An unconventional marriage between Hollywood’s golden era glamor and laid-back desert casualness gives new life to this 1950s gem located just minutes from downtown palm springs no less grandeur.
Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable , and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon all stayed at L’Horizon long before it opened to the public. That’s because this Palm Springs gem was originally designed in 1952 by renowned architect William F. Cody as a private family retreat for the television producer, oil tycoon, and legendary hotel owner Jack Wrather and his wife, Hollywood actress Bonita “Bunny” Granville.
At the time, Wrather, who produced both “The Lone Ranger” and “Lassie”, built the Disneyland hotel and opened the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose, commissioning the residence as a relaxing getaway for his Hollywood friends. Now, the property maintains the feeling of Hollywood’s golden age at the same time as it has been redeveloped as a luxury resort. Responsible for the multi-million dollar refresh is renowned designer Steve Hermann, known as the design guru for the Hollywood elite, celebrities, and foreign royalty. Nestled within three acres of gorgeous manicured desert grounds, it offers the perfect boutique hotel experience to the most demanding of guests.
A rather startling mountain backdrop frames this midcentury architectural jewel set in hip South Palm Springs, first of the region to be a part of the Leading Hotels of the World, to have a Michelin star chef heading its restaurant and to represent the new Steve Hermann Hotels – from the designer to the houses of everyone from Christina Aguilera to Vera Wang to the Saudi Royal Family. Located in Deepwell, a residential neighborhood close to the former hideaway homes of celebrities like Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and Kirk Douglas, the hotel is only a short drive to downtown and not far from the thermal wonders of Desert Hot Springs and Joshua Tree National Park.
Here, only 25 upscale bungalows, each different from one another, anticipate fortuitous guests. While some provide a private zero edge pool and patio with furniture, as well as floor to ceiling glass windows, others uncover a full-length rain forest shower overlooking a private terrarium filled with cacti. In some way or another, though, all provide a feeling of immediate connection to the surrounding environment. A blend of vintage and modern, the rooms feature exposed wood post and beam ceilings, wide plank flooring, chevron curtains, Italian furniture, marble bathrooms, espresso machines, and Apple TVs, as well as special attention to lighting, with products by Brendan Ravenhill, Bert Frank, Buster and Punch, and Forbes and Lomax.
Le Labo bath amenities and Frette robes, slippers and 600 thread count sheets are provided in every room. The insider tip for Marilyn Monroe fans is to go for the Fireplace Junior Suite Bungalow no. 10, where she used to stay in the 1950s. The accommodation features an indoor copper-clad fireplace for cool nights and an outdoor shower where, allegedly, she used to shower al-fresco under the desert stars. The pinnacle of luxury at L’Horizon, however, lies within The Residence, once home to original owner Jack Wrather. With over 2000 square feet, it boasts a secluded yard with full sized pool and wet bar, a preeminent sunken seating area, and breathtaking, unobstructed mountain views. While Steve Hermann didn’t alter the footprint much, he added an open-air spa and an alfresco restaurant that make all the difference to the property.
Decorated with fountains, fire pits, and Lindsey Adelman chandeliers (and sporting an enjoyable 26-foot long live edge walnut communal table, perfect for large groups), restaurant SO•PA lies in a “secret garden”, shaded by trees and illuminated by flickering candlelight after the sun sets, where once were the badminton courts for Mr. Wrather. The kitchen is administered by chef Chris Anderson, known for reinventing the entire menu and wine pairings at Moto, a cutting-edge molecular gastronomy restaurant in Chicago, for which he earned its second Michelin star. In the Californian venue, some of the front-runners are the wagyu tartare with wild sturgeon caviar and the poached lobster with Dungeness crab ravioli and avocado mousse.
To top it off, indulgent treats include the french toast ice cream with brioche chips and the strawberry shortcake with bruléed tomatoes and basil gel. The Pool Cabanas and Patio are the idyllic locations to unwind with a prosecco or a lavender gin fizz in hand while overlooking the mountainous views. Veiled behind leafy ficus trees, the courtyard looks and feels like a desert sanctuary, where sleepy guests swing slowly in hammocks or lounge by the infinity pool – where much appreciated complimentary poolside massages for foot and back round off the ultimate relaxing experience.
Other small unexpected luxuries appear every so often, such as a welcome glass of champagne and a personalized brass plaque on each door. The relaxation continues (and culminates) at the spa, where white canvas cabanas, private outdoor showers, and a fresh juice bar set the tone for some nourishing pampering. The lemongrass mimosa scrub and the espresso mud wrap, with volcanic pumice and black salt clay, are some of the top procedures. Any massage can be enhanced with a revitalizing wild lime scalp treatment or an energizing peppermint balm foot therapy, while facials can have valuable additions such as a Vitamin C15 serum, that helps guard skin against free radicals, or a 15% Glycolic Peel, that combines acids derived from sugarcane with soothing aloe vera to re-texturize the skin. For the athletic types, the resort offers scheduling assistance for 24-hour personal fitness trainers and guided walking and hiking trails, as well as expert yoga training.
Photos: Courtesy L´Horizon Hotel