The city of Palm Springs has a wide range of accommodations, but we particularly like the inns that have opened as a result of new owners renovating the many fabulous 40- to 60-year-old cottage complexes in the wind-shielded Tennis Club area west of Palm Canyon Drive. The other desert resort cities offer mostly sprawling complexes, many boasting world-class golf, tennis, or spa facilities and multiple on-site restaurants. Most are destinations in and of themselves, with activities for the whole family (including a whole lot of relaxing and pampering). If you're looking for a good base from which to shop or sightsee, Palm Springs is your best bet.
Note: Regardless of your choice, remember that the rates below are for high season (winter, generally Nov-May). During the hotter summer months, it's common to find $300 rooms going for $99 or less, as part of off-season packages. Even in high season, discounts for midweek stays are common.
Old Is New Again
Bring back the romance of the '50s with a vacation stay at the Twin Palms Sinatra Estate. Built in 1947 by Stewart Williams for Frank and his then-wife Nancy, it became the center of desert social life when Frank brought home a new bride, Ava Gardner. The 4,500-square-foot home has three bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a living room with massive glass doors that open to the patio, and the piano-shaped swimming pool. Period furniture sustains the atmosphere, with artwork, pottery, and textiles. It wasn't all peaches and cream in the Sinatra household -- note the chip in the sink, from a champagne bottle tossed during one of Frank's tiffs with Ava. But if you still dote on Ol' Blue Eyes, nostalgia is your bag, and you can afford $7,800 for 3 nights' minimum stay ($2,600 for each additional night), see www.timeandplace.com for availability, rates, and other information.
A La Quinta Bed & Breakfast Hideaway
Devotees of bed-and-breakfasts or boutique inns might be daunted by the La Quinta Resort's 800 rooms, but there's a way to enjoy this quiet, affluent end of the valley with a little more intimacy. Check out the hidden-secret Lake La Quinta Inn, 78-120 Caleo Bay (tel. 888/226-4546 or 760/564-7332; www.lakelaquintainn.com), a 13-room Norman-style B&B on the shores of a man-made lake, blocks from the famous resort. Exquisitely outfitted rooms, Wi-Fi, delightful hosts, on-site facials and massage, and a 24-hour pool and Jacuzzi complete the fantasy. Rates are $179 to $289 (double); suites are $289 to $399, including breakfast and wine in the afternoon.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.