Western Living Magazine
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A hotel revolution has comes to Palm Springs: these are the new rooms we're buzzing about.
It’s tough to believe it’s been eight years since the über-hip Ace Hotel set up shop in the then-sleepy borough of Palm Springs and helped usher in the town’s second act as a SoCal hot spot. But Palm Springs is entering phase two of its modern rejuvenation with a slew of slick new hotels that up the valley’s design game.
A big step up in room size is opening-as-we-speak the Rowan from the Kimpton group, whose 153 rooms count as downright Las Vegas-ian in this land of small inns. Its heft comes with things like a rooftop pool, a proper fitness centre and in-room spa services, and its location right on a prime slice of Palm Canyon means this is one of the few places where a car is not needed.
One of the first to arrive was—wait for it—the Arrive, which opened last year at the north end of Palm Canyon in an area that’s now dubbed “the Uptown Design District,” and it marked a new direction: out was the mid-century kitsch, in was a Richard Serra–esque rusted-steel facade designed by Seattle architect Chris Pardo with clean, spare lines and elevated offerings like Apple TV and highly pocketable Malin and Goetz products (and outdoor movies by the pool). Its attached architecturally themed restaurant—the Draughtsman—is packed Thursday through Saturday with craft-beer lovers.
While the valley is undoubtedly a mid-century design epicentre, there were other places here long before Richard Neutra envisioned his minimalist desert homes. One of the oldest houses in the city, the circa-1925 William Mead house, was transformed into the luxe Willows Inn, which has just undergone a full renovation. The eight-room inn is tucked between Palm Springs’ two swankiest ’hoods—Old Las Palmas and the Tennis Club—so it feels a bit like bunking with a fantastically generous old-world patron. Its classic antique decor—think Barbara Barry meets Ernest Hemingway (the latter of whom was actually a visitor to the home in its early years)—is a welcome antidote to the pop art posters so prevalent everywhere else in town.
Closer to downtown is the months-old Holiday House and its 21-and-over crowd, and if there’s a prettier spot in the valley than this chill blue-and-white-hued oasis, we haven’t seen it. The building originally opened in 1951 as the Chase Hotel, but its “exclusive select clientele” lustre faded considerably in the following decades. It’s been revamped by Los Angeles designer Mark Sikes in his signature cool palette, which blends the generous footprint of the old rooms with reimagined kitchenettes and bedrooms kitted out in original art (Baldessari, Basquiat, Alex Katz), wicker and modern textiles—all with a sophistication that belies its rather reasonable rack rate.
The new Truss and Twine is from the team that brought you Workshop next door, so expect the same sort of direct-from-L.A. design and highfalutin menu; down Palm Canyon and waaaay down the price scale is Dead or Alive, an impossible-to-find beer and wine bar with a lo-fi vibe and a lock on being where the cool locals water themselves; back up the price scale, Seymour’s is ensconced in the back of the tiny Mr. Lyons steakhouse and has a 1950s vibe as reimagined by well-heeled Gen-Xers, with two-handed Manhattans and lots of velvet.
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