this place's incredible

This Tucked-Away Palm Springs Spot Is a Hotel Goldilocks

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Lance Gerber

Palm Springs, the desert oasis a mere two-hour drive from Los Angeles, is known to design-heads for its surfeit of mid-century modern architecture. So much so that it hosts a weeklong festival celebrating it each spring. As such, the town often feels like an overdose of Slim Aarons glamour — all vast panes of glass and steel frames and efficient right angles. Open floor plans as far as the eye can see.

Which is why the first time I opened a wrought iron door and stepped onto the property of Casa Cody, I was immediately bewitched. The historic property (it’s the oldest operating hotel in town) is a tad shaggy and overgrown, like a secret garden hiding in plain sight. I’ve noticed that in recent years, a string of boutique hotels have leaned into a certain desert-chic vibe: spartan and antiseptic, painted in beige neutrals and featuring anodyne art that I guess you could call “organic modern art.” (I blame Instagram.) Casa Cody has something more akin to Dust Bowl elegance that comes with its history. On the walls are sepia-toned pictures of the formidable Cody family matriarch Harriet, plus horseshoes above the doors because, at one time, she owned a stable (and for good luck.) Originally built in the 1920s, the property was acquired by the boutique hotel firm Casetta Group in 2017, and renovated by Electric Bowery last year, but not too much. There’s still a lot of velvet, dusky wood, and burnished metal.

Because Casa Cody was around when Palm Springs was just a dusty outpost, it has accumulated a ragtag assortment of buildings over the years. In addition to a row of 30 rooms, there are three standalone cottages, some with kitchens and private patios; one has an outdoor shower. I first stayed in a small single room at the end of a casita-style row of similar accommodations. When I returned for the second and third times I booked one of the one-bedroom suites, which are definitely worth the small hike in price if you’ll be staying for longer than two nights. The layout of the hotel seems to coax guests outside, and the first time I went, my favorite activity was sitting outside at dusk with my boyfriend on the heavy wood chairs under the bougainvillea-covered arcade, watching our dog sniff around the courtyard. (Yes, Casa Cody is dog-friendly.) Nearby there’s a crumbling, vaguely haunted-looking stone fountain; there are also citrus trees with fruit pickers inviting guests to indulge, like a reminder of the mythical endless bounty of California. There are two small pools (one kidney-shaped, one rectangular) surrounded by deck chairs. Best of all is the languorous tempo: Casa Cody lacks the hushed pretension and one-upmanship of local luxury hotels as well as the out-all-night party atmosphere of others.

Palm Springs has been a getaway for Angelenos for decades, but the latest wave of new businesses feels more akin to the energy in the Hudson Valley in New York. While places like the Ingleside Inn and Korakia Pensione (which is similarly lush but decidedly high-brow) have long served visitors, Casa Cody has an appealingly relaxed, unassuming charm that makes it a great alternative. Post-pandemic, both Palm Springs and upstate New York have attracted young urbanites who no longer need to be in a city or at a desk. They’re taking more working vacations, or even setting down new roots farther afield. As such, there are now signs of life beyond the typical Palm Springs Hollywood–Rat Pack–glam tourist scene — adorable wine bars like Dead or Alive and inviting new restaurants like Bar Cecil. Over the summer there was a popular smash burger pop-up called The Heyday at the Hilton which has since become permanent (I hoovered a killer double burger on a sweltering 110-degree day and it was still worth it). Meanwhile, the vintage scene continues to thrive and a smattering of gays I know that have moved up there full-time are renovating their pads.

But you’ll find me at the Casa Cody, with my boyfriend and my dog, tucked away and making my way through a juicy summer read — it’s always summer in Palm Springs, after all — and watching the pink bougainvillea leaves drift down and float on the water.

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This Tucked-Away Palm Springs Spot Is a Hotel Goldilocks