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.

The stone front of Del Marcos Hotel

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. 

If you’re the curious type like me, or a little iffy on modernism, this article breaks down mid-century modern art for you. The same with architecture 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.”

INNdulge Hotel

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.”

The front entrance of Triangle Inn Palm Springs has a brick wall with its name in large black letters

For Michael Green, the past two decades feel like they’ve gone by in the blink of an eye.

Michael and his husband Stephen Boyd own The Triangle Inn (https://www.palmspringspreferredsmallhotels.com/stay/triangle-inn-palm-springs), a gay men’s clothing-optional resort, having purchased the property in January 2000. They bought the hotel after spending their careers in advertising, embracing the opportunity to try something new. Now, nearly 20 years later, Michael can’t believe they’ve been hoteliers for so long.

Michael and Stephen have created such a welcoming atmosphere that it’s inspired several guests to actually move to Palm Springs.

People often ask them if they’re tired of running their own business, or want to try something new. “To me, as long as we still enjoy it, we should keep doing it,” Michael says. “It’s great owning a small hotel. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a great lifestyle.”

The Triangle Inn was built in 1958, and Michael and Stephen are its fifth owners. They’ve been through renovations and upgrades, and are always doing something to enhance the property. Along the way, they’ve made tons of friends, and have created such a welcoming atmosphere that it’s inspired several guests to actually move to Palm Springs.

“It’s what happens when people come and fall in love with the hotel, fall in love with the city,” Michael says. “All of a sudden, they think, wow, we need to have a part-time place here, or retire here. That has really been a phenomenon that has fueled a lot of Palm Springs’ resurgence.”
 

Blogger Debra Schroeder of Traveling Well for Less found herself captivated by the Albert Frey-designed Monkey Tree Hotel, with its mid-century modern architecture and fun vintage decor.

BelleVue Oasis pool

With its tropical courtyard and mature palms, BelleVue Oasis is a hidden paradise in Palm Springs.

A mid-century modern property dating back to the 1950s, BelleVue Oasis officially opened for business in September 2019. Formerly Escape Resort, it is no longer a men’s clothing-optional hotel.

Located in Tahquitz River Estates, the 13-room, 21-and-over hotel has undergone some renovations and updates, including to the bathrooms. It has a retro yet modern feel, with pops of orange and turquoise standing out against the clean white walls and linens. The rooms come with kitchens or kitchenettes, plus furnished patios that let guests enjoy the sunshine.

The lush grounds are what inspired the hotel’s new name, with senior hotel manager Charles Zalepeski saying once you walk onto the property, “it’s kind of shocking, you don’t expect it to be as beautiful and as big as it is. The pool is beautiful, and the mountain views are ridiculous.”

The San Jacinto Mountains are visible across the grounds, but are most spectacular when spotted from the spacious and sparkling pool and invigorating jacuzzi. There are loungers and umbrellas surrounding the pool, offering shade during the day. Once guests are ready to explore the town, they won’t have to go far — places like the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium and Palm Springs Art Museum are just a short walk or drive away.