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We’ve been watching the weather and see snowflakes are starting to fly in many parts of the country. While we’re not fortune tellers, we can tell you a sure way to avoid some of the winter snow: come visit Palm Springs, California, where the sun shines 350 days a year. 

Our pools are heated, and most assuredly, you will find palm trees nearby to take the perfect picture to send back home to your friends. If you want a cocktail in your hand for the photo while you are relaxing, that can be arranged, too.

We may be a little prejudiced, but we think one of our more than 70 boutique hotels will meet the vision you had in your head of a winter getaway. The official definition of a boutique hotel is 50 rooms or less. However, when you start looking, you will discover Palm Springs has many small hotels with under 20 rooms. One of the more intimate hotels was once the home of movie star Gloria Swanson. Now called Amin Casa, it has one studio; four private bungalows with full kitchens, living areas, and bedrooms; and Swanson’s original residence, a premier space with a grand living area and historic stone fireplace.

Our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website is the place to start your exploration, and here’s why:

1. Honest descriptions of our hotels

Journalists and travel writers have written the descriptions of our hotels, so you won’t read hyped-up marketing speak on our site. We strive to tell it like it is and often interview the property managers and owners, so what you read is what you can expect to experience once you arrive at your hotel.

The beautiful pool at Amin Casa. Photo courtesy of Amin Casa

2. A search tool that works

Whether you’re looking for a gay men’s clothing-optional resort, a hotel where you can bring your dog, or a property with a spa, all you have to do is put the specific term in our search bar and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Speaking of bringing your pup to Palm Springs, this is a very dog-friendly town, and you can take Fido just about everywhere. It’s not unheard of to arrive at a hotel and see a welcome sign waiting for Fido at the registration desk. By the way — be ready to find water bowls in front of storefronts and cashiers asking if your dog can have one of the treats carefully hidden behind the counter. 

3. Dining and shopping recommendations from insiders

With no empty storefronts, this town is thriving, and new shops are enticing visitors and residents alike. Our Boutiquely Palm Springs blog may help you decide where to start, but be aware that it can be hard even for locals to keep up with our ever-changing town, so you may discover some locally owned shops that just popped up.

Our food scene is also attracting some of the finest chefs in the nation, who know sophisticated foodies from all over the world flock to Palm Springs — and they are not about to disappoint. Our bloggers are writing in depth about restaurants and chefs, making our site is an excellent place to start researching restaurants that serve your favorite cuisine.

Everyone — dogs included — love shopping in Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

4. Extensive event guides to find out what’s happening in town

With the busy season starting, you will want to check out the many attractions open and special events taking place in our city during your stay. Our blog has comprehensive articles about everything from Pride and Modernism Week to the best hiking trails in the desert. In addition, you will find articles written about lesser-known places you might want to visit.

5. Maps to show you the way

The Palm Springs International Airport is only about two miles from downtown. The Coachella Valley, home to Palm Springs and eight other cities, is 45 miles long, and some destinations are pretty far from the airport — Indio, for example, is 20 miles away. If you’re not renting a car, you can see why our proximity to the airport is a superb reason to stay nearby. The Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website has a map that shows all of our hotels in relation to the airport, as well as landmarks, attractions, and neighborhoods.

Cruising up to the Palm Springs International Airport in style. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

There is so much to explore in our area, and some planning can help ensure you have a stress-free vacation. Doesn’t it sound easy to sit in your comfy chair at home, favorite drink in hand, and use our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website to plan your dream vacation?

Blogger Elaine Masters wanted a classic Palm Springs vacation, and that’s exactly what she had, soaking in the city’s sights and visiting some of the most popular hotels, from the Spanish-style Los Arboles to the Art Deco-inspired Westcott.

Are you looking for a place with a serene setting to relax and forget about your hectic schedule? Look no further than the Amin Casa boutique hotel, where you can spend hours sitting and listening to the sounds of a three-tiered water fountain and birds chirping. 

Located just steps away from bustling downtown Palm Springs in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood, you can park your car at Amin Casa and take a rest from the congested roads that may be part of your daily life. If you fly in, no need to rent a vehicle — the airport is a quick 10-minute trip by taxi. 

Amin Casa owner and manager Nelson Cooley. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Owner and manager Nelson Cooley is quick to bounce out of his office to greet you upon arrival. He has your keys in hand, and the online registration filled out ahead of time told him everything he needs to escort you to one of the property’s eight bungalows, your home for the next few days.

A historic place

This repurposed hotel was once the home of famed Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson, considered one of the most photographed women of her time. Indeed, there are numerous photos around the property of her walking the grounds with people from the entertainment world. It is rumored Joe Kennedy was a frequent visitor, so imagine the entourage he brought with him.

Another interesting factoid: During this period, Swanson was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. She starred as Norma Desmond in the 1950 classic Sunset Boulevard, one of the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.

The Amin Casa grounds. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Gorgeous grounds

Swanson recognized quickly that the four-bedroom house needed a swimming pool and, of course, a guest house to help maintain her privacy. The pool and tennis court were added to entertain her guests, who were also summoned to participate in Swanson’s famous movie nights. Today, the tennis court has been replaced by a lawn, which is home to a 100-year-old cactus.

A new chapter 

As Swanson’s career skyrocketed, she decided to sell her home to a newspaper heiress from Rhode Island, and moved to a new place in the Movie Colony neighborhood. The Swanson property was transformed into a hotel, with a kitchen added to the guest house (those quarters still have the original all-oak paneling). The inn was called Arenas Garden Hotel, which gave homage to the road it is located on and the gardens that wind their way through the property. 

New owners bring life back to the property

In recent years, the property languished for lack of visitors and no caretaker to make sure repairs were done. It was becoming an eyesore, and fear was mounting that this beautiful place would come to face the fate of a wrecking ball.  

Cooley and partner Ramon Bautista were frequent visitors to Palm Springs, and when they saw the hotel, they appreciated the architecture of the building and understood its historical significance. By chance, Bautista went to a dinner party in Los Angeles and was seated next to a woman he knew well, who told him, “I need your help. I have a friend who owns a small boutique hotel in Palm Springs inherited from a childhood friend who had no heirs, so he left the place to my friend. She lives in Chicago and does not know what to do with it. Would you look at it?”

Yes, it was the hotel the two men had admired from afar. In March 2016, they bought the property and the work began. Cooley, a former high tech executive, took over the outside and interior structural aspects and day-to-day management of the hotel. Bautista is the mastermind behind interior design while continuing his medical practice in Pasadena, where he specializes in international travel medicine. Their goal was simple: to maintain the integrity of the architectural structure, interior, and grounds

Amin Casa’s bungalows are fully equipped for your stay. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Staying at the Amin Casa

When getting ready to launch Amin Casa, the men wrote down everything they disliked about going to other hotels. The list included parking fees, resort fees to use the amenities, and extra charges for special cleaning, satellite television, and Wi-Fi. Today, when you go to check out at Amin Casa, you will find no surprises on your bill — everything is included in the cost of your room. 

This hotel heats its pool all year, giving guests the opportunity to swim or read a book and sip a cocktail poolside during winter, spring, summer, and fall. Since Palm Springs has 350 days of sunshine, you can work on your tan at the same time. 

Amin Casa’s sparkling swimming pool. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Longterm guests are welcome, with many already booked for years to come. Amin Casa’s bungalows are well-appointed with everything one may need to live comfortably — in the deluxe bungalow, I was surprised to see fine china displayed in the glass-door cupboards. If you want to prepare a gourmet dinner for special friends, you have everything you need to impress even the most persnickety.

The bungalows have lovely living rooms, which could be used as part of a movie set. Attention to every detail has been magnificently executed throughout the entire property. 

Yes, there is a great deal of history in this 94-year-old structure. It is one of our premier Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels standing open and ready to invite you to bring your family here for a reunion or a wedding. However, most of the year, it is a beautiful place to relax and meet fascinating people. If you want to escape the real world for a bit, this is the place to step back in time and be pampered.