Review: The Parker Palm Springs Hotel

I tend to stay at chain hotels, because I’m sort of addicted to loyalty programs. That being said, at times I do get tired of how “cookie cutter” many chain hotels are. On one hand the consistency is nice, while on the other hand it gets a bit boring at times.

That’s why I love unique hotels which still belong to a major hotel chain. For example, Starwood recently announced that they’ll be introducing the Tribute Portfolio, which will be a collection of independent hotels that will still be part of the SPG program. That’s a win-win, if you ask me.

Similarly, over the years I’ve heard a lot about The Parker Palm Springs, and in particular how quirky it is. Interesting it’s a Le Meridien property, though it’s not at all marketed as such. I’m not sure why they market it as such rather than a Luxury Collection property, for example. I’ve never been to Palm Springs, so a friend in LA agreed to join me for a weekend there.

Admittedly summer isn’t the ideal time to go and vacation in the desert, but on the plus side the rates reflect that. The Parker had a promotion for $189 weekend rates ($99 on weekdays), which is about half the rate you’d pay during other times of the year. This is a Category 6 SPG property, making a free night redemption at least 20,000 Starpoints per night. At that rate I’d much rather pay cash.

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We weren’t that interested in spending too much time outside, but rather just unwinding, relaxing, and having a bottle (or four) of rose. The $189 rate confirmed into an Estate Room.

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Then I used two Platinum Suite Night Awards to confirm an upgrade to a junior suite for our two night stay, which is the room type the hotel uses for Platinum SNAs.

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The Parker is a gorgeous, secluded property. I know it’s not everyone’s style, but I loved just about everything about the decor and design of the hotel. It was quirky… really, really quirky.

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Parker Palm Springs signage

As you pull up, the exterior of the hotel is pretty simple and characteristic of the area. The hotel has a $35 per night resort fee, which includes valet parking. So as soon as we pulled up the car was immediately parked.

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Parker Palm Springs entrance

The lobby is simply gone-with-the-wind quirky. Everything about it. So I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Parker Palm Springs lobby

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Parker Palm Springs lobby

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Parker Palm Springs lobby

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Parker Palm Springs lobby

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Parker Palm Springs lobby seating

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Parker Palm Springs lobby seating

Just inside the entrance to the right was the reception desk, which was quite small, and was staffed by two agents. The guy that checked us in was generally friendly, though just seemed really scatterbrained. For a domestic check-in experience it had to be one of the longest processes I’ve had in a while, and I even had to initial in a half dozen places.

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Parker Palm Springs reception

As he checked us in he said “you’re a Platinum member, you deserve an upgrade. Let me go ahead and upgrade you.” It sounded borderline sarcastic to me (I hadn’t even asked about upgrades), though I realize that wasn’t the intention. I said “okay great, what kind of a room would that be?” He said it would be a junior suite… exactly what I had “confirmed.”

I asked about the possibility of buying up to a villa (of which the hotel has several), though they were all sold out.

The guy didn’t mention anything about a Platinum amenity, so when I asked if we could do breakfast as the Platinum amenity, he paused as if he had never been asked that before, and said “sure, I guess you could.” I suppose it’s no surprise that the Parker hotels don’t really want to be part of Starwood

We were assigned room 71 South, which was located on the second floor in the “main” building. Best I could tell there were no elevators, so we took the stairs up one level.

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Parker Palm Springs lobby

It was located at the far end of the simple hallway, on the left.

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Parker Palm Springs hallway

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Parker Palm Springs room entrance

The suite itself was gorgeous, I thought. I loved the decor. It amazes me how many people complain about the decor of this hotel. I suppose it’s not everyone’s style, though presumably people would know whether it’s their style going in based on pictures on the website. It’s worth noting that all the furniture was in great condition, and I just loved the quirkiness of it all. Loved it.

The junior suite was a single large room which featured a comfortable king size bed at the far end.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite

Then there was a spacious seating area with lounge chairs and cute mismatched ottomans, which faced an armoire and flat screen TV.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite seating area

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite seating area

Then over by the window were two leather seats with a small table.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite table with chairs

On the other end of the room was a unique wall display and then a low-set table with some books and a lamp.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite artwork

Behind the king size bed was the entrance to the bathroom, which was super quirky… but not necessarily in a good way. For a suite I thought the bathroom was tiny and not very well laid out. It featured a single sink, a toilet, and a rather tiny shower/tub combo.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite bathroom

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite bathroom

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite shower

I did love the artwork of someone’s bags being searched at security, though.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite toilet

In addition to the main bathroom was a second bathroom on exactly the opposite end of the room, which featured a “party shower.” I had asked about this on the blog, since I had no clue what that was.

Well, basically it’s just one big, no frills shower. I was sort of disappointed, actually. I’ve seen some amazing hotel showers in my day, and this doesn’t even rank in the top dozen. Perhaps most disappointing is that there was a single shower head. No rainforest shower… or “handheld” shower head… or disco lights… or…

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite “party shower”

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite “party shower”

The shower room didn’t have a bathroom or anything, but rather just a wooden bench and some towels.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite “party shower”

Any complaints about the bathroom were quickly forgotten when I saw the toiletries. Goodness gracious! The Parker has an awesome selection of mismatched toiletries… probably my favorite of any hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite amazing toiletries

Perhaps the best part of the second shower was that it came with an extra set of toiletries, including Hermes soap and Penhaligon’s shampoo and conditioner. The bathrooms featured BVLGARI, Molton Brown, L’Occitane, Penhaligon’s, and Hermes toiletries. Some speculate that the hotel gets these toiletries on clearance somewhere given that they’re mismatched, but I don’t think that’s true. They’ve had the same mismatched toiletries for years, and I think it’s part of the overall quirky theme of the hotel.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite amazing toiletries

If you hide use up toiletries every day they’ll refill them, so by the end of our two night stay we had four bars of Hermes soap.

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Parker Palm Springs Hermes soap

Anyway, back to the room itself. The room also had a huge balcony which stretched the entire length of the room.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite balcony

There was a single table with two chairs — a great place from which to have a bottle or six of rose, I must say.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite balcony

The main building of the hotel is quite private, and there was tons of plants growing around the room to add further privacy.

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Parker Palm Springs junior suite balcony view

Below is a view from the grounds looking up at the junior suite.

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Parker Palm Springs view from outside

All-in-all I loved the junior suite. While I thought the bathroom was very poorly designed, everything else about the room was fantastic.

But the awesomeness of the hotel doesn’t end there. The grounds are gorgeous across the board. I’m not someone who unwinds or relaxes much, but this property was just such a great place to clear my mind. The property was so well taken care of, and featured so many unique areas to sit and relax, from fire pits to hammocks to outdoor couches.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs seating

The hotel also featured all kinds of bougie sports (at least when played in the US), from petanque to croquet. I was shocked by how fun petanque was, and must have played at least 100 rounds.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

Then there was also a ping pong table and a huge chess game.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs grounds

The Parker has a beautiful classic outdoor pool. It’s not huge, but then again, the LA crowd rarely swims much…

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs pool

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs pool

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs pool seating

Next to the pool was a “lemonade stand,” which, as you might expect, mostly has alcoholic “lemonade” on offer. Don’t mind if I do!

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs lemonade stand

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs lemonade stand

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs “lemonade”

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a small bar off the lobby. It was actually sort of a cute space, though the characters sitting there were… interesting.

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Parker Palm Springs bar

Which I guess is a good time to talk about the clientele at the hotel:

  • It’s 95% people from LA
  • I think the crowd can best be described as boozie meets cruisy meets bougie… make of that what you will
  • It was interesting people watching, if nothing else!

In terms of the hotel’s restaurants, the more casual restaurant is Norma’s, which is located just off the lobby. It features both outdoor and indoor seating.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant seating

While it was certainly on the warm side in Palm Springs in summer, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. And with the shade it was actually pleasant to sit outside.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant seating

Since we arrived late the first night we had dinner at Norma’s. We started with some chips & guac.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant dinner

And then I had the fish tacos, which were excellent.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant dinner

We had breakfast at the hotel both days. The breakfast menu read as follows:

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Service began with the “smoothie shot of the day,” which was a nice touch.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant smoothie shot

The first morning I ordered the shrimp frittata, which was excellent.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant egg white frittata of shrimp

Meanwhile my friend had an egg white omelet and an English muffin.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant egg white omelet

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant English muffin

When it came time to pay I handed over the SPG Platinum breakfast voucher. Based on everything I had read, the Platinum breakfast benefit is a $25 per person credit towards breakfast. The guy at check-in didn’t actually mention anything about the benefit, so I assumed that was still the case. Apparently it isn’t.

Nowadays the only option you can select for the SPG Platinum breakfast is the “continental breakfast,” which isn’t actually on the menu. That being said, as a courtesy (after talking to his manager) the server was able to take $40 off our breakfast bill the first morning.

The next morning we had the Platinum breakfast, which included coffee and then a plate with granola with berries, yogurt, a croissant, and a chocolate pastry. I thought that was a bit disappointing. I get the benefit is technically a “continental breakfast,” but at least make it something which is actually on the menu…

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs Norma’s Restaurant continental breakfast

Lastly, the hotel had a pretty basic gym with aged equipment. That sort of surprised me, given that I figured the LA crowd would be pretty “into” the gym.

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs gym

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs gym

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Parker Hotel Palm Springs gym

The rest of the spa was awesome, though, and even had an indoor pool which I wasn’t able to grab a picture of. But it was a beautiful facility.

Lastly, service at the hotel was… interesting. It ranged from friendly, attentive, and well intentioned, to totally indifferent and drugged-out seeming. I’m pretty sure the guy who checked me out was living on another planet.

Bottom line

I was pleasantly surprised by The Parker.

What didn’t I love? It seemed like the hotel didn’t really care much about SPG, and the service was quite spotty/hit-or-miss.

But I loved just about everything about this hotel. It’s quirky. So, so, so quirky. Which I can appreciate. Because I’m the guy who will wear red Christmas themed socks (in summer) with papaya colored pants and a shirt with a dozen colors on it. So I guess you could say The Parker gets me!

I’ll definitely be back, as I imagine this place is even more fun in the fall, when the temperatures cool off a bit.

If you’ve stayed at The Parker Palm Springs, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. We stayed there 2-3 years ago on points traveling through with our 1 year old daughter at the time. The Palmer put us in a very large room, nicely decorated but it lacked an essential feature…windows. The also kept promising us a crib but never delivered one even after repeatedly asking. It was really weird that they never admitted to simply not having one. I recall that the fireplace is a community place where speaking/meeting other people is encouraged. I can see all this being fun for the right target group. Definitely NOT the place to be with a small child.

  2. Anyone else smell something funny? Lucky confesses his love for LA and says he wants to settle down there. Next thing we know he’s on a weekend getaway to Palm Springs with his LA friend (using “our room” and “we” more than I can ever remember) drinking rose on the balcony.

    Call me crazy, but I think our Lucky may have been bitten by the love bug…

  3. I love how lush those grounds are. Hard to believe it is in the desert and there is an epic drought…..

  4. No matter which way you cut it those interiors and decor are positively ghastly. There is kitschy and then there is this.

  5. If there’s a millenial-to-coot translator in the house, please translate “bougie” for us coots. It defined the crowd and also sports. Thanks.

  6. “It seemed like the hotel didn’t really care much about SPG, but I loved just about everything about this hotel. It’s quirky.”

    Isn’t it kind of an axiom that these two would be in opposition to each other? Can you think of other strongly branded hotels that are quirky?

    “While it was certainly on the warm side in Palm Springs in summer, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. And with the shade it was actually pleasant to sit outside.” –coming from a Floridian!

  7. Oooh Ben you crack me up.

    “I’d certainly never use that soap, but it’ll make a cute gift for some of the more brand-conscious people in my life.”

    Then you post a picture with you Goyard Card Case just casually sitting there. Hahaha

    What Danie pointed out make sense… Hope you found yourself someone good! Just spent the weekend with my BF in PS as well. Ritz Carlton when booked thru a stars agent at summertime price is hard to beat.

    Waiting on reading your review of the US Grant, and hopefully we will see a Delta One review from LAX to JFK!

  8. The prices on the breakfast menu seem really high to me. Looks like you will be around 50 dollars per person with OJ, coffee and tip in the end…that’s insane for breakfast. Is it normal these days in “better” US hotels? Haven’t been there for maybe 3 years…

  9. Wow, I thought Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien in NYC was expensive because it’s NYC…. but nope, this Norma’s was just as expensive. My goodness.

    @ Danie — I thought the same thing. Note that the room has just one bed. 😉

  10. It’s marketed as a Le Meridien because it’s a Le Parker Meridien, just like its sister property in New York. And it joined Starwood when they bough Le Meridien a while back (although both Parkers didn’t participate in SPG for the first few years after they joined).

    You might enjoy the standup routine Kathy Griffin used to do about having once stayed there (that is, if you like Kathy Griffin … she inspires love from some and hate from others):

  11. @ Thomas_888 — Indeed, food & beverage at this hotel was quite expensive, especially for Palm Springs. Really New York prices in the middle of nowhere.

  12. “No matter which way you cut it those interiors and decor are positively ghastly. There is kitschy and then there is this.”

    I see it was a variation on tasteful mid-century. More Nancy Reagan/Bob Hope/Palm Springs mid-century. Like 1972.

  13. @Al,

    I’m afraid you don’t get it; Blandon does. It’s Jonathan Adler’s take on Palm Springs’ quirkiness. I guess you either love his aesthetic or hate it. Personally, I’d buy everything in his store if I could afford it.

    @Lucky,

    I hope you got to see more of Palm Springs and enjoyed it, although with that many bottles of rose I kinda doubt it. 🙂 It was unusually mild weather for summer when you were here.

  14. Was the jr suite reasonably quiet? Is that a connecting door on the pics? And did the shades make the room dark enougg, you think? Considering a stay over a weekend in August, but not sure if I want to be a port of a loud party zone!

  15. @ Henning — Yep, was very quiet, and the shades worked quite well. The door led to a closet — I don’t think there was a connecting door, but I could be mistaken.

  16. Lucky, I sent you a note about our stay there this week, and we no longer get the granola, berries, or yogurt! Just a plain croissant and other pastries, very disappointing. Please respond to my other post, thank you.

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