The Parker makes for a perfect introduction to this town – Jonathan Adler’s acid-neon desert dream fashioned out of cowboy crooner Gene Autry’s “Melody Ranch”. There are plenty of 1950’s and 60’s restorations around, from the Ace Hotel (hipster heaven) to the Horizon (for serious modernistas), but the Parker is just a whole lotta fun.
On the way out of town, its low rise white walls and lush greenery looked like something out of the pages of a housing estate catalogue from the 60’s. But step inside, and it’s another planet more than another time. Whatever Adler’s on, I want some. A suit of armour, hanging egg chairs, oversized chandeliers and shag carpets accessorise the common areas, which are decorated in shades of fuschia, lime green, orange and white. I seriously don’t know how it works, but it does. It looks cool and feels crazy cheerful.
The gardens are extensive and rambling, with hidden paths and surprises around every corner, from the Lemonade Stand to the outdoor firepit. There’s a family pool complete with inflatable toys, a fabulously over the top spa, a petanque lawn, and a croquet pitch. The instructions for croquet are as follows:
“How to play Croquet like an Englishman
1. Order a Pimms Cup.
2. Remark superciliously that “Six Wicket Croquet is really an American game.”
3. There are two teams, one player and one ball. Order of play is order of colors on wicket.
4. Each Player/Team takes turn going through course as follows: You have the choice of advancing your ball, or knocking the crap out of your opponent’s. Each round is one shot. However, you are awarded an immediate extra shot for every wicket you pass through.
The game ends when the first Player/Team either (a) passes twice through all 6 wickets (b) orders a third Pimms Cup or, (c) complains about the quality of American theater.
Our staff is available to settle disputes, provide copies of the official rules, and offer additional libations.”
Indeed. Wandering through the gardens, at any given moment you might run across a gaggle of exceptionally glamourous bachelorette party girls, or round the corner to find a pool with two bronzed couples, girls on boys’ shoulders, batting a giant beachball around.
It’s a surprisingly mellow place however. Rooms are really delicious, spacious and personal in light colours with both boho-ethnic (suzani cushions) and Hollywood glamour (black and white framed photos of 1960’s stars) working in tandem.
We ate at the dark and clubby Mister Parker’s by night. One of the better restaurants in Palm Springs, it has loads of atmosphere (by which I mean dark and velveteen) and a somewhat nouveau menu (by which I mean fussy – for example, pumpkin soup had the addition of lemongrass coconut cream, spiced seeds and gingerbread croutons).
Still, we weren’t there for the food. We were there for the fun, and the Parker has it in spades.