Down and Out in Denver

The Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs

Posted in design, travel by Alastair on August 9, 2010

I’m quickly becoming a big, big fan of Palm Springs… And it has nothing to do with the clothing-optional resorts, Blake. I love the weather (even in the dead of summer…“it’s a dry heat”), the mid-century modern architecture, and the louche lifestyle. And my stays at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club have been a major factor in my Palm Springs good times.

The Portland-based hoteliers have really created a unique brand for themselves concentrating on understated design choices that feel comfortable and accessible while still maintaining a modern atmosphere. The sprawling complex—five barracks-like, two-story structures built on the site of a 1965 Howard Johnson hotel—features an indoor-outdoor spa, two Swim Club pools, and an old Denny’s restaurant, now King’s Highway and the Amigo Room.

Not least among the reasons I enjoy the Ace is their commitment to offering a number of rooms for under $100. I spent the first two nights with the Goldsteins in a King lounge that had a faux animal-skin rug on the dark cork floor… We swear it was a poodle in its previous life. The remaining days were spent in my own standard King that was somewhere around $55 a night (plus a $20 per day resort fee). The rooms were filled with vintage furniture, denim headboards, kaftans instead of bathrobes, and amenities from Rudy’s Barbershop. Off-white canvas covered one wall with French doors to an adjacent small private patio in the King lounge. Two additional walls of horizontal white wooden slats had pictures from old National Geographics hanging from S-hooks. In short, there was nothing to dislike.

The brightly lighted King’s Highway served up basic, but satisfying dishes, such as a chicken club sandwich with homemade mayo and roasted tomatoes on rustic bread. They have great weekday lunch specials for under $10, including a hearty BLT. I added avocado. They also make the food that’s served poolside, including a watermelon, heirloom tomato & burrata salad and a couscous salad with roasted pistachios, arugula, preserved lemon, carrots and chicken. The service poolside on the weekends is slow (understandably as the party atmosphere rises on Saturday and Sundays), otherwise no complaints.

What really creates the Ace-like charm in my eyes are the many interesting details: chalk board signs, pool lounge chairs constructed with flexible rope and beige furniture that perfectly blends with the surrounding mountains, hammocks, a giant macramé elephant head that adorned the wall above our brown leather booth one late morning in King’s Highway, and the field journal style menus written with old school typewriter font. Other guest perks include free bikes which we took out for a spin or two.

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2 Responses

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  1. Historiann said, on August 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I’m envious. (Although I think Spring Break there would be more pleasureable.) Too cool for school!

  2. squadratomagico said, on August 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    You used the word louche! I’m so excited: it’s one of my favorites!


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