The Parker (Palm Springs, CA)
Located five miles from downtown Palm Springs, the Parker is known for its iconic style and frequent celebrity sightings. While the hotel was originally built as a Holiday Inn in 1959, it has undergone several transformations over the years including not one, but two extensive remodels by well-known designer Jonathan Adler. “The vibe is cheeky hedonistic luxury,” said Adler of his most recent design in 2017. The hotel’s bright colors and quirky décor define it’s unique retro-modern style.
The Parker is set on a sprawling 13-acre estate that encompasses winding paths through lush greenery and fruit trees. Hidden within the shrubbery are hanging hammocks, an herb garden, private nooks with outdoor furniture and even a fire-pit surrounded by butterfly chairs.
The property includes a variety of other amenities: the “Palm Springs Yacht Club” (a 15,000 square foot spa and fitness center), two pools and a hot tub (complete with food and drink service), bicycles for exploring, red clay tennis courts and a variety of other games (like ping pong, shuffleboard and croquet, to name a few). The property also offers five distinct bar and dining options including Mister Parkers (fine-dining, open for dinner Wed-Sun), Norma’s (an upscale “diner” with patio seating, open every day for all meals), Counter Reformation (a wine bar with small plates), the Mini Bar (their take on a lobby bar), and the Lemonade Stand (outdoor patio bar with seating that specializes in spiked-lemonade cocktails).
We were lucky enough to spend a long weekend at the Parker to celebrate our friends’ wedding in early November. The weather was exactly what Palm Springs is known for: all-day sun with hot, dry heat (temperatures in the 80s) with cooler nights thanks to the desert climate. While we flew from NYC to LAX and then drove two hours to Palm Springs, we’d recommend getting a flight directly into Palm Springs if you can (check Jet Blue). We arrived and checked in late (after midnight) and were informed we had been upgraded to a garden-view room. Our room was located in one of the detached buildings and thus required navigating the property’s weaving paths in the dark to find our building (we obviously got lost). While I loved the eclectic colors and furnishings in the main lobby building, I found our building less impressive. The endless hallways reminded me of the Parker’s motel-style roots, and the bright patterned carpet felt more tacky than it did “retro luxury”.
Our “upgraded” room was a uniquely-decorated, standard-size room albeit with garden views. Some of our friends had basic rooms in the main building that faced the parking lot but featured private terraces – so, trade-offs. The room included a small minibar with a few essentials (water, beer, etc.) and a small sitting area. The best part about the rooms (for me) was the hand-picked, high-end beauty amenities (e.g. Hermes, L’Occtaine, Molton Brown, etc.).
Outside of the room, the highlights for us were the lush grounds and beautiful outdoor spaces in general. We spent time both days at both pools relaxing and sipping cocktails. The service at the pool was a little slow and indifferent compared to our experiences at the Mini Bar and Norma’s, where we ate breakfast both days. With it’s all-day breakfast and menu variety, Norma’s feels like an upscale diner of sorts (but with steep price tags.) We definitely enjoyed the food and overall vibe – and the complimentary juice shots to start breakfast were a nice touch. We also grabbed martinis and a cheese and meat plate at the Minibar (twice) and spent time in the general lobby area relaxing with friends.
Overall we loved the style and design of the Parker and didn’t even have enough time to enjoy all the amenities and activities offered. I would recommend staying if you can swallow the steep prices (which can be over $600 per night in high season) or otherwise at least visiting for drinks and dinner.