Hotel review

Palm Springs Casa Cody 2021 hotel review

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Lance Gerber

Palm Springs, the desert oasis just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, is known to designers for its mid-century modern architecture. So much so that every spring it hosts a week-long festival celebrating it. As such, the city often looks like an overdose of Slim Aarons glamor – all expansive glass and steel panels and effective right angles. Floor plans open as far as the eye can see.

That’s why the first time I opened a wrought iron gate and walked into the Casa Cody property, I was immediately spellbound. The historic property (it’s the oldest working hotel in town) is a bit shaggy and overgrown, like a secret garden hidden in plain sight. I’ve noticed that over the past few years, a slew of boutique hotels have leaned into a certain desert-chic vibe: spartan and antiseptic, painted in neutral beige tones, and showcasing an innocuous art that I suppose you would expect. could call it “organic modern art”. (I blame Instagram.) Casa Cody has something more akin to Dust Bowl elegance that comes with its history. On the walls are sepia-toned images of the formidable matriarch of the Cody family, Harriet, as well as horseshoes above the gates because at one time she owned a stable (and for good luck.) Originally built in the 1920s, the property was acquired by boutique hotel Casetta Group in 2017, and renovated by Electric Bowery last year, but not too much. There is still a lot of velvet, dark wood, and burnished metal.

Casa Cody

Because Casa Cody existed when Palm Springs was just a dusty outpost, it has accumulated a motley assortment of buildings over the years. In addition to a row of 30 rooms, there are three stand-alone cottages, some with kitchens and private patios; we have an outdoor shower. I first stayed in a small single room at the end of a row of similar casita style accommodations. When I returned for the second and third time I booked one of the one bedroom suites which are definitely worth the small price increase if you are staying longer than two nights. The layout of the hotel seems to coax guests outside, and the first time I was there my favorite activity was sitting outside at dusk with my boyfriend on the heavy wooden chairs under the arcade covered with bougainvillea, to watch our dog sniffing in the courtyard. (Yes, Casa Cody accepts dogs.) Nearby is a ruined, vaguely haunted stone fountain; there’s also citrus with fruit pickers inviting patrons to indulge themselves, as a reminder of California’s mythical endless bounty. There are two small pools (one kidney shaped, one rectangular) surrounded by loungers. Best of all is the languid tempo: Casa Cody doesn’t have the hushed pretension and one-upmanship of local luxury hotels plus the all-night party atmosphere of others.

Palm Springs has been a getaway for Angelenos for decades, but the latest wave of new business is more like the energy of New York’s Hudson Valley. While places like the Ingleside Inn and Korakia Pensione (which are equally lush but decidedly nerdy) have long served visitors, Casa Cody has a relaxed, unassuming charm that makes it a great alternative. After the pandemic, Palm Springs and upstate New York attracted young city dwellers who no longer need to be in a city or at an office. They take more vacation from work, or even take root further. As such, there are now signs of life beyond the typical Palm Springs Hollywood-Rat Pack-glam tourist scene – adorable wine bars like Dead or Alive and inviting new restaurants like Bar Cecil. Over the summer there was a popular smash burger pop-up called The Heyday at the Hilton which has since become permanent (I sucked a killer double burger on a sweltering 110 degree day and it was still worth it. ). Meanwhile, the vintage scene continues to thrive and a handful of gays I know who have moved there full time are renovating their pads.

But you’ll find me at Casa Cody, with my boyfriend and dog, hiding and making my way through a juicy summer reading – it’s still summer in Palm Springs, after all – and watching the leaves of pink bougainvillea drift and float on the water.

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