PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (TheStreet) -- As most of the country sits under inches of ice and bemoans meteorological phenomena such as thundersnow, Palm Springs is a land of 80-degree winter days about to roll into its high season. Flanked by the annual Palm Springs Modernism Week (Feb. 17-27), celebrating the city's midcentury architectural heritage, and Coachella Music Festival (April 15-17), this year with Kanye West and the Kings of Leon as headliners, the weeks between Presidents Day and Easter are the busiest for this desert utopia.
Since opening in early 2009,
has been a top draw for an under-40 party crowd enjoying a weekend pool scene that walks the line between hipster and bohemian. Rooms at the Ace are camping chic -- walls wrapped in canvas with super-comfy amenities and rock star glamour that doesn't skimp on the details -- and most weekends feature afternoon DJs at the pool, as well as special live-music events and dance parties during festival weekends. Those who aren't hotel guests can pay a day-use fee or get an annual membership that includes full use of the resort amenities and discounts on food and drinks.
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club is a top draw for Palm Springs' under-40 party crowd and boasts a weekend pool scene that walks the line between hipster and bohemian.
For a bit more bang, at least architecturally, Palm Springs is home to a number of small design hotels such as the
, which was built in 1952 by architect William F. Cody as a small getaway for an oilman and his actress wife. With just 22 rooms (including one private residence) on 2.5 acres, the Horizon is a series of post-and-beam bungalows with refurbished rooms featuring flat-screen televisions, dramatic fireplaces and bathrooms with walls of glass facing private outdoor gardens.
Given the sizable second-home market in Palm Springs, an equally large amount of vacation home rentals are available for those looking for a little more space than a hotel offers. Try booking a home in the city's Movie Colony or Old Las Palmas neighborhood, once home to such celebrities as Elvis Presley, Dinah Shore and Liberace and close to the city's downtown. Here you'll find rental agencies such as
offering a well-appointed selection of architectural inventory with impeccable maintenance, sophisticated interiors and even L'Occitane bath products.
As ideal as high season is in Palm Springs, its low season can be extra long for local restaurateurs. They often close during July and August's scorching 120-degree temperatures and empty streets. Every season a fresh batch of restaurants pop up, though. This year there's
in the center of downtown. Named after late crooner Mel Torme, the restaurant came to life because of his daughter, Melissa, and her real estate developer husband. Together they host an American grill of classic chicken pot pie, fresh lobster and signature meatloaf in a dapper dining room with open bar offering almost nightly live entertainment.
Another addition this year is only technically a newcomer.
, one of Palm Spring's most popular breakfast and lunch spots for years, has inveiled a pizzeria called Birba.
Located next to the original eatery, this kitchen with wood-fired oven serves cheesy perfection -- and cocktails -- starting at 5 p.m. daily in a cheery outdoor dining space and architectural glass-enclosed eatery.
Cheeky's still offers modernist, indoor-outdoor dining on Palm Canyon. Perhaps the best dining experience in the city, a self-effacing casualness hides a powerhouse menu of signature BLT with jalapeno bacon, lobster pot pie and grass-fed burger on a brioche bun.
In terms of nightlife, it'd be risky to leave that hotel bar or house party in search of something else. There's not much: a strip of gay bars, a nightclub, downtown watering holes and an Indian gaming casino. The city's best-known nightclub, Zelda's, recently reopened in a strip center location just south of town and is now home to radio-sponsored hip-hop nights and Chippendale's-style male review geared toward bachelorettes. Lower-decibel revelers are best advised to stake out a booth inside Ace Hotel's Amigo Room, with its weekly indie nights, or Sissy Bingo with Linda Fabulous, who calls out numbers between the occasional Judy Garland anthem -- perfectly Palm Springs.
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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.