I hope there’s a swirling blizzard or a torrential rain storm where you are right now. Because then you won’t think twice before hopping on a plane and heading here — to this stylish boutique hotel in sunny Palm Springs, California.
This chic little corner of escape-the-winter bliss is L’Horizon Palm Springs, a posh 25-room lodging that opened in 2015.
Architect William Cody designed the original property in 1952, and this palm-fringed hideaway — once a celebrity playground — still feels like the private compound it once was.
The guest rooms are set in low-slung, mid-century modern, white buildings that cluster around a courtyard, where you can settle in for a cocktail at the open-air bar, lounge around the fire pit, and take a dip in the heated swimming pool. Both the pool and the adjacent hot tub are open ’round the clock, should you feel inspired to go for a midnight swim. You can even challenge your traveling companion to a round or two on the bocce court.
Indoors, the rooms feel both minimalist and decadent, with clean-lined furnishings — a mix of ’50s and contemporary pieces — done in stark black and white, with geometric print shades and rugs. But the white linens are Frette, the charcoal throws are cashmere, and the ceilings are made of rich honey-hued Asian pine.
If you’re a techie, you’ll feel right at home with the Apple TV, Nest thermostats, and remote-controlled blinds that cover the floor-to-ceiling windows. The minibar is stocked with snacks from Dean & Deluca, and you can brew your coffee in the Nespresso machine.
The spacious bathrooms have brass fixtures and Le Labo bath amenities. My favorite feature (available in some units) is the sexy indoor-outdoor shower with views of the mountains, the palms, and the nearly-always blue sky.
If you need to do something less romantic in the dimly-lit bathroom, like put on your makeup, you might find that you could use a little more light, or perhaps an illuminated make-up mirror. But it may not matter if you’re simply cocooning in your room or hanging out by the pool.
The at-your-service staff provide lots of personal touches, starting with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine when you check in and a customized name plate on your bungalow door. A valet takes care of your car and your bags, of course, and with the nightly turndown service, your room attendant lays out Frette slippers by your bed and a plate of delicious cookies — with an inspiring or entertaining quote — on your night table.
It’s hard to imagine that the white-walled courtyard that now houses the property’s excellent SO.PA restaurant was once a badminton court, transformed into an au courant outdoor dining space.
Italian-born chef Giacomo Pettinari has a well-polished resume: two years at London’s Michelin-starred Floriana, a stint working with molecular gastronomy guru Ferran Adria at Spain’s El Bulli, more training in Thailand. Most recently, he earned a Michelin star at Valentino in Los Angeles.
At SO.PA, Chef Giacomo Pettinari and his staff have created the same minimal yet indulgent feel that permeates the rest of the hotel. SO.PA is the kind of decadent dining space where the waiter brings you a cocktail menu — at Tuesday morning breakfast — before offering coffee.
Whether you start with an espresso or an “Expresar Piña” (a blend of rye, mezcal, pineapple cordial, and bitters), the morning menu runs from spa staples like cold-pressed juice or an acai bowl to heartier plates like the “frittata mare-monti,” with butter-poached lobster, pickled wild mushrooms, and a homemade brioche.
And even a simple breakfast is well-prepared and stylishly plated: a mason jar filled with crunchy housemade cranberry-pumpkin granola, a bowl of creamy Greek yogurt topped with papaya and blackberries, and a bonus dish of crystallized mint, an intensely minty powder to sprinkle over the fruit.
In the evening, the restaurant transforms into a romantic hideaway, with a flickering fireplace, burbling fountains, and heat lamps to protect against the desert’s after-dark chill.
The menu includes creative sharing plates like serrouda (a Moroccan chickpea dip with roasted pine nuts) or arancini, rice balls stuffed with fontina cheese and black truffle. A signature dish is the octopus, a gigantic meaty tentacle rubbed with the chef’s secret spice blend and roasted. The housemade breads, especially the earthy pumpernickel flatbread, are addictive.
Blizzards? Thunderstorms? What’s that? After a breakfast cocktail or a dip in the heated pool at L’Horizon Palm Springs, you’ll quickly leave behind any winter-induced malaise, in this little corner of desert paradise.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario (now available in a new 2nd edition) and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. L’Horizon Palm Springs and Palm Springs Tourism hosted my stay for review purposes.