The most talked about hotel in America, The Parker is a unique desert hideaway that will bring out your inner child for an Alice-in-Wonderland-for-adults style getaway.
We're in the desert, baby, just off the centre of downtown Palm Springs, in a lush green, secluded 17-acre oasis of East Palm Canyon drive. Bring everything you need, because once you're here, you won't want to leave.
This is a Jonathan Adler-designed and recently rebooted shrine to pop culture, celebrity haunt and a fashion-shoot favourite.
From the latticed cement wall that marks the hotel's entrance tangerine entrance (which is also the most Instagrammed wall in Palm Springs), to the lobby with its bold 'Drugs' sign emblazoned in the lounge, the knight's armour to the wall of macrame owls, prepare to gape openly at the eye-popping colour and art that has gone into every single detail.
Inside a world of old-fashioned comforts await. The gardens are extensive - above, tall palms tower over olive, orange and grapefruit trees, that send ripe fruit scattering across the ground. But there's also fan palms, spruces, pampas grass, and rosemary bushes in between flowering hedges which make the huge gardens feel like a maze, each section hiding delight and surprise. Behind the hedges, you'll find huge hammocks slung temptingly between shady palm trees, or little nooks with firepits or water features for quiet moments of reflection. But there's also two saline pools, giant chess, petanque, croquet, tennis courts and bright yellow bikes to pass the time away, which will slip through your fingers like sand through an hourglass.
Tear yourself away from the adult toys to spend some time in the newly renovated spa PSYC. An acronym for Palm Springs Yacht Club, it houses a beauty salon, a gym and an indoor pool. Its nautical design mimics an old-school sailing club, with high ceilings, long blue drapes, velvet chairs, giant shells, and a quiet pool area surrounded in stripey deck chairs offering quiet respite from the sun.
Photo: Kylie McLaughlin
Our room's wing has just been fitted out with the retro carpet from The Shining and a giant Macrame owl, so giant, it stretches over two floors and is possibly more disturbing than the carpet.
Inside, the rooms are a large and stylish hats-off to mid century modern furniture and architecture Palm Springs is renown for, and also, a whimsical party for your eyeballs. Mimicking the colours of the era, and the Shining carpet outside, shades of brown, red and orange rule. Warm red armchairs are flanked with gold ottomans. 'Sixties wall hangings adorn the walls. A huge wooden retro TV cabinet is decorated with a lamp in the shape of a white unicorn. Modern trappings such as USB ports are well disguised in oversized bedside lamps, while plantation shutters keep out the harsh desert light. In the bathroom, unique pink marble bench surrounds the double sink where the most incredible silver faucets in the shape of marine creatures from 20,000 leagues under the sea sit alongside seriously high-end toiletries from the likes of Hermes and Acqua and Palma.
There are two restaurants and a tapas bar at Parker. Brightly coloured orange and yellow sails shade the courtyard at Norma's, the best place to get brunch in Palm Springs. Enjoy pre-brunch mango smoothies and mimosas before tucking into lavishly presented and equally delicious meals, some of which beat the offerings at the swanky visual feast next door, Mister Parker, their dinner venue, which is so dimly lit the waiters hand you flashlights so you can see the menu. Here you can sink into studded leather booths and stare at the tripped-out artwork cluttering the walls while sipping on decadent cocktails and listening to tunes played on the white baby grand piano. Local lad Leonardo di Caprio once booked out the entire restaurant.
There's also a new 'hidden' bar, Counter Reformation, behind two concrete lions that guard the entrance. Inside, medieval-themed bar has real confession booths on which you can reflect while washing away your sins with 17 specially-chosen wines from small vineyards around the world. Their French chef is doing Spanish tapas-style dishes like hand-peeled tomatoes in a zesty vinagrette, goat cheese panacotta and tri-coloured beets, with fresh French bread served hot in a paper bag with butter. Your bill comes in a bible with temporary tattoos, and a card featuring Saint Bibiana, the patron saint of hangovers.
Do not leave. You will regret it.
Get drunk on an icy glass of kool aid spiked by Jonathan Adler and experience the phatasmagorical smorgasboard of delight that is the Parker.
High-end hotels have all sorts of bars - hidden bars, swim up bars, rooftop bars - however, nothing says "yes please" quite like the adults-only lemonade stand that serves four different kinds of this nectar of the gods. Decorated with bright white and yellow striped awnings, it beckons like a beacon on a sweltering Palm Springs day.
Lemonade Stand, Parker Palm Springs
The prices at Mister Parker's put a serious dent in my wallet.
4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, Greater Palm Springs, CA 92264-5230; theparkerpalmsprings.com. Rooms start from $US259 per night.