Hollywood stars, from the silent era to today’s blockbusters, are another influence on classic Palm Springs style. You can roll through the Movie Colony neighborhood on a bus tour and glimpse the home where Frank Sinatra romanced Ava Gabor, Liberace threw his notorious parties, and on the hillside, the spacey roofline of the home where Bob Hope could seat 300 for dinner. The Rat Pack were notorious guests. Elvis Presley honeymooned here and Leonardo di Caprio keeps a house ready for visits. The bus tour guides pack their narration with historical notes and fun anecdotes. Here’s a post of some of the places covered on the tour.
Here’s a sampling of small scale, classic Palm Springs hospitality
The Monkey Tree
Palm Springs is the center of Modernism with more inns embodying that style than anywhere else in the country and more places are being revived all the time. The Monkey Tree sits a bit north of downtown on Racquet Club Lane. You can’t miss the sweeping angles of the main building but the biggest treats are behind the entry doors. I’ll be writing up all the wonders at this bright and fun spot soon.
The La Maison Inn swept Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards this year. Canadians, Richard Slosky and Cornelia Schuster opened the Mediterranean-country-styled space in 2012 and have been nurturing guests at their property ever since. They pamper visitors with sweet touches like lavender sachets on pillows, complimentary espresso drinks, fresh popcorn, bottled water, soda, beer, and a nightly wine hour. Each of the 13 rooms offers luxury linens and L’Occitane bath amenities.
You can’t miss the Art Deco lettering and signature curves on the street entrance to the Westcott. Inside the courtyard arches and rooms curl around a slim pool. The rooms are garnished with Art Deco touches from headboards to chandeliers. Morning amenities – delicious fruit and yogurt dishes, fresh pastries and coffee greet early risers. In the afternoon, guests mingle at a complimentary happy hour. Owner, Mathew Westcott purchased the hotel in 2017 after leaving a corporate career in London and New York. He has a natural talent for hospitality.
One classic Palm Springs trait is an affection for privacy. For the guest wanting an inclusive, swimsuit-optional and male-centric experience, the Santiago is a gracious inn with an impeccable sense of style. The 23 generously-sized rooms are set with leather lounge chairs, deep hues, and crafted woods in a Modern Ranchero mood. It’s one of the few neighborhood inns with a second story framed by mature palms and foliage. After coming under new ownership in 2015, the partners determined to “redefine what a premier gay resort can be” according to General Manager, Kent Taylor.
While focusing on male guests, women are not excluded. During the last Coachella Festival, a group of four women booked rooms at the Santiago because they knew it would be a “fun and safe place to stay.” The hotel is steps from three other LGBTQ friendly inns tied together into a supportive community.
The Castenada family, Felipe, Lisbet and their eldest daughter, Karina are part of every effort at the Los Arboles. The building was in ruins when they purchased it but you wouldn’t know that today. There’s a beautiful courtyard restaurant with a choice of pool-side service. Los Arboles means the trees and bird song filters past the hammocks at each room. The setting transports you into a Mexican oasis.
Once Hollywood legend, Gloria Swanson, entertained her paramours and close friends in the original Amin Casa bungalow. Now the original home, garage and tennis courts have been transformed into guest rooms. No luxury has been overlooked and lush gardens hem walkways. There’s room for only 14 adult guests and downtown is a short walk away.
It’s hard to decide which one to stay in next time I visit classic Palm Springs. Which would you choose?
Many thanks to IFWTWA and the Palm Springs Association of Small Preferred Hotels for making these discoveries possible. As always opinions are all my own.