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Sunday, July 3, 2022

I Stayed At A 5-Star Boutique Hotel In Palm Springs —And To Be Honest, I Had The Time Of My Life

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I went in skeptical, and ended up never wanting to leave.

Hello people of the internet — and welcome! I am here today to talk to you about the desert. More specifically, a desert oasis in Southern California also referred to as Palm Springs.


Kate Ballis / Getty Images/Image Source

In case you aren’t familiar, Palm Springs is a city in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California known for its hot springs, stylish hotels, golf courses, and spas. The area is also noted for its midcentury-modern architecture. It’s about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and also has its own international airport. And it is one of my favorite places in the entire world.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

When I moved from a small town in Indiana to Los Angeles, California, just under a decade ago, I had never heard of Palm Springs, the stylish desert town just a two-hour drive from my new home. Nor did I think I would soon be so interested in vacationing in the desert, where temps can go up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the depths of summer. But here we are! So buckle in.

My reasons for loving Palm Springs are pretty simple; anytime I’ve visited (which has been basically every year for my birthday in May — shoutout to Taurus season! — for the last 5-plus years, and anytime I want to celebrate basically anything), it has been nothing but a week filled with sunshine, cool and crisp saltwater pools, delicious food, and the most relaxing vibes of my life. But this time, oh friends. This time, I got to stay at the 5-star boutique hotel I had only ever dreamt about: Parker Palm Springs.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Located at 4200 East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, California, Parker Palm Springs is one of the area’s most well-known boutique hotels. It’s been host to celebrities and travel writers alike, and I had heard many tales of its beauty from friends, and mostly in a “wow, I wish I could go there all the time, but I’m not super wealthy” sort of way. 

Prior to this trip, and despite sharing a last name with the hotel, I had never stepped foot on the sprawling grounds of Parker Palm Springs. And a big part of that is because, as you can see below, the rooms are not what I would refer to as “affordable” for the average traveler. It’s a 5-star hotel! And I am usually a “What Airbnb or hotel can I get for less than $250/night?” kind of traveler.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

You may, like me, be asking yourself why a hotel would cost on average $849 a night. I simply can’t answer that, but I CAN tell you about the amenities that this particular hotel offers, describe my experience, and then let you form your own opinion. 

So let’s get into it! To start, there are three different pools available to guests: the Silicon Valley Pool, the Palm Springs Yacht Club Indoor Pool, and the Gene Autry Pool.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Beyond this, there is an outdoor bar (which is not free, LOL) called the Lemonade Stand and two restaurants on-site; Norma’s and Mister Parker’s (which is currently closed until September 2022) as well as three bars (including the aforementioned Lemonade Stand). And the rooms, to be honest, are lovely and stunning — more on that later. And BTW, a $45 USD resort fee is charged per room per night. According to the Parker, this fee covers “the 24-hour access to gym, local and 800 calls, Wi-Fi internet, large sparkling water in room, access to spa, indoor pool, steam room, and daily newspaper on request.”

The grounds also include two tennis courts, a place for pétanque, an area to play croquet, a fitness center, a mega-size chess board, bicycles that guests can use to ride around in the desert sun, ample areas to lounge around outside while lying in hammocks or otherwise, and very quick and efficient valet parking. (The valet parking costs $35/day but is required, as the property is valet only! I do think this should be included, but I am not CEO, etc. You can text a number and they will get your car ready within 10 minutes. It is very handy! That is, if you even want to leave the lovely grounds.) The grounds also have access to Wi-Fi everywhere.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

The hotel is also located in Palm Springs proper near lots of shops and restaurants — and it’s just about a 10-minute drive away from one of my fave coffee shops in the area, Cafe La Jefa!

Like I said, I had heard of Parker Palm Springs before I ever went. And so have celebs! Here’s a cute little Getty image I found of Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya attending a party on the Parker grounds in 2018 during the Palm Springs International Film Festival. I also attended a party* on these very same grounds but for a vastly different reason.


Rich Fury / Getty Images for Palm Springs In

*It was for dogs and there were 10 people, but splitting hairs, etc.

And while I was incessantly updating my IG story during my stay, my friend Julie told me she had heard that allegedly even Miley goes to the Parker. That is cool and interesting news for me specifically.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Now, without further ado, let’s get into my whole stay!

Also, it’s worth noting that I went on Monday–Wednesday right after Coachella came to an end, so I basically had the place to myself. I would definitely recommend late April/early May. The weather is warm (it’s a desert, LOL) but not unbearable, and the crowd was nonexistent. Love that for me.

When I arrived at the Parker on a Monday afternoon, there was a very cute soiree to celebrate the latest artwork from fine-art photographer Gray Malin, “Dogs at the Parker.” My dog, Pepper, and I were greeted with adorable photographs of dogs literally at the Parker Hotel alongside a buffet of food made specifically for our furry friends. (There was also human food, and an open bar. Cute!)


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

I was handed a lemon tart, Pepper got a dog biscuit, and we set off to explore just some of the grounds before checking into our room. I would very much like to start all future trips with a lemon tart.

Walking into the main hotel lobby through the giant orange doors at the front of the property, I was immediately greeted with what I now refer to as “quintessential Palm Springs decor.”

It’s styled in a way that feels both fancy and warm, yet approachable. The entire walkway through the hallways to our room was on this somewhat-psychedelic-looking carpet. Or maybe my late-afternoon edible had already started to kick in, and the carpet was my first notice. Vacation!

Our room — No. 29 — was located in the main building (the orange door building) on the south side. (This was important to know later on when we ordered drinks at the pool. South not east! Sorry to John the bartender.) It was sort of a long walk to our room, down two separate hallways, but it was at the very end of the hallway, which meant we were only partially sharing a wall with another room during our stay. It was myself, my partner, Tom, and our 6-year-old Maltese/Yorkie mix, Pepper. And it was remarkably quiet.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Admittedly, the room itself wasn’t as spacious as I was expecting for an estimated $850/night room, but the decor was stylish and functional, and I certainly wasn’t complaining about staying here for the next few days. The bed itself was roomy (king-size, duh), and the mattress itself was comfortable — firm but not stiff.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Part of why the room felt somewhat small-ish is because the ceilings are on the lower side. Not LOW. But also not high.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

The room was very cute, though, and had a little table and chair area with complimentary Evian water in a GLASS bottle. Fancy!


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Here’s the other angle of the room, for good measure. I liked the decor, even if I was slightly unsure of where to store my carry-on.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

While the main bedroom area didn’t knock my socks off, that all changed when I saw the bathroom. Look, I am a mirror selfie girlie. I admit it! So let’s pause for a second to introduce the glorious bathroom. I was obsessed. I still am.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

First of all, double sinks. 10/10. Mirrors everywhere, which for the purpose of taking selfies and looking at my nose hairs up close: also 10/10. One thing I hated, however, was the lack of hooks to hang one’s towels. Was I missing it somewhere in the countless wall mirrors? Maybe! But I never did find a great place to hang towels while there.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

The shower was also very nice (sorry that I was not savvy enough to capture the whole thing with this photo angle), but there was no bathtub. As someone who loves a bubble bath, this stung a bit. But once I took a shower using the rain-fall shower head, I survived.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

The bathroom amenities were also nice; Aesop mouthwash, Acqua di Parma body wash and lotion, Le Labo Santal 33 shampoo, Byredo’s Gypsy Water conditioner, and L’Occitane en Provence bar soap. They even added a whole pack of Q-tips and some Blistex. And yes, I absolutely took all of this home with me.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Moving on from the bathroom, each room also comes with private outdoor space. This was ours! I loooooooved it. And because we were at the end of a long hallway without shared walls, it felt even more private.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

We spent a lot of time just sitting out in this little area looking at the bougainvillea and pretending we lived here year-round. And we could walk directly from our patio to everything else on the grounds very easily without even having to go through the main building.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

By the time we had checked into our room and explored some of the grounds at the Parker, we were hungry, but didn’t feel like leaving the property. So we decided to check out one of the restaurants on campus, Norma’s. And we walked by this cute little fountain to get there.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

As you can probably tell by the picture of the menu below, Norma’s is not cheap. But the vibe is very good. It has both indoor and outdoor seating, but seeing as how COVID very much still exists, we always opt for outdoor when we can.

Plus their outdoor area is honestly stunning! Surrounded by trees and decorated with colorful sun awnings, it was a treat to sit down for a meal here.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

For dinner I had a classic margarita ($16) and fish tacos. Pepper also got her very own water bowl. The fish tacos, at $29, were not the best fish tacos I ever had. But they were good, and I would happily eat them again.

My partner, Tom, opted to go with the tuna burger and a side of yucca fries ($28), and he happily ate every single bite. We also shared a mojito ($16), and it was delicious and very much hit the spot.

After dinner, we did what any logical person would do and found the closest hot tub, which was about a five-minute walk from our room. Towels were provided on-site. And we, again, were somehow the only guests in this pool area, and we happily enjoyed soaking in the hot water while looking at the Palm Springs night sky.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

After soaking in the hot tub for a while, we headed back to our room to watch House Hunters International, and I discovered the most important amenity of our hotel room yet: THE ROBES!!!! I freaking love hotel robes and wore mine almost 24/7 when in the room. It was definitely the only time I seriously considered taking it home with me.

The next morning I was peacefully awakened by sunlight gracefully gleaming through the window shutters. There hadn’t been any usual hotel noises during the night, and we all slept peacefully, Pepper included.

We decided to spend the entire day lounging around the grounds. First, we took a lovely walk to explore all of the grounds we hadn’t seen the night before. This little walkway you see below connects everything and makes it super easy to get from place to place. However, I am very Not Smart™ when it comes to directions, so I did get turned around once or twice.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

In late April/early May, the grounds were really beautiful and blooming, and I again cannot emphasize enough how much we had the place seemingly to ourselves.

After a lovely morning walk — and after dropping Pepper off at a local doggie daycare so she could have as much fun as we were about to have — we arrived at the pool for a day of soaking in the sun. And, again, WE HAD IT TO OURSELVES.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Each little pool lounge area was equipped with a drink menu, and staff from the Parker would occasionally come by ready to take your order if you wanted anything. I obviously wanted something! I started first with the Parker Paloma.

They also provided ice water free of charge and refilled it often. It was about 88 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny for our pool day, and we drank a lot of water.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

You could also order food!


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

After finishing the paloma, we decided to walk the 500 feet or so to the outdoor bar — titled the Lemonade Stand — to order another drink. Talk about a summer VIBE. I loved it. Also, drinks were $20 each, which I did not love. But I ordered a second one anyway.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

This time I opted for the frozen Parker Piña Colada, and it was GOOD. Like the most perfect drink to have waiting for you in between dips in the cool, refreshing, crisp pool.

There are few things in life that I enjoy more than a pool day. I have chronic pain, and being in the pool on a hot day is one of the only times I feel completely weightless in regards to my pain. I just feel free. So to say I was having the time of my life on this day would almost feel like an understatement.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

After spending the entire day lounging/swimming, we took another walk around the grounds in the late afternoon sun. I really can’t emphasize enough how lovely the grounds are.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

That evening, my chronic pain caught up with me, so back to House Hunters International viewing we went, but while wearing the hotel robe of course.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

The next morning we tried the Palm Springs Starbucks Reserve before settling in for relaxation on our little patio. It was genuinely very peaceful, and I was very sad at the prospect of leaving.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Before heading out later in the day, we decided to once again go to the on-site restaurant Norma’s. This was partially because it was so damn convenient, and partially because we had actually been told that they were known for their brunch.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

And we, once again, were one of very few people there, which I personally loved! Not sure if the hotel loved this, too, though.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

I ordered an iced vanilla latte with oat milk to start while I browsed the menu options.

And while we waited, our server dropped off a treat for Ms. Pepper and two complimentary berry smoothie shots.

For brunch, I decided on the light and lemony griddle cakes, which cost $29. And my god, were they good.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

Tom opted for the eggs Florentine, also $29. And also delicous.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

And with that, it was almost time for our stay at the Parker to end. I took one last walk around the gorgeous property and said my goodbyes to the trees, etc.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

And I took one last mirror selfie in the bathroom, for good measure.


Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

I went into this stay being skeptical of the cost associated with a place like the Parker, and I left feeling somewhat the same. But if I ever got the opportunity to stay at the Parker again? I would take it in a heartbeat.

Editor’s note: The room was provided free of charge, but all other costs including food and drink were paid for out of my own pocket.

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