Palm Springs . . . you were amazing at every turn! Two hours from Los Angeles, it’s been a favourite getaway for celebrities since the early 1900s. And after visiting in November last year, I can see why - it really is the perfect desert oasis and Rat Pack retreat: colourful, hot, fun and an intoxicating combination of laid back cool and full on glamour.
The architecture is unique, the accommodation indulgent, the dining Southern Californian fresh with a definite Mexican influence, the cocktails absolutely the best and the shopping super fun. Oh, and did I mention that the sun always shines?
A destination that’s full of inspiration, I’ve pulled together my favourite discoveries for you.
Definitely worth the splurge, The Parker was all my Palm Springs dreams come true. It’s hip and quirky, and the Jonathan Adler designed interior is like stepping into an Andy Warhol painting. The endless Palm Springs vibes start as you drive up the impressive driveway to the insta-worthy entrance of a white concrete breeze block wall and tangerine-coloured double doors. Add to that the lush gardens, the bar and restaurants (which are destinations of their own), the swimming pools, tennis, bocce and pétanque courts, lemonade stand (serving spiked lemonade, of course) and even a hidden bar (which is definitely worth finding!) - you actually don’t really want to ever leave. I couldn’t get enough of The Parker and can’t wait to go back - stat!
If you manage to leave the seriously good restaurants and bars at The Parker, make sure you head to Azúcar. Located poolside at La Serena Villas (a beautiful boutique hotel), it’s the prefect combination of gorgeous design and seriously good food. The decor is what I’d call globally inspired, but the food is definitely Spanish and Mediterranean influenced.
And my insiders tip - make sure you head up to the rooftop patio with a cocktail to take in a Palm Springs sunset. And make that cocktail a Blood Orange Margarita - so good, especially the chile salt rim.
If you’re short on time, head straight to The Shops at 1345 - a curated collection of shops under one roof, including art, homewares, fashion, vintage and souvenirs. Aside from everything you can buy there, the building is amazing - a modernist structure designed by E. Stewart Williams.
Would be very remiss not to mention the Desert Hills Premium Outlets, even though technically they are 30 minutes outside of Palm Springs. Passing right by them on the way in or out of Palm Springs, you simply have to stop. It’s a massive shopping complex with hundreds of discount designer stores. My advice - know which designers you’re keen to visit so you can make the most of your time here.
Palm Springs is lauded as the home of mid-century modern architecture. When Hollywood stars adopted Palm Springs as a place to escape in the 1920s, along with iconic architects like Donald Wexler and Richard Neutra, they designed and built bold, modern homes, with the distinct relaxed-yet-luxe Palm Springs vibe. We were lucky enough to take an interiors tour of some of these homes with Kurt from Mod Squad Tours. He is super passionate about architecture and design, and shares an incredible amount of knowledge, history and context as your travel with him around Palm Springs viewing some truly inspiring homes.
What amazed me most was how the revolutionary and often experimental features of these homes are some of the design elements we most love about our homes today, like open plan living, a connection with the outdoors and even glass sliding doors. Whatever tour you do (and you absolutely must do one!), make sure it’s a tour that takes in the interiors of the homes, as well as the exteriors.
Joshua Tree National Park is definitely worth the drive for its awe inspiring jagged rock formations and stark desert landscape. Just 45 minutes from Palm Springs, you can get a great feel for the park by driving through it. It’s almost 800,000 acres in size and the unique terrain created by the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts.
And fun fact - U2’s iconic The Joshua Tree album was inspired by “the mythic and real America” and was originally going to be called The Two Americas. The Mojave Desert was chosen as an album photo shoot location to represent to wide open spaces of America, but the band were so taken with the twisted desert trees, the album was renamed.
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