• Desertscape Desert Modernism
  • Desert life Back to the future

Surrounded by the stark beauty of the desert and the snow-capped peak of San Jacinto, the lush green golf courses and tree-lined boulevards of Palm Springs make it the perfect urban oasis.

The city’s endless supply of sunshine made it a winter playground for the rich and famous in the Fifties, when life was lived with a putter in one hand and a martini in the other; the exploits of its former Rat Pack residents have passed into legend. Palm Springs’ world-apart atmosphere is accentuated by its fabulous collection of mid-century Modernist architecture – in the style’s '50s heyday, even the most humdrum building merited a futuristic fin or space-age spoiler, to help propel it still further into the future. In recent years (thanks largely to the efforts of former mayor Sonny Bono), the city has recaptured its swing – and not just on the golf course.

Do go/Don’t go

Palm Springs has sunshine and balmy temperatures year-round, which is what makes it such a popular winter destination; the population almost doubles during these months. If anything, summer temperatures are too hot, with temperatures way above one hundred degrees.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes There is an international airport at Palm Springs (www.palmspringsairport.com), but many of the airlines that fly there are domestic; you’ll probably arrive at Los Angeles airport (LAX), 100 miles east of the city.
  • Trains Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) connects Palm Springs to other US cities. There are two railway stations, Bakersfield being the best one for connections to LA.
  • Automobiles Like most US cities, you’ll need a car if you want to explore any further than the hotel boundaries – not least for the air-conditioning. Alternatively, you could hire yourself a Harley (www.eaglerider.com).
  • Taxis From Palm Springs airport, order a cab from Airport Taxi (+1 760 321 4470) or Yellow Cab (+1 760 345 8398); your hotel can arrange taxis for you if you need a ride anywhere local.