Palm Springs’ modernist masterpieces are celebrated in this week’s fall preview but the mountain haven for the Hollywood set is worth a visit any time of year
In the early 1920s, Hollywood stars adopted Palm Springs as a place to escape the travails of Tinseltown. They were wowed by the fine weather, laid-back vibe and views of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains – plus it was close enough to comply with the “two-hour rule” stipulating actors under contract had to be on call if needed by the studio. The Oasis Hotel, built in 1924-5 and designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank), led the way with its modernist design. More resorts, such as El Mirador, followed. Celebrities decided homes were more important than hotels, though, and along with now-revered architects – including Donald Wexler and Richard Neutra – concocted bold exteriors and sumptuous interiors. The MidMod Design Tour ($100pp) is a new architecture trip with designer Lyle Boatman that uses digital tablets to contextualise the tour. Palm Springs Mod Squad (from $70pp) offers an interiors tour, while Palm Springs Historical Society organises walking tours (from $20pp). Tours take in properties owned by Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Cher, Sammy Davis Jr and Leonardo DiCaprio. Rent a bicycle (Bike Palm Springs, from $23), pick up a guide at Palm Springs’ Visitor Center and visit at your own pace.