I woke up last weekend and decided I couldn’t take a second longer of gray skies and socked in skylines at the beach. I was weary from working 16 hour days and craving the peace and expanse of the mountains—yearning for unadulterated sunshine to infiltrate my cells and my soul. And so I booked a room at the charming and historic Villa Royale Inn, a Tuscan-style boutique hotel in the south end of Palm Springs—adjacent to the historic Deepwell neighborhood, right across from the ACE Hotel. Then, Murphy in tow (yes, Villa Royale is dog friendly!), hopped in my car and headed west.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw the mountains cradling the village of Palm Springs. It was March of 1998 and I had just flown into LAX from Lexington, Kentucky. I grew up hiking the green and verdant Kentucky forests so it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the subtle beauty of the majestic desert landscape. But that night, I sat in a Jacuzzi underneath the inky desert sky, gazed up at the mountains and its bowlful of stars, and fell in love.
Though I no longer have my home in Palm Springs, the love affair continues unabated, and I escape to that magical place as often as possible. This weekend’s escape at the Villa Royale (named one of the “ West’s Best Small Inns” by Sunset Magazine), was just what the doctor ordered. From Elmira’s warm welcome at the front desk to the charming rooms and stunning courtyards bedecked with citrus, jasmine and lavender, two heated pools and a large jacuzzi, it was a sunny balm to my overworked soul.
I dined the first night at the award-winning on-site restaurant, Europa. It was Restaurant Week in Palm Springs and the specially prepared prix fixe menu at this AAA Four Diamond restaurant was delightful. From the twinkle lights and billowing bougainvillea to the harpist to the amuse bouche to the scallops to the amazing 5-star service from Sierra, it was an experience to savor. I also enjoy a lovely breakfast there as well (complimentary for guests of the Villa Royale) two mornings in a row.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, I rose the next morning and headed out for one of my favorite hikes—Araby Trail at Araby Cove, just off East Palm Canyon Drive. I hiked the trails I’ve trekked for nearly two decades and reveled in the winsome and wet smell of sage, the tumbledown stone houses stacked by hand, off the grid, carved into the land, the all consuming silence, vast, stretching out over the desert sands. And have you ever heard of a more enchanting name than Araby Cove?
One very refreshing shower later, I joined two of my favorite people—serendipitously in from LA for a wedding— for lunch at Farm Restaurant. This gem of a restaurant is set in a charming brick courtyard off The Plaza in downtown Palm Springs. Enjoy Provencal-inspired fare with a fantastic wine and craft beer selection—and wonderful service! We’ll definitely be back.
I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with an old friend at his home in Bighorn Country Club, then headed back for a light bite before an early bedtime. I opted to dine at the bar at Chi Chi at Avalon Hotel where bartender, Jon Saindon, took wonderful care of me.
The fun continued the next day with catching up with another dear friend over coffee at Jaime Kowal and Chris Pardo’s marvelous Ernest Coffee. What a charming place and delicious coffee and pastries—well done, Jaime and Chris!
After some novel reading and languid laps at the sparkling center pool at the Villa Royale, I refreshed myself at the fantastic juice bar at the new The Arrive (ask for Al—he’s a peach!), then hit the road, congratulating myself on an absolutely perfect desert escape. Can’t wait for my next Palm Springs getaway!