Travel: The Parker, Palm Springs

If Mid-Century modern architecture, unique design and great weather are what you look for in a getaway, you may consider Palm Springs, located in California’s Coachella Valley, Mecca itself. Nestled at the base of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains with glistening turquoise oases a plenty; Palm Springs is home to not only an illustrious history (where the Rat Pack rubbed shoulders with the Hollywood Glitterati in eras gone by) but also an impressive art scene and is the cultural destination du jour for many.

From the Palm Springs International Film Festival to the renowned Coachella Festival, this desert city is no stranger to entertaining the masses. It’s a place that has creativity running through its veins, marked by the city council’s commission to promote art in the city, not to mention the imposing Forever Marilyn sculpture by Seward Johnson – worth a visit along with vintage and antique stores when downtown.

The area is famed for its ‘desert modern’ style of architecture – you’ll know the look when you see it -the region is awash with signature light-hearted takes on Mid-Century design. Though the exteriors of residential and commercial properties may display sharp, geometric shapes; clean and minimalist in their feel, inside paints a different story. Retro touches mix with classic design making for interiors that exude bohemian rock n’ roll.

Perhaps one of the most famous exteriors is the 1946 Richard Neutra designed ‘Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann House’. At the time, its modern glass structure incorporated the latest in technological advances, utilising natural light and floating panes that extend the space.

One place that sums up desert modern interiors, whilst possibly being the coolest space we’ve ever visited is The Parker, a luxury hotel estate designed by Jonathan Adler. In amongst the cosy reception area, luxurious nautically designed spa, some 144 rooms and villas are three restaurants – easy, breezy diner Norma’s, Mister Parker’s moody French bistro and the Lemonade Stand hidden in the garden’s citrus trees, perfect for an aperitif or two. A wander of the gardens shouldn’t be missed, where you can soak up the sunshine playing croquet, around the firepit with friends or in seclusion swinging from the trees in a hammock.

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Another must-visit is the well documented Ace Hotel. The chain’s desert outpost with eccentric interiors and unique touches is a former Westward Ho, lovingly restored to combine a super-cool set of rooms and various communal spaces. From a hearty meal in King’s Highway diner at the front of the property, to tasty margaritas and live music in the Amigo Room bar and DJ-accompanied pool parties, there’s something going on for everyone every night of the week.

Naturally, there’s national parks and sights a plenty for those looking for adventure. Rising some 8500 feet, the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway takes you up Chino Canyon with breathtaking views, whilst Joshua Tree National Park is less than an hour’s drive from the city. For those looking for a little old-school hospitality to conclude a fun-filled trip, we highly recommend Rat Pack haunt Melvyns, where the waiting team and tableside cooking alone make for the experience. Be sure to stay for drinks after dinner, when the neighbouring Casablanca Lounge comes alive with jazz classics.

Based just outside London, Sarah-Leigh Wade-Bunting is an editor and brand consultant working with trend forecasting organisations and international retailers, specialising in digital media. Sarah-Leigh launched her popular eponymous blog Sarah-LeighsStyleFiles.com in 2009 and is an advocate of emerging talent, vintage fashion and the arts. You can follow her on Twitter @sarah_leigh_b

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