Many come to Palm Springs for the hot desert sun, mid-century architecture and design, a nod to old Hollywood glamour, and the laid back mood of California dreaming. Bonus points if you, like us, have escaped frozen-in-moments temperatures and blizzard conditions. Having said all this, we might have been happy in a number of locations – but we were especially pleased and impressed with our choice, The Rowan Palm Springs, a Kimpton establishment.
We’ve had great experiences at other Kimpton locations across the U.S. – Portland, Seattle, and NYC to name a few. The concept is terrific; take a great, urban location central to lots of food, shops and local colour, and transform it into a boutique hotel steps away from great things to do. Add thoughtful touches like a daily ‘social hour’ with free wine and beer, even a d.j. on occasion, and complimentary fresh brewed coffee and tea to start your morning, and you have a place that truly treats those staying there like welcomes guests.
Our King Room was spacious, clean, and exceptional cool and comfortable given the stifling conditions outdoors. Our large windows pointed in the direction of the Palm Springs Art Museum, directing our gaze at some stunning and strange contemporary art. Namely, we were overlooking a larger than life public art display “The Babies” by artist David Czerny, where grey, bar-coded infants crawl around a deserted parking lot. And not far from that, Marilyn Monroe – in giantess form with skirts billowing – greeted us as well. There’s a boldness and a provocative strangeness about Palm Springs, and we were in it immediately at The Rowan.
Just outside the hotel is a spacious courtyard – great place to sip a coffee, or more likely cool off with a cold beverage or some shaved ice. Steps away from here is South Canyon Drive with its seemingly endless array of restaurants, shopping, coffee shops, bars and lounges.
It seems that mere moments after unpacking, we found ourselves just a few blocks away from the hotel at Tac/quila for Cadillac Margheritas and beers, and absolutely scrumptious nachos, enchiladas, and tacos to share. Like many restaurants and bars, Tac/quila has a mostly open-air design, giving you the feeling of being inside but still part of the street life beyond the threshold. Lots of fun here – and a great intro to the casual vibe of Palm Springs.
You could fill your all time and satisfy your belly with the variety of casual dining beyond The Rowan’s doors, but there are also more upscale dining options. Still open to the gorgeous California air, and about a five minute walk from the Rowan, we enjoyed a fine steak dinner at LG’s Prime Steakhouse.
Copley’s may be one of if not the finest dining option in Palm Springs – it certainly was on our short stay. The renovated former guesthouse of Hollywood legend Cary Grant is a gorgeous, outdoors-in-the-garden restaurant featuring inventive California-American-fusion cuisine. (Check out this feature article for more.) Copley’s is certainly walkable to and from the Rowan – about 15-20 minutes. We walked there, and opted to take an Uber back, so that’s also a nice option.
While you can fill a Palm Springs vacation by exploring what’s on foot from the Rowan, one of our main reasons for the trip was to check out Joshua Tree National Park. About an hour away by car, this was not only a vacation highlight, but a life highlight as well. The Mojave and Colorado deserts’ almost alien landscape, with its “Flintstone” boulders and strange vegetation, has to be seen and experienced to be understood – and even then, I’m still not sure I do. It was wonderfully surreal to hike among these strange formations under the bright sun and the bluest of skies.
If you do go to the park, heed all the advice about going early in the day to avoid the heat. Dress smart, bring plenty of water with you, and be warned that cell service, washrooms, water etc. are extremely limited if they exist at all. Do your research beforehand to ensure that you can focus your energy on all the amazing sights – they’re highly worth it!
After a day in the desert – or frankly even after those days strolling the streets of Palm Springs under the blazing hot sun – we certainly appreciated our cool, comfortable, spacious room back at the Rowan.
I have to say once again how much we enjoyed the hotels’ truly hospitable ‘social hour’ with its selection of California wines and craft beers, filling the spacious lobby with happy guests. It was a relaxing anchor moment – an ‘ahhhh’ feeling – between the day and whatever we were going to do that evening.
(FYI – the hotel’s rooftop pool wasn’t something we took part in but, like the social hour, it seemed a popular and even central activity for many guests — so if that’s your thing, the Rowan has it!)
We were in Palm Springs for a short four day/five night stay. We really enjoyed the comforts of the Rowan and its proximity to enough entertainment and dining to fill our days without a lot of planning.
Another win for the Kimpton experience, and one that we recommend if you are in the Palm Springs area!
For more information or to book a stay at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel, visit www.rowanpalmsprings.com