Ripple effect: the Palm Springs hotels making waves

There must be something about all that sunshine and blue-on-blue sky, but Palm Springs has long lured a particular tribe of traveller – savvy, design-conscious, and fastidious about their choice of lodgings. Aiding the cause is the area’s haul of classic mid-century architecture, many of which, thanks to generous proportions and outdoor spaces, have been successfully co-opted or refurbished as bright and cheerful hotels.

Hotels at Palm beaches
(Image credit: thesaguaro)

The Saguaro

No one would ever accuse the Saguaro of being a shrinking violet. Architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat have turned an unheralded 1977 property into a riot of hues, a theme meant to reflect the spirit of the Coachella Valley desert and desert flowers. The 244 rooms, each with an adjoining private balcony or patio, is furnished in bold slashes of blues, yellows, and greens. The Olympic-sized heated pool, meanwhile, is encircled by towering palm trees. Lunch at the Mexican cantina sets the mood for a well-spent afternoon in one of the hotel’s two bars.

1800 E Palm Springs Canyon Road, Palm Springs, California 92264, tel: 1.760 323 1711;

Steps view in a hotel

(Image credit: theparkerpalmsprings)


If Palm Springs can sometimes feel a little Jetsons in its youthful pop-art future-retro sensibilities, then the 131-room Parker might well provide a more grounded, grown-up antidote. The 13-acre estate bears all the hallmarks of designer Jonathan Adler, which is to say soothing shades and textures, plush rugs and deep, comfy sofas – all of which is tinged with a well-heeled Hamptons vibe. There is just no need to ever leave the grounds, not with four restaurants (one of which is an outpost of New York’s Norma’s), a ludicrously huge 18,000 sq ft Palm Springs Yacht Club spa, four red-clay tennis courts, and croquet and petanque lawns.

4200 E Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California 92264; tel: 1.760 770 5000;

Swimming pool at palm springs

(Image credit: Jake Holt)

Monkey Tree Hotel

Opened in 1960, the Albert Frey-designed Monkey Tree has lured Hollywood A-listers, including Marilyn Monroe and a certain American president. And why not? There is a distinct summery louche-ness about the setting, a sunlit spot within direct eye-line of the San Jacinto Mountains. The hotel was bought over in 2015, faithfully restored and refurbished by its new owner Kathleen Friedle (ex-Gensler), and reopened a year later as a 16-room hotel dressed in sunny hues of yellows and blues, and furnished with simple mid-century furniture rescued from flea markets and estate sales.  

2388 E Racquet Club Road, Palm Springs, California 92262; tel: 1.760 322 6059;

Photography: Jake Holt

Holiday house at palm springs

(Image credit: holidayhouseps)

Holiday House

The proprietors of Holiday House take their mission so seriously, they admit only guests over 21 and well-behaved pets, while TVs and phones are verboten in each of the 28 rooms. All the easier to enjoy interior designer Mark Sikes’ spruce-up of the original 1951 building by Herbert W Burns which includes sky-blue floors and blue-striped wallpaper and rugs, Gio Ponti-esque tiles in the bar, artwork by David Hockney and Herb Ritts, and spacious patios set around a long lap-pool fringed with palm trees. Meanwhile, the menu at the Pantry is a small but tasty California-lite spread of lobster roll, avocado chicken salad, and hot-dogs.

200 W Arenas Road, Palm Springs, California 92262; tel: 1.760 320 8866;

Ace hotel and swim club at palm springs

(Image credit: acehotel)

Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Ever since the Ace debuted in Seattle in 1999, it has managed to stay true to its unusual DNA of slick yet quirky modernism, where fuss-free décor fuses cleanly with a strong sense of location. Its 173-room Palm Springs property is no exception, with the LA-based Commune studio updating the mid-century lines of the original 1965 Westward Ho Hotel by layering the original terrazzo flooring with recycled material, bleached canvas, hemp and butternut wood, and vintage furniture. Distractions include nearby Joshua Tree and a desert community replete with indie artists and musicians.

701 E Palm Drive, Palm Springs, California 92264; tel: 1.760 325 9900;

Living room in palm springs

(Image credit: rivierapalmsprings)

The Riviera

Like so many other storied piles in Palm Springs, The Riviera, which was designed by the architect Irwin Schuman in 1959, is prized as much for its lovely architectural silhouette as for its outsized clientele, among them Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Happily, Rose Ink Workshop were careful to balance the building’s bones and history with the tastes of a more discerning set by way of curvaceous lit screens, boxwood walls, green carpets, pendant shades and geometric patterns. By day, the irregularly-shaped pool is a draw, while the Gypsy Rose, paneled in dark blue shades, makes for a perfect post-prandial hideout.

1600 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California 92262; tel: 1.760 327 8311;

Californian palm springs

(Image credit: arrivehotels)


The 32-room Arrive makes the most of its location in the midst of Uptown Design District’s clutch of bijoux galleries and artists’ studios. But, equally, there is plenty to admire indoors, not least the spacious rooms where Palm Springs’ clear desert light is filtered through clerestory windows, and private patios anchored by cozy fireplaces. The San Jacinto mountain range sets the tone for languid days on the bocce court, poolside cocktails, and mod Southern Californian chow at Reservoir.

1551 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California 92262; tel: 1.760 507 7037;

Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.