The weather in Palm Springs is just like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way. Therefore, Lauren and I agreed it was a must to start with a hike. Mission: After the 1.5 mile trail (trailhead at the Art Museum’s parking lot).
Reward: Lounging poolside all day!
We checked into the Ace Hotel & Swim Club at noon. This Palm Springs-ified version of the Portland-based hotel group didn’t disappoint: Built from a 1965 Howard Johnson hotel, Ace acquired the Denny’s next door and transformed it into the adjacent King’s Highway restaurant (the bones of the space still have Moons Over My Hammy still written all over them). The entire property is replete with cheeky Ace touches, from taxidermy animals encased in Natural History Museum-like display cases to an old-fashioned photo booth to uniforms that demystify what would happen if American Apparel were to style summer camp.
Me enjoying the La Sancha: Bombay gin, grapefruit bitters, lavender and soda:
Lauren opted for the Cool Hand Luke: a light libation of muddled cucumber and mint, gin and elderflower. Lauren, pre-beverage, taking care of business:
Fun fact: John Richards of KEXP radio created the soundscape for Ace, mixing brand-new and familiar music, blues, African funk, indie pop and Johnny Cash. It’s ultra-ethereal and relaxing.
On me: Bathing suit by Shan, vintage hat, leopard shorts by BCBG, Sandals by Hush Puppies.
In the afternoon, we shimmied over to the Viceroy. This ultra-Hollywood Regency style boutique resort and spa has hosted the likes of Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and FDR, duly, and was a regal refuge for an afternoon aperitif.
Amazing midcentury sunburst mirror above the reception desk:
Arriving to the pool, we encountered this pretty pair:
Susan and Channing are their names, and if they look perfectly styled for an afternoon at the pool, don’t be too surprised: Channing is a stylist. They were also gracious Palm Springs guides, pointing us in the direction of our next two destinations. (Thank you so much girls!)
Lauren and I ordered two tipples from the Viceroy’s Citron Bar: The namesake Viceroy Sunset for me (Rum, orange juice, grapefruit, pineapple and a splash of grenadine), for Lauren, the Chill Out Lemonade (Citron vodka, fresh mint, lemonade and squeeze of lime).
…Chilling out commenced.
On me: Top by Juicy Couture, pants by BCBG.
On Lauren: Coral necklace by BCBG, dress by BCBG.
Next up was Melvyn’s, just around the corner from the Viceroy. My immediate analogy for this gem? The Dan Tana’s of Palm Springs. A continental air fills one of the Rat Pack’s favorite haunts, the haunt of cigarette stench is just as omnipotent… Yet that’s all part of its allure. Known for such dishes as the “Veal Ingleside,” the bar would not contain the likes of today’s hot shot mixologists. This was further confirmed when the barman appeared and the only sensible thing to do was order a classic round of Negronis: which he hit out of the park.
After an afternoon siesta, Lauren and I fulfilled our dinner reservation at the highly-recommended Riviera Resort & Spa. Their signature restaurant, Circa 59, is touted for its dishes: namely eco-friendly fish, premium boutique farmed meats and locally grown Coachella Valley produce. The space is a sprawling, cinematic masterpiece with a mouth-like, circular entrace, Vegas-style swirling, graphic, carpet, sweeping staircases and red leather wing back chairs.
We opted for one of the tables by the pool, coddled by fire pit and heat lamp proximity, where Lauren began with a Moscow Mule (Grey Goose vodka, lime juice and ginger beer), while I trailed the earlier Negroni with an Americano. I’m not usually a fan of pre-fixe dinners, though the idea of tidy, timed courses seemed right (especially paired later with a rich glass of Pinot Noir – their wine list has garnered a Wine Spectator nod or two). The best pairing to a great meal though is conversation, which sparkled just as evenly as the desert sky surrounding us.
On me: Dress by Cynthia Steffe.
On Lauren: Her own dress. Headband scarf by Cult Gaia, available at Espionage Boutique in Hollywood (These are genius, by the way, as they have a sewed-in wire so you can twist them to your heart’s desire.)
The next morning, we returned to the Ace pool. I finished a piece I was working on for the Rundown, while Lauren made some real estate deals.
On me: Scarf: Vintage from Starstruck vintage, West Village, NYC. Bathing suit by SeaFolly, Russian Red lipstick by MAC.
We set up our self-guided architectural home tour while waiting for our name to be called at the locals’ brunch favorite, Cheeky’s. Freshness is the key here and the menu changes daily at the whim of the chef. Two blood orange mimosas brought our deliberations to settlements, and I must say that my toast with avocado, sea salt and olive oil (which is my favorite breakfast at home), drove home the point that some classics will forever reign king.
Much like many of the untouched traditions of one of the Swizzle’s new favorite destinations, desert jewel Palm Springs.
Supplemental reading if you plan to go:
Very recent LA Times Palm Springs travel feature
Refinery 29’s Ultimate Under-The-Radar Palm Springs Guide
Palm Springs Modernism Week, February 16 - 26