Ever since our first visit to Palm Springs a few months ago, we were entranced by The Parker. It is a lush green oasis within the oasis that we only believed we would be staying at in our dreams. Every time I talk to someone about Palm Springs I always bring up The Parker: it is the embodiment of what Palm Springs can and should be. It is like the pure essence of the desert resort town contained into a grassy, bush lined maze of opulence. It is a ridiculous place and it is a special place–and we were very lucky to have spent two nights there during our last visit.
Part extreme birthday gift, part “It’s a pre-Summer weekday deal!!,” and part “Fuck: our AirBNB cancelled on us–where do we stay??,” our Parker visit was completely unexpected. We had planned this trip as a quick 27th birthday vacation and had arranged to stay at a little apartment off the strip for $80 a night. But, because their pool was broken, that didn’t work out: we had to find a new place to stay within a day of our arrival. Perusing various websites and tempting ourselves with how much The Parker could be, we found deals for a little over the $150 mark. What? Can it be?! The Parker–but affordable? Yes, it is possible. You just have to go on a Wednesday and Thursday night.
Upon pulling up, you are in a luxury wonderland. The valet takes you in and asks about your stay, they inform you parking is free (HOW?? Probably because it’s so pricey…?), and they grab all of your bags and more and then magically show up at your room. You walk in through tall orange doors behind a screen of geometric cement and are immediately transplanted to those episodes of Mad Men when Don Draper takes a random desert vacation for a few days. Think tall ceilings and painted iron railings, tapestries, small round tables, wood and brightly upholstered chairs, and a clean white base to everything. You’ll also notice that everything is styled and designed exclusively by Jonathan Adler. You instantly want to move into the place.
After checking in, you are given a map to get to your room which you likely will have to go through the courtyard to get to. You take dusty little trails that are all tree lined and lead you to beautiful mid-century buildings or patches of grass for you to play bocce or croquet: it’s an adult playground. Your room is bright white–like everything else–and is one of those settings that makes your jaw drop. There is a long wooden credenza and a huge bed and photos of celebrities from the late sixties and early seventies, a suggestion that they may have played around these grounds way back when. You feel like you are staying in your rich grandmother’s master bedroom that is full of antiques and that is more clean and cared for than any other part of the house (or any other person in the family for that matter). This setting is also entirely furnished by Mr. Adler.
You need to leave your room to wander around the hotel campus. There are clay tennis courts and giant chess sets and three different pools that you can take advantage of. One is housed within the Palm Springs Yacht Club, the grand spa where you can take a hot bath, a cold bath, a steam bath, a dry bath, or any combination of the above. If you are staying at the hotel, you can take advantage of all of these privileges for free. The Eastern pool has a jacuzzi and modest pool that goes to seven feet. This is usually where families are hanging out and is further away from the lemonade stand bar, which is positioned next to the bigger–but not deeper–teardrop pool on the Western side of the campus. This pool is for adults only and, like the other pool, everyone here is reading. If you are in the pool or out of the pool or walking or sitting, you are reading. Light jazz plays and no one is annoyed. Everyone is trying–and succeeding–at looking their fanciest. A woman who works for The Parker even walks by to ask any person wearing sunglasses if they would like a complimentary sunglasses cleaning. You say yes because it is an absurd question and you are in an absurd dream world so you oblige because you are play acting that you are a rich bitch.
This same woman who cleans your glasses is the gatekeeper to drinks, too. She and her other “Lemon Heads” (as their shirts say) run the alcoholic lemonade stand and bar that services both pools. For $15 you can get their classic Muddled Lemon, which is a shot of Limoncello, a shot and a half of citrus Vodka, two muddles lemon slices, and a citrus soda topping. It is dangerously easy to drink and–if you rush to get through it–you will be knocked on your ass. It is a delightful drink that is the refreshment that you need on these hot desert days.
When you want to eat, The Parker has you covered too. There are three options: Norma’s, Mister Parker, and room service. There is also a mini lobby bar that is pretty, too. Norma’s is where you go for brunch and they surprisingly have huge portions. You also get to try their daily smoothie which is a surprise every time you visit. You feel like an old rich bitch yet again. Eating at Mister Parker is another Palm Springs portal back to Los Angeles. Like Workshop, the food and service are so far above what you expect of Palm Springs that you would have guessed you were back in some fancy LA somewhere. The room service items can only be ordered in your room so don’t fool yourself into thinking you can order one of their food items at either restaurant.
Like all things, there are little downsides to The Parker. First, Internet can be spotty. Since we were there on weekdays and were working most of our visit, Internet was a must. You can’t tether from your phone because you get no service so you need to make sure you get a room near the router. We had to move rooms because the service was so bad. We also brought dogs with us which makes for a weird stay. On the up side they give you a little bag of dog toys, dog bowls, and dog treats for your puppies. On the downside? It costs $150 a day per dog to have a dog. That’s more than the cost of a room! Leave your puppies with a sitter. Moreover, there is no place to deposit dog waste because there are literally no trashcans on the campus. Multiple times I wandered around the property with a bag of poo in my hands hoping to drop it off in a little trashcan. I eventually had to wander from the Northside of the campus to the Southside of the campus to ask the front desk what to do with the poo. They didn’t even know what to do with it! It’s a strange conundrum only dog people will encounter.
Because we were wandering to lose the poo, we did break the spell of The Parker. If you wander too far East or too far North, you will exit the tree line and find yourself in a neighborhood or–strangely–in the backyard of The Parker which is full of old hotel belongings and abandoned landscaping material. It’s like a little dump that you sadly discover if you wander outside of what is pretty. We sadly discovered the bounds of the hotel’s beauty but, hey, we’d rather have our dogs go potty in a space outside of what is pretty than leave a mess where people are vacationing.
Issues aside, The Parker is just fantastic. It is expensive, yes, but it is a dream destination reserved for special occasions or for when you have unearthed a good deal. It is the type of place that you never knew you wanted to go to until you’ve visited the place for brunch or dinner or for a drink. You don’t want to leave there. It is perfect and it is Palm Springs personified. There is no place in the world I would rather be than poolside at The Parker. I’ve been dirtying every pair of glasses I own since leaving just so a little Lemon Head could clean them up for me. There’s already a Muddled Lemon waiting for me at the bar.