Posts

“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. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

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. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

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. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

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.

Poolside at La Serena Villas. Photo credit: La Serena Villas

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.

The entrance to Smoke Tree Ranch. Photo credit: Smoke Tree Ranch

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.

Missed Part 1? Read it here.

Welcome to summer in Palm Springs! This is long — lots to share! — so without further ado, the smaller resorts with restaurants:

Night falls on Arrive Palm Springs. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Arrive Palm Springs — This resort is built to be social, and the poolside restaurant serves snacks and libations including “Poptails” — icy alcoholic popsicles. They used to have another restaurant, but sadly, the local favorite for lunch closed. However, you’ll barely notice the temps when you walk a few storefronts away to the hotel’s coffee shop, Cartel Coffee Lab, and ice cream parlor, Ice Cream & Shop(pe). Just a titch further is 1501 Gastropub by local restaurateurs Chad Gardner and Willie Rhine. Directly across the street from the resort is Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey Bar, which is as trendy as it sounds.

The view from above Fleur Noire. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Fleur Noire Hotel — Initially called Burket’s Trade Winds Hotel, the new owners have reimagined the 1940s hotel and brought its original (heated) pool back to life. Surrounded by lush desert landscaping, the Spanish-style property has 21 casitas, studios, and standard rooms — all eclectic and all designed by Chris Pardo and wallpaper designer Ellie Cashman.

The clubhouse is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a communal pantry, lounge seating, and working and dining areas. They don’t actually have a restaurant, but Rick’s Desert Grill is its next door neighbor. They do, however, have a rosé and champagne speakeasy called La Boisson that will also bring your chilled libation poolside. You can literally have rosé all day.

Welcome to Holiday House. Photo credit: Holiday House

Holiday House — Smack in the middle of downtown and just a bit west of Palm Canyon is Holiday House. This is the sister property of Sparrows Lodge, which is located on the south end of Palm Springs.

Named one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels of 2022, Holiday House is a 21+ property. Please note there are no TVs in the rooms, but honestly, you can do that at home. Your time is best spent poolside, in a very swimmable pool.

The 28-room hipster hideaway has a little restaurant called The Pantry. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner is from 5 to 9 p.m., and they’ve even got a poolside menu. There aren’t a lot of choices for dinner, but what they do have is pretty scrumptious, which means they’re pretty busy. Locals try to go, but you guys generally have eaten all that deliciousness by the time we get there.

L’Horizon’s cabanas. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

L’Horizon Palm Springs — Originally designed in 1952 by William F. Cody as a retreat for television producer and oil tycoon Jack Wrather and his actress wife, Bonita “Bunny” Granville (yeah, no idea either), L’Horizon has been restored to its original grandeur and is 100 percent squee-worthy.

Located on three acres, the 21+ resort has 25 private bungalows, and the original 2,000 square foot home is available for bookings as well. The living room and yard of the house have unobstructed views of the mountains, and there is a sunken seating area, wood-burning fireplace, dining room, wet bar, kitchen, marble bathrooms with rainforest showers, and an outdoor shower.

When you’re done lazing by the pool, The Spa offers massages, body treatments, facials, and add-ons like peppermint foot therapy and wild lime scalp treatments. Once you’re fully relaxed, stop by Le Shop, a boutique featuring Naturopathica’s skin care and body products, resort wear, swimsuits, jewelry, sunglasses, and home accessories.

And…drumroll…L’Horizon also has a gourmet restaurant called SO•PA that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (feel free to order poolside as well). Dramatic, refined, and intimate, SO•PA offers a unique alfresco dining experience, and is on everyone in Palm Springs’ bucket list for dining.

The patio at El Mirasol at Los Arboles. Photo credit: Los Arboles Hotel

Los Arboles — The Casteñada family would like to welcome you to their 21-room “home” featuring a rooftop deck, a courtyard pool, hot tub, and home cooked authentic Mexican meals at El Mirasol at Los Arboles. 

I am not kidding you about the authentic food. Mama Casteñeda oversees the kitchen, and all of the dishes are from her recipe box (the box actually lived in her head, and she had no need to write them down until she opened a restaurant).

The restaurant is in a courtyard, and is a local favorite. They also have a sister location on the south end of town, the original El Mirasol. Pair the jalapeño margarita with any dish and you’ll be a very happy camper.

Pull up a chair at Sparrows Lodge. Photo credit: Sparrows Lodge

Sparrows Lodge — The bohemian sister resort to Holiday House also has zero TVs, but man do they have a great swimmable pool and misters all throughout the courtyard. The interiors have a modernist, beachy, farmhouse feel to them. If I’m any indication, you’ll feel a sense of serenity the moment you enter.

Their restaurant is called The Barn and like The Pantry at Holiday House, it’s on everyone’s bucket list. I cannot stress to you enough that you need a reservation, and generally well in advance. Executive Chef Sebastian Lowrey and Sous Chef Daniella Lara have created some wonderful offerings for lunch and dinner, and everyone wants in.

One of Villa Royale’s sparkling pools. Photo credit: Villa Royale

Villa Royale — Gorgeous old bones have been renovated to an even more glorious and contemporary retreat, well off the beaten path in the Deepwell neighborhood. The 21+, 38-suite property has three pools, mountain views, and folks, it is pet-friendly.

With over 50 original pieces of artwork on site, it’s like being immersed in a museum. All of the work was commissioned exclusively for the resort, and artists Sara Radovanovich, Lou Kregal, and Juan Casas lived at the Villa Royale while creating their oil paintings, which feature everything from pop culture icons to desert scenes.

Focusing on Spanish and Mediterranean flavors and led by Chef Louis Martinez, the Del Rey is Villa Royale’s small-plate restaurant. It boasts a beautiful 12-seat oak and marble bar, as well as booths and an outdoor patio with firepit. The cocktail menu is very creative — drink ingredients include black tea ice cubes, saffron syrup, and olive oil — so  get ready to imbibe. 

Coming next Tuesday: resorts with breakfast and lunch served on premise for guests only. Not a local in sight.

The Triangle Inn is like a charming man with a cheeky wit and a very sexy smile. Who wouldn’t want a second date?

Let’s start with a few fun facts, rated Hollywood-style.

The Triangle Inn spans the corners of San Lorenzo (très exotique, non?) and Random Road, a flirty wink from the street naming committee.

Rating: R for randy randomness

When it was built, the hotel was called The Impala Lodge. The year was 1958, and the architect was notable mid-century modernist Hugh Kaptur. 

Kaptur apprenticed for mid-mod darlings Harrison and Wexler, and Wexler apprenticed under the man they called the Desert Maverick, William Cody. In a 1958 Desert Sun article, Kaptur described the architectural design of the Lodge as the highly non-PC “Indian Modern.”

Rating: Winner, best documentary

Then, like the rest of us, the lodge went through some changes. From lodge to apartment building and into disrepair, the modernist gem was badly in need of an image overhaul.

Rating: Elizabeth Berkley

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Matthew Robinson and Kevin Rice purchased the property, restored the original architecture, remodeled the rooms, and when the flag finally flew it was a rainbow flag, waving high above the newly named Triangle Inn, an eight-suite, men’s clothing optional resort. 

Rating: Kal Penn

The Triangle Inn’s entrance. Photo courtesy of The Triangle Inn

In 2000, Robinson and Rice were looking for someone to love the inn as much as they did, and ran into some wicked good luck. Two frequent Palm Springers from Atlanta (let’s call them Michael and Stephen because those are their names) decided they wanted to live in paradise and purchased the classy little mid-century revival gem.

Its massive glass-paned walls let the sunshine in and provide an endless view of our gorgeous mountains. Angular steel beams and the slanted roof are punctuated by lush tropical foliage; there are fruit trees all over the property —  mango, lemon, blood orange — making it feel as remote and as exotic as Gilligan’s Island without Ginger, Marianne, or the Howells (they’re so pretentious), but with way better amenities. 

But it’s not remote; it’s intimate. The hotel is actually only five minutes from downtown Palm Springs. That’s five by car, 15 if you’re biking. Drinking and biking renders various results, but generally longer durations and is not recommended.

Rating: A Star is Born

The living room in one of The Triangle Inn’s suites. Photo courtesy of The Triangle Inn

Consistently garnering five-star ratings and rave reviews, it shouldn’t surprise you that The Triangle Inn has a very long history of repeat guests. There are many reasons for this — the lovely suites, the fine amenities — but also because there is zero judgment. They’re very light on the rules, and then there’s that southern hospitality: warm as the sun and cool as the night air. 

Breakfast offers an assortment of breads, fruit, yogurt, and cereals, as well as coffee and tea — all gratis — on the covered patio by the pool. If you’d like a White Claw (again, no judgments, you’re on vacation) they’re $3 and you can drink them poolside. It’s all very chill.

The suites echo the style of the exterior, all in the mid-mod aesthetic, dressed in earthy tans and browns; light, sky blues; and rich sunset oranges. Even the Tarocco bath amenities are in burnt orange. 

The bathroom in one of The Triangle Inn’s suites. Photo courtesy of The Triangle Inn

The bed linens are crisp 500-count cotton, and all the accommodations have either a kitchen/dining room or a kitchenette depending on room size. Instead of a dishwasher in each of the suites, the houseman takes care of the dishes when he tidies your room.

Of all the places you can choose to stay in Palm Springs, The Triangle Inn is, perhaps, the most social. The intimate setting provides an opportunity for guests to become lifelong friends, not just with Michael and Stephen, but with each other, flying in from all over the world to meet up for a repeat performance.

Yet, because the rooms are all down the corridor, away from the outdoor activities, festivities, and laughter, guests can work from their suites before they go out to play. Some book for a month at a time, several times a year. It’s their home away from home. And because Michael and Stephen live on property, guests experience family-style hospitality that’s all rom-com and zero drama. 

Rating: All the stars

P.S. The Triangle Inn welcomes friendly canines. Inquire within.

The pool at night. Photo courtesy of The Triangle Inn