Predating Palm Springs' mid-century modern craze, the Colony Palms Hotel opened in 1936 as a private hotel and has maintained a vintage feel that is likely to appeal to romantic couples.
The Colony Palms is also a hotel with a deliciously shady past: The original owner, Al Wertheimer, was a member of Detroit's deadly Purple Gang. The mob men, who were already operating illegal gambling halls in nearby Cathedral City, bet on Palm Springs becoming the next Las Vegas. To woo players, two-story accommodations, set beside a swimming pool and surrounded by palm trees, were erected.
Those original accommodations served as a front for the gambling den and brothel installed in the basement of the current hotel restaurant. (Today the space is used as a wine cellar.)
After the Purple Gang boys faded, the property passed through several hands including those of Robert Howard, whose father owned Seabiscuit. His Academy-Award-winning actress wife, Andrea Leeds Howard, made the hotel a welcoming place for the Hollywood elite after World War II.
Regular guests into the 1970s included Ronald Reagan, Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Kim Kardashian of her day.
Colony Palms Hotel's star then went into decline until 2007, when its latest iteration reopened after a renovation. Today this 57-room hotel is both an historic treasure and a delightful modern retreat.
Guest Room at Colony Palms Hotel
Follow the verdant pathway past the pool to room #20. The exterior of this couple-sized love shack is covered with ivy, beckoning you to enter a world that appears made for you alone.
The first thing you're likely to notice after unlocking the door is the tall fireplace in the corner; it's painted with horizontal, purple-and-white stripes, a nod to the founders. Yes, it's real, and yes, it's romantic.
There's also a triple-sheeted, king-size bed with a tall headboard embroidered in a colorful Moroccan style.
The liquor stock on a nearby unit would do a discriminating bartender proud. Patron, Grey Goose and other fine spirits are arrayed to further intoxicate a couple. A mini fridge chills soda, Red Bull, beer and wine, along with a jar of olives to fashion your own martinis; glasses and gin are also provided.
Raise a toast to your love from the comfy leather chairs, and turn on the flatscreen LG (Showtime included) if you need to check that the rest of the world is still there. Wi-fi is provided at no extra cost.
The white-tiled shower is big enough for two, but you'll have to take turns ducking under the single spout. Seductively scented C.O. Bigelow sundries (lavender and peppermint) are provided, as well as terry-on-the-inside, silky-on-the-outside bathrobes that you'll want to live in (but bring your own slippers or flip-flops if you don't like walking on a bare floor).
Dining at Colony Palms Hotel
A couple can't help but feel as if they're living the good life when they start the day eating breakfast outdoors beside the Colony Palms pool with a view of the San Jacinto Mountains.
The alfresco part of the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar is divided by a bar where complimentary coffee is available. Spotting a tyke, we hightailed it to the other side. When a new couple with a beautiful dog took a seat nearby, we knew we'd chosen our location well.
One of the morning specialties, the BLTA Croissant — an egg with Havarti cheese, crisp bacon and avocado slices on a croissant — is delicious enough to persuade anyone with an appetite to hop the next flight to to Palm Springs.
Lunch and dinner are also served on the patio as well as inside the high-ceilinged dining room.
And if you'd rather feed the fiction that there's no one else around but you (and a chef and waiter), order room service and dine outside at the little round table beside your room.
Activities at Colony Palms Hotel
Swim in the rectangular pool. Salute the sun from a lounge chair. Soak in the daisy-petal-shaped hot tub. Savor a meal at the Purple Palm. And spend time in the spa.
Located around the corner from the pool and restaurant, the spa has spaces for individual treatments. If you stay in a large guest room and would like a couples massage, the manager can arrange to send send practitioners to your private quarters.
Weddings at Colony Palms Hotel
Take advantage of Palm Springs' glorious weather to stage an outdoor destination wedding on the premises. The poolside terrace and grounds, along with the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar, provide a variety of settings for a gathering. To start the conversation, fill out the Events & Weddings form on the hotel's website.
Romance at Colony Palms Hotel
The hotel offers several packages for adults (thankfully, there are no facilities for children, so most visitors don't bring little monsters along).
We're partial to the Escape Risqué offering, which includes:
- Two-night stay in a casita
- Bedside flowers
- Bottle of Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival
- Two 50-minute treatments at The Spa
- Reserved bed or private cabana
- Lunch for two each day
We also like that the hotel makes it possible to pre-order "indulgences" online ahead of time that assures flowers, a rose-petal welcome, fresh fruit or a gourmet cheese plate will be delivered to your room.
The Colony Palms Hotel at Night
The pool and hot tub are both heated to a very comfortable 85°, which makes early morning and late night swims a special delight.
In the evenings, count the stars and sit outside and warm yourselves by the fireplace.
What Could Be Improved at the Colony Palms Hotel?
We loved staying at the Colony Palms, but it is an older hotel and it wasn't as sparkling-clean as we would have liked.
We were surprised that the towels in the bathroom were a dingy gray. When we mentioned this to the general manager, we were told that he was on the case, sourcing new bright, white fluffy replacements. So perhaps by the time you visit, they'll be on the rack.
Here's what we'd love: Two big, luxurious bath sheets in every room. Skip the almost-big-enough bath towels most hotels provide and give guests something they can wrap around themselves. We're partial to ones by Pendleton.
We also wished that someone had closely inspected our embroidered headboard. It's hard to keep soft goods that don't get washed between check-ins clean. We noticed some questionable spots on ours.
Last, the room's flooring needs scrubbing. We don't like walking around on bare floors, so we picked up a pair of slippers. By the end of our four-day stay, the pink soles were dark gray.
Should these drawbacks keep you from booking a stay? Unless you're morbidly germophobic, no. It truly is a one-of-a-kind place to spend a sexy weekend.
Find Out More About Colony Palms Hotel
Colony Palms Hotel
572 N. Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262