The Living Is Good at Palm Springs’ Newest Boutique Hotel

Palm Springs has long been a desert oasis for Californians looking to kick back by the pool, refresh in the desert heat, and dance the night away under (and alongside) the stars. As a New Yorker who had never been, my first exposure to Palm Springs was a stay at the latest addition to its hotel scene: Life House Palm Springs, a 66-key refuge in the shadow of the San Jacinto Mountains. 

Like all Life House properties, the hotel draws inspiration from the architectural, cultural, and historic nuances of its neighborhood. It’s located in a former 1960s inn, which was completely redesigned by Kockum Design Studio, blending desert modernism, Japanese minimalism, and old Hollywood decor. The original neutral-toned exterior of the facade was retained, including the former hotel’s signage, so you’ll want to look out for “Royal Sun” on the drive-in. 

Credit: Matt Kisiday

From the moment you enter the lobby, complete with swanky lounge seating, mid-century patterned fabrics, and a striking geometric-tiled floor, you feel like you stepped foot back in time. Or into a scene from Don’t Worry Darling. The allure of the desert is ever-present, with rich, warm, sandy tones and dusty, deep greens reminding you of your location at every turn. 

Credit: Daniel Schwartz

In classic motor lodge style, long exterior corridors lead to the rooms, all of which have private balconies overlooking the stunning hills of the Coachella Valley. Slabbed vanity and wardrobe areas pay homage to Desert Modernist functionality, while sunset-hued headboards and well-appointed lighting set the mood after dark. Le Labo bath products, Revival New York linens, and Marshall Bluetooth speakers root you in the 21st century. 

Credit: Josh Cherner

At the heart of the hotel is Minerva’s Pool House, a lively pool area with a large lime-washed outdoor bar and three alfresco spaces you can dine at: the pool lounge with its reservable sunbeds and cabanas, an intimate outdoor dining space, and a lush garden patio with firepits. Its discrete speakeasy-inspired counterpart, Minerva’s Indoor Apothecary, is the place to go after dark for cocktails, conversation, and dancing when the live DJs are playing. 

Credit: Matt Kisiday

Apart from an architecture tour (which I highly recommend) and a shopping excursion around town, I spent most of my Palm Springs weekend at the hotel—doing yoga, sipping cocktails by the pool, relishing in the desert sun. And I get what all the fuss is about. I’ll definitely be back.

Credit: Daniel Schwartz

Top Takeaways

Location: Palm Springs, California

The Vibe: Trendy mid-century modern desert hideaway with a cool pool scene.

Rating: Four-star

Food + Drink: The all-day, plant-forward menu at Minerva’s, courtesy of chef Jonathan Thoma, formerly of LA’s Great White and Gran Blanco, nods at the restaurant’s namesake, desert activist Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, whose work was crucial in preserving the natural beauty of Palm Springs. Breakfast is served in the Apothecary and is exactly what you’d expect at a Southern California hotel: fresh fruit bowls, avocado toast topped with chili oil, and farmer’s egg sandwiches served on homemade croissant buns. For lunch, there’s plenty to snack on by the pool, from dips to carrot crudo and beet poke, but I couldn’t get enough of the burger, bloating be damned. At dinner, well-balanced dishes reimagine familiar favorites with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. You won’t leave the table too full, which is a good thing if you’re headed to the Apothecary for a nightcap and a boogie. Cozy up in a booth with a cocktail—many of them feature ingredients grown in-house to minimize bar waste.

Amenities: There’s a complimentary minibar in your room with water, coffee, and snacks, which is nice if you wake up for morning yoga by the pool and need a boost (or are feeling snacky after a night out). Other perks include a concierge to help you with your Palm Springs itinerary and a limited number of sunbeds by the pool reserved exclusively for hotel guests.

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: If you love basking in the sun, pool parties, and people-watching, you’ll love the pool area. You can spend the whole day there. And night if you stay for dinner and post up by the firepit. It really felt true to Palm Springs (again, first-timer here). There were so many different little areas to relax as well. A mural by Mojave Desert-based artist Aaron Glasson welcomes you as you walk in, and there’s a Japanese-inspired desert garden in the back past the fire pit, which nods at the Japanese-American community that first leased this land in 1882 and transformed it from desert into fertile farmland. 

Any Personal Neighborhood Recs?: Mr. Lyons, right across the street, is the place to go for a classy, carnivorous night out: Think jazz standards, martinis, and all your favorite steakhouse classics. Also within walking distance is Market Market, a 40,000-square-foot emporium of fine vintage, repurposed, and one-of-a-kind goods. You’ll find everything from Italian furniture that’ll make you wish you owned a home in town to Birkin bags—and plenty of options if you’re looking for a Palm Springs-inspired wardrobe addition. If you don’t find anything there, beloved Palm Springs designer Trina Turk has her flagship downtown, with a menswear shop adjacent. 

Rooms: 66 rooms (29 double rooms, 33 standard king, and 4 suites)

Pricing: Rooms from $229/night

Closest Airport: Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

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