Last week, I wrote about some of the great budget options available in the Greater Palm Springs area. This week I’ll focus on some of the legendary ‘institutions’ of Palm Springs; those restaurants and hotels that have literally defined the area, and defined the era, when men were men, and women were glad of it. In a town where the streets are named after stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era, you can’t help indulging yourself like one of the Rat Pack.
Before jeans took over; there were tuxedos. Before rock ‘n’ roll and hip hop; crooners ruled the stage. Palm Springs was ‘the place’ where the stars came out to play. And today, Palm Springs still harks back to a more glamorous and forgotten era.
And where did these stars play? For starters, The Rivera Palm Springs, with its Starlite Lounge and Bikini Bar. The legendary Rat Pack hung out here. Elvis was a regular. Rachel Welch and Bob Hope performed at the Rivera. This renovated property shows off the best of both worlds; old Hollywood charm and modern amenities.
The Viceroy Palms Springs, originally a bungalow hotel in 1933, it is now a luxury spa and resort. Try to book a bungalow in the old section for maximum impact. This property features three outdoor pools, two Jacuzzis and private poolside cabanas. With celebrity sightings a common occurrence, Citron is the place to see and be seen. Don’t miss their original Rosemary Grapefruit martini.
Remember the era of the ‘Supper Club’? You’ll experience it again at The Purple Room, located at Club Trinidad on E. Palm Canyon, another original Rat Pack hangout. Live entertainment nightly and happy hour is from 3 to 7pm, Tuesday through Sunday with $3 well drinks and ½ price small plates. Free valet parking is offered after 5pm, Friday through Sunday. Watch out for the monster martinis! Or try the aptly named cocktail, I Did It Mai Tai.
No tour of Palm Springs would be complete without a trip to Melvyn’s Restaurant, nestled in the legendary Ingleside Inn on W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. Old school doesn’t begin to describe this charming property. You can almost feel Frank Sinatra smiling down on you as you enjoy culinary classics such as Steak Diane, Caesar salad prepared tableside, and Cherries Jubilee. Stay after dinner to enjoy live piano music in the very retro Casablanca lounge, where well-dressed men and women show off moves they’ve been perfecting for years, and if I had my guess, moves that have been perfected over forty or fifty years. The copious mirrors adorning the walls may confuse your sense of directions, but there is always a friendly waiter or two available to assist you back to your seat. Celebrity photos adorn the walls and Melvyn himself is usually seated at far end of the bar, ready for a photo op. Go ahead. He won’t mind.
Oh, if only these walls could talk!