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There’s nowhere quite like Palm Springs. Just a two-hour drive southeast of Los Angeles, the glam desert oasis is defined by its mid-century modern architecture and tales of Hollywood icons who’ve been drawn there for decades. Naturally, both of these things are woven into the DNA of the city’s boutique hotels which promise style, relaxation, a storied past and maybe even a celebrity sighting if you know just where to go. Here, the boutique sleeps you shouldn't miss on your next trip out west.
Best Overall: Sparrows Lodge
A true boutique hotel with just 20 rooms, Sparrows Lodge was built in the 1950s as an exclusive retreat for LA’s elite. Following a complete renovation in 2013, the property reemerged modern and luxurious, but the spot still retains its alluring atmosphere. Rustic-luxe rooms feature high ceilings, exposed beams, high-quality bedding and fine art; some also have deep-soaking tubs and open showers (heads up — there are no televisions). Sparrows Lodge is ideal for those who want to relax without much of a scene. During the day, kick back on a daybed by the saltwater pool, then at night, pull up a chair to the fire pit. A complimentary, simple breakfast is served in The Barn Kitchen. Here, you can order casual eats like sandwiches and salads throughout the day. Dinner is only served on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a limited number of guests and must be pre-booked. The low-key bar serves drinks until 11 PM.
Best Budget: V Palm Springs
Conveniently located on East Palm Canyon Drive, just a three-minute drive from the heart of downtown, the V is everything you could want in a Palm Springs hotel — without the fuss. Understated rooms with modern accents face onto an Instagram-able pool area where college students, couples on romantic breaks and young families co-mingle happily. Elixir Bar offers a diverse menu for a day spent relaxing by the pool; order cocktails, as well as snacks like mahi-mahi tacos or a green curry lobster roll. Beyond that, you’ll need to head off-property to eat. Luckily, V Palm Springs is surrounded by some of the city's top-rated restaurants. Hit Elmer’s for a classic diner breakfast, King’s Highway for a hip lunch or dinner and swanky Mr. Lyons for a nightcap. PS: All are reachable on foot. For the best view, book a Balcony Pool View Room which offers a private outdoor space with palm tree, desert and mountain panoramas.
Best Design: L’Horizon
A chic desert hideaway for A-listers since the 1950s, L’Horizon re-opened in 2015 after a $10 million upgrade. L’Horizon’s 25 luxurious bungalows are spread out over the property's three acres which also include a sleek pool which serves as the hotel’s natural centerpiece. Here, rooms capitalize on dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and palm trees with designs that are dripping in floor-to-ceiling windows, private patios, outdoor showers and cozy fireplaces. Interior designs pay homage to the past with vintage furniture and mid-century details, but they’re also thoroughly modern with brass fixtures, hanging lamps and luxe bed linens. Hotel restaurant SO.PA has brought culinary clout to Palm Springs. In the evenings — lit by the glow of fire pits and fairy lights — guests dine alfresco on the spot's refined modern American fare (think organic duck breast, scallops and tortellini and steak frites). At the on-site spa, indulge with a massage, facial or body-wrap, then relax in the tranquil outdoor space. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center and group workout classes if you're looking to stay active.
Best for Families: The Saguaro
If The Saguaro looks familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen it on Instagram. The hotel’s rainbow color scheme presents a photo-worthy scene at every turn. The property was formerly a Holiday Inn, and for many, it will conjure nostalgic childhood memories of family vacations. Today, it’s still an ideal hotel for families — it's just gotten a bit of an overhaul. Along with a kid-friendly pool, there’s a grassy area for children to run and play. Rooms at The Saguaro are, like the hotel exterior, colorful and vibrant, decorated with funky Mexican furniture. Every room has a balcony or patio and some ground-floor rooms have a small private garden. Eat by the pool or at one of two Mexican restaurants. Rocco’s Electric is a casual venue offering breakfast as well as salads and sandwiches, while El Hefe, a hip, low-lit spot, serves up tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and other Mexican favorites. Downtown Palm Springs is just a short drive away, but the hotel also offers a shuttle, making it convenient if you're traveling sans car.
Best for Romance: Korakia Pensione
Koraika Pensione may be in downtown Palm Springs — just a 10-minute walk from the Art Museum and the action of Palm Canyon Drive — but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Tucked behind white-washed walls on a quiet side street, close to the foot of the mountains, the romantic, peaceful hideaway was opened by a Scottish artist in the 1920s and inspired by time spent in Europe and North Africa. Set amongst 1.5 acres of flowers, fruit trees and stone fountains, the accommodations — 28 in total — are a mix of single rooms, bungalows and villas. The resort is divided into two parts: ‘Mediterranean’ and ‘Moroccan,’ but in both, all rooms are decorated in a rustic-luxe style with handcrafted furniture and Persian rugs (there are no televisions or telephones). A complimentary gourmet breakfast is served every morning; for other meals, you’ll need to venture to one of the many nearby eateries.
Best for Luxury: Parker Palm Springs
Famed interior designer Jonathan Adler stamped his eccentric-chic style on the Parker Palm Springs when he oversaw the hotel’s major renovation in 2004 (and an additional refresh in 2017). Offering a glamorous Palm Springs experience, the 144-room property is on 13 lush, sprawling acres about a 10-minute drive from downtown. Accommodations range from standard rooms to standalone villas and they're hip without being quite as kooky as the common areas. (The carpet on the lobby staircase is inspired by cult horror film The Shining, and there's a 900-pound bronze banana on the hotel lawn.) PSYC (Palm Springs Yacht Club) is the hotel spa, a serene retreat decorated in a nautical theme with an enticing menu of treatments. Dine at Norma’s, open from breakfast through dinner, for modern American, Mexican and European-inspired plates served on a colorful open-air terrace. Mister Parker’s is an upscale eatery in a low-lit dining room. Be forewarned: it feels wrong to not order a martini when dining in the decadent spot (open from 6 PM Wednesday through Sunday).
Best for Singles: Ace Hotel & Swim Club
Ace Hotels are known for their hip style and communal atmosphere and the Palm Springs outpost is no exception to this rule. Housed in a former motel, the 179-room property attracts a creative crowd drawn to an upbeat pool scene, casual-cool restaurant King’s Highway and lively Amigo Room bar. As a Palm Springs cultural hub, the Ace hosts weekly bingo and trivia nights, as well as regular film screenings, art exhibitions and live music. On weekends, the main pool is often the site of pool parties (there’s a second, quieter pool if you’re after a more chill atmosphere). Speaking of chilling, the Feel Good Spa offers massages, facials and wraps and other treatments with all-natural products. Rooms at the Ace are outfitted with cool, retro-chic touches and range from a Standard King to the epic Ace Suite. Many rooms come equipped with Crosley record players for you to tinker with. Wherever you bed down, you'll enjoy a view of the pool or the San Jacinto mountains.
Best for Business: Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs
Smack dab in the heart of downtown the Kimpton Rowan offers the amenities of a large hotel but the atmosphere of a boutique property. One of Palm Springs’ newest hotels (it opened in November 2017), the seven-story property boasts a sleek rooftop pool and bar with views of the mountains and desert. Enjoy the same outlook from many (not quite all) of the rooms thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. Elegant, modern accommodations offer plush robes and flat-screen TVs but book a Suite if you want a deep-soaking bathtub and a large workspace, too. High-speed internet (available for a fee unless you’re an IHG Rewards Club member), sunrise coffee service, a state-of-the-art fitness center and in-room spa treatments aim to make your visit productive and stress-free. There are several on-site dining options: 4 Saints serves up seasonal, shareable plates; Juniper Table is more of a daytime joint, the focus on being fresh and fast. Plus, guests can always drink and dine by the rooftop pool.
Best Center City: Colony Palms Hotel
This iconic Palm Springs hotel — with its unbeatable location steps from the best of downtown — was founded in the 1930s by reputed Detroit mobster Al Wertheimer. Once a playground for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, the hotel has since left its debaucherous days behind, but it still feels like an escape from reality. The leafy grounds have jaw-dropping views of the mountains and desert, as well as a 65-foot saltwater pool, jacuzzi and blissful spa. Purple Palm restaurant is a nourishing, modern Californian eatery with an innovative cocktail menu that nods to the hotel’s excessive past. All 57 guestrooms are tastefully decorated, boasting luxury linens, plush bathrobes, large LCD TVs, oversized showers and marble-top vanities. That said, some take luxury to the next level; book a Junior Suite to soak in a claw-foot bathtub while the fireplace roars.