While it’s possible to spend a night in a mid-century modern home (Leonardo DiCaprio’s Donald Wexler-designed house is available at US$3,750 a night plus housekeeping), there are plenty of less expensive options that allow you to dream away in a mid-century masterpiece. From the adults-only Del Marcos with its gorgeous use of redwood and local stone to the Movie Colony Hotel and its Sinatra Suite, where the crooner stayed while his nearby Twin Palms home was being built, these Palm Springs hotels will give you a sense of a long-lost era.
- The Monkey Tree Hotel
The Monkey Tree Hotel was designed by the Swiss-born architect Albert Frey in 1960. George Harrison and John Lennon stayed here, as did Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. Even John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe enjoyed an evening together here. Meticulously renovated in 2015 by its current owners, Gary and Kathy Friedle, each room contains locally purchased vintage pieces, and the blue Salterini chairs outside each room are original. There are hot and cold Scandinavian spas, and complimentary sodas from the original SMEG refrigerator. Find out more about The Monkey Hotel here.
- The Saguaro Hotel
A converted Holiday Inn, The Saguaro Hotel, built in 2012 by Stamberg Aferiat Architecture, is a classic example of modernism reinvented. It has a swimming pool that’s more gathering point than exercise area, surrounded by a U-shaped ring of inward-facing hotel rooms in a landscape of palm trees, banana lounges and a pool-side bar that specialises in fresh fruit punches.
Its exterior is a gorgeous riot of 14 wildflower colours, each one representing a flower commonly found in California’s Colorado Desert. No hotel in Palm Springs screams ‘fun’ quite like The Saguaro. And you don’t even have to be a guest to enjoy a game of table tennis on the bright green table in the foyer. How very inviting! Learn more about The Saguaro here.
- Casa de Monte Vista
Immersing yourself in modernism for 10 days can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to lose an appreciation of what was here prior to Palm Springs’ reinvention. Before mid-century modern, there was Spanish Colonial. Courtyards, ironwork, terracotta and cathedral ceilings reflecting centuries-old Spanish and even Moorish designs reached its peak here in the 1920s. Casa de Monte Vista, circa 1927, is in the sought-after neighbourhood of Old Las Palmas, where most of the larger Spanish-style estates can be found.
This meticulously preserved, walled Spanish retreat was once owned by actor Robert Stack and was a hangout for The Rat Pack. It also possesses a museum-like feel, its owner a collector of Guatemalan masks and antique books, and there’s a candelabra once owned by Liberace and a dining table that belonged to silent screen star Gloria Swanson. The son of Harpo Marx still visits here, and plays the piano. Modernism isn’t where it’s all at. Check out Casa de Monte Vista here.
The writer flew to Los Angeles as a guest of United Airlines