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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The lobby is simply gone-with-the-wind quirky. Everything about it. So I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
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.
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.
It was located at the far end of the simple hallway, on the left.
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.
Then there was a spacious seating area with lounge chairs and cute mismatched ottomans, which faced an armoire and flat screen TV.
Then over by the window were two leather seats with a small table.
On the other end of the room was a unique wall display and then a low-set table with some books and a lamp.
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.
I did love the artwork of someone’s bags being searched at security, though.
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…
The shower room didn’t have a bathroom or anything, but rather just a wooden bench and some towels.
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.
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.
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.
Anyway, back to the room itself. The room also had a huge balcony which stretched the entire length of the room.
There was a single table with two chairs — a great place from which to have a bottle or six of rose, I must say.
The main building of the hotel is quite private, and there was tons of plants growing around the room to add further privacy.
Below is a view from the grounds looking up at the junior suite.
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.
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.
Then there was also a ping pong table and a huge chess game.
The Parker has a beautiful classic outdoor pool. It’s not huge, but then again, the LA crowd rarely swims much…
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!
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.
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.
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.
Since we arrived late the first night we had dinner at Norma’s. We started with some chips & guac.
And then I had the fish tacos, which were excellent.
We had breakfast at the hotel both days. The breakfast menu read as follows:
Service began with the “smoothie shot of the day,” which was a nice touch.
The first morning I ordered the shrimp frittata, which was excellent.
Meanwhile my friend had an egg white omelet and an 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…
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.
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.
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?