Saturday, February 11, 2017

california | sparrows lodge + palm springs

sparrows lodge
I was recently talking about Palm Springs with some friends and I exclaimed "Oh, you have to stay at Sparrows Lodge! It's the best place we've ever stayed!"

Which I quickly realized wasn't exactly true. There's no way I could pick a best or favorite from the many awesome places we've stayed. For some people, finding a place to stay when traveling is just a necessary expense and a bed to sleep in at night. But for me, one of the best parts of planning a trip is finding unique accommodations. In fact, when another friend recently asked me how I find such great places to stay, I confided "It's my super power!" (Ha!)

My idea of a great place to stay is not the same as everyone else's though. I couldn't care less about room service, package deals, the thread count of the sheets, etc. What I am looking for is something architecturally interesting. I like modern design, uncluttered spaces, and beautiful scenery. We like cabins, cottages, treehouses, and tipis, and occasionally a small inn or bed & breakfast. We generally like places that are cozy and secluded or that give us a taste of local culture. And I like all of that on a fairly modest budget. (Which isn't to say that I don't like a bit of luxury - I do love a hot tub and a good cocktail!)

And we've picked some winners over the years - from staying at an artist's estate in Maui, to the most scenic cabin in Maine, to this awesome modern prefab in our home state of Virginia, to this cozy little camping cabin in Canada, there's no way I could pick a favorite! I'll have to come up with a different superlative adjective for each one because they are all equally incredible, but for different reasons.

But back to Palm Springs. Sparrows Lodge was incredible and definitely the most luxurious place we've ever stayed. And with only 20 guest rooms, it was just our speed. We went there to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. At the time, there was a lot of news about the zika virus, so we nixed our plan to go to the Caribbean, and decided to stay in the U.S. I'd been curious about Palm Springs, and in retrospect it was probably because certain hipster hotels there have done a pretty awesome job of promoting and marketing themselves on social media. After visiting, I am SO glad that we didn't end up staying at one of those hotels. The hipster party scene is definitely not my thing!
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I'm not even sure how I stumbled on the Sparrows Lodge website, but it was perfect. The prices there vary widely from night to night (the room rate often DOUBLES, or more, for a weekend stay vs. weekday!) and depending on what time of year it is. It isn't the kind of place that is usually within our budget, but it happened to be affordable during the week of our anniversary, so we booked three nights. And we were celebrating our anniversary, so a little splurge was worth it!
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We arrived in Palm Springs in the evening and were blown away the minute we reached the Sparrows property. It felt like a secret garden. There were fragrant flowering trees, flickering lanterns, outdoor fire pits, and a glowing pool on the property. There was no concierge or check-in counter - instead you walked past the pool to the bar, said you wanted to check in, and were handed a cocktail! Welcome to paradise:
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No extra charge for the bathroom creeper!

We were shown to our room off of the garden, and spent the next few days in pure bliss: In the mornings, we ate toast, jam, and hardboiled eggs in the garden under the citrus trees. (It smelled incredible!) During the day, we lounged by the pool (it was cold, but I braved a swim!), read our books, drank beers from the bar, cooled off under the misters, and took dips in the hot tub. We ordered food that was delivered to our lounge chairs (I guess I do like luxury more than I thought!) - the fruit topped with burrata was delicious. Periodically, the staff would walk around with burning sage to smudge the grounds of negative energy. (This was California after all!) In the evening, more of the same, plus alternating between soaking in the world's deepest tub in our room, and outside in the hot tub by the fire under the palm tree. In fact, Sparrows Lodge was so nice and relaxing that we had very little desire to leave the property and explore Palm Springs at all. (And when we did, we weren't that impressed. The palm trees and mountains were nice, but the architecture was very suburban. I'm sure we missed something, but we didn't care...) We did have a fantastic dinner for our anniversary at Workshop, but for the most part we stayed at Sparrows and I wouldn't change a thing! In fact, I'd do it all over again. I often write about how we overextend ourselves on vacations trying to do/see everything. This experience was the opposite, and I think we definitely need more zero/relaxing days when we travel.
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It was a truly glorious three days. We checked out on the morning of our anniversary (because that was when the room rates skyrocketed) and drove out into the desert for another three nights exploring Joshua Tree. Before we left paradise though, we asked one of the Sparrows staff to snap a pic of us in the garden. He obliged, but we realized a few minutes later that he probably didn't realize we had just checked out and thought we were tourists who had just wandered in from the street!
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Next stop: the desert...

5 comments:

little green field book said...

Sparrows Lodge looks awesome! Whenever we stay in a nice place like that (rarely), it makes me never want to leave! I can't remember where we stayed in PS - it was kind of ahead of the hipster hotel curve, but it was still very retro-kitsch. We loved it mainly bc we were essentially the only guests there.

Finding unique places to stay is definitely one of the best parts about traveling although sometimes if I can't find anything too remarkable/that has availability/falls within a certain budget, then I'll just try to find a bang for buck type place (like priceline a chain hotel), or something simple, clean, and inexpensive. Sometimes those nondescript places can have their own sort of weird charm, or at the very least make for a good story.

little green field book said...

I was racking my brain trying to recall the name of the hotel we stayed a billion years ago - it was The Rendezvous B&B. (Sparrows Lodge seems a lot more refined than Rendezvous.) The interiors were a bit corny - we even stayed in the honeymoon suite for maximum effect - but I remember loving the old school vibe of the place/architecture. It was built in the 30s and was frequented by a bunch of old school celebs. We talked about renting out the entire hotel and throwing a huge party at some point since all the rooms opened up onto an enclosed pool. Maybe one day. I still want to rent out the house where Elvis & Priscilla honeymooned in Palm Springs. It's totally 1960s kitsch and I love it.

Now I want to go into the photo vault and dig up/blog about Palm Springs...8 yrs later...

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

There are definitely some pretty sweet rental houses in PS. I'll admit it would be fun to get a group together to rent a retro house with a pool and spend a week chilling/drinking cocktails/eating. Much more fun than the scene at the Ace or the Saguaro! Having a private pool is key. That's what I loved about Sparrows - it was luxurious, but small enough that everything felt private. There were usually a few other couples reading by the pool, but that was it.

little green field book said...

There's no way I could do the Ace unless I could ensure nobody else was there. I don't have the type of Coachella wardrobe and/or cool factor to sit by the pool and take selfies all day. Burn.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Bwahahaha! And what you can't see from all the hipster blogger photos of the Ace is how freaking crowded the pool is. It was like an elementary school pool party nightmare.