For the last century, Palm Springs has been a go-to desert retreat—first as a wellness destination at the turn of the 20th century, then as an escape for Hollywood stars a few decades later. In the 1920s, the Coachella valley attracted film directors looking for vast landscapes that could double as far-flung deserts across the world. But the talent soon took note of Palm Springs’ virtues, and it quickly blossomed into a second-home retreat. Just two hours from Los Angeles, stars flocked here for recreation, enjoying mornings playing tennis, afternoons by the pool, and evenings filled with revelry.
With the celebrities came acclaimed architects, who were commissioned to build vacation homes and hotels throughout the growing city. Thus Palm Springs became a laboratory for experimental midcentury-modern architecture, and it continues to be one of the best-known destinations for the architectural style.
Today, it’s not only the Hollywood elite that comes to play in Palm Springs. Visitors run the gamut between retirement-age snowbirds from the north to party-hard Los Angelenos looking for a quick weekend getaway.
An impressive number of hotels in Palm Springs could technically be considered boutique properties, given their generally small sizes, historic architecture, and stylish decor. So in order to narrow down the list, we’ve had to come up with some Palm Springs-specific restrictions for the definition of a boutique hotel—namely, we’re limiting the list to properties that have 50 rooms or fewer, which knocks out some of the heavy hitters in town. (Sorry, The Saguaro and Ace Hotel & Swim Club!)
L’Horizon | Villa Royale | Fleur Noire | Korakia Pensione | Orbit In | Sparrows Lodge | Trixie Motel | Ingleside Inn | La Serena Villas | The Weekend Palm Springs | Holiday House | Monkey Tree | The Willows | Les Cactus | Casa Cody | Arrive Palm Springs | Talavera Palm Springs
All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
What is the best area of Palm Springs to stay in?
If you’re looking to be in the heart of the action, downtown Palm Springs is the best area in town. Up and down the two main roads here, Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive, are restaurants, bars, shops, and museums like the Palm Springs Art Museum—and it’s all walkable. The one thing lacking in downtown Palm Springs is space and privacy, which you’ll find in the surrounding neighborhoods. That said, most boutique hotels are built around serene courtyards that serve as oases. You can also stay in adjacent neighborhoods to take advantage of the walkability: we recommend the historic Tennis Club Neighborhood.
The vibe: Laid-back, elegant
Top amenities: Adults-only restaurant with firepits, Frette bedding, Le Labo toiletries, weekend yoga classes, indoor-outdoor spa
Location: Deepwell Estates
Best for: Enjoying the midcentury architecture or the rays by the pool