If you are reading this to learn something about what to do in and around Palm Springs, I suggest you stop here. When I recently embarked on a trip to the Californian desert to celebrate a close friend’s wedding I had the best intentions of soaking up the local sights and scenes: hikes through Joshua Tree, seeing some of the world’s best mid-century architecture and tracing the footsteps of Sinatra.
On arrival at the Parker Palm Springs that quickly changed. Such is the offering of activities, pampering and gourmandising all couched in a quirky and lavishly designed retreat, that you never want or need to leave (so long as you have deep pockets).
The Parker’s history dates back to the late 1950s, but it was its renovation under the watchful eye of acclaimed American design guru Jonathan Adler that has put the hotel on the map as a top destination for discerning, design-loving visitors.
On arrival, we were guided to our poolside suite. Indulgent, comfy beds with plush, soft linens. Old Hollywood touches adorn the walls as well as ceramic inserts created especially for the Parker Palm Springs. Luxurious bathrooms feature an eclectic collection of designer amenities, including Hermes soap. I’m sold.
At one stage my girlfriend made the innocent mistake of leaving the Parker momentarily to purchase some essentials that were inevitably forgotten on the flight over: paracetamol, razors with more than one blade, non-miniature toothpaste, and the like. After half an hour of silent bliss while I roamed around our palatial suite in a bathrobe she returned looking sweaty, dusty and in what I am well trained to notice, a rather bad mood. “What’s it like out there?” I asked hesitantly. “It’s a shithole” she tersely replied. Pleased with the knowledge that I had made absolutely the right call to wallow in the luxuriant paradise of the Parker’s grounds rather than face the grim reality of strip malls and retirees a mile down the road, I suggested we get a drink.
Here the Parker surpasses itself. At every turn there is a retro bar or lemonade stand perfectly positioned to ensure you will never descend into complete sobriety. From the breakfast mojito to your final nightcap the resort’s ever-present and attentive staff are there to make sure you are well lubricated.
There is certainly no shortage of good food either. Norma’s, the hotel’s main dining room, sits at the heart of the enclosure and serves predictably enormous (this is America after all) and delicious food. There is plenty of fresh, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian fare to cater for the high standards of the Californian crowd.
Don’t get me wrong. The Parker is not perfect. There were a couple of niggles; at one stage the pool attendant ran out of towels (necessary both for drying and quickly covering my pallid and increasingly pudgy winter coat) and we had an issue with wait times for a large table that we had booked well ahead at Norma’s.
But not to worry. Overall, the Parker is what you are looking for in the desert – an Oasis. Somewhere after a long journey, you can relax, replenish and not feel guilty for ignoring the activities and attractions they lie beyond this fabulous estate’s walls.
Many thanks to Parker Palm Springs for hosting us.
Parker Palm Springs
4200 East Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264 U.S.A
If you’re looking for a coastline retreat in California, be sure to check out TVG’s review of the Belmond El Encanto located 3 hours away in Santa Barbara.