Former Speakeasy Reinvented into Mediterranean-Style 4-Star Hotel
Once an underground speakeasy for gangsters and Hollywood executives alike (not to mention Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor), the Colony Palms Hotel has long since shed its sketchy affiliations. But this glamorous 4-star hotel still has nods to its early days, such as decorative black-and-white portraits of 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.
The Colony's superior and deluxe guest rooms come furnished with one king bed adorned by Turkish suzani headboards. Each tapestry inside has been hand-woven by Uzbekistani artisans. Wide windows overlook the courtyard or the San Jacinto Mountains, and some deluxe rooms include additional amenities such as a fireplace. Warm up in front of the hearth and enjoy the scenic views. The spacious casita ups the ante with a large private patio and an oversized bathtub.
The hotel is adjacent to the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar, which specializes in roasted garlic hummus, a range of cheese and charcuterie, and other Mediterranean dishes. The onsite spa also takes creative cues from the Mediterranean; it's designed to resemble a Turkish hammam.
Palm Springs, California: SoCal Resort Town with Midcentury Charm
A little more than 100 miles east of Los Angeles lies Palm Springs, an oasis of outdoor recreation and old Hollywood glamour. The desert town was once the stomping ground of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack and still attracts A-list vacationers. A stroll through the Movie Colony—which had its heyday between the 1930s and 1960s—will take you past the former homes of Dean Martin, Bob Hope, and Marilyn Monroe.
Palm Springs is also the birthplace of desert modernism, a Bauhaus-influenced architecture movement. You can explore the area's famed midcentury-modern landmarks on a self-guided tour; grab a map at the Palm Springs Official Visitors Center, itself housed within an iconic building—the retro-futuristic Tramway Gas Station designed by Albert Frey. Furniture and clothing boutiques along Palm Canyon Drive, the main drag, embrace Palm Springs' trademark aesthetic—what you might call Mad Men West. Nearby, the small but impressively curated Palm Springs Art Museum features works by Pablo Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg along with significant contemporary and Native American collections.
The sun shines on more than 300 days a year in Palm Springs, which means you can play a round of golf or hike in the nearby Agua Caliente Indian Canyons no matter the season. It’s worth it to take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, whose tramcars rotate 360 degrees as they carry passengers to Mount San Jacinto’s Mountain Station, located 8,516 feet above sea level. About 40 miles northeast is the nearly 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park, which encompasses parts of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Take a stroll on 1 of the 12 nature trails for a chance to see native animals, such as desert bighorn sheep, snakes, and black-tailed jackrabbits.