This past spring, some of our best couple friends invited us to Palm Springs to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We were thrilled to be going. Not only did we get to spend cherished times with our friends, we also got to fly to Palm Springs in their private jet. It doesn’t get much better than that folks. I could really get accustomed to traveling like that.
When we arrived in Palm Springs, I felt like I had been transported back in time. The area is a time capsule of mid-century design. Nestled below the San Jacinto mountains are some of the most forward looking architecture of it’s time. There is a splendor of landmarks by William Cody, Richard Neutra, Donald Wexler, and Albert Frey.
In the early 1940’s, Palm Springs was a winter playground for Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Marlene Dietrich. I would have loved to visit this swinging place during those glory years.
The Saguaro: I have to tell quite a funny story about our hotel room drama that ensued when we arrived in Palm Springs. My friend had booked The Saguaro based upon the recommendation of one of her favorite blogs. When we arrived at the hotel I was taken aback by how colorful and cheery it was (see picture above). Upon entering the lobby, it was quite clear that our middle-aged selves were entirely out of place in this hotel. The average age of the hip clientele ranged in age fro 20 to 30. We took a tour of the hotel and decided we were completely out of our element. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely hotel, it’s just a little hipper than we could handle. We are the type of girls who never met a Four Seasons Hotel we didin’t like. We have dubbed ourselves “Hotel Snobs.” The staff at the Saguaro were kind enough to cancel our reservations without charge. Maybe they felt we sent the wrong message to their young patrons. We left the hotel and spent the next four hours going from hotel to hotel to find one that suited our taste and had vacancies. Below are listed my favorite hotels we visited.
The Viceroy: This is my top pick among the hotels we encountered. I want to stay here the next time I visit Palm Springs. When you enter this hotel, you feel like you have stepped into a ray of sunshine. The elegant hotel was designed by Kelly Wearstler with a color scheme of lemon yellow, black, and white. The grounds are perfectly manicured. There are guest rooms for two and villas for three or more. I had my eye on one of the villas. The property boasts three swimming pools surrounded by blue and white striped cabanas.
La Quinta Resort & Club: This luxury hotel is my second choice for my next visit to Palm Springs. La Quinta is the oldest resort in the desert.Clark Cable, Greta Garbo, and other Hollywood legends stayed at La Quinta to hide away from Hollywood. The hotel is renowned for it’s five championship golf courses. The hotel’s grounds are breathtaking. Green lush grass everywhere lined with beautiful flowers. All guest rooms are charming adobe casitas with it’s own screened porch. The one negative I noticed at the hotel is that it is quite a hike from the casitas to the main center of the hotel. When I visit, I think I will just stay on the porch and read.
The Parker Meridian: This hotel was recommended to us by two hip gay gentlemen we met in the lobby. The outside of the hotel gives you that retro Hollywood feeling. The lobby is a true delight designed by the colorful Jonathan Adler. I was a little startled to see a huge street sign above the fireplace with the letters “DRUGS.” The property has regular rooms as well as one bedroom villas. One villa for me, please. The original Gene Autry house stands on the property.
Marriott Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa: After an entire afternoon of driving from one hotel to another to find a suitable hotel with vacancies for the “Hotel Snobs,” we finally landed at the Marriott Rancho Las Palmas. This is a very nice hotel but it is HUGE. It is more like a hotel for conventions or family reunions. There are plenty of amenities: great golf, tennis and swimming pools. The hotel served our purposes and I would only recommend it if you are attending a convention there.
Since we were in Palm Springs for such a short period, we were only able to try out a few restaurants. I have to say I was pleased with our choices.
Spencers: Nestled at the base of the San Jacinta mountains, Spencers features American cuisine with a French and Pacific Rim flair. The outdoor patios are stunning and the indoor dining area harkens you back to the glamorous 50’s. The food was fabulous and the ambiance was exquisite. I highly recommend.
Manhattans: This is a true New York style deli. My girlfriend and I had lunch here before shopping. The menu is huge and the servings are even larger. Definitely enough for 2 people to split one serving. I had the reuben sandwich and it was superb. The baked goods in the deli looked wonderful. A great place for an easy lunch.
Wally’s Desert Turtle: Our dinner at Wally’s was exquisite. I was swept away by the beautiful interiors. From the mirrored ceilings to the hand-painted murals, every detail was perfect. I felt sure I would see Frank Sinatra at any moment. The ambiance was warm and elegant and the cuisine was extraordinary. Wally’s lived up to it’s reputation as the most exquisite restaurant in the desert. If you are in Palm Springs, Wally’s is a must.
I did not have time to play in Palm Springs as much as I would have liked. The guys played golf on some wonderful golf courses. I won’t delve into that for it would require a post of it’s own. However, I did get to shop, so I was thrilled.
Downtown Palm Springs: Dowtown is host to fabulous restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. I loved seeing the art galleries and unusual home decor and antique shops. I nearly came home with a huge Hollywood sign. Fortunately I came to my senses and realized I had no place to hang it unless I built a new house. We shopped in the lovely Trina Turk shop and I had a ball dressing my size 00 Barbie doll friend. I feel like we only scratched the surface of downtown. I must come back soon.
El Paseo Shopping District: This is the Rodeo Drive of the Desert and I didn’t have time to shop here. Poor me!! Burberry, Escada and Gucci will have to wait for me until next time.
The River at Rancho Mirage: This is a destination unto itself. It is a shopping and entertainment center. The River provides a park-like waterfront with an entertainemnt ampitheater, live music, fountains and cascading waterfalls. This is also on my list for my next trip.