Pretend to be a sanctuary-seeking Sixties ingenue at retro-chic Sands Hotel & Spa, in the Coachella Valley city of Indian Wells. Thanks to Brit-hit designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, this charming desert escape is blessed with bright prints, exotic tiles, pink stucco walls, greenery galore, cacti and fire pits, and a perfect pool with humbug-striped cabanas. Likewise, rooms are dressed with playful sophistication; many star a private patio or a balcony with a Moroccan-style water fountain. Additional desert-cosseting comes courtesy of the Cali-meets-Marrakech spa (which has a trio of treatment rooms and a tempting menu) and the sceney Pink Cabana restaurant and bar.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of sparkling wine on arrival, plus early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability)
Double rooms from £131.21 ($170), including tax at 12.445 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $28.00 per room per night on check-out and an additional service charge of $2.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually exclude breakfast.
Free coffee is there for the taking in the lobby. Breakfast will be available – at an extra cost – from autumn 2018.
At the hotel
Superstar spa; outdoor fire pits; free WiFi and parking; Cali greenery galore (palm trees, cacti and olive trees by the spa). In rooms: Chromecast TV, in-room entertainment system, Waterworks brass fixtures, Revival New York bed linens, Carrara marble countertops, Acqua di Parma bath products, full-size minibars with vintage crystal stemware, air-conditioning, tea- and coffee-making kit.
Our favourite rooms
Chances are, you’ll want a balcony or patio – so opt for a Superior or Deluxe room. Deluxe King Rooms are spacious and swellegant; a highlight is the big bathroom, which has a walk-in shower and a freestanding soaking tub; a tiny Moroccan-style window with pretty shutters by the tub opens up to the living room. If you’ve got some extra bucks to spare, upgrade to the Junior Suite for its soaking-tub-graced patio and cosy living area with a sofa and two armchairs. A lot of thought has gone into all of the Sands’ sleeping-quarters, from the vintage stemware to the bedside USB chargers and the bonus windows by the bath tubs. Top marks.
Pack your finest bikini/beach shorts for the heated outdoor pool, flanked by sun loungers, daybeds and cabanas. A fleet of attendants clad in preppy pink polo shirts and white shorts are on hand to take food and drink orders and keep things looking shipshape; there’s also a towel station and an ear-pleasing soundtrack. Go for a dip at night, if you fancy...
Sitting pretty in the olive grove, the hotel’s spa has three treatment rooms and a list of treatments that look to North Africa for inspiration. Opt for the Royal Rhassoul body treatment or the Moroccan Radiance facial, perhaps.
Tennis rackets for the local courts. Light-sleepers might appreciate ear plugs to guard against any noise from the Nest, the live music bar next door. Bring a camera to capture the devil’s-in-the-detail design and interiors.
Two of the Superior rooms are suitable for wheelchair-users. Aside from the second floor, the whole property is ADA compliant.
Some like it hot; if you’re one of them, sit outside. Air-con-appreciators can remain as cool as the metaphorical cucumber by bagging barside seats.
Pretend you’re attending a poolside cocktail party in the Sixties, then dress accordingly. Bring vintage sparkle worthy of Betty Draper for the Mrs; kitsch shirts worthy of Don D for the Mr.
The Pink Cabana riffs lovingly on the Californian racquet clubs that were popular in the Fifties and Sixties; picture punchy, fun decor and a menu that fuses Mediterranean and Moroccan influences. Sandwiches don’t get much better than the Pink Cabana’s chicken tagine batbout: a Moroccan-style sandwich starring curried chicken, raisins and yoghurt. Less pink, more green: the dining room is kitted out with vivid green walls, lending the space a memorable Old Hollywood feel.
The restaurant has a cocktail-toting bar area; try the Pool Thyme Mimosa (prosecco, local citrus and thyme) or the Perroquet Pastis, made with Moroccan mint tea.
The restaurant is open from 11am–9pm Sunday–Thursday (until 10pm on Friday and Saturday). The same hours apply to the bar.
Pick from a tempting selection of shared plates, mains, greens and vegetables during the restaurant's opening hours.
You’ll find Sands Hotel & Spa in the exclusive city of Indian Wells, which lies between Palm Desert and the resort town of La Quinta.
Palm Springs Airport is half an hour away by car; let Smith24 sort your flights.
It’s a 40-minute drive to Palm Springs station, which offers Amtrak services from Los Angeles, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque and San Antonio, Texas.
You can drive here from Palm Springs in 20 minutes; the hotel has on-site parking (including valets).
Worth getting out of bed for
The sunny city of Indian Wells is famous for its all-bells-and-whistles spa resorts, emerald golf courses, world-renowned tennis centre and fabulous fine dining. Year-round R&R are par for the course here. The main local pursuits are tennis – try Deep Canyon Tennis Club at Frank Feltrop Circle or admire the pros in action at the Indian Well Tennis Garden on Miles Avenue – and golf. Perfect your swing at JW Marriott Golf Club, at 74–855 Country Club Drive. Make the 45-minute drive to Joshua Tree National Park to admire stark desert landscapes, rugged rock formations and the Park’s eponymous, twisted Joshua trees.
Try Wilma & Frieda’s for a comfort-food-style brunch; Italian joint Sirocco Pizza Company (44400 Indian Wells Lane) for lunch; and the Venue Sushi & Sake Bar for a relaxed dinner. If you want something a little more fancy, head to the Lavender Bistro and its twinkling candlelit garden on Calle Barcelona.
Sip boozy creations at the Nest, your nocturnal next-door neighbour. This local favourite hosts buzzing live music nights, too.
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 hip hotel near Palm Springs and unpacked their vintage swimsuits and giant sunnies, a full account of their desert break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells…
If you’re not in touch with your inner Marilyn Monroe/Dean Martin before a trip to Sands Hotel & Spa, you certainly will be after one. This desert hideout in the exclusive city of Indian Wells – where tennis and golf rule OK – has a ravishingly retro sensibility, which works a catnip call on visiting hipsters, bloggers, vloggers et al. Acclaimed British designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard is the man to thank for all the pops of pink and green, the Morocco-inspired tiles, dazzling prints, gold flourishes and kitsch curios; Mother Nature is to thank for the sizzling temperatures and desert greenery. Expect to spend a lot of time starfished by the preen-worthy pool, decorated with monochrome striped cabanas and daybeds. Reasons to get vertical again include the colourful Pink Cabana restaurant and bar, and that spoiling spa...