Parker Palm Springs. The unique celebrity hideaway in California’s desert. Report by Lucy Broadbent
Finicky Hollywood stars have been demanding luxury in Palm Springs since the first movie was ever made. But there’s luxury, and then there’s a world beyond luxury where suits of armour stand guard over stuffed leather hippopotami, where a giant purple foot steps out beneath a 20ft chandelier of interlocking glass, where gold palm trees glint next to macrame owls.
In all my years of travel, (and I was lucky enough to once be a travel editor for Hello! magazine), I have never stayed anywhere quite like Parker Palm Springs. It is like walking into a Salvador Dali painting, except more inviting and altogether prettier. Jonathan Adler, the famous designer responsible, calls the style ‘hippie chic’. I’d call it inspired.
Thirteen acres of bougainvillea-filled hedges create a maze on the property, so you never know if you will ever find your room again. Maybe you will find yourself stumbling upon a 7-foot-tall bronze banana on a lawn surrounded by orange trees instead; or a croquet lawn with instructions to drink a Pimm’s cup, or a petanque court with instructions to drink a pastis, or one of several swimming pools, or a water-fountain, or a firepit where you will make a note to toast marshmallows if you ever find this spot again.
And when you do find your room, you will marvel at the detail of it. The art books left carefully at your bedside, (of course, Andy Warhol’s work among them), the gold leather poof, the fish-shaped taps at the basin, the Moroccan textiles, the jar of pink M&Ms, the adorable book of artist sketches of the resort that you will slip into your luggage and hope no-one minds, because you will want to remember your time here. ALWAYS.
This is a boutique resort which is whimsical and fun with a capital ‘F’. You are told to tell the barman that “Mr Parker sent you,” and with a wry smile, because everyone loves a game, the barman will produce a complimentary glass of French cognac for you. It’s that kind of place. An experience as much as a destination, where luxury is a given, but comes with the intention to amuse.
And of course, it attracts the kind of guests that are as eclectic as the décor. Famously Robert Downey, Jr. was arrested here once. Barbra Streisand, Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian have also stayed. Fans of design flock here, marked out usually by the stylishness of what they wear, as well as people from all over the world, giving it the atmosphere of a house party. (Quite an achievement in the socially distanced era of Covid). Just about anyone you talk to – in the hot tub, round the firepit, on one of the many retro couches – will speak of their surreal, pinch-me moments here. “We borrowed bicycles and left the property today,” a woman told me. “What was I thinking? It was like leaving the womb.”
There are tennis courts and restaurants, the famous Palm Springs Yacht Club Spa (the joke is in the name. It’s a desert. Get it?), and dozens of nooks and crannies where plush recliners beneath fruit trees and sun umbrellas beckon you to unwind and watch the changing colours of the sky overhead. In a world of corporate homogeny, Parker is as refreshing as one of its mint lemonades. It stands out, unashamedly unique, quirky, and cool.
The United States has now re-opened its borders to overseas visitors. The winter and spring months are gorgeous in Palm Springs. Don’t hesitate.
The Parker Palm Springs
4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264