When we recently attended the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival at the Camelot Theater, we wanted to stay closer than our friend's condo, which is a good 30-45 minutes away. So, when we saw a short article about the Sparrows in the Southern California Automobile Club's "Westways" magazine, we decided to give it a try. The article noted that the hotel began life as the El Rancho Lodge and was recently remodeled. Everything is brand spanking new, but, be forewarned, it now has a Spartan or minimalist décor, as others have noted. Suffice it to list the following: (1) Bare concrete floors grouted with small river stones; (2) No closets, just several clothes hooks; (3) Internal shutters, rather than drapes or venetian blinds; (4) Open shower "stalls" with an overhead rain style nozzle; (5) No traditional lobby (more on that later); and (6) Bare walls with exposed wood and studs. When we arrived at about 2-2:30 PM, we had MapQuest directions, but couldn't spot the hotel right off. After circling back from the next intersection, we finally realized the hotel's sign consisted of a yellowish sign with the black silhouettes of two sparrows on it; i.e., no writing saying "Sparrows Hotel"! So, we parked in the small front parking lot and went through what I'll call the "gatehouse". No one was around to greet us, so we wandered through what is called the "barn" dividing the two halves of the hotel and went to the back, where we finally found a cleaning lady who indicated by gestures that the lobby was the barn! My wife found the desk clerk "Shelby" and we were shown several rooms from which we could select, including Room 4 near the front, which we were originally assigned. Due to its proximity to the jacuzzi/pool and front parking lot, we opted for Room 4 and moved in our baggage. After an early dinner at the nearby Appetito restaurant (reviewed elsewhere), we sat down on the two chaise lounges in front of our room and read e-mails and communed with nature, as sparrows and hummingbirds flitted about the many bird feeders and flowers in the courtyard surrounding the pool. As other guests arrived that afternoon, we were amused to see them also looking about for the lobby and finally after emerging from the gatehouse, we pointed them toward the barn. So, one suggestion to the hotel would be to add some small signage to guide the guest to the barn to check-in, as well as a traditional road sign with writing on it. At any rate, the outdoor atmosphere is quite nice at the hotel and you can also partake of it on the private patio behind each unit, which has two Adirondack chairs and a couch for additional guests or outdoor naps, surrounded by a bower of bougainvillea hedges which shade the back wall. After attending the first evening showing at the film festival, we returned to the hotel at about 10 PM and found that it was virtually full, with only one parking space remaining. The alternate parking area is way around the corner on the street behind the hotel, so the parking situation is really inadequate, particularly if you arrive late. The following morning, we had breakfast in the "Barn", which was quite good with yogurt and granola and a selection of muffins. However, I wished they had begun serving coffee before 8 AM, since I'm an early riser and my wife and I need coffee to become alert. On the subsequent mornings, I made the short walk across the street to Carrows to get two coffees and OJ (no juice in the Barn) to tide us over until serving began. So, suggestion number 2 would be start coffee service at 7 AM. We met other guests during breakfast, which seemed to break into two demographics: retired Boomers such as ourselves and thirtysomethings of our childrens' ages. The latter were well-behaved and we didn't hear any of the noise that some reviewers complained of coming thru the thin, un-drywalled walls. Although we were gone at the film festival during virtually all waking hours, we enjoyed our stay at the hotel during the short times we were there. BTW, the beds seemed a bit soft and ours had an "egg crate" foam pad beneath the sheets, which might not be to everyone's liking. It was certainly a change of pace from what we're used to!! That said, next year, we will continue to experiment and stay at Casa Cody, an old, traditional hotel even closer to the Camelot Theater, with comparable room rates. We stopped by to visit Casa Cody and inspected one of the empty units, which were large, with kitchens and which even had closets, if you can imagine that! We'll leave the Sparrows Hotel to the thirtysomethings, who travel light in their official uniforms of t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops and instead stay in an adult hotel, such as Casa Cody, which I will review next year.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- An intimate desert hideaway with a hacienda flair...a relaxing oasis in a hurried world, with the personal attention of a country inn: Palm Springs' only ranch-style boutique hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- El Rancho Hotel Palm Springs