Wanderlust must be in my DNA. There are times when my innate desire to travel and explore wells up like hot lava that’s about to burst from a volcano, and I have no choice but to hit the road. Traveling via airplane fills the need, too, but there’s something about being on the open road that feels the most liberating—plus, I can pack as many pairs of shoes and hats as I want without paying extra baggage fees.
The name says it all.
At INNdulge, guests take full advantage of being on vacation, relaxing in the saltwater pool and 12-man jacuzzi and reveling in the property’s gardens. This clothing optional gay men’s resort in the Warm Sands neighborhood is a mid-century modern hotel built in 1958, with 24 rooms. Jon Jackson has owned INNdulge for 10 years, becoming a hotelier after retiring as an attorney.
“My hospitality experience is in restaurants, but those skills easily converted,” he said.
An expanded continental breakfast is served in the morning, and an evening social hour and weekend pool parties bring guests together. Visitors often tell Jon they enjoy “the social aspect of staying with other like-minded gay men,” and in turn, he’s thrilled to provide “a great product and service.”
INNdulge, he added, “is a property that caters to gay men, who appreciate the pride of ownership we take in maintaining our property, and who in turn treat it with the type of respect deserving of a home away from home.”
Decorating The Monkey Tree Hotel (https://www.palmspringspreferredsmallhotels.com/stay/monkey-tree-hotel) has been a blast for Kathy Friedle.
Before Kathy and her husband, Gary, purchased the Albert Frey-designed property in 2015, she worked in New York City at the world’s largest architectural firm, overseeing her own studio. Kathy has “a fantastic eye,” Gary says, and has picked up mid-century modern treasures from antique stores and boutiques across Palm Springs. The Monkey Tree Hotel feels like a step back in time to the swinging ’60s, when everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Bob Hope stopped by for the night.
There are standard and deluxe rooms, all of them spacious and equipped with snacks and water upon arrival. Two standouts are the 725-square-foot Presidential Suite, boasting a large private backyard, kitchenette, and two rooms and bathrooms, and The Jungle Room. With its original leopard wallpaper and monkey sculptures, there’s nothing like this 465 square foot room anywhere else in Palm Springs.
The Jungle Room is the wildest part of The Monkey Tree Hotel
The Jungle Room has a California king bed, living room area, and the original bathroom, with a full walk-in glass shower that doubles as a sunken tub and two sinks. There is a huge window, which offers a lovely view of the private 550-square-foot outdoor patio, with a sitting area, tropical landscaping, and orange trees. The Jungle Room was just refreshed, with Kathy adding more vintage finds like orange lava glaze lamps and macrame owls, plus a custom headboard. Eric Clapton was a repeat guest of the Monkey Tree Hotel in its earlier days, and this was his favorite room.
Enjoy this video tour of the men’s clothing optional Triangle Inn Palm Springs with hotelier, Michael Green. This historical mid-century modern resort was originally the Impala Lodge designed by the legendary Hugh Kaptor.
By Katie Carrier
Palm Springs boasts a treasure trove of small hotels with big style that are ideal for guests seeking the perfect Instagram moment. Holiday House Palm Springs is one of the more recent additions to these local offerings, featuring an eye-catching blue and white design motif with pops of red.
Holiday House was originally designed in the 1950s by Herbert Berns, with strong midcentury lines and architectural details that were emblematic of the period. The hotel, located in downtown Palm Springs, was redesigned and relaunched in 2017 after an extensive makeover by renowned interior designer Mark D. Sikes, who is known for his signature blue and white color palette.
Each of the property’s 28 rooms feature unique combinations of patterned wallpaper, textiles and furnishings, as well as an impressive art collection that includes works by John Baldessari, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Alex Katz. The lawn adjacent to the hotel’s pool features a large Donald Sultan sculpture called “Red Poppies” that is one of the popular Instagram-friendly features on the property.
The blue and white striped furniture on the patio is another great spot for a snap for the ‘gram, surrounded by lush banana leaves and mature fruit trees. The hotel also offers fun amenities on site that are just begging for a social media shoutout, including a huge pool, blue and white polka dot bicycles that are available for guests to use and an original shuffleboard court.
The hotel lobby is also full of Instagram gold, including the “library,” which is covered in a striking blue pattern on every surface, an oversized David Hockney Sumo book, and the bar, which has a catchy neon art piece that makes a frequent appearance on social media.
The hotel’s cocktails are also super Instagrammable, featuring fun garnishes and swizzle sticks that make for the perfect poolside drink-in-hand pose!
Holiday House features one of the more unique dining experiences in the desert, with a family-style fried chicken dinner held each Friday night that is open to both hotel guests and the general public. Attendees dine al fresco at a beautifully-decorated long table, enjoying the delicious culinary creations of Chef Gabe Woo. Cantina Tuesdays are another great time to visit Holiday House, with gourmet Mexican fare and margaritas served a la carte in the patio dining area.
If you’re an Instagram fan, you will definitely want to experience Holiday House Palm Springs soon! Be sure to also stay tuned as we explore other great Instagram-friendly small hotels in Palm Springs in a new series of blog posts coming out each month.
Wake up in Palm Springs with the sun gloriously shining and grab your glamorous floppy hat, recyclable water bottle, and sunglasses. It doesn’t matter if the museums are closed because there’s so much fabulous public art to explore in Palm Springs.
Start your walking tour in the Uptown Design District on North Palm Canyon.
First Stop – Palm Springs Desert Art Center
The center for Palm Springs creative arts is the Desert Art Center at 550 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262. Often overlooked, this grand building is the home for numerous art classes, exhibits, and theatre performances. One of our city’s latest art installations is on the Desert Center’s palatial grass-covered lawn.
MIDABI is an artist and philosopher focused on large-scale public art using text in sculptures and murals. Residing in Palm Springs since 1998, with family roots going back to the 1950s, MIDABI continues a family tradition of contributing artistically to the desert.
Large, bold, and thought-provoking, MIDABI creates works of art that seek to inspire and challenge the viewer to think for themselves and see reality differently. One may feel shaken, for emotional core values may be questioned.
Since you have your walking shoes on, head on down Palm Canyon; along the way, you will see colorful benches to rest upon, which our local artists created.
Second Stop – Koffi North
If you want to have a cup of coffee, you might want to stop at Koffi North. Be sure to go straight through the store to the back and see the courtyard. The locals hang out here during non-Covid times.
Third Stop – Near the Palm Springs Art Museum
Now that your energy is restored, head down to Museum Way and turn right.
Before you get to the Palm Springs Art Museum and located in what we locals call the “Sand Pit,” (and future home of an underground parking lot) are ten sculptures, 11 ft long X 9-foot fiberglass babies. A barcode replaces any semblance of a face.
Czech artist David Cerny has loaned this art installation to Palm Springs through 2022. He wanted to make a statement about the dehumanization of society due to big tech and data. We are betting you will have an opinion.
Check out the wall on your left as you overlook the Sand Pit. You’ll spot a mural by Santa Monica artist, Peter Tigler, who worked with attendees of all ages to create this 7-foot-tall-by15-wide mural at the Annual La Quinta Arts Festival in 2019. Look closely; it was created by finger painting. The bright colors and numerous scenes invoke the sense of “Wish you were here.” It’s a great place to take a selfie to post your social media.
Fourth Stop – Graffiti Park
Across the street from the Sand Pit is our Graffiti Park. While waiting for the area to be developed, artists are encouraged to express themselves through their art. The various cement pillars and stones, remnants of past construction, serve as canvases. The art is constantly changing, so be sure to come back and see it on your next visit.
Fifth Stop – Right Side of Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum is closed, but the parking lot holds a surprise. Check out the Road Signs scattered throughout the premises. They were created by artist Gerald Clark, who identifies himself first as an artist; and secondly, a Cahuilla Indian.
These Road Signs were created for an exhibit of his work in the Palm Springs Art Museum a couple of years ago. Walk to the museum’s right side first, then see the rest of them on the museum’s left side.
Sixth Stop – Left Side of the Palm Springs Art Museum
After you have pursued both sides of the museum, you will see a large semi-truck parked in the parking lot. In the semi is a three-story all-metal house, called the Aluminare House, designed by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher. The house was donated to the Palm Springs Art Museum for its permanent collection and will be reassembled in 2021. It is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of Modernist architecture in the world.
We hope you have enjoyed this tour of some of our public art. There are many more installations–both inside and outside–scattered throughout the city. However, we wanted to give you a small taste of the many treasures that await your visit to Palm Springs.
Did you know that Palm Springs is internationally famous? Well, it is. Since 2006, people from all over the planet have been coming to Palm Springs during the month of February for the banging party we call Modernism Week. It’s like the United Nations all up in here.
Before the big event, Modernism Week holds a four-day preview in October called Modernism Fall Preview (a.k.a. Mini-Mod Week), running from October 14 through 17. It’s jam-packed with loads to do — over 50 events!
Modernism Week and Mini-Mod Week are so popular the best events sell out the same day they go on sale. So unless some fabulous bit of wizardry transpires (it might, Palm Springs is magical), forget about Sunnylands and Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate Tour. There’s plenty left to see though, from significant mid-century modern home tours to architectural double decker bus tours.
You can dress as you like, but a lot of people choose to pull out their pedal pushers and fedoras — whatever it takes to achieve that retro look. During Mini-Mod Week, the town takes on that old-timey feel of the ’50s and ’60s.
There are some cool cocktail-style events, but those sell out pretty fast. One of my very favorite supper clubs, PS Underground, has a brand new show for this year called Beatnik. Hurry and book, their shows are always outstanding.
Even if you miss out on your favorite events, there’s still the main event at the Palm Springs Convention Center where you can browse everything mid-century modern, including art, furniture, and lighting. You can find a list of exhibitors here.
Friday night is the big opening night party for the Modernism Show and Sale. Tickets are $75 in advance and $85 at the door. A purchase to the opening night party gives you access to the show on Saturday and Sunday.
Skipping the party? (You’re gonna say “no” to a party?!) You can still buy a ticket for Saturday and Sunday that will cost you one Jackson (soon to be Tubman!) and gets you in both days so you can shop ‘til you bop later on that evening.
Whether you do or don’t plan on going to the Modernism Week preview, but love the vibe of the mid-mod experience, we have mid-century modern hotels for the complete experience. There are 25 of them, all with great amenities — learn more about these fabulous spots here.
The Purple Room, a Rat Pack-inspired supper club, has some of the finest entertainment in town. Here are the weekend shows during Modernism Preview:
October 14: Sharon Sills (every Thursday)
October 15: Branden and James — vocals and cello performing the Lady Gaga songbook
October 16: Branden and James — vocals and cello performing the Lady Gaga songbook
October 17: The Judy Show (my favorite show in town! Every Sunday.)
Also, check out V Wine Lounge, where the vibe is so retro you’ll squee.
By the way, the bus tours are hella fun. I am a tour guide assistant and even from my view (I sit in the bottom of the bus, you’ll be on top — bring sunscreen and hold onto your hats!) it’s a fun and informative 2-and-a-half hour ride.
Hope to see you there, and let’s go retro!
From The Weekend to the newly-expanded Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, the hotel landscape of Palm Springs is changing.
There’s never been a more exciting time to visit a Palm Springs boutique hotel and cast off winter’s gloom.
Several hotels, including The Weekend Palm Springs, are now open and welcoming guests, while timeless favorites, like The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, have recently expanded. At the Desert Riviera and Hotel California, there’s even a brand new owner.
Two new hotels — The Weekend Palm Springs and Tuscany Manor — both have roots in Palm Springs, as they were built in the 1970s. A newly renovated 10-suite hotel, The Weekend offers sophisticated mid-century modern furnishings. The living rooms are spacious, the bathrooms have rain showers and L’Occitane toiletries, and the private patios are made for relaxation, with lounge chairs and fountains. In the morning, a complimentary breakfast is delivered to guests.
“What people really love is the space and attention to detail,” owner Mark Hermann says.
The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn has long been one of Palm Springs’ most legendary properties, originally serving as a private getaway for a Los Angeles millionaire in the 1920s. For years, this graceful hotel had only eight guest rooms, but the property doubled in size when it was joined with the nine-room Bishop House. Guests can travel between both buildings via footpaths.
“The Willows is a confection of the past,” owner Tracy Conrad says. “It recreates a more gracious and lovely time in two twin historic homes which have hosted luminaries, dignitaries, scientists, and royalty.”
Neil Mehta is the newest hotelier in Palm Springs, having purchased the Desert Riviera and Hotel California in January. Mehta comes to the desert with a background in real estate development, and experience in the hospitality industry — he owns a hotel in Newport Beach. Consistency is important to Mehta, and he does not plan on making any major changes to his popular hotels.
“That was the most critical element of our purchase, to ensure that guests did not feel a thing,” Mehta says.
He will add fun new amenities, like movies by the pool at the Desert Riviera and giving guests access to both properties. Mehta has long been enamored with Palm Springs, and can’t wait to get settled.
“I am a big fan of the city of Palm Springs and of the culture that has always embraced diversity,” Mehta says. “I’m excited to be part of it, to grow our business, and to provide positive experiences for guests.”
By Diana Elizabeth Steffen
I discovered one of the most Instagrammable spots in Palm Springs.
While on assignment for BBC News, Tayfun King was interviewing the owner of a boutique hotel in Buenos Aires when it hit him — he wanted to be the one running an inn.
As a travel reporter, Tayfun was immersed in the hospitality industry, crisscrossing the globe to learn more about the world’s most fabulous hotels. This wasn’t his original career choice — while studying mathematics and management at Cambridge University, he made a promise to himself: if he graduated with a first class honors degree, he would turn down the financial job offers he had received to follow his passion and become a professional Latin American dancer. Tayfun graduated with honors, and embarked on a dancing career, which led to him becoming a television journalist and host with the BBC, presenting programs on technology and travel.
“The travel show is where I developed my passion for boutique hotels,” Tayfun says. “I traveled to over 70 countries and 200 cities, and more than anything, staying at these amazing boutique hotels around the world stood out.”
Tayfun was fascinated by how these properties were able to forge their own identities, with each room connected despite their individual distinct themes. The owners he spoke with had “a passion that was coming through so clearly,” Tayfun says. “It was hard work for them, but they loved it and being able to express their creativity.”
In 2014, Tayfun launched a hospitality company in Los Angeles. He opened a property in Venice Beach, and then turned his attention east to Palm Springs. He was interested in a particular hotel for sale, but when his realtor showed him 641 E. San Lorenzo Road — the resort formerly known as Escape — Tayfun knew this was the place.
“I didn’t expect that,” Tayfun says. “I was there to have a matter-of-fact look around, but once I walked in and saw the entrance, I had an emotional reaction. The feeling you get when you’re there is so welcoming. It’s so natural, and there’s so much greenery with the grass, the trees, and the flowers. If I were coming to Palm Springs for a stay, I would love to stay here.”
A lot has changed at the mid-century modern property, starting with the name. Tayfun chose BelleVue Oasis because “belle vue” means “beautiful view” in French and “was what I was experiencing in the moment,” he says. The 13-room hotel has a new pool, pool deck, and interiors, plus recently installed turf and two putting greens. The mature palms and tropical landscaping are still in place, and guests rave about being able to enjoy the serene setting from their private patios.
“A common reaction is this is a hidden gem in Palm Springs — it’s beautiful, it’s lovely, it’s an oasis,” Tayfun says. “We have a high number of guests who keep returning to the property, and people who say their friends told them to stay here.”
Tayfun plans on developing a boutique hotel brand that will first grow in California before expanding, and is excited to get it started in Palm Springs. For him, it’s important that hotels tap into the history and true essence of the cities they are in, and he wants to make sure that people know as soon as they arrive at BelleVue Oasis that they are in Palm Springs.
“I love Palm Springs,” he says. “I love the energy, the people are friendly, it’s spread out, and it’s so well groomed.
From the time they book to the time they check out, Tayfun aims to make it so guests enjoy every part of the BelleVue Oasis experience. He wants them to look forward to their stay, building it up ahead of time and then having their expectations surpassed once they arrive, and to leave with lasting memories of their visit.
“It’s so fulfilling and exciting hearing what guests have to say,” Tayfun says. “That has been so rewarding and greater than what I thought it would be.”