Hundreds of hipsters descend on this little desert town every spring for one of the biggest dates on America’s music calendar. Grazia’s got the lowdown on where to eat, drink, shop and sleep…
Where To Stay
Arrive, 1551 N Palm Canyon Drive
What isnotto love about a hotel where you have to check in at the bar, then get handed a complimentary cocktail along with your room key?! That’s just how they roll at Arrive, which opened in 2016, and is so modern, nay futuristic, that there’s no reception desk – if you want anything, you just send a text. There are only 32 rooms, built around a sizeable pool festooned with inflatable animals (judging by what we spotted, unicorns are this year’s flamingo) and a hot tub you can take your drinks into. Partaay! The 16 ground-level rooms have a small outdoor patio with a miniature fire pit, and all are kitted out with Apple TV, toiletries by cult beauty brand Malin+Goetz, sexy, herringbone-patterned floors, leather Chesterfield armchairs and a cute little succulent in its very own terrarium. You won’t go hungry, as they have a restaurant, coffee shop and even an ice cream parlour on site: Reservoir dishes up Cali-tastic cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist, from citrus-roasted beets to grilled chicken, sesame and ginger salad, while you can get your caffeine fix at Custom Coffee, and choose from fabulous flavours like birthday cake, lavender, date or honey at Ice Cream & Shop. Located in the fabulously swishy Uptown Design District, you’re just minutes away from a host of bars, restaurants and shopportunities. Like we said, what’s not to love?
arrivehotels.com; doubles from £186
The Kimpton, 100 W Tahquitz Canyon Way
The new kid on the block is barely three months old, but already this seven-storey, 153-room hotel has made quite an impression. With a backdrop of the stunning San Jacinto mountains (noticed to best effect from the rooftop bar and pool), it’s all clean lines, angles and reflections. Interiors are slick and airy, there are floor-to-ceiling windows all over the place, a yoga mat in each room (we love their optimism) and a, er, small green camel in the wardrobe – a nod to an old local law which declared it illegal to ride one down Palm Springs Drive between 4pm and 6pm. Throw in two destination restaurants and three bars, and you’ve got a perfect new place to pose.
rowanpalmsprings.com; doubles from £230
The Ace, 701 E Palm Canyon Drive
The hipster’s favourite, we’re not quite saying that if you don’t have a beard or a tattoo sleeve you’re not getting in, but you catch our drift…A former chain motel, the design’s been ramped up a notch or three, with a contemporary interpretation of the town’s famous mid-century modern look. Want a pool? It’s got two, plus a couple of tasty-sounding restaurants, bingo night every Monday, and bikes you can borrow to explore the area.
acehotel.com/palmsprings; doubles from £174
The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, 412 West Tahquitz Canyon Way
Feeling retro? Check in to this elegant, Mediterranean-style villa, which feels like the family home of a rather rich relative. Dating from the 20s, it’s chic and stylish, with only eight rooms. Lounge on one of the comfortable cane chairs on the patio for wine and nibbles at sunset, and feel like a silent movie star.
thewillowspalmsprings.com; doubles from £282
Where To Eat
Lulu, 200 South Palm Canyon Drive
Lulu is a bit of legend in downtown Palm Springs, especially for brunch when the queues can be out the door. Come back in the evening, for American classics like mac ‘n’ cheese, meatloaf, baby back ribs, crab cakes or chicken piccata. They’ve got a huge list of cocktails, especially Martinis (try the Palm Springs Peach), so make like a supermodel and get sipping.
Birba, 622 North Palm Canyon Drive
Always busy, this upscale but low-key Italian eatery serves homemade pizzas, pastas and salads using fresh, local ingredients. Bag a table outside on the patio and people-watch over a lobster ravioli.
Peabodys, 134 South Canyon Drive
If this place doesn’t cure your hangover, nowhere will; Peabodys claims to do the best Bloody Mary ever (it certainly put the lead, ahem, back in our pencil) and you won’t regret ordering the Croissant French Toast – three buttery pastries fried in butter and topped with more, er, butter. And icing sugar.
Rooster & the Pig, 356 South Indian Canyon Drive
The menu at this Vietnamese-American restaurant changes regularly but punters are happy to brave the queues for dishes like lemongrass chicken and shrimp rice noodles, pork belly fried rice, or asparagus and radish spring rolls.
Where To Drink
Bootlegger Tiki, 1101 North Palm Canyon Drive
Oh-so-Instagrammable scarlet-hued bar, serving up deliciously dangerous drinks in hilarious china or wooden tiki glasses. With names like Club Dread, Mind Flayer and Mango Unchained, you might not remember anything the morning after but you’re guaranteed a good time before you pass out.
Village Pub, 266 South Palm Canyon Drive
If you’ve always wondered what Spring Break looks like, spend the evening here, where soccer plays on the TV, 80s cover bands rock out, and they even have a Man V Food style ‘Village Idiot Food Challenge’. We’re so there.
Mini Bar at The Parker, 4200 East Palm Canyon Drive
If you’re lucky, you might end up rubbing shoulders with the likes of Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr, or local homeowner Leonardo DiCaprio in this small, jewel-like space decked out in turquoise and gold. The cocktail list is creative and the clientele is bound to be fascinating. If only just to look at.
The Purple Room, 1900 E Palm Canyon Drive
Officially a supper club (they do dinner and a show on weekends), this is old school Palm Springs, where Sinatra once crooned, and modern entertainers now sing and dance. Don’t miss The Judy Show on Sundays, a parody homage to the legendary Judy Garland.
Zelda’s, 611 South Palm Canyon Drive
The place to wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care. If you’ve done too many slick Coachella after-parties, head here for some good old-fashioned clubbing action; watch out for whistles and glowsticks.
Where To Shop
The Frippery, 664 North Palm Canyon Drive
This cute little store specializes in high-end vintage clothing (no doubt many Coachella-goers will have raided it before heading out to the gigs). From moon boots to sequined evening gowns, it’s got it all.
Trina Turk, 891 North Palm Canyon Drive
Trina’s colourful, retro-inspired designer fashion might be pricey, but her airy store is definitely worth a look, if only to catch a glimpse of one of the fabulous male retail assistants in the menswear section (ours was wearing hotpants, a bowtie and a trilby), as well as browse some highly covetable homeware.
Desert Hills Premium Outlets, 48400 Seminole Drive, Cabazon
A mere twenty-minute drive from the town centre, this massive retail village has everything from designer labels (think Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, 7 for All Mankind and more) to high street staples like Gap, Banana Republic, Levis and Forever 21.
What To Do
Aerial Tramway, 1 Tram Way
Get a breath of fresh air – literally, as it’s over 8,000ft above sea level – amongst the peaks of the San Jacinto mountains after climbing up over two and a half miles in the world’s largest rotating tram car. The views are incredible, but if you’re afraid of heights this might not be one for you…
There are dozens of these on offer, from a tour of the stars’ former homes or a look at some houses according to which architect designed them. Jade Thomas runs Palm Springs: Walk With Me tours around different neighbourhoods, such as the historic Tennis Club district; you’ll find out where Marilyn Monroe posed for Playboy and where Frank Sinatra used to knock back the whisky.
Joshua Tree National Park
Just an hour out of town is this huge, and beautiful stretch of desert, featuring those distinctive trees U2 liked to sing about so much. Recreate the album cover (there is no shame in it) and revel in the peace and quiet.
Good to know: The pastel-coloured (what else?) Buzz trolley bus will shuttle you for free around the town centre from 11am to 1am, Thursday to Sunday.
For more inspiration go to visitpalmsprings.com.