Sparrows Lodge, Palm Springs, California

Sparrows Lodge, Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs
is hotter than ever – both figuratively and
literally. In Hollywood’s desert playground, Sparrows Lodge is a former
actor’s home that has been transformed into a rustic, cabin-style
boutique hotel.

There’s no denying the pull of Palm Springs, with its year-round
sun, proximity to the mountains and time capsule of
mid-20th-century architecture. Known as a magnet for
actors confined to stay within a two-hour drive
from their studios, Palm Springs is an oasis in the otherwise very
hot, very dry Californian desert. It has been a literal and
figurative hotspot since the days it played playground to the likes
of Cary Grant, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and today Palm
Springs is enjoying a resurgence. A fresh appreciation for its
modern architecture and cultural events has spurred new
construction, restaurant openings and drawn increasingly trendy

Yet Sparrows Lodge, one of Palm Springs most appealing places to
stay, is an original. First opened in 1952 under the auspices of
“Castle’s Red Barn” by Hollywood actor Don Castle and his wife
Zetta, Sparrows Lodge underwent a total renovation and reopened in
2013 as a chainless boutique hotel rooted in the past as much as it
nods to the future. An adults-only
property tucked away from town and shaded by olive and lemon trees,
Sparrows Lodge is as much a destination as it is a place to hide


Sparrows Lodge’s 20 rooms are styled in minimalist-meets-western
decor, without the kitsch so ubiquitous in Palm Springs. The beds
are large and low, and comfortable leather chairs and western
textiles add warmth to otherwise cool design. Works by artists
including Ed Ruscha hang strikingly on the dark wood-clad walls.
Horse-trough soaking tubs and rainwater showers stand at the ready
to cool you down from the heat. Some of the rooms lead directly to
the pool while others feature private backyard courtyards. With
some shade from olive trees. Two larger rooms – The Cabin and The
Owner’s Suite – provide more apartment-like stays. Completely free
of TVs, phones and electric clocks, these rooms are made for a
personal reset.

What’s for breakfast?

Breakfast is reminiscent of that from a small European hotel – a
spread of coffee, juices, yogurt and granola, eggs and bread. Fill
a plate and dine behind the barn on the country-casual seating or
at the long farm table stretching under a grove of olive and lemon

How about lunch and dinner?

Lunch and dinner are served in The Barn Kitchen, Sparrows
Lodge’s renovated, airy barn that doubles as the hotel lounge and
check-in desk. Lunch is served daily as is an array of light bites
until 6pm each evening. Dinner, an event in itself, is served at
the communal table under the stars, twice a week on Wednesdays and
Saturdays, although in the full heat of summer when temperatures
can stretch to 50°C, dinner is forsaken entirely. The Barn
Kitchen’s menu nods to Palm Springs’ steak-and-potatoes past but is
rooted firmly in health-conscious southern California. Little gem
lettuces are grilled and dipped into green goddess dressing;
burrata is paired with seasonal fruit; the ham and mustard melt is
served with almond butter on sprouted bread.

Is there a bar?

Of course, but you won’t find martinis here.
beers and wines as well as summery cocktails are
served round the clock.


The heart of Sparrows Lodge, like so much of Palm Springs, is
the pool, perfectly placed in the front courtyard and ringed by a
dozen or so lounge beds. Here is a place to read, take in the views
of the San Bernardino Mountains and find respite from the heat. A
massage tent at the back of the property is open by appointment.
The back courtyard is complete with a fire pit and s’mores
materials are on hand each night. For those feeling more inclined
to explore, bikes are available.

Things you should know

Palm Springs is hot, really hot. Many restaurants and shops
close for the summer as temperatures climb. The high season arrives
earlier in the spring when the town overflows with crowds and
parties from the nearby Coachella festival.

Within a short walk you’ll find…

You’re in the middle of the desert and have gorgeous view of
(and access to hiking trails through) the San Bernardino Mountains.
Up the road you’ll find more dining options including King’s Highway, Ace Hotel’s hipster-meets-cowboy
roadside diner that’s not to be missed.