“I need to disappear, escape for a little bit / Take a trip to Palm Springs if you’re into it.” — Mistel Marie, “Palm Springs”
It’s hot and getting hotter in Palm Springs, and unless you’re a Bedouin, it’s a bit too too for outdoor adventures. How do desert rats even exist?
I’d love to tell you, thanks for asking.
We stay in and around the pool with snacks and (adult) beverages close at hand. We wear sun bonnets (we don’t) and sunscreen (we should). Our rosé is always chilled, beer mugs frosty, tequila iced, and our martinis are shaken, not stirred. The only thing missing is someone to do all the cooking, cleaning, and bartending.
And that’s where these resorts enter our three-part (!) story.
They all have gorgeous pools, and some have massage services, but they all have a restaurant or food options so you never have to leave. No cooking and cleaning for you, my friend. You are completely carefree to don swimwear all day, and work on your tan and alcohol intake in a place that is far, far away from the madding crowd, in the enchanting city called Palm Springs.
In this part, I’ll introduce you to the larger boutique resorts that have full restaurants.
Alcazar Palm Springs — Featured in Food & Wine, the Los Angeles Times, and Travel+Leisure, Alcazar has 34 suites and is located in the Uptown Design District. The rooms are modern and sleek, featuring Italian linens, flat screen televisions, fireplaces, and your choice of poolside or private patios. In addition to their immaculate attention to detail, Alcazar offers WiFi, coffee, espresso, tea, juice, daily fresh pastries, and Townie bikes for exploring the neighborhood.
It is also attached to two of the best restaurants in Palm Springs, Cheeky’s and Birba. Although they don’t do room service, there is a passageway from the resort to both restaurants so you can stay as cool as you are.
The Cole Hotel — In the same neighborhood is one of the more affordable resorts in Palm Springs: The Cole. It’s a 30-room resort with three different floor plans — the Cole King, Cole Suite, and Pool Suite, plus the 600-square-foot Honeymoon Suite, complete with a private balcony. There’s also a nice, swimmable pool where they have 21+ pool parties. The Cole recently welcomed Freddie’s Kitchen, conceived by Chef Frederic, who has a long history in French cuisine in Southern California and was once chef de cuisine for Joël Robuchon — the chef and restaurateur named “Chef of the Century’ by the guide Gault Millau and awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
Alas, they do not serve breakfast, but they do open at noon and snacks and drinks are available poolside until 9 p.m. Dinner starts at 5 p.m.
The Ingleside Inn — Classic Palm Springs, old school vibe, and another very swimmable pool. The Ingleside Inn was built in the 1920s, and transformed into an invitation-only private club by Ruth Hardy (check out her park), where notables Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Marlon Brando stayed; Carole Lombard and Clark Gable honeymooned there.
Since then, the property has become open to the general public, but they’ve kept the Hollywood glam intact, including their restaurant, Melvyn’s, a favorite of Frank Sinatra. He was particularly fond of their Steak Diane.
This resort has 30 rooms and is situated on two acres of land, closer to the south end of Palm Springs on Belardo, and is still a home away from home for many celebrities. The Casablanca Lounge has a piano player nightly, and you never know who might sit in — anyone from Neil Sedaka (“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”) to James Marsden (Enchanted and Dead To Me) to local favorites.
La Serena Villas — Here’s another resort that has it all. It’s located in downtown Palm Springs, but well off the beaten path. They have the Whispers Spa that is for guests staying at La Serena Villas, the Del Marcos, and The Three Fifty Hotel only, so you can be pretty certain you’ll get the services you want, when you want them.
Also, it has a terrific restaurant called Azucar that is open to the public, so you can invite your friends to join you for dinner then invite them back to your suite for a nightcap on your private patio, or take it to the big, gorgeous pool.
Smoke Tree Ranch — I have a friend who grew up in Palm Springs, and this is one place she’s never been and really, really wants to go. It’s that exclusive.
Located at the base of the mountains, the views from each of the 49 cottages are stunning. Sunrises and sunsets are actual events you won’t want to miss when you’re staying here. Some of the amenities include: flatscreen televisions, wet bars, refrigerators, coffee makers, cozy down pillows, deluxe down comforters and blankets, luxurious bathrooms with separate tubs and showers, plantation shutters, telephones with voicemail (!), private patios, and WiFi. Most cottages also have carports and wood-burning fireplaces.
Activities? Swimming, soaking, horseback riding, spa services, horseshoes, pickleball, tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball, croquet. And they have babysitting services.
The restaurant is old school; it has a dress code, so that’s kinda fun. Dress in your best summer designer fashion, and enjoy the poshness of it all while dining on the best Chef Tony Marks can cook up, including lobster and the finest steaks he can procure.
And get this — cottages are traditionally sold with three full meals per day in the Ranch House Dining Room. The meal plan begins with dinner on the day of check in, followed by breakfast and lunch the following day, and includes all gratuities.
But wait, there’s more! Coming up next week: a guide to the restaurants and bars at Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels that have no more than 30 rooms.