The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs immediately became one of the new “it places” when it opened a few years ago. It put Palm Springs back on the map again, as a venue for cool millennials looking for a weekend escape from LA. It became the destination for hipster weddings, creative camps, splashy pool parties. Designed by LA based firm, COMMUNE, a boutique hospitality practice that reinvented California casual with natural materials and authentic vintage details, the Ace became the perfect backdrop for desert cool.
Even now, a few years later, it’s still pretty hot. As a trendsetter that’s constantly reinventing itself, it still brings in the millennials splashing around the 110 desert summer. Cool typographic pool signs? Check. Vibrant super graphic Mural? Check. Large metal ACE letters that prove to be the perfect backdrop for every instagram moment? Check.
Driving though Palm Springs on the way to our much less cool hotel destination, we stopped for lunch in the Ace’s modern diner. We got to explore the hotel on a relatively quiet Friday afternoon before the weekend bustle began. The grounds were well designed for casual encounters, full of comfortable seating and outdoor fireplace patios. My favorite discovery was the large mural. Turns out it’s part of an ongoing temporary art installation where local artists paint the blank wall and transform the space. Lucky to have caught this design, which is right up my BigBrightBold alley.
After visiting Palm Springs numerous times over the years, I finally decided to sign up for the Palm Springs Modern Tour. The tour includes the history of Palm Springs, the people who lived, worked and vacationed here, the Hollywood stars who played and built homes here and the architects, builders and designers who, from the late 1930s through the early 1970s, developed the "desert modernism" style for which Palm Springs has become famous.
We saw distinctive homes by noted architects, celebrity hideaways, familiar film locations, revolutionary modern tract developments, beautifully preserved commercial buildings and civic buildings that influenced public architecture throughout the world.
Robert, the super knowledgeable and quirky tour guide, was the perfect host. He shared indepth knowledge of the architecture while entertaining us with trivia, local gossip, and tales form bygone eras. We learned about the history and the people who created the Palm Springs Modern lifestyle. I will probably remember the details and the tales more than the architect's names, as the history is rich with stories of love, fantasy and dreams.
We were promised “A staggering wealth of knowledge behind the wheel" (Dwell Magazine) and weren't disappointed. Robert was an incredible tour guide, one who shared behind the scenes glimpses into a world that everyone dreams about. I'm not a history buff, but was still intrigued by the tales of building this oasis in the desert, about the groundbreaking approached to architecture, and about the stories of life for celebrities and visionaries from different eras. The Palm Springs Modern Tours are definitely the best way of seeing so much incredible Palm Springs architecture, jam packed into a 3 hour ride.