Former Speakeasy Reinvented into Mediterranean-Style Boutique Hotel
Throughout the 1920s and '30s, Detroit’s Purple Gang was a notorious crime syndicate. The gang's operations extended all the way to California, where member Al Wertheimer built the Colonial House as a front for a brothel and gambling den. Hollywood executives would weekend at this underground speakeasy, entering via a secret staircase tucked behind a cupboard. The property later went on to become a hotel that welcomed the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor.
Today, the Colonial House is now in its fourth incarnation as the Colony Palms Hotel. And though it has long since shed its sketchy affiliations, the Colony still has nods to its early days, such as decorative black-and-white portraits of scantily clad starlets hanging on the walls.
Tribal weavings, red concrete floors, and half-shell lanterns make up some of the hotel's intriguing array of Moorish-style decor. The central courtyard, flanked by lemon and palm trees, has a Spanish-tile heated pool that overlooks the San Jacinto Mountains. It’s adjacent to the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar, which specializes in Mediterranean dishes such as kurobuta pork shank and charred ahi-tuna steak. The onsite spa also takes creative cues from the Mediterranean; it's designed to resemble a Turkish hammam.
Tucked behind the gardens, casitas open up onto large private patios furnished with two-person bathtubs and luxurious lounge beds. Superior guest rooms have either one king bed or two queen beds adorned with Turkish suzani headboards. Tapestries hand-woven by Uzbekistani artisans adorn the walls, whose wide windows look out onto the courtyard or the San Jacinto Mountains.
Palm Springs, California: Desert City with Outdoor Recreation and Hollywood History
Nestled in the Coachella Valley in Southern California, Palm Springs has fallen in and out of fashion throughout the past two centuries. The desert city remained relatively unknown up until the 20th century, when Hollywood A-listers flocked there for its temperate weather and tucked-away feel. Word spread quickly, and by the 1950s and 1960s, the landscape was dotted with tennis courts, swimming pools, and flashy modern homes owned by the likes of Elvis and Frank Sinatra.
Though it experienced a lull at the turn of the century, Palm Springs has emerged once again as a vacation hot spot. There's an old, kitschy feel that still survives in the city, which is now surrounded by retro midcentury hotels and classic Mediterranean-inspired villas. Luxury spas and boutique shops cover the glitzy downtown area of Palm Springs. The sun shines there roughly 350 days a year, which makes it easy to hike nearby or play on one of the area's designer golf courses in any season.
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