TRIP DATE: DEC 2015 DURATION: 2 NIGHTS
We ventured to Palm Springs in search of sun and relaxation and were sort of thwarted in this because of the weather. Although it was bright sunshine, the weather was still in the 60's. My previous experience in PS had been in April a couple of years ago, on the tail end of Coachella, when we had stopped for lunch on the way back to LA. It had been near 100 degrees, so I had only assumed that December would be closer to the 80's.
Sorted Travel had set us up at L'Horizon Hotel which was everything I had hoped for. The hotel opened this summer with a fresh take on the 1952 original William F. Cody Desert Modern iconic estate. It is Mid-Century Luxury at it's finest. I loved the color-scheme of muted desert tones and touches of copper and brass. The furniture and artwork-- all Pinterest-worthy. The lobby smells AMAZING and the small gift shop is full of Tom Dixon objets and $90 (gorgeous copper) candles. Maybe because it is one of the newest hotels I'd stayed at recently, but I was impressed to see a Nest system installed in our room (very helpful to have an easily navigate-able thermostat system when grappling with the weather extremes of the desert). I never thought I'd describe a thermostat as beautiful, but there you have it, and it fit in perfectly with the room's aesthetic. The screen also creepily activates when you're anywhere nearby, which is...comforting? The hotel's personalized brass nameplates and embossed monogrammed notecards harkened back to the good old days of travel, when it was personalized stationary that awaited you upon arrival and not an automated check-in counter.
While we very much enjoyed our two lunches on property by the pool, unfortunately we had pre-booked reservations in town for dinner off property, so we weren't able to dine at the hotel's restaurant, SOPA, whose chef is the first in Palm Springs with a Michelin Star. Apparently he used to also be at El Bulli..Something to come back for!
MOD TOURS--ARCHITECTURE TOUR
I did a bit of research online on architecture tours-- I knew that I wanted something fairly concise that would show us highlights of iconic residential and commercial Mid-Century Modern architecture. Most of the tours stretched to over 3 hours which conjured not so great images of being stuck in a hot van- but then I found Mod Tours, which seems far more reasonable at $60 per person for a 90 min tour. Kurt's tour had great reviews and we discovered the meeting point was just a 5 min walk from our hotel, at the Saguaro Hotel. The van was clean and comfortable and we were joined by two other guests. Kurt was well-versed in Desert Modernism as well as Palm Springs itself. I'd recommend doing this tour one of your first mornings as it really helps get your bearings and allows you to return to any of the stops for further explore.
GOLF- TAHQUITZ CREEK GOLF RESORT
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about golf. When we decided to at the last minute try to get a tee time that same day at the, I was apprehensive. But the hotel was fantastic and was able to secure us a slot that same day at the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort AND drive us over in the hotel car. Having been turned away from a course once before for lack of a collared shirt, I put together some semblance of a golf outfit with my white jeans and chambray shirt. We made it seem like we knew exactly what we were doing until the clubs of all shapes and sizes were loaded into the back of the cart. "Errrrrr, do you have any tips for a first timer?" I quietly asked as we were about to set off. I also asked if there was a generic club that could be used in most scenarios (probably such a novice question, because courses, and especially this one, were characterized by a number of different terrains). The man kindly suggested that I mostly try the 5-iron and that the path to the right would take us back to where we began once we were ready to throw in the towel. I began as anyone would, at the first hole, asking for help from Google. My main problem was not in theory, but in practice. I typed in "how to play golf", which wasn't particularly helpful. 96% of the time I wasn't making contact with the ball. At all. Golf becomes and exhausting endeavor when you need to swing 27 times in order to make contact once. The good news here is that by some grace of god, nobody was behind us, watching impatiently as this all went down. After we had done about 6 of the 9 holes that we planned on playing, I decided that it was time to rest. And that I was a far better golf car driver than golfer. Although my prowess at the sport has yet to materialize, it was a beautiful course and once the sun starting setting and it got chilly, we very much enjoyed a drink back at the club's bar, which comes included in your round.
ACE HOTEL-KING'S HIGHWAY-- BRUNCH
Sorted Travel had also recommended the Ace Hotel for brunch so we ventured (conveniently, just across the street) over to the King's Highway. What was once a Denny's, now serves as an all-day hipster diner. It felt like one of the road stop scenes from Mad Men and the food was scrumptious, prompting us to journey back for a second day running. Highlights here included the date shake (pictured above and recipe below) and the breakfast burrito.
DATE SHAKE RECIPE
Workshop had been on my radar for some time and I was excited to finally try it out. The industrial 'workshop' decor is softened by the tufts of wildflowers on each table which nicely break up the concrete and steel. The space is rectangular with booths tucked along either side and a long table down the center. The booths reminded me of train compartments-- super cozy. The starters here really shined. We loved the shaved brussels sprout salad, with pomegranate, persimmon, pepitas, apple cider vinegar, pumpkin seed oil and pecorino romano. The gravlax, although fairly straightforward, had a nice twist with its horseradish cream and meyer lemon zest. For some ungodly reason, we missed the duck fat fries.
As we approached Birba, I thought to myself-- look at all these silly people, sitting outdoors in 50 degree weather. Then I realized, if we were to have the Birba experience, we too would have to dine outside. They did have heat lamps and blankets, and as I devoured more of the gorgeous Italian food and my pinot noir, the cold tapered off. The wood oven roasted chicken was fantastic and comforting, as was the Rigatoni Alla Norma, which nostalgically reminded me of the rigatoni with eggplant and tomato sauce I used to get cravings for at Bella Napoli restaurant in Shanghai years ago. (Side note here- having just looked up the link for Bella Napoli, the home page boldly advertises not the food quality but rather the interior air quality of the restaurant. Has it come to this?)
IN MY BAG
1. Zara Leather Studded Clogs -- these felt right among the time warp architecture
2. Frame Denim 'Le Skinny de Jeanne' -- luckily these didn't count as 'jeans' on the golf course.
3. Marysia 'Sally Stripe' Antibes Bikini -- for when we jumped in the pool during our last hour in Palm Springs and discovered it's heated.
4. SEE tortoiseshell sunglasses --good for always (sold out but similar here)
5. Cuyana monogrammed toiletry case --old faithful now for trips. The gold hardware on here went perfectly with the fixtures at the hotel (and when can you ever say that..?!)
6. 'From Bauhaus to Our House' by Tom Wolfe -- I was extra proud to have brought this on the trip as it was referenced by our architecture tour guide!