Kooky Palm Springs has stepped up its hotel game lately, and the offerings run the gamut from intimate and rustic to more lavish villas fitted out with five-star amenities. What remains consistent, though, is the town’s entrancing "desert modernism" aesthetic and discreet vibe; you’re just as likely to catch a crew of European retirees scouting the famous Architecture and Design Center as a Hollywood A-lister lounging by the pool. And speaking of which, you won’t find a single property on our list that doesn’t have one—with the dazzling sun overhead and mountain views all around, spending time poolside is practically a requirement for travelers who make their way out to this colorful, spirited town, whether you're making the trip for Coachella or are just looking for an easy weekend getaway.
Top hotels in Palm Springs
It comes as no surprise that Palm Springs’ concept of luxury is as colorful and zany as something out of a Lewis Carroll story. While a stay at the Jonathan Adler-designed, 13-acre Eden is a bit of a splurge, once you’re here, there’s no need to leave. Start your day with a libation from the Lemonade Stand and explore the exquisitely manicured grounds. Take a nap on one of the palm-tree-slung hammocks or cozy up by one of the fire pits. Once you’ve gotten your second wind, reserve time at the clay tennis courts or petanque or croquet areas. Then take a dip in one of the saline pools or head to Palm Springs Yacht Club (PSYC), a 3,000-square-foot spa, to use the Jacuzzi and steam room at no charge. End your day with dinner at Mister Parker’s supper club, self-billed as a place for fops, flaneurs and assorted other cronies.
The Palm Springs Ace Hotel, housed in what was once a Motel 6, is the party destination for hip young travelers heading to the desert. They've got all the accoutrements, from a photo booth and retro macrame in the lobby to record players and vintage magazines in the rooms. There are also fancy robes and decked-out walking sticks for guests to use during their stay, which means that as the day goes on, more and more guests look like hippie cult members running around with hoods and canes. And it is a bit of a cult—the guests here are die-hard, looking to see and be seen by the pool, out on beach cruiser bikes or in the decent (but a little over-priced) restaurant, King's Highway (which used to be a 24-hr Denny's). The hotel offers $20 day passes for pool use, which gives non-guests access to the scene (and the parties and live music that often grace the grounds). The Ace is almost so hip that it's becoming a charicature of itself—if you're down to party all night with trendy 20-somethings, this is your spot, but the more sophisticated (or relaxed) traveler might look elsewhere.
There’s more to this Mediterranean-themed compound than just olive trees and hanging Moroccan lanterns. Because this is Palm Springs, you can expect two heated pools, though Korakia brings its own flavor: spread throughout two handsomely restored villas from the 1920s and 1930s, each guest room boasts unique features. One might feature a rustic four-poster bed with crisp, billowing linen, while others have colossal, rough-hewn granite tubs—you’ll feel like you’re bathing on the edge of a creek in the Atlas Mountains. The place oozes warmth and sophistication, prompting many a traveler to abandon sightseeing altogether, opting instead to throw bocce balls in the bougainvillea-scented courtyard.
In the middle of downtown Palm Springs, this quaint cluster of terra-cotta roof bungalows and cottages, set amid immaculately carved hedges and three (count ‘em) pools, offers up a healthy dose of Beverly Hills decadence. Despite the veneer, rates are quite reasonable, though extras like spa treatments and meals at the appropriately-named Chi Chi restaurant will certainly set you back. Rooms are dressed up whiter than a snowflake (white porcelain floor tiles, white leather chairs, white marble bathrooms...you get the idea), with bold black and chrome accents for contrast. In short, whether you end up in a standard pool-facing room or one of the enviable bungalows, you’ll either find yourself craving more varied colors, or surrendering helplessly to the alabaster mania.
Remember when you pledged to “take a break” from social media and try living off the grid for a while? Well, this bite-size resort might be the closest you’ll come to a psuedo-digital detox while still enjoying Palm Springs’ languid desert vibes. There are no phones or TVs to be found in any of the guest rooms, though you will get plenty of rustic accoutrements, like a horse trough bathtub and rich, stained oak paneling. A highlight is the gorgeous communal barn—a restored 1952 structure where Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery was reportedly married—which functions as a bar, restaurant and general hang-out spot (it’s also where the hotel serves a daily continental breakfast, which is included in the $18 resort fee).
The Saguaro is way less cheesy than it looks. A bright, color-blocked facade and blue bedrooms with lime furniture and purple carpeting may sound like a designer's worst nightmare, but somehow this place pulls it off. Maybe because it's so pleasant to be here. The hotel is massive, but the amenities are plentiful, the staff is friendly and the spa and pool are quite nice (though they do blare poolside music rather loud). The food is nothing to write home about, but it's Palm Springs, so no one arrives expecting five-star fine dining anyway. If you're here on the weekends, it may feel a little Jersey Shore-ish, with lots of bachelor/ette parties and booze-fueled bros, but the place is set up so you can mostly avoid anyone you don't wish to lounge near.
Making the drive out to Palm Springs always lulls us into a dreamy, carefree stupor—and this intimate spot only adds to the town’s glitzy appeal. Originally built by mobster Al Wertheimer in the 1930s (the pantry had a trick door leading to a secret brothel), the hotel has come a long way in its near-90-year history. Today, the rooms are luxurious without being over-the-top, while the thick greenery will make you feel like you’re tucked away in a rustic Spanish hacienda (even though the town’s main drag is a block away). The tree-shaded pool gets lively on the weekends, but never out of hand—and the downstairs speakeasy-style restaurant, Purple Palm, makes for a classy dinner spot after a day of bikini lounging.
The first thing you'll notice when checking into L’Horizon is the quiet. With its 25 delicately-appointed bungalows and sumptuous open-air spa, the 2015-opened property bills itself as Palm Springs’ only luxury boutique hotel. And you kind of have to believe them. The design is razor-sharp: private outdoor showers and copper-hooded fireplaces add a homey touch, while the floor-to-ceiling windows flood each room with light. Steve Hermann, an accomplished Hollywood-based designer, has overseen the project, which explains the discreet, CEO-meets-desert-Maharaja vibe. The infinity-edge pool is another highlight, with seemingly unobstructed views of the San Jacinto Mountains and the wide, blue California sky.
Sometimes you just need a place to stay without the fuss and frills, and Hotel California does a pretty great job of that. What it lacks in designer amenities, a spa and a restaurant, it makes up for in homey, unpretentious charm. Don’t feel like dining out? There’s a full kitchen for guests with all the utensils you’ll need to blend your own date shakes, or fry up an omelette in the morning (there are also two grills outside—BBQ by the pool, anyone?). Since there are only 15 rooms (plus a two-story townhouse with a private balcony), foot traffic through the lush courtyard, which is surrounded by towering banana palm trees and serenaded by a gurgling fountain, is minimal. Ditto for the guest lounge, which serves coffee and fresh fruit all day.
The Riviera, just on the outskirts of downtown Palm Springs, offers modern (if on the small side) rooms, a friendly staff and a hoppin' pool, where you can get food and drinks all daylong. There's also a small fitness center, a stunning spa and space for meetings and such. There are often weddings here, so the grounds can sometimes be off-limits aside from brides and grooms. The Riviera may lack the charm of some smaller properties in Palm Springs, but for an event or a weekend stay it's got all the amenities you'll need.