Hollywood’s dreamiest desert destination, Ingleside Inn is Palm Springs’s original golden-age getaway. The hotel has a story for every celebrity of that era (just strike up a chat with one of the front-desk team, some of whom have been working here for decades). The low-slung, terracotta-topped buildings are ringed by mountains, and it’s steps from downtown – though with the city’s most iconic institution Melvyn’s on your doorstep, even that may seem too far. Settle in for steak Diane flamed tableside by tux-wearing waiters, classic cocktails, seafood towers and more pyrotechnics at pudding with the baked Alaska.
Double rooms from £284.70 ($350), including tax at 12.695 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $45.08 per room per night on check-out and an additional service charge of 4% per room per night on check-out.
Rates do not include breakfast.
For a less-trashy take on Hollywood gossip than 21st-century standards, read all about the former innkeeper Mel Haber’s secrets by picking up a copy of Bedtime Stories of the Legendary Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, bicycles to borrow, bocce ball, parking. In rooms: TV, Davines bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each member of staff has their own favourite room at the inn, but for novelty value who wouldn’t want to stay in the Terminator’s preferred residence? Former Governor Schwarzenegger always opts for room 15, which was the master bedroom of the original house. And when she wasn’t singin’ in the rain, Debbie Reynolds loved room 20, probably for its patio.
The pool is lined by two lawns, graced by white-and-yellow-striped parasols and tables for shade-seekers.
Starlet style and smart suiting to match the decadence at dinner.
Some rooms have been specially adapted rooms for wheelchair users.
It may not be the best seat in the house, but if you’ve come to see and be seen, ask for Ol Blue Eyes’ favourite table.
As glamorous as your Hollywood counterparts adorning the walls.
With a paparazzi-deflecting awning, striped ceiling and peaceful patio, Melvyn’s needs no introduction to Palm Springs’s glittering inhabitants. The classic steakhouse serves suitably traditional dishes, including prawn cocktail, steak tartare and French onion soup. The live-music lounge is hardly short of spectacle, but you can add to the drama by ordering the steak Diane, which is fire-cooked tableside. There’s no breakfast service at the hotel, but next-door-neighbour Avalon is more than happy to help Ingleside guests wake up (as are various coffee shops and bakeries in town) – and there’s a free tea and coffee round if you can’t make it that far without caffeine.
Classic cocktails and a swinging soundtrack await in the piano bar, which leads to its own dancefloor for when things start to get lively.
Dinner is served from 5pm to 10pm from Wednesday to Sunday. The bar is open from 5pm to 11pm, Wednesday to Friday, and from 11am to 11pm at weekends. Brunch is from 11am to 2pm at weekends.
Guests can order in anything from Melvyn’s during restaurant hours.
The inn might feel like its own private desert paradise, but it’s actually just a block from downtown Palm Springs – less than a minute away on foot.
Palm Springs has its own airport, served by direct flights from several major cities all over North America. Or land at LAX and make the two-hour-or-so trip east into the desert.
There’s parking on the street and behind the hotel, but you won’t need wheels to get around Palm Springs, since you’re steps from the main street and there are bicycles to borrow. If you’re hoping to get out to see U2’s album namesake, it’s a 40-minute drive to Joshua Tree National Park.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is under a minute’s walk from downtown Palm Springs, where you’ll find a booming arts scene, especially in the North Side and its galleries and warehouses – though the Palm Springs Art Museum is just a few blocks down from the inn. Scour antique stores for mid-century furniture (and suck up the shipping costs home), and rummage in the consignment shops for more retro art and fashion. Palm Springs has tens of live-music venues, including, of course, Melvyn’s. And if you just can’t get enough of mid-century design, the hotel can guide you to an architectural tour of the area’s most exemplary homes. A hiking trail up into the mountains starts at the street adjacent to the hotel, and (naturally for such a snowbird-friendly destination) there’s lots of golf and tennis to be played, too.
Palm Springs is a great base for getting out to Joshua Tree, which is roughly 40 minutes away by car – the USA’s most mystical national park has yucca trees, desert rocks, hiking trails and canyons.
Joining Melvyn’s in local esteem, Spencer’s and Mr Lyons are two of Palm Springs’s much-loved restaurants, the latter a reimagined version of the Forties favourite, Lyons English Grille. With a kitsch tropical decor a Wham!-era George Michael would be proud of, The Tropicale is yet another Palm Springs institution, with all of the pink lights, palm trees and excessively adorned cocktails your inner Club Tropicana attendee could wish for. More recent, hipster-friendly additions to the restaurant scene include courtyard-enhanced Jake’s, pizzeria Birba and Workshop, a 90-year-old movie theatre now with added fairy lights and a canopy to keep you cool in the desert heat.
Truss & Twine on Palm Canyon Drive is a celebration of every era of cocktails, all the way through the golden age and Prohibition to the ‘Dark Ages’ of the late 19th century (we’re guessing they’re referring to the Piña Colada). The black-concrete backdrop is (almost) as beautiful as the concoctions. Relative newbie on the block Bar Cecil is where to head to pay homage to Cecil Beaton, with aesthete-approved ambience and creative cocktails – if you can get a reservation.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this iconic hotel in California and unpacked their tuxedos and tennis whites, a full account of their desert break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs…
Beloved by snowbirds and celebrities, Palm Springs has been where Hollywood hides out for decades – and since it opened its intimate doors in 1922, Ingleside Inn has hosted Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and plenty more screen icons. Frank Sinatra had his own table at Melvyn’s and Debbie Reynolds loved the inn so much, she wanted to buy it. It’s not hard to see why: the private, palm-lined estate is its own oasis in the desert, but it’s less than a minute’s walk to downtown Palm Springs and its buzzy art scene, more A-list-approved restaurants and consignment shops to sift through for mid-century finds (and deal with the shipping costs later).
The golden age is still glowing – literally at Melvyn’s, one of the only places in the state of California still allowed to light fires this close to diners. Some of the staff have stuck around for years, including Danny on the front desk, who was a limo driver in the Seventies and is chief gossip merchant today. Lots of places in Palm Springs attempt a hark back to the Hollywood heyday, but at Ingleside they don’t even have to try.