Best hotels in Palm Springs that are an oasis in the desert

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Palm Springs, California, became one of the country’s premier vacation destinations in the 1930s when movie stars from nearby Los Angeles began flocking there for weekends in the salutary sunshine and pristine desert air. 

Before that, the area had already been populated for thousands of years by the native Cahuilla people, who settled in what is now Palm Springs. They hunted and foraged throughout the fertile region and named it Sec-he, or boiling water, after the plentiful mineral hot springs bubbling beneath the earth’s crust. 

Travelers will soon be able to visit the Cahuilla nation’s new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza right in downtown Palm Springs, which comprises a museum and wellness facilities that draw upon those same healing waters. These days, the area also offers plenty of outdoor leisure activities — including hiking, golf and tennis — to keep visitors busy.

When you’re driving through the Coachella Valley — a collection of several smaller cities and towns bordered by the jagged San Jacinto Mountains — you’ll see everything from full-service hotels to casual roadside motels along the area’s palm-fringed boulevards.

The 1950s and 1960s brought a midcentury modern architectural awakening to the area, and you can see it today in the bevy of dramatically designed houses and hotels that still exist. (They usually center around an aquamarine pool with panoramic mountain vistas.)

Even if you’re not a design aficionado, there’s still plenty to love about Palm Springs: fabulous weather, wildlife exhibits at the Living Desert Zoo, vertiginous rides on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, dozens of world-class golf courses and much more. There are hotels for every taste and budget, from family-friendly resorts and historic hideaways to hipster hangouts with splashy pool scenes that tend to draw the hard partiers. 

Here are the 13 best hotels in Palm Springs and what you can expect to find at each.

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This lofty luxury resort is perched in the foothills between Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage, and it offers postcard-worthy views over the entire valley. It originally opened in 1988 and, after a few ups and downs, emerged from a major $500 million renovation as a Ritz-Carlton again in 2014. It has since become one of the best Palm Springs points hotels.

The 24-acre resort has 244 spacious rooms and suites, most with private patios or terraces and some even with their own fire pits. They start at 450 square feet and feature fancy in-room amenities like Asprey bath products, Frette linens and Nespresso machines.

The manicured grounds include two swimming pools: The main pool is for all guests, including families with children, and the quieter Vista pool is for adults 18 and up. Although the resort has no on-site golf course, guests can access two Ted Robinson-designed courses at Desert Springs Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa (about a 15-minute drive away). 

Meanwhile, the hotel’s 25,000-square-foot spa includes a huge fitness center and 16 treatment rooms. Guests can indulge in desert-inspired experiences like a body scrub performed with finely ground dates to exfoliate the skin.

Guests can enjoy meals at The Edge Steakhouse for chophouse fine dining in a cliffside location, State Fare Bar & Kitchen for seasonal Californian cuisine and the alfresco Air Pool Bar for casual bites like burgers and salads.

Rates at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage start at $332 or 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

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Set in the town of La Quinta, toward the eastern edge of the Coachella Valley, La Quinta Resort & Club is classic Palm Springs at its finest. It originally opened in 1926 with just 20 adobe bungalows sprinkled across 45 acres and the area’s first nine-hole golf course.

These days, the resort retains its historic Spanish Colonial architecture but has a whopping 781 rooms and suites. Accommodations range from 400-square-foot vintage casitas with fireplaces to enormous suites (up to 2,000 square feet) that sleep six.

Guests can spend their days lounging around one of the resort’s 41 (yes, 41) pools, rallying on its 16 tennis courts (there are even eight pickleball courts now, too), or teeing off at one of five golf courses. Resort guests can golf at the resort’s Mountain and Dunes courses as well as at the Jack Nicklaus or Greg Norman courses at PGA West.

There’s also a fitness center with a full roster of classes, including Pilates and yoga. A full-service spa proffers decadent treatments, such as the 75-minute desert agave nectar body therapy with a scrub, full-body massage and clay mask. 

The resort offers five dining outlets. Guests can snag grab-and-go items at The Marketplace, enjoy Mexican fine dining at Adobe Grill, or try high-end dishes made with locally sourced ingredients at the signature restaurant Morgan’s in the Desert, among other options.

Rates at La Quinta Resort & Club, Curio Collection by Hilton start at $226 or 74,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

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Smack-dab in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs is a pet-friendly option for folks who want to bring their prized pooches for a desert getaway. The property feels a bit more hip than your average resort, thanks in part to the signature amenities Kimpton hotels offer. Guests can enjoy in-room yoga mats, complimentary coffee and tea in the morning, and an evening wine hour (also including local beers) in the lobby. 

The staff will happily recommend walks or hikes for you and your canine friend (heat permitting), but there’s also a well-equipped fitness center if you prefer to exercise inside.

With floor-to-ceiling windows to let in plenty of desert sunshine, the 153 rooms and suites are decorated in soothing taupes with rugs, tiles and textiles patterned in white and blue to evoke a watery oasis.

On the top level, guests will find a small but lively pool lined by loungers and cabanas with excellent mountain views. Food and beverage service is available at the adjacent High Bar — Palm Springs’ only rooftop pool bar — which serves a solid menu of light dishes, including salads, sandwiches and small plates. Also up on this floor, 4 Saints is the hotel’s higher-end restaurant, serving upscale fare like duck croquettes and Argentine red shrimp risotto.

On the ground floor, you’ll find a full-service lobby bar as well as Juniper Table, an all-day, Mediterranean-skewing venue with dishes like panzanella salad and chicken cacciatore.

Rates at Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs start at $230 or 45,000 IHG One Rewards points per night.

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If you’re seeking an adults-only retro getaway with a summer camp-like flair, look no further than this chic little resort. This barn-style property, just outside Palm Springs’ city center in the Deepwell Estates neighborhood, welcomes travelers ages 21 and up.

Effortlessly coiffed guests sporting vintage leisurewear lounge around the pool or play horseshoes on the lawn; they then gather around individual campfires at dusk to sip cocktails and roast marshmallows.

You won’t find TVs in the 20 rooms and suites, but you will find farmhouse-style elements like whitewashed clapboard walls, exposed-beam ceilings, rough-hewn stone walling, rainfall walk-in showers and bathtubs repurposed from horse troughs. However, this isn’t exactly roughing it, thanks to the Grown Alchemist bath products and pillow-top mattresses.

There’s also a massage tent with two treatment areas for even more relaxation. Active travelers can borrow one of the Sole bikes to venture out and explore the area.

Though small, the hotel has its own restaurant, The Barn Kitchen, which serves seasonal American cuisine for lunch and dinner. Options include a variety of sandwiches and fresh salads, Berkshire pork chops with bacon collard greens, chicken in homemade mole sauce and a selection of cocktails, beers and wines by the glass. (Continental breakfast is included with room rates.)

Rates at Sparrows Lodge start at $249 per night.

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Step back in time to Palm Springs’ midcentury modern heyday with a stay at this converted 1951 motor lodge. Its design-driven decor (think Scando-sleek furnishings, Technicolor-bright tilework and breezy resort-style outdoor vignettes) and impressive art collection (yes, that is a Lichtenstein you spied, and a Hockney) have made it one of the area’s hottest hideaways. 

Since guests must be 21 or older, it’s also one of the most adults-oriented spots. It’s the perfect place to enjoy refined activities like a leisurely game of shuffleboard, an umbrella-shaded afternoon by the pool, or an evening cocktail by the roaring fire pit.

The 28 guest rooms bear their former motel-like bones but feature elegant updates like high-end Waterworks bathroom fixtures, walk-in showers, Cowshed products, Nespresso machines, Italian linens and custom textiles. Depending on the category you book, you might even find a deep soaking tub or a kitchenette with a breakfast nook.

Rates include continental breakfast with homemade baked goods, cheese and charcuterie plates, fruits and yogurt. Guests can pop by the Pantry for light lunch and dinner dishes such as ahi tuna tostadas, lobster rolls, filet mignon with truffle fries and pan-seared salmon with butternut squash risotto.

Rates at Holiday House start at $184 per night.

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Fresh off a multimillion-dollar, multiyear renovation, this popular resort — which extends across 450 acres of Palm Desert (one of the major communities that make up the Coachella Valley) — is looking fresher and finer than ever.

All 783 rooms and 101 suites have received a major sprucing up, including all-new furnishings, murals inspired by the surrounding mountains, hardwood flooring and even freestanding bathtubs in some rooms.

The resort’s distinctive grounds spotlight prominent water features (a reference to the springs in the hotel’s name), and there are five on-site pools. There are two championship 18-hole golf courses designed by Ted Robinson as well as a tennis club with 20 courts (15 hard-surface, three clay and two grass). 

For relaxation, the expansive spa complex offers treatments like CBD massages and microgreens facials. Guests seeking something more stimulating can hit the new 12,000-square-foot JW Entertainment Zone, complete with arcade games, duck bowling and more.

The resort fields nine dining and drinking establishments, including Mikado Japanese Steakhouse, a sushi bar, an alfresco lounge with live entertainment on the weekends, Fisherman’s Landing for fresh-caught seafood and a Starbucks for your morning pick-me-up.

Rates at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa start at $232 or 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

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This hipster haven veers from Palm Springs’ midcentury mode into more of a rock-glamping aesthetic. The rooms sport canvas window coverings, macrame wall art, Music Hall radios (plus turntables or guitars in a few room and suite categories) and upscale touches like Uka bath amenities.

The outdoor scene is equal parts laid-back and action-packed; expect yoga and meditation sessions, bingo-trivia combo nights and open-air jazz sessions. Weekday hangs by the pool are guaranteed to be blissed out. However, come weekends, the ambiance shifts to more of a party scene with DJ sets and mezcal margaritas — tequila is so over. If that gets to be too much, head to the hotel’s Feel Good Spa for a signature treatment like a rose-quartz massage or a “Good Vibrations” intuitive session that tailors the experience to your individual needs.

The hotel’s main restaurant, King’s Highway, is a former Denny’s with all those nostalgic roadside elements (hello, exposed stone wall, leather booth and globe chandeliers). Meanwhile, The Amigo Room is a cozier hideaway in a cavelike atmosphere with specialty cocktails. Guests can head to either for staples like overnight oats and avocado toast in the mornings, a small menu of salads and sandwiches at lunch, Americana classics for dinner and strong cocktails late into the night.

Rates at Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm Springs start at $229 per night.

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This Spanish Revival-style, adults-only (18 and over) resort recently received a multimillion-dollar facelift from Palm Springs hotelier and impresario Steve Hermann. While the architecture and grounds look familiar, the setting feels decidedly more upscale than before.

The hedge-bordered pool with green and white umbrella-shaded loungers gives off distinctive Beverly Hills Hotel-circa-1959 energy. You might spot an aspiring starlet lounging beneath its towering palms or canoodling with their latest love interest by one of the fire pits throughout the grounds.

Rooms, meanwhile, have been given a Hollywood Regency makeover. They feature bold primary palettes and patterns, a hodgepodge of art deco-inspired furniture (hello, tufted velvet headboard), and high-end finishes like Frette linens and Le Labo bath amenities.

With wood paneling and velvet banquettes, The Colony Club restaurant feels like the kitted-out rec room you never had. It serves dishes like egg-white scrambles for breakfast, Mediterranean beef kabobs with golden beets and sumac yogurt for lunch and pan-fried chicken schnitzel with Persian cucumbers for dinner. 

The spa menu is carefully curated to incorporate natural ingredients and products into treatments, such as the seaweed and peppermint wrap and the skin-plumping organic blue poppy enzyme facial.

Rates at The Colony Palms Hotel and Bungalows start at $428 per night.

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Upon arrival at the lush grounds of this Moroccan-themed property, you may think you’re at an oasis in the Atlas Mountains rather than the Southern California desert. Shrubbery-shaded pathways wind their way between verdant lawns and banks of bougainvillea. Each turn reveals a hidden corner containing a fragrant herb garden, a flickering fire pit, a petanque court and croquet pitch, or a few hammocks strung between the trees. There’s also an intimate communal pool with private cabanas, of course.

Rooms and suites feel quite contemporary thanks to a relatively recent redo by designer Jonathan Adler. His signature bright colors and power-clashing patterns are tied together by an overarching Hollywood Regency-meets-Tangier jet set theme (think stark white four-poster beds, lacquer-and-chrome furniture pieces, boldly patterned Berber-inspired textiles and statement sculptural pieces and wall art).

The 15-room, nautically inspired Yacht Club spa houses a glamorous indoor pool for those desert days that are simply too hot to stay outside. It also offers a menu  of compelling services, such as a clay wrap and hydrating facials to combat the effects of the California sun.

Among the dining options, guests can stop by Norma’s for an open-air, all-day breakfast or Counter Reformation for intriguing international wines and upscale bistro fare like steak frites. Mini Bar serves shared plates and innovative cocktails, including the intoxicatingly tasty Pink Heather with rye vodka, mint, cucumber, lemon, green juice and hibiscus elixir.

For evenings that demand a more leisurely pace, make a reservation at Mister Parker’s, where the menu feels like a refined Rat Pack steakhouse stand-in; it offers everything from lobster bisque and grilled wedge salad to filet mignon and wagyu New York strip steak.

Rates at Parker Palm Springs start at $399 per night.

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Another Hermann hallmark, L’Horizon is midcentury modern Palm Springs at its peak. No wonder it was a favorite hideaway for the Hollywood set in the 1950s and 1960s. In contrast to the sprawling, golf-centric resorts you find in much of the region these days, L’Horizon’s 24 somewhat self-contained bungalows are sprinkled across 3 acres of carefully tended, mountain-framed greenery.

The guest accommodations are simple but utterly stylish, with whitewashed slump-stone walls, sliding glass doors to let in plenty of natural light, exposed wooden post-and-beam ceilings, and geometrically patterned curtains and rugs. The updates include marble-tiled bathrooms, Frette bed linens and Nespresso coffee machines.

However, guests might not spend much time in the room once they spot the distinctively shaped, zero-edge pool flanked by loungers and shaded cabanas. The hotel also offers complimentary morning yoga on the weekends and a full-service spa with unique treatments; an arnica deep-tissue massage can relieve inflammation while a lemongrass-bamboo body scrub heals any sun damage. 

You’ll be positively glowing in time for your dinner reservation at the hotel’s open-air restaurant, So.Pa. The pendant-lit tables (including a 26-foot natural-edge walnut one) are the perfect spot to indulge in Cali-Med cuisine. Some highlights are chilled gazpacho with crab, octopus and shrimp and a pan-roasted steelhead ocean trout with buttered radishes, English peas and Yukon potato puree. Top it off with a signature cocktail like the tart but sweet Grace Kelly with rum, grapefruit, Aperol, creme de peche, elderflower liqueur and West Indian orange bitters.

Rates at L’Horizon start at $500 per night.

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It’s just a few blocks removed from the heart of Palm Springs, but once you step through the unique keyhole entryway to this romantic retreat, you’ll feel worlds away. The 28 accommodations are split across two villas. Each has its own carefully curated gardens brimming with citrus and olive trees, bougainvillea, date palms, tinkling fountains, fire pits and glowing lanterns in the evening. 

One section looks like it was transplanted from a windswept Greek island while the other conjures up a medieval Moorish medina. Pick your room according to your particular penchant (though you’ll find blindingly whitewashed adobe and hand-carved wooden furnishings no matter which one you choose).

Guests are treated to simple but sumptuous breakfasts in the sun-dappled Moroccan courtyard. Moroccan mint tea service is available in the afternoon; it’s quite refreshing after a leisurely soak in one of the pools or a ride through town on one of the hotel’s bikes. Though the other amenities are limited, you can take advantage of an in-room spa treatment. The skin-soothing desert poultice, laced with Mediterranean calendula flowers and Californian desert chaparral leaves, is a highlight.

Rates at Korakia Pensione start at $309 per night.

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The Avalon has been a popular hangout for Hollywood stars since its premiere in the 1930s, and it skews more Spanish-suffused sophistication than midcentury modern mania. Occupying 4 immaculately gardened acres, its charming stucco bungalows with red-tiled roofs house just 70 studios, suites and villas. There are various elements, such as private sun terraces and in-room fireplaces, for those cold desert nights, depending on which category you book. All options feature a cool white-and-silver color scheme with Hollywood Regency accent furnishings and fixtures, marble bathrooms and upscale amenities like Davines bath products.

Guests have three pools to choose from (or they can walk to the nearby sister property, Ingleside Inn, for a plunge in its pool). The small but lively Chi Chi pool, with fire pits and an outdoor lounge, is great for cocktails in the sun while the quieter, lounger-lined Regency pool boasts Estrella’s hot tub. The secluded Presidio pool is shielded from view by high hedges and surrounded by private cabanas.

The Chi Chi Restaurant serves healthy, casual fare all day, including a tasty, veggie-packed quinoa bowl for lunch. Melvyn’s, next door at the Ingleside Inn, has been a see-and-be-seen mainstay in the area for decades; it serves classic brasserie fare like various steak cuts and even chicken pot pie. 

Be sure to spend at least one afternoon enjoying a treatment at Estrella Spa. The turquoise-sage mud wrap with purifying sage and lavender, arnica and a warm oil scalp massage will ease away any inflammation and leave you glowing after a day out in the desert. 

Rates at Avalon Hotel Palm Springs start at $329 per night.

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If you’re in the market for a hotel that’s fabulous, flirty and fun, look no further than this rainbow-colored resort. It sits right along bustling East Palm Canyon Drive (one of Palm Springs’ main thoroughfares), about 2 miles from downtown Palm Springs. It’s popular with bachelor and bachelorette parties and 20-something birthday celebrations (infer what you will).

Buildings are bordered in bright tones inspired by 14 native California wildflowers. Those hues also infuse the 244 guest rooms and their furnishings. Accommodations are small, but guests are meant to spend most of their time socializing in the public areas anyway. The property has slim-profile modernist furniture — created for the hotel by the Amigo Modern design studio — and fun, resort-style touches such as basketlike pendant lights. Desert photography by artist Gabriel Cabrera adorns the walls. 

The hotel is anchored by its energetic (some might say raucous) outdoor deck, home to one of Palm Springs’ largest pools; the seating options include vibrantly upholstered loungers, daybeds and cabanas. Although guests can order cocktails and bites by the pool until 6 p.m. any day of the week (the spicy guava margarita is a must), come to the Saturday afternoon “Swims” series for sets by DJs and musicians for the full party effect. 

El Jefe, a cantina-style restaurant, offers Taco Tuesdays and Thursdays every week from 6-9 p.m. (each delicious option is just $5). The daily menu includes breakfast items like acai bowls and chorizo burritos for breakfast; various tacos, tortas and salads for lunch and dinner; and a lengthy cocktail list (as well as simple selections of wine and beer).

If the festive vibe gets to be too much, you can chill out with a treatment like a facial or hot-stone massage at the spa. You can also opt for a workout in the gym, join a weekend yoga session or borrow a Priority Bicycles cruiser to explore the area.

Rates at Saguaro Palm Springs start at $157 per night.