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Check In, Check Out: Desert Riviera Hotel, Palm Springs, Calif. — Hotel Review

In Palm Springs, the Desert Riviera has taken the bones of a midcentury motel (from 1951) and updated the interiors with quirky but often chic design details while maintaining a relaxed vibe on pristine grounds dominated by a pool. Rooms start at $109 in the off-season and top out at $179.


The 11-room Desert Riviera is a boutique motel, and that means reasonable rates and lots of perks but no room service. Picture Don Draper during his lost West Coast weekend, then picture him making his own drinks and manning the barbecue. Run by the Stearns family, who also own the nearby Hotel California (it offers similar amenities, though it has a Spanish California feel straight out of, yes, an Eagles song), the Desert Riviera puts a premium on quiet, so there are a few rules stated upfront: no pets, no children, no smoking indoors and no bringing back men. That last one turned out to be a joke, I learned later, but it was repeated several times seemingly in seriousness and was a little off-putting. Check-in time is 3 p.m., and guests are urged to call if they are going to arrive later than 6 p.m. That’s not a misprint: staff members expressed great concern when my party arrived at 7 p.m. after slogging through Los Angeles-area traffic.


About a mile south of downtown Palm Springs, the Desert Riviera may be on busy Palm Canyon Drive, but the quiet property is secluded behind tall hedges, the only indication of lodgings a small retro sign out front. There are a few restaurants and some shops within walking distance, but you’ll want a car to explore the town’s booming restaurant scene and the outlet malls about 20 miles away.


Most of the rooms are spacious with king-size beds, kitchenettes and big closets. But there are several variations (the smallest room has a full-size bed and a microwave-refrigerator-coffeemaker combo in the closet), and it’s worth discussing your options when you reserve. All the rooms have lovely midcentury design touches, whether a Saarinen-like tulip table or a wall clock that wouldn’t be out of place on a “Mad Men” set.


The tiled shower stalls and counters will appeal to connoisseurs of ’50s California bungalows, and even nonconnoisseurs will find enough space for toiletries and most everything else. The plumbing in our room wasn’t updated in the renovation, but we didn’t experience any problems.


Here’s where the Desert Riviera shines. The many freebies include Wi-Fi, bicycles, limousine service (though there are some limitations), sunscreen and towels at the pool, and a snack basket and beverages in your room.


None to speak of. You can order delivery, and menus from nearby restaurants are provided for that reason.


The peaceful, easy atmosphere can feel a bit enforced at times — we were urged to keep our voices down if we were going to be using the pool at night — but the amenities and pleasing visuals make this a worthwhile chill-out spot.

The Desert Riviera, 610 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; (760) 327-5314;


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