Back in the 1950s and ‘60s heyday of Palm Springs, one could find hotels and restaurants in any number of whimsical, Disneyland-like styles: from Space Age motels with star and rocket motifs, Polynesian-style hotels complete with tiki statues and thatched roofs, eateries that looked like wooden Swiss chalets, and nightclubs that appeared to have been imported from the rainforests of Africa. The era was playful while it lasted, but quickly turned tacky a decade or two later.
Nowadays, most of Palm Springs’ boutique inns and hotels are in a classy, retro-hip, Midcentury style nowadays – either that or a more traditionally Californian red-tile Spanish stucco style. However, you can still visit different worlds and epochs in the desert – be it Morocco, Santa Fe, the South of France, or Hawaii - with a number of themed properties that still thrive in the city today. Thankfully, they’re a lot more tasteful than their counterparts of yesteryear. A small sampling:
Korakia Pensione This upscale inn adjoining downtown Palm Springs “blends the silhouette of Tangier with a whisper of the Mediterranean.” You’ll feel transported to North Africa with the Arabesque archways, Moroccan courtyard, wood beam ceilings, stone walls, and canopy beds - not to mention the selection of Muslim artwork found around the property.
This Santa Fe-style inn, also close to downtown, features a kiva outdoor oven and howling coyote statue at its entrance, true to its name. Southwestern artwork, Native American motifs, Spanish fountains, and in-suite fireplaces complete the feeling of being in Taos – but with much warmer weather!
La Maison Hotel
The former Terrazzo hotel, La Maison’s new owners have revamped the property in a South of France style, with carved four-poster beds, European bedspreads, classic free-standing wardrobes, and wrought iron furnishings. The forty-foot heated swimming pool helps you soak up the sun, just like in Nice.
The Movie Colony Hotel
Designed by renowned Mid-Century architect Albert Frey, The Movie Colony Hotel is decked out in classic Hollywood style. And no wonder – in the ‘50s and ‘60s, guests like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Jim Morrison stayed here. The 16-room hotel was refurbished a few years ago in a vintage vibe, in whites and blacks and silvers.
Del Marcos Hotel
Opened in 1947, the 17-room Del Marco may not at first seemed “themed” since it is decorated in a classic Midcentury Modern style. But its rooms certainly present themes: There’s the Polynesian-style Chi Chi Room (named after a famous Palm Springs’ nightclub), the Hope & Crosby Room, the Oceans 11 Room, the Errol Flynn Suite, and for you spy types, the Shake Not Stirred Room. Famed architect William E. Cody designed the hotel, and the Flintstones-like guestroom facing the street under the slanting rooflines bears his name.