I am writing this review because I have a second home in Palm Springs and after dining here countless times and having booked many friends and work associates into the Parker, I finally had the opportunity to stay here myself.
I happened to walk into the Parker for my first time during the very first week that the hotel opened. Being a huge fan of Jonathan Adler's work (the designer of the Parker) I was excited to see what all the hype was about. This hotel is eclectic and well thought out, but is not for the traveler who likes large luxury vanilla chain hotels. The lobby is a mix of Jonathan Adler's ceramics, lamps, carpets, pillows and an interesting array of vintage furniture, much of which he found in local Palm Springs stores. One feels like one has walked into the private home of someone with quirky taste. The lounge has a round fire pit and hanging wicker chairs where you can sit for hours and never be bothered. There is a pervasive feeling here of being at someone's home, not at a hotel. There are couches, and hammocks outside, firepits to sit by at night, and many outdoor games. I have played rousing games of Petanque here as well as taken many tennis lessons from their stellar pro Tori, on their amazing clay courts (an unusual experience if you haven't tried it before; very soft on your feet and knees) If you stay here, most of my friends have said that they had no desire to leave the property and explore Palm Springs. The property is the entertainment. The only complaint I have had was from a successful young producer friend who has stayed at many a luxury resort. He felt that he was "too old for the place". I think you have to be of the mind-set which thinks that having a Jacqueline Susann book, and a copy of Scruples in your room is funny, if not, you won't get this place.
There are two restaurants on the property: Normas and Mr. Parker. I have eaten repeatedly at both and have also eaten at every new cool restaurant that has opened in Palm Springs, and I still think that Norma's is by far the best brunch place in town, in fact it is my favourite brunch place period. The staff is easy going, the food bountiful and delicious (yet pricey) and even though the service is sometimes slow, most of the time it is good.
I enjoy Mr. Parkers as well, but not nearly as much as the much more casual Normas. Mr. Parkers' food is delicious, but far too expensive. The vibe is like an old Hollywood steak house with a twist. It has green leather booths, dark walls and an incredible array of eclectic art (from 70s Nagle-inspired prints to odd oil paintings). The service is spotty. I have had wonderful, friendly waiters on one occasion, to rude pretentious ones on another. I came here for dinner for a friends' birthday and had one of the most fantastic nights I can remember and then came back for my birthday a month later with the same friends and had a miserable time and haven't been back since. So it is kind of the luck of the draw at Mr. Parkers. I'd rather stick with Normas any day.
As for my stay in an actual room...well, I think that if I had to, I might stay somewhere else next time. Interestingly enough, all of my friends, except for the one mentioned above have said that "this was their favourite hotel that they have ever stayed at", and I think that this has a lot to do with their overall experience of the vibe here and the amazing facilities. None of them have raved about their rooms and now I know why.
My room was fine, but had peeling wallpaper in the bathroom and a peel starting on the grass-cloth on the ceiling of the bedroom. As stated repeatedly by many of the people who have reviewed the Parker on this website, the bathrooms are not adequate for a 5 star hotel. The tubs were not replaced when they did the renovation (I heard they went over-budget so they had to cut back, and that Jonathan Adler's complete vision for the place was never followed through) I stayed here years ago when it was the Givenchy Hotel and Spa and thought at that time, that the bathrooms were quite inadequate. Before that, the place was owned by Gene Autry and before that believe it or not, it was a Holiday Inn in the 1950s (according to one of the workers here) and it shows. The infrastructure of the place in parts is still unfortunately reminiscent of a Holiday Inn. They should not have kept the floor plans of the original rooms and really should have gutted all the bathrooms in the place. (Please note though, that the trendy Palm Springs Viceroy suffers from the exact same problem, an aesthetically pleasing bathroom with a shoddy old fiberglass tub) If you want a fantastic bathroom with a stellar tub, stay at the Korakia Pensione in one of their rooms across the street with the rock bathrooms and the fire shooting out of the concrete next to the swimming pool.
All said and done, I will continue to come here; I will continue to recommend this place above others in Palm Springs for the total experience, but I think it needs a serious caveat about the standard of the rooms.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Imagine spending a weekend at your great aunt's home, an extremely elegant lady of indeterminate age. Her home, the Parker Palm Springs, is full of the kind of patina achieved by always purchasing the best, knowing that living well ages all things with a particular beauty. What is Happy Luxe? Happy Luxe is luxury without formality, beauty without pretension, elegance with comfort. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Parker Palm Springs Hotel Palm Springs
- Meridien Palm Springs
- Parker Hotel Palm Springs