Built in the early '50s by legendary Palm Springs modernist architect William Cody, the Horizon Hotel (1050 E. Palm Canyon Dr., 760-323-1858) is a must for ardent design-architecture enthusiasts. This mainstream but very gay-welcoming property is on the south side of Palm Springs (almost across the street from the Ace) and has been stunningly restored according to Cody's original blueprints - the airy glass-walled rooms have low-slung platform beds and a minimalist-chic black-and-white color scheme. Deluxe units have kitchens. The two-and-a-half-acre grounds include a heated saline pool with breathtaking mountain views, a Badminton court (not something you see every day in this town), hot tub, and landscape that's every bit as meticulous as the rooms themselves.
This steamy compound in the heart of the Warm Sands neighborhoods makes no apologies about catering heavily to guys on the make (couples, singles...groups). The 24-room INNDulge (601 Grenfall Rd., 760-327-1408) is super-cruisy, but it's also well-maintained, with a respectful and fun staff, and with a bright, clean, and sunny vibe. You could stay here without feeling any pressure to socialize, but if it's quiet you want, you might want to choose another property. Rooms here have rustic pine and wrought-iron furnishings, but guests tend to spend a lot of time sunning on the grounds and around the pool, working out in the gym, and making new friends among fellow guests. Rates are about average for gay PS resorts, a good value considering the above-average accommodations and very fun ambience.
With a swanky Italian theme and extensive, beautiful grounds in PS, the 20-unit La Dolce Vita (1491 Via Soledad, 760-325-2686) is a fine destination for social butterflies - there are myriad places to mingle, including two pools, two hot tubs, an outdoor gym, a steam room, and landscaped paths and walkways. Even better, La Dolce Vita has a beautiful full-service spa offering a wide range of treatments. It's in a quiet residential area, a short walk from downtown dining. There are two distinct "wings", and many rooms have French doors leading out the pool. Private patios, Aveda bath products, and high-quality robes and linens are further enhancements, and the friendly owners, Ken and Tim, continue to make all sorts of great upgrades, including platform beds, flat-screen HDTVs, new furnishings, and eco-friendly heating and cooling. Terrific all-around.
The only reason this terrific, wonderfully original small hotel doesn't rank higher on this list is that although it's extremely gay-friendly, the Orbit In (562 W. Arenas Rd., 760-323-3585) doesn't have quite a popular a gay following as many other properties in town. But if you're fine with that, or even prefer it, this is a stunning place whose vibe and decorating provide a stylish, authentic window into mid-century modernism - all 9 rooms are done with exquisite pieces designed by the likes of Eames, Noguchi, and Saarinen. Perks are many, including free use of cruiser bicycles, in-room kitchen or bars, lovely saltwater pools, and a full range of spa services.
Purchased relatively recently by a gay couple, Tony Gangloff and Santo Aloisi, Posh Palm Springs (530 E. Mel Ave., 760-992-5410) is a mainstream boutique resort that you might recall from a much earlier incarnation, when the property was the men's retreat the Desert Bear. Posh was sold, rebranded, and extensively renovated and now bears little resemblance to the previous resort. It caters to adults of all persuasions, gay and straight, and rooms are attractively furnished with modern tile work and art deco accents that befit its 1930s architecture. There's a large rectangular pool and lanai, at which a hot breakfast is served each morning and cocktails and appetizers are offered in the afternoon. Bars and restaurants are a 15- to 30-minute walk from this upscale spot on the north end of downtown.
One of the two women's resorts in town, the Queen of Hearts (435 E. Avenida Olancha, 760-322-5793) is a bit smaller and simpler (and also less expensive) than Casitas Laquita, but it's still a lovely spread set on a peaceful residential street, hidden away from noise and traffic. Rooms, which have are individually decorated with tasteful, modern pieces, open to a mid-size pool and prosaically furnished lanai - there's also a Jacuzzi tub. Across the street, the owners also have an intimate three-suite property, the Desert Hearts Inn - perfect if you're seeking privacy. It may be that the resort's best attributes are its guests and staff: there's a genial spirit of camaraderie here, and the owners do a great job advising guests on things to see and do around town.
Situated along the San Lorenzo Road gay-resort strip, fairly new Random Haus (588 E. San Lorenzo Rd., 760-537-7601) differs markedly in approach and style from its neighbors. It's technically a mainstream property, in that all are welcome, but this luxury compound of 12 two- and three-bedroom condos is marketed significantly to the LGBT community (it's also very pet-friendly). Each unit is exceptionally swank and beautifully designed, with few expenses spared - think large kitchens with Frigidaire Pro stainless-steel appliances, expansive private patios, snazzy bathrooms with spa tubs and "rainfall" showers, and furniture and design elements that call out the building's Mid-Century Modern heritage. Each unit is named for a Hollywood icon of gay interest (The Crawford, The Hudson, etc.), and each is a minimum of 1,100 square feet. The common features are pretty swish, too - a pool and spa with cabanas, an outdoor kitchen with firepit, nightly turndown (with special touches for your pets). These are among the pricier units in Palm Springs, but consider that each unit comfortably accommodations four adults, and that kids are also welcome - meaning this is an ideal option for families or good friends, and it's also a memorable getaway for a special event, such as a honeymoon - wedding packages are available. You can book a stay of just one night (rates start around $325 during the winter high season), but many guests stay longer, and you can also purchase a fractional ownership, making this is pretty plush crash pad for those who visit Palm Springs on a regular basis.