Famous for holidaying Hollywood stars, Palm Springs can also shout about Sparrows Lodge, a cool, cabin-like retreat to the south of town. Arranged around a lengthy pool and with grounds that take in a yoga area, vegetable garden, arbor-covered table, sofas and a firepit, the hotel is like staying at your laid-back mate’s house – if your mate was Don Castle, who the property once belonged to. It’s been tastefully restored, keeping all the favourite Fifties flourishes (butterfly chairs, original artworks, russet-red wood) but bringing everything up to date (except for the tech: there’s WiFi, but no phones or TVs).
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of sparkling wine on arrival, and free early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability)
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm, also flexible.
Double rooms from $169.00, excluding tax at 12.69 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $24.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast.
In case it’s not immediately obvious, the lobby (and check-in area) is in the central barn, past the pool as you come in from the carpark. There are no televisions or phones in the guestrooms – which means actually having to talk to a human in the main barn if you need something and no rolling cable news. Millennials needn’t panic: there’s WiFi.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, carpark, bicycles to borrow. In rooms: air-conditioning and argan-oil bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Easy access to the pool comes, predictably, from the Poolside Rooms, so this is the option for you if you want to be first to dive in at dawn. Those planning on sticking around for longer should book the Cabin, which has its own kitchenette for cooking up your farmers’-market finds. The rooms nearer to the main entrance have slightly more street noise than the others – we’re not talking sirens and speeding, but they’re not as pin-drop silent as the rest of the retreat. And if you’ve ever wanted to bathe in a horse-trough, ask for a room with a tub: around here, that means an erstwhile equine watering hole made out of super-deep steel.
There’s a heated outdoor pool in the middle of the property, with a hot tub at the end.
The hotel has an open-air massage tent with two treatment areas, for massages with a side helping of birdsong, burning sage and barking dogs. If that sounds a little noisy, move things in-room for an extra $20.
Vintage threads to match the impeccably mid-century surrounds, visors and baseball hats for withstanding the desert heat, and iPads if you really can’t bear to forgo TV.
The Garden Rooms have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.
Make new friends by fairy light out by a vine-covered trellis, settle into a sofa or warm up in winter by the fire pit.
Ready for a hike.
The Barn Kitchen is a relaxed affair, where you can drop in for breakfast or a light bite throughout the day. Communal set suppers are held on ‘chicken’ Wednesdays and ’steak’ Saturdays – be sure to put your name down as spaces are limited. The exact variations on how chicken and steak is served change weekly, but everyone assembles on the arbour-surrounded long table and eats the same three courses. Lunch options include hipster favourites such as cobb salad and avocado toast. Breakfast is laid out on the bar; expect a mix of muffins, eggs, yoghurt, granola and fruit.
Guests can help themselves to (pink) sangria and s’mores every evening. The bar is in the Barn Kitchen and it does have its own seating – but, thanks to all that outdoor space to choose from, there are way better options.
Breakfast is available between 6am and 10am. Lunch is 11am until 6pm. Drinks are served all day (9am to 10pm).
Sparrows Lodge is in the centre of sunny Palm Springs.
Palm Springs’ airport is four miles away; the drive should take no more than 10 minutes.
There’s an Amtrak station a 15-minute drive away.
Los Angeles is a two-hour drive to the west, along Interstate 10. There’s onsite parking when you arrive.
Worth getting out of bed for
Sparrows Lodge is located in the southern part of Palm springs, within walking distance to various spots in town. Jump on a hotel bicycle to see the city on two wheels. There are independent clothes shops on North Palm Canyon Drive, and the Perez Design Center (formerly Resale Row) is a must for vintage-furniture hunters. Staff will be able to guide you to their favourites. Joshua Tree National Park is within reach, about an hour’s drive away; stop off at the famous Integratron, a structure designed by George Van Tassel under instruction of visitors from the planet Venus and thought to facilitate rejuvenation and time travel… It’s by appointment and only on certain days, so be sure to ring ahead.
If you’re not around on a Saturday for the Sparrows Lodge steak night but still have a carnivorous craving, head to Mr Lyons Steakhouse, up the road from the hotel. More farm-to-table fare (and classic cocktails) await at Workshop Kitchen & Bar, a 90-year-old movie theatre refitted into a restaurant. And learn the ropes (or just eat them) at Le Vallauris on West Tahquitz Canyon Way, a tasting-menu sort of establishment that does a side line in cookery classes.
Get your next caffeine fix atKoffi, a short walk from Sparrows Lodge on South Camino Real.
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 boutique hotel in California and unpacked their sunglasses and shorts, a full account of their desert break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Sparrows Lodge in Palm Springs…
Palm Springs has a hallowed history of hosting holidaying Hollywood stars – and Sparrows Lodge is no different. It was originally built in 1952 (yes, mid-century-modern devotees, there are plenty of fabulous Fifties relics here) for the MGM actor Don Castle as the aptly named Castle’s Red Barn. The russet-red wood remains perfectly in place and many of the initial buildings are still in use – the hotel is arranged in a rectangle around the pool, with a hot tub at one end and a firepit, yoga area and covered long table at the other. It’s a casual, communal vibe, with no televisions or phones – if you need to book an in-person wake-up call or order fresh towels, you have to track down a human in the main barn. The lodge has had many incarnations since the 1950s, but we like the new one best: now everyone can feel like (Hollywood) royalty.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Sparrows Lodge’s Guestbook below.
The personal hospitality from the staff, the intimate and friendly environment, and the '21 and older' resort feature!
Crowds, lines, or stress.
Stayed on 19 May 2019
At Sparrow's Lodge, they have included just enough lovely touches to make it a special experience without anything superfluous or over the top. There were so many nice thoughtful touches throughout the stay - sage burning several times a day, complimentary bikes (head out of the back of the hotel on the bikes to be straight into mid-century heaven), amazing sweatshirt dressing gowns. They have done a nice job of establishing it as a peaceful spot and everybody is there to take it easy. We didn't join the twice-weekly dinner they offered but wished we had - everybody sat around one table together and it looked so inclusive and friendly. The team members were among the most friendly and helpful we had anywhere on our trip. Sparrow's Lodge is a very special place, and if you are thinking of spending a little bit more to upgrade to this place from any of the other motel-style hotels - do it! You won't regret it.
Room service, and food is not available after 6PM except on the nights they do the family-style dinner. Be aware the tin baths are only in some of the rooms.