My buddy Sam is going to Palm Springs in May, and he asked me for "suggestions on cool places to drink other than the Ace and that place with the purple walls."
What I drummed up from architect/illustrator/design maven Kelly Lynn Waters, is in fact an entire weekend guide:
Palm Springs, how could I have been so blind to you all those years I lived in Los Angeles? Perhaps the incessant sun in LA does not make one search out more incessant sun? I don't know but sometimes I feel like I haven't seen the sun in 10 years living here in San Francisco. Wouldn't it be great if we could mesh the two cities together or at least move them closer? (I'm also voting to move Tahoe closer if we are moving cities around. Wouldn't that be stellar? L.A., S.F., P.S., and Tahoe all within couple hours of each other?) But we aren't moving cities around we are talking about how incredible Palm Springs happens to be so...
I'll admit that I thought it was a bit one dimensional and didn't have much going for it except all that glamour from half a century or more ago but I have to tell you Palms Springs kinda blew me away. To start I always have a difficult time packing for any and all trips. I've been a long time "carry on" girl since my girlscout days when I was told to "only pack what you can carry." This always poses a bit of a problem since I'm always traveling to a city which requires at least four pairs of shoes (something for walking, going for a run, heels, and usually another pair for ensemble reasons) and I can usually only fit in 3. But somehow everything went seamlessly from my closet into my suitcase and I wore every single piece. Of course when you spend most days in your new Malia Mills bathing suit and occasional cover and big hat this makes dressing a little easier.
Alright let's get down to brass tacks shall we?
Where to Stay:
The Ace (pictured above): Cheap and well designed. Just don't expect much in the way of service here. And if you are anything like me you'll only want to stay here during the week and not on weekends. Do I have to explain that one?
The Korakia (pictured above): An incredible place to stay for a fairly reasonable price with INCREDIBLE service. I swear every gal who works here is gorgeous AND a doll. It's in a great location and feels so private. I don't know how to explain it. It's a gem.
The Parker Palm Springs: Well hello Mister fancy pants. This place is GORGEOUS but it will cost you. But seriously incredibly designed. Book it now. And Jonathan Adler makes me so happy I'm gonna ask him and Simon to move in with me.
Hotel Lautner: And a little out of the way in Desert Hot Springs you have the refurbished hotel originally designed in 1947 by John Lautner of course. I know little more than that as I haven't had a chance to get there yet but an architect like Lautner is worth the pilgrimage.
Or if you wanted to stay out in Joshua Tree you could stay in one of these experimental properties. I lose my breath just looking at them.
Where to Eat + Drink:
Mister Parker's: If you don't stay at The Parker you must at least visit and that means dinner or cocktails.
Viceroy's Citron: While it is a hotel I loved their lunch best, out by the pool or inside to take a break from the sun.
Cheeky's: Brunch or lunch is delicious, organic and affordable.
What to do:
PS Modern Tours: Personally design is at the top of my list when traveling anywhere from the restaurants I choose to the places I stay, to the locations I venture to because what is the point of traveling if you can't view it through the eyes of those that envisioned a place better than they found it? So the first thing I would do is stop at the Albert Frey Tramway Gas Station and pick up a P.S. Modern Tours map. You can tour the area's modern gems either on your own following the map or take Robert Imber's tour. I personally chose to go it alone as I get antsy on tours especially when I usually know more than my tour guide but I have a feeling this guy really knows his stuff and I'm definitely taking the tour next time around.
Frey House II (pictured above): Bribe one of your architecture friends to get you in. It's pricey but it helps pays for the upkeep and restoration of the place. Only architects and students can visit it (but shhhh, how can they make you prove it?) The views are of all of Palm Springs since it's nestled in the mountains. And seriously people there is a damn boulder inside the house anchoring it to the hillside. If that is not reason enough to go I cannot help you.
The Tram (pictured above): Just take it and take a sweater it's colder up there and it's going to shock your used to 100+ degree ass.
Studio 111 (pictured above): I've been shopping for high end furniture since I was barely legal. I've seen so much and unfortunately at this point I'm bored easily. Everyone has the same stuff! But not these kids, they have an incredible inventory of hard to find and obscure pieces and even a few up and comers you've never heard of.
Dazzles: Holy Crap there is sooooo much in this place there is literally not one iota of free space anywhere but what you really want to take a gawk at is the jewelry. I've never in my life seen a collection of costume jewelry like this before. Dazzles is a must go on my list every single time I visit.
Flow Modern Design: This talented design couple just opened their first retail location in Palm Springs. If you take one look at their portfolio I'm sure you'll be curious to pop your head in.
Obviously there are a few holes here but that is what's so great about a place like Palm Springs, you are always going back.
Thanks for the Invite ESB.
Kelly is too classy to include any dive bars (do dive bars even exist in Palm Springs?) but PLEEZ feel free to weigh in below.
Top photo: Peter Stackpole for LIFE via Modern Design, The rest: Kelly Lynn Waters