Springs (admittedly a tough assignment, but someone had to do it). Our tour resulted in some enticing suggestions for any cocktail aficionados out there. You can find many of these cocktails at the bars or restaurants at the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. We were visiting on a hot August day and these cocktails provided refreshing reprieves from the warm weather.

Azúcar at La Serena Villas:

Azucar Cocktails
Spicy Melon and Rosearita Cocktails

We stopped for some small plates and cocktails at Azúcar, the delightful restaurant at La Serena Villas. While all their craft cocktails were tempting, we particularly enjoyed the Rosearita with its complimentary flavors of tequila, rose and pamplemousse liqueurs, lemon and raspberry nectars, highlighted by a rose sugar rim. My tasting colleague (who savors spice) loved the Spicy Melon with Mezcal, jalepeno tequila, aperol, watermelon puree, and lemon and agave nectars. An upstairs patio lounge overlooking the serene pool is the perfect place to enjoy these cocktails. The menu also includes small plates such as the savory chicken lettuce wraps and tasty cauliflower tacos that we enjoyed with our cocktails.

Holiday House:

Holiday House Cocktails
Aperol Spritz and Raspberry Mojito

We enjoyed the cozy lobby bar at Holiday House and, while we did not try any food, the menu was appealing. The Aperol Spritz, made with procesco and orange, was particularly refreshing and beautiful to behold. A Raspberry Mojito was icy and fruity with a subtle sweetness. This would have been the ideal relaxing setting to while away the afternoon, but we had more cocktails to try. We’ll be back.

Cheeky’s:

Cheeky's Bloody Mary
Bloody Mary in a boot glass

Cheeky’s is a popular breakfast and lunch spot adjacent to the lushly-landscaped Alcazar Hotel. I have relished breakfast here several times and have always enjoyed their spicy bloody mary, which is the perfect drink for jump starting a day of touring Palm Springs, especially when accompanied by the restaurant’s popular bacon tasting.

Mr. Lyons and Seymour’s:

Mr Seymour's Copa Cobana
Copa Cabana cocktail
Seymours dessert drint
Custom Dessert Cocktail

Mr. Lyons is a quintessential steakhouse where we enjoyed icy cold martinis with our tender, perfectly prepared filets. Then we adjourned next door to the hidden-away Speakeasy, Seymour’s, where Linda sipped a Copa Cobana, enjoying the unique combination of flavors — rum, coconut, mango, basil and nutmeg.  I adored a luscious dessert cocktail created just for me by Zane, the creative bartender, who concocted my drink with vodka, crème de menthe, and muddled mint—all accented with a dash of Aztec chocolate bitters. We loved sitting at the bar and chatting with Zane in the enchanting ambiance of this special hideaway.

Wexler’s at Arrive:

Smokin' Cukes
Smokin’ Cukes Cocktail
Snowcone
All-American Snowcone

Arrive is a modern 21-room hotel with a rocking, high energy vibe. The cocktails in Wexler’s Deli onsite reflect this hopping tone. We tried a Smokin’ Cuke’s cocktail made with tequila, cucumber, lime, and a black salt rim. It was crispy and refreshing on a steamy Palm Springs afternoon, but the highlight was the icy All-American Snowcone, which looked just like your traditional childhood treat—but with booze, of course. We savored these creative drinks with a delicious Smoked Fish Plate.

Del Rey at Villa Royale:

Villa Royale Cocktails
Permanent Friends and Miami Vice Cocktails

The bar at Del Rey, a welcoming refuge on the Villa Royale property, is dimly lit and romantic, a cool oasis on a warm evening. We can see why this was a popular place for Hollywood celebrities in the 50s to hide out. We enjoyed two special cocktails:  Permanent Friends (great name since I was drinking with a permanent friend) is a complex combination of gin, grapefruit and pineapple juice, jalapeno, vanilla, maple syrup and lime. It went down smoothly but with a pleasant kick. Miami Vice is a tasty combination of rum, coconut cream, strawberry puree, and lime juice.  We enjoyed these drinks with two delectable small plates, one of charred octopus with salsa verde and one called Manchego Bomba, which was lightly deep-fried cheese served with a spicy Calabria aioli.

Of course there are many other great cocktails served all over Palm Springs, but this tantalizing list is the best place to start.

Sue Montgomery, contributor

Susan Montgomery is a travel, food and wine writer who has a special affection for Palm Springs, which is about an hour from her Southern California home. She is on the Board of Directors of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association and in the last several years, she has published more than 300 articles on her blog, Life Uncorked and in other publications.