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Travel: some reasons to make Palm Springs your next holiday

I spied some snaps of a friend's holiday on Facebook and it looked so amazing I asked her to share. The photos, specifically, were of the Palm Springs modernist architecture tour she'd just done.

Among the many gems, the intimate, three-hour tour features the Kaufmann house, commissioned by the same family who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water. You get the idea. Over to you, Jacqui Ripley...

We were planning a little two week road trip this year in Southern California starting with LA and ending in San Diego, so my husband suggested Palm Springs as the in-between pit stop.

Above: The colourful Saguaro hotel, Coachella

I didn’t know too much about Palm Springs only it was in the desert and flooded with cool hipsters for Coachella in April. But wow, what a gorgeous place. Firstly, you feel small. In a good way. Surrounded by mountains that stretch on for miles gives you a healthy spatial perspective, and the second things that strikes you is the lack of tower blocks and ugly architecture that most places harbour.

Palm Springs has always been a playground for the rich and famous – Bob Hope had a party house there as did Frank Sinatra [his place, Twin Palms, is pictured above], Marilyn Monroe had a very cutsey house and recently Leonardo DiCaprio has bought a property there. Apparently, when in town he goes around with his cap pulled down, baggy shorts and surrounded by gorgeous women. He’s hard to miss.

Above: The gorgeous holiday rental Jacqui stayed in, with Jacqui pictured in the middle shot

I visited Elvis Presley’s Honeymoon Hideaway house [below] in which he lived in for a year after his marriage to Priscilla Presley. A tour like no other, nothing is off limits. You can sit on the sofas and the bed Lisa Marie Presley was conceived!

Above: Elvis Presley's Honeymoon Hideaway, where Jacqui makes herself at home

But the most interesting part for me was the architects – a father and son combo called George and Robert Alexander.

Above: (clockwise) Bob Alexander and his wife in lived in the modernist home Bob designed until their untimely deaths; Elvis's Honeymoon Hideaway

Together they were the Alexander Construction Company and built over 2,000 houses in the Coachella Valley through the mid-50s to 60s and caused the city to take on a distinctive Mad Men vibe thanks to their modernist style. I kind of got obsessed with this family where tragically both father and son and their wives all died in a plane crash in 1965 leaving their 11-year-old daughter and grand-daughter an orphan.

Beyond the appreciation of mid-century retro homes (with car ports) and architectural name drops such as Albert Frey [see his house, just outside Palm Springs, above] and William F Cody, both visionaries in mid-century modern architecture, the architects on the block have added glass, steel and infinity pools but have played an 21st Century blinder by adding to the desert-scape instead of taking away. Just go, really, just go.

I rented my holiday home from which have the best places to rent. Just drool over their properties, and you could make like Don Draper on vacation for a week!

Words: Jacqui Ripley

Images: Jacqui Ripley, JDV Hotels, Palm Springs Modern Tours, Beau Monde Villas and

And if that's not enough to satisfy you, check out these incredible images in Palm Springs Life of John Lautner’s 1968-built Elrod House

1 comment :

  1. Oh wow this is amazing! So Californian and inherently glamorous yet laid back