L'Horizon Pool and mountains - Jeff Mindell

Next up in our series of articles on the most Instagram-worthy small hotels in Palm Springs is L’Horizon Resort & Spa.

L'Horizon exterior - Jeff Mindell

In 1952, Jack Wrather, producer of Lassie and The Lone Ranger, wanted a desert retreat for himself and his Hollywood friends. He enlisted prominent modernist architect William F. Cody to create a large property in South Palm Springs featuring 20 separate bungalows that ultimately hosted everyone from Marilyn Monroe to the Nixons during its heyday. More than six decades later, designer Steve Hermann, who has designed homes for clients including Christina Aguilera and Vera Wang, purchased the property and reopened it in July 2015 as L’Horizon Resort & Spa following an extensive renovation and redesign.

L'Horizon Pool and mountains - Jeff Mindell

L'Horizon guest room - Jeff Mindell

Hermann’s design update retained Cody’s signature midcentury architectural elements while infusing modern comforts and luxuries. An al fresco fine dining restaurant called SO.PA was added to the property, as well as a poolside bar and a spa.

L'Horizon Pool Bar - Jeff Mindell

L'Horizon Instagram posts

A blue-tiled infinity pool is the centerpiece of the resort, with guest room bungalows scattered around the property.

L'Horizon Infinity Pool - Jeff Mindell

One bungalow, called the Fireplace Suite, was Marilyn Monroe’s personal bungalow when she stayed with the Wrathers during the 1950s. It features a wood-burning, copper clad fireplace as the centerpiece of the room and opens out onto a private patio.

L'Horizon Bungalow with Fireplace - Jeff Mindell

The ultimate luxury accomodations at L’Horizon can be found in The Residence, which is a nearly 2,000 square foot standalone home with two bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room, sunken wet bar and its own private pool with gorgeous mountain views.

L'Horizon Residence - Jeff Mindell

L'Horizon Residence Pool - Jeff MindellOther Instagram-able details I love at L’Horizon include the black and white multi-patterned design motifs around the property; the ornate starburst front doors; bikes available for guest use during your stay; bocce ball court; hammocks; and the desert landscaping throughout the resort. The property is adults only, but your four-legged friends are welcome!

L'Horizon Front Doors and Bike - Jeff Mindell

L'Horizon Hammock and Bocce- Jeff Mindell L'Horizon Instagram Posts

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 Jeff Mindell for Palm Springs Style and Instagram.

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.

A Place In The Sun Hotel

A Place In The Sun Hotel

Norma and Ron Van Meeteren didn’t set out to own and operate a hotel, but in October 1999, the couple found themselves embarking on an exciting journey now in its 20th year.

At the time, Norma and Ron had been selling real estate and doing property management in Palm Springs for 16 years. They learned about a property that was going to be converted into a hospice but had fallen out of escrow. Most of the units were like apartments, with living rooms, bedrooms, full kitchens, and private walled garden patios, and since the Van Meeterens were experts in residential income properties and had clients looking for apartment buildings, they arranged a meeting with the seller.

“To make a long story short, ten days later we were the proud new owners,” Norma said. “It’s been quite the journey, but our exceptional staff and happy guests make it all worth it.”

A mid-century boutique inn, A Place in the Sun Garden Hotel was built in 1951 as a retreat for the production crew working on the movie A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, and Montgomery Clift.

“We get to meet so many interesting people, from all walks of life.”

The property has 18 units, with standard studios, one-bedroom bungalows with kitchens, living rooms, and private patios, and a 1,300-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow with a large kitchen, fireplace, and private jacuzzi. There is free fast internet, a heated saltwater pool, spa, artificial turf putting green, and a poolside gazebo with misters and heaters.

For Norma, getting to know the people who stay at A Place in the Sun is the best part of owning such a unique property.

“So many come back again and again, year after year, and it’s like welcoming back friends,” she said. “Many have happy memories of coming to A Place in the Sun as a child, and now are grown and bringing children of their own. We get to meet so many interesting people, from all walks of life.”

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.

Melvyn’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Palm Springs because of its old world ambiance, attentive service, and classic dishes. Dimly lit with white tablecloths and Modigliani paintings enhancing the elegant décor, the setting is intimate, serene, and romantic. The restaurant is located on the lushly landscaped property of the Ingleside Inn, a charming historic boutique hotel which has been around since the 1920s and was a favorite getaway for Hollywood celebrities during the 1950s and 60s.

The stars also relished dining at Melvyn’s and sipping cocktails in the adjoining Casablanca lounge where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ava Gardner, Spencer Tracey, and Sammy Davis Junior were known to croon a few tunes. Palm Springs was a haven for these famous Rat Pack celebrities and many others since Hollywood had a two-hour rule where if you were under a film contract you could only travel two hours away in case you were needed on a set.

 

Tableside Cooking

During a recent visit, we focused on Melvyn’s iconic dishes prepared tableside. Melvyn’s is one of only a few restaurants in California where tableside food preparation still occurs. My dining companion and I had a special appreciation of our dishes after watching them being prepared right at our table by our personable waiter, Peter Hauxwell, who entertained us during his preparation by describing each step. 

Icy Cold Martinis

We first ordered icy cold martinis (assuming this is what Frank would do).  We enjoyed our cocktails with classic appetizers of Vichyssoise and Escargot, both beautifully prepared traditional dishes. We then embarked on our magical tableside dining experience.

Escargot

 

Wilted Spinach Salad

Peter first prepared a delicious Wilted Spinach Salad. He whisked together bacon and Dijon mustard with a house-made vinaigrette. He then added crisp Spinach leaves that wilted in the savory bacon mixture. He topped this savory salad with chopped boiled eggs, drizzled it all with lemon, and voila! — Our salad was ready to savor. The salad was rich, flavorful, and even more delicious than it might have been because we had observed the special preparation.

 

Steak Diane

Next was the highlight of our meal, Steak Diane, an ageless dish that was reportedly a favorite of Frank Sinatra’s. Peter created an aromatic, cognac, mushroom sauce with shallots and red that briefly and dramatically went up in flames as it was poured over the tender filet medallions (perfectly prepared medium rare per our request). The flames added a lovely smoky taste to the scrumptious filets. To say they melted in our mouths is an understatement.

We had a hard time deciding between Cherries Jubilee or Bananas Foster for dessert, both flambé dishes. We opted for bananas and were not disappointed. Peter first sautéed the bananas and then mixed them with a rich sauce of brown sugar, dark rum, and various spices. The rum produced glorious flames and the dish was ready to serve atop vanilla ice cream, creating a decadent, sweet dish. Peter observed that he felt this luscious dish had aromas of children’s laughter and we couldn’t disagree. We certainly found ourselves exclaiming delightedly during every flaming display right at our table.

After dinner is the perfect time to adjourn to the Casablanca piano bar where you can enjoy live music from local musicians every night and a special jam session each Sunday. You can even dance off some of those calories you just consumed. The vibe takes you right back to Hollywood’s heyday.

 

Sue Montgomery, guest blogger

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 own website and in other publications. Website link:  http://life-uncorked.com.

Amin Casa is steeped in Hollywood history. Once the private retreat of Hollywood star Gloria Swanson, it has been lovingly restored and is now one of Palm Springs’ most glamorous boutique hotels. During a recent visit, blogger Marie-Annick couldn’t stop daydreaming about what it would have been like to visit Amin Casa in the 1930s.

John Janulis is not the first guy from the Pacific Northwest to fall in love with Palm Springs (nor will he be the last) but he is the latest and greatest, making a splash with the sleek and seductive renovation of an old Hollywood haunt tucked away on the south end of town.

Amin Casa dates back to the 1930s, when actress Gloria Swanson purchased the spectacular property and used it as a desert retreat, a place to go where she could escape the bright lights of Hollywood.

Once the getaway for a major Hollywood star, Amin Casa (https://www.palmspringspreferredsmallhotels.com/stay/amin-casa) is still as glamorous as it was when Gloria Swanson called the place home.

Long before Ramon Bautista and Nelson Cooley purchased the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood property in 2015, it was owned by actress Gloria Swanson, who used it as a vacation house. She bought it from Pearl McCallum McManus, one of the earliest settlers of Palm Springs, who ultimately became one of its most prominent developers.

While renovated, the residence and bungalow both retain the 1930s charm that drew Gloria Swanson in so many years ago.

Swanson had a prolific career — she was among the nominees for the first-ever Best Actress Academy Award, was a box office draw during the silent and sound film eras, and her turn as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard cemented her status as a Hollywood icon.

Her name lives on at Amin Casa, where guests can rent the Grand Residence of Gloria Swanson with two bedrooms or the Signature Bungalow of Gloria Swanson with one bedroom.  The Grand Residence has its own separate entrance with patio seating, a stone fireplace in the living room, a dining area, two bathrooms, and the largest kitchen on the property, with a range, refrigerator, and ice maker. While renovated, the residence and bungalow both retain the 1930s charm that drew Swanson in so many years ago.  

By Elizabeth Borsting

The eight-room Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, a luxury destination built in 1925 as a private residence and operating as the city’s only Four-Diamond hideaway since 1996, has more than doubled in size with the opening of The Bishop House last week.   The historic compound now has a combined total of 17 rooms and suites divided among a pair of historic estates with each room boasting its own floorplan and design. 

Just open to guests, the Bishop House has been completely renovated from top to bottom returning the property to its 1920s splendor.  There are seven rooms in the main building and two rooms in a separate casita including one that is fully accessible.

Both Estates, Built in 1925 and Sharing an Almost Identical Floorplan, Have Been Reunited for the First Time in Decades

The two properties are joined together via footpaths with only registered guests permitted behind the compound’s gates.  Guests are free to roam between the two houses to enjoy the public spaces, such as the great rooms and sweeping verandahs, as well as the terraced grounds.   All guests enjoy a daily deluxe, chef-driven breakfast enjoyed in The Willows dining room with views of the inn’s 50-foot waterfall.  In the evening, wine and hors d’oeuvres are served at either estate where guests can sip or sup on the sweeping terraces or in one of the public rooms.  Other complimentary amenities include en suite snacks, poolside beverages, complimentary parking and charging stations, 24-hour swimming pool privileges and more. 

History of the Properties

Both The Mead and The Bishop Houses have fascinating histories that are intertwined with that of the City of Palm Springs itself.  Their story begins in 1924 when William J. Dodd, a Los Angeles architect who created iconic dwellings for the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. De Mille, was commissioned to design Spanish Revival-style mansions for best friends and prominent Angelenos, William and Nella Mead and Roland and Dorothy Bishop.  The couples selected a choice spot where the willows grew at the foot of the mountain.  William Mead was a prominent banker and philanthropist who played an instrumental role in the Owens Valley Aqueduct project helping to transform Los Angeles from a dusty outpost to a major metropolis.  Roland Bishop was a founder and head of Bishop & Co., the region’s premier confectioner and baked goods manufacturer.  He sold the company in 1930 to the National Biscuit Company –better known as Nabisco.

Dodd arranged the two villas to complement the surrounding terrain and sloping hillside anchoring both structures to the desert floor and mountainous backdrop.  Dodd deliberately designed both houses so that they shared similarities of style—a pair of grand vaulted entrance terraces and a great room for gathering–but he also ensured that they had their own architectural identities.  Once the homes were complete in 1925, the two couples made the pilgrimage from Los Angeles to Palm Springs as often as possible.

As the years passed new occupants came and went, including Marion Davies—silent screen star, tycoon mistress and astute businesswoman—who took up residency at the Mead house in the early 1960s and is rumored to have transformed the kitchen into something more useful – a bar.  Her sister Rose Douras occupied he Bishop house during this period and often entertained her “daughter” Patricia Van Cleve and her husband, actor Arthur Lake better known as Dagwood of “Blondie” fame.   Patricia, who was living in nearby Indian Wells when she died in 1993, was actually the love child of Marion and her longtime paramour William Randolph Hearst, a fact she confirmed on her deathbed. 

The original Gladding McBean-tiled fountain of the Bishop house has been restored to working order and graces an outdoor patio. While Gladding McBean may not be a household name today, the company was once the go-to place for ornate and decorative tile during the 1920s.  It company also created The Franciscan Pottery line of dinnerware named for the friars who founded the California Missions.   Its Franciscan Ware patterns—Desert Rose, Franciscan Apple and Franciscan Ivy—are sought after today by modern-day collectors. 

Hotel Amenities

The collection of rooms and suites at The Bishop House feature king-size beds, plush linens and hand-selected furniture reminiscent of the era coupled with modern amenities such as high-speed Internet, individual climate control, smart TVs, USB charging stations and plush robes for lounging. 

Nightly rates start at The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn and The Bishop House start at $375 and include a chef-driven, deluxe breakfast; evening wine and hors d’oeuvres; in-room welcome snacks; poolside beverages; parking and electric charging stations; and guest-only access – no resort fees.  For reservations and information, call 800.966.9597 or visit online

Media Contact for the Willows Historic Palm Springs:
Elizabeth Borsting
T. 562.856.9292
E. elizabeth@BorstingPR.com