Wake up and start dreaming at the best boutique hotel in Palm Springs.
Parker Palm Springs
A luxury Palm Springs resort hotel unlike any other. This decadent boutique desert oasis has all the right kinds of temptation – luxurious accommodation, an exclusive spa, award-winning dining, and memorable on-property experiences.
Parker Palm Springs Hotel was built in the 50s as the first Holiday Inn in California. Gene Autry then bought the 144-room hotel in 1961 to house his baseball team. In 2003, hotelier Jack Parker took ownership and reincarnated the resort as the Parker Palm Springs. Designed by Jonathan Adler, and updated in 2017, the eclectic vibe is cheeky, hedonistic luxury and colourful California glamour.
I first visited a few years ago and absolutely loved it, so I was keen to revisit the refurbished hotel. The reception area is like an art gallery: pink lip prints adorn the hall walls, sumptuous velvet, a much-photographed quirky sign, and glass vases. Oh, and a couple of knights in shining armour. Walking down the hallway past red doors to our room along colourful graphic carpeted corridors inspired by The Shining. Red rum!
Our Estate King suite is calm, quiet and comfortable with pavilion shutters. In the ornate orange bathroom with opulent gold fish taps are gorgeous products: Hermès and L’Occitane soaps, Le Labo, and Bulgari. A (very) welcome bottle of bubbles and a fruit platter await us on the patterned tablecloth.
A separate lounge has a table with orange chairs, white and black carpeting, comfy armchair complete with lip cushion. There’s a sumptuous blue velvet sofa with vibrant cushions. A fruity looking gold banana ornament in our room, we discover with delight, is also on sale in the spa’s gift shop. The gentle phut-phut of a sprinkler waters the luscious grounds. A screen of plants and a bougainvillea create privacy when sitting outside, and pink petals scatter on the ground.
Following the scented path from our room to late lunch at colourful 5-star diner Norma’s. The orange of the open-air terrace restaurant is a striking contrast to blue skies and towering green palm trees. Breakfast is served all day here. Food is delicious and satisfying. Portions are large, we could have shared!
Take refuge from the desert heat. The Parker has thirteen lushly planted acres in a desert climate landscaping; the planting offering much-needed shade and moisture.
Walk the paths beneath arches of green through tunnels of hedgerows that open to a spread of lawn. A fire circle, a tiled fountain, fruit trees and herb gardens, and a hammock strung between palm trees.
13 acres, 144 rooms, 12 villas, 225 palm trees, 6 fountains, 15 lemon trees, 18 orange trees, 10 grapefruit trees, and 1 garden-to-table organic herb garden.
‘A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in - what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars', Victor Hugo, Les Misérables.
A 7-foot bronze banana sculpture has a heat warning for those getting too close for photos to stop them from burning their bits. So don’t straddle it just because Instagram made you do it!
Parker Palm Springs
Leon serves us a ‘lemon drop’ at The Lemonade Stand by the pétanque courts. We sip sitting on lemon wicker chairs in the shade and look at the cartoony-illustrated map.
Now to relax and lie down by the pool, satisfyingly full, the afternoon heat heavy and the striped parasols adding Beverly Hills-style cool and shade.
But if you’re feeling active there are: 4 clay Tennis Courts, 3 saline Pools, 2 Pétanque Courts, 1 Croquet Lawn, 1 Spa, 1 Putting Green, 1 Fire Pit, Hammocks, Bicycles, Table Tennis, Giant Chess, Golf and Hiking. Phew!
There is also a ‘shrine to wine’ Counter-Reformation, a tapas bar with a confession box to repent and relax.
The hotel has eight accommodation options, including the 'Gene Autry Residence', Villas, Hammock and Poolside.
The Gene Autry residence is beyond fabulous, boasting two bedrooms, two baths, an Old Hollywood vibe with a secret screening room, and a private treatment room. I think I could definitely house a baseball team in here with me. Or have fun trying!
Staff everywhere at the Parker hotel are friendly and welcoming and greet us by name, so we feel completely at home.
Mister Parker's is fine dining at its best where the mood is divine, dark, decadent, and discreet, great for dinner and a nightcap.
Design is eccentric and full of personality and style. A parliament of macrame 70s wise owls adorns the lounge wall. We not-so-wise ladies spin around on the wicker egg-shaped swing chairs by the open firepit.
Well, in the words of Parker’s manifesto: 'You are only young once... but you can be immature forever’.
At recommended Workshop for dinner. Book the patio for alfresco dining in a pretty courtyard or head inside to the contrasting contemporary concrete bunker. We walk in from bright sunshine, into the brutalist interior with uber-cool lighting. We soon settle into the vibe, sitting at the bar, watching the bartender making cocktails. He tells us the building was the desert’s first movie theatre in the 30s to 50s where famous actors came to hide out. I always did love a theme, so I wear a palm-print Whistles dress and drink a delicious ‘California dreaming’ vodka-based cocktail.
Creative-minded chefs concoct dishes and enthusiastic staff bring over different dishes. We enjoy a bright green English pea risotto, fresh black cod, chilli rice and carrot purée. The carefully crafted menu exceeds our expectations and the size of the modest portions means there is room to try the dessert. The layers of flavours are incredible and a taste sensation! Dessert is pistachio mousse cake encased in a gelatin glaze. The tartness of passionfruit contrasts superbly with the creamy pistachio and soft sponge.
Palm Springs Yacht Club/PSYC Spa
PSYC is open daily and located adjacent to the giant banana. This 17,000 sq. ft spa was built in the 80s as an archive sailors' yacht club.
There are bold blue and white stripes, deckchairs, anchor motifs, life rings, rope chandeliers and sail motifs. I feel like I could be in a Tommy Hilfiger campaign.
PSYC has plenty of fruit so you won’t get scurvy! Drink strawberry-infused water and a thimble full of vodka on arrival. A sign reads ‘Loose lips sink ships’.
It's quiet and spacious with high ceilings and tranquil blues. We giggle at the squelching as we sit in the steam room. Toast in the sauna. Swim in the saline room-temperature pool. Relax in the jacuzzi. Read poolside wrapped in white towelling robes. Ah, bliss.
The Manifesto poster reads: “We believe the earth is three-quarters water, and your body is three-quarters water, and...this is purely coincidence.”
Sadly, it's time to check out. Valet parking brings the car around, and we go to check out Cheekys. It’s small and super busy, and we sit at a table outdoors for a sunny yellow huevos rancheros brunch. Lunch places close at 2 pm, so don’t head out too late.
The Estate Sale Company consignment shop has furniture, artwork, gorgeous vases and a faint smell of smoke - does it come from the vintage ashtrays? The streets are quiet mid-week, no-one is walking around in this 30-degree heat, I assume they’re staying in air-conditioned cool or around a pool!
If you'd like to take a piece of Parker home with you, visit Bon Vivant ‘vintage decorative accessories for the modern home’ for the glassware and 70s crochet owl wall art.
Parker Palm Springs Bon Vivant
Palm Springs, Southern California, where the sun shines 300 days of the year...
Written by Crystal McClory
For more info and to organise your trip contact Abbotts Travel
Tel: 020 8989 9445 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel in style with quirky design Jonathan Adler travel set.
jonathanadler.com Slim Aarons Archive/Getty Images Gallery
Fans of Harry Styles might be aware that the thriller ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ was shot in Greater Palm Springs. Scenes were filmed at the house where Slim Aarons photographed Poolside Gossip. Harry Styles’ ‘Love on Tour’ concert was at Acrisure Arena in Greater Palm Springs, which featured as the fictional Victory Town.
Things to do:
Palm Springs Museum for mid-century architecture and decor.
Modernism Week, an annual 11-day festival with more than 350 events including Palm Springs Modernism Show, CAMP, tours of iconic homes, and Signature Home Tour.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is every January, and Palm Springs ShortFest is in June showing over 100 of the world's best films.
The triangle roof of Albert Frey’s Tramway petrol station is home to Palm Springs Visitor Information Center.
Joshua tree National Park - watch out for cacti and rattlesnakes!
Eat and drink:
Cheekys for breakfast and lunch or cocktails with brunch.
Popular Bar Cecil, in homage to Cecil Beaton, looks gorgeous with twinkly lights and a queue for tables so book in advance.
Birba, enjoy pizza and pasta alfresco.
Boozehounds is a stylish eatery that allows dogs and offers brunch, cocktails and SoCal dishes.
For French food dine alfresco at Le Vallauris.
Melviyn's restaurant has American fayre and Hollywood glamour.
Workshop creative cuisine in modernist concrete architecture.
Bon Vivant vintage decorative accessories for the modern home.
The Estate Sale Company consignment shop.
The Frippery vintage clothing, caftans, objects, and curiosities.
Bobo design studio stationery and sunshine.
Elizabeth & Prince - lifestyle boutique for the traveler, explorer, and wanderer.
Hermano Flower Shop is a collective for flowers, music and art.
Market Market 40,000 sq ft emporium of fine vintage, repurposed goods: apparel, accessories, housewares, furniture, art & design.
Mojave Flea Trading Post marketplace of makers and merchants.
Parker Palm Springs