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Where to Stay in Palm Springs: Best Areas & Hotels, 2018

The greater Palm Springs area, known as the Coachella Valley, covers a wide swath of developed desert from Palm Springs to Indio. Aside from Downtown Palm Springs, surrounding areas like Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and La Quinta are all filled with a good variety of accommodations at all price levels. Visitors should keep in mind that a car (or use of Uber or Lyft) is practically necessary to get around. The city's ever-growing airport (PSP) serves a variety of American and Canadian destinations with direct flights, making it a good method of arrival, compared to the sometimes crowded 100-mile drive from Los Angeles. Visitors should also keep in mind the resort destination gets very crowded during any holiday weekends and during the annual Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals (both happen in April).

Where to Stay for Luxury

Water feature at a resort in Palm Springs
Water feature at a resort in Palm Springs
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For true luxury, you'll need to venture outside the city of Palm Springs, at least as far as Rancho Mirage. Only 10 minutes farther down CA 111, The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage sits on a promontory, overlooking the entire valley. It's one of the few Palm Springs hotels with a great view. The hotel has two restaurants, Edge Steakhouse and State Fair, whose seasonally changing menu focuses on locally sourced produce and ingredients. Of course, there's a great spa and a truly spectacular pool and rear terrace, also overlooking the Coachella Valley. The service is personal and wonderful, as expected from the luxury brand.

If you venture about 35 minutes out of Palm Springs to La Quinta, near the tennis haven of Indian Wells, you'll find the swanky La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. The large resort is probably the area's best luxury accommodation, with multiple pools, a golf course, a great spa, several restaurants, and Waldorf luxury and service. Several times a year, the luxury hotel hosts the Waldorf Drive program, where guests have the opportunity to do guided driving tours of the area behind the wheel of new Lamborghini models.

If you want luxury combined with an enthusiastic crowd and a lot of loud music, the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs has some really nice suites. Aside from the music, frequent concerts, and funky style, the hotel is right in the center of downtown Palm Springs, making it easy to walk everywhere, even in the heat of summer. Book one of the hotel's huge Rock Star Suites for the ultimate luxe stay. The 1,500-square-foot suites look like a musician's apartment, complete with memorabilia from the band Pearl Jam and a dining table with room for six of your friends. The suites have spectacular bathrooms, with special bathtubs that vibrate to the music being played on the in-room sound system.

Where to Stay: Mid-Range

View to the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs
View to the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs
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Palm Springs has a large inventory of newly-built, mid-range chain hotels, driven by the strong development of the surrounding areas. Also, many of the city's hip, retro boutique hotels fall in the mid-range category, as their roots as 1950s and 1960s motels limit their luxury possibilities. The hip Ace Hotel and Swim Club is a thoughtful, stylish interpretation of a classic mid-century motel, re-imagined as a modern boutique property. Think rustic chic, but done on a luxury budget. There are two pools, one more lively than the other; a popular spa; a Stumptown Coffee Roasters on-site; and a trendy restaurant. The 176-room hotel embraces its kitschy past - it used to be a Westward Ho motel with an attached Denny's. It's in Palm Springs, but you'll need a car or a bike to reach the downtown area.

The Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel is on Tahquitz Canyon, about a three-minute drive from downtown. It's a nice, reasonably priced property, set back from the street, with more of a resort feel. It's clean and well-managed, perhaps a bit more so than other hotels in this price range. Their restaurant DATE pays tribute to the area's long-time history of growing date palms. The menu also makes use of locally produced dates in many dishes. The outdoor pool is the largest in Palm Springs, and it and the poolside restaurant are open late for night swims.

The Hyatt Palm Springs is right in the center of town, making it a great base from which to explore the city on foot. The all-suite hotel also has some of the largest rooms and suites in Palm Springs. Each room has two 42-inch flat-screen televisions and a marble-filled bathroom with a Jacuzzi whirlpool tub. The suites also have full kitchens. Foodies will enjoy SHARE, the hotel's small-plate kitchen restaurant, and there's also HooDoo, a larger, upscale lobby cafe.

The Colony Palms Hotel is a wonderfully renovated, historic property that delivers a more luxurious experience than its price might suggest. Classic details and touches in the rooms and common areas have been retained, giving the hotel a glorious old Hollywood vibe. The location is perfect, a few short blocks from the downtown area, and the hotel's restaurant, the Purple Palm, is considered one of the best in town. Try to get a casita room as they have their own private patios.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Aerial view over Palm Springs
Aerial view over Palm Springs
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Palm Springs is unique in that many of its budget hotel options are quite close to the city's main shopping and dining streets of Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive. The Best Western Plus Las Brisas Hotel is right on Indian Canyon, within walking distance of downtown Palm Springs. The budget-priced property adds to its value with free Wi-Fi and a free breakfast with an extensive menu, including an omelet station. There's also a pool and fitness center.

Another great budget-priced option is the Triada Palm Springs, Autograph Collection. The independently owned hotel is part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. The rooms are suites (some are full casitas), with kitchens, and the property is nicely landscaped with a luxury resort feel. The location is also great, right on Indian Canyon, about a five-minute walk from downtown. Breakfast is included in the room rate.

For a clean, basic room or suite in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, the Baymont Inn & Suites Palm Springs delivers. Add in free Wi-Fi, two swimming pools, and free breakfast, and for the price, it's an excellent deal. The hotel is right on Indian Canyon Drive within steps of the downtown shopping area. Like most hotels in the area, parking is also free.

Where to Stay for Families

Golf course in Palm Springs
Golf course in Palm Springs
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The plethora of all-suite hotels in the greater Palm Springs area, most in the mid-range price category, means families can get two full rooms (bedroom and living room with a sofa bed) for space and privacy. The WorldMark Palm Springs is a part-condo, part-hotel complex, with large units and plenty of amenities. Even the studio units are spacious, and they all have full kitchens. For families, there are several pools (one with a little lazy river) and hot tubs, a movie theater, game room, and laundry room. The WorldMark is centrally located, right on Indian Canyon Drive in the downtown area.

The sprawling Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa is in Palm Desert, about 20 minutes from PSP or 30 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. The family friendly resort is set on 240 acres, including a 27-hole golf course and Splashtopia, its own water park. There are five restaurants, 25 tennis courts, and an enormous, 20,000-square-foot spa with 26 treatment rooms. Kids will love the lazy river, waterslides, and cliff-side hot tub, and parents will find some sanctuary in the separate adults-only pool area. If all the on-site activities aren't enough, there's a large Westfield shopping mall (with shopping, dining, and movie theaters) right across the street. The brand's Omni Kids Crew program means kids get a backpack full of activities on arrival (and milk and cookies on the first night of a stay, by request)

Where to Stay for Romance

Evening in Palm Springs
Evening in Palm Springs
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Take a short drive (about 20 minutes from PSP airport) out to Desert Hot Springs for a romantic stay at Two Bunch Palms. Rumored to be Al Capone's former desert retreat, the spa and luxury boutique hotel has villa-like accommodations and several natural hot spring and mineral spring pools and baths. There's a world-class spa and Essense, a restaurant with a special wellness menu. Its remote desert location gives it a very private, secluded vibe, perfect for romance.

For a truly beautiful lakeside experience try The Chateau at Lake La Quinta. This hidden gem features an impeccably designed and styled boutique hotel right next to a tranquil lake. It feels like a European bed-and-breakfast, with warm, personal service and only a few rooms and suites. They also have a delightfully romantic restaurant called Melange, with the best food in the valley and romantic tables overlooking the lake. At night, the other buildings around the lake (private luxury homes and villas) have lights, creating a beautiful outdoor dining scene.

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