Travel

The beautiful desert oasis otherwise known as Palm Springs

Travel Spotlight

Car hire from LAX, via Avis


Rimowa Salsa Air cabin case


Total travel time 2 hours drive from LA



May 2016
Warm, 26c

Palm Springs is an interesting, quirky and rather unique oasis.  Recently viewed as an ideal base for Coachella, it became famous as a traditional a getaway and party pad for some of Hollywood’s finest, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Clint Eastwood. It’s also where Leonardo DiCaprio still owns (and rents out, if you have a cool $3750/night) a holiday home.

Set in the mojave desert, juxtaposed between mountains and LA, it’s best described a small town with consistently hot weather, with mid century modern architecture in cool vibrant pastel colours. Palm Springs makes for a perfect tranquil escape.

Situated close to one of the surrounding mountains, we made our way to the Avalon Hotel, formerly the Viceroy. In keeping with its roots, the Avalon is an all-white collection of buildings, contrasted against bright yellow sun loungers. Around the hotel there are three pools, a small spa (with steam room and sauna), fairly well-equipped gym and the single restaurant. The in-house Chi Chi restaurant, which we found includes rather indifferent pool service, serves smoothies, juices, cocktails and champagne to keep you cool and to maximise your poolside experience.

Our villa was the largest bungalow. Set in idyllic gardens, between the well-manicured Avalon grounds, they consist of two separate bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, a large living room, kitchen, fireplace (it can become rather cool on an evening) and a private patio. Although the patio is big enough for some private downtime, we spent our time around one of the pools, although the pool closet to the spa was our favourite.

Whilst at the Avalon, we took full advantage of the free bikes, which is what we’re all about at Short Motivation. Palm Springs makes biking relatively easy. Wide roads, slow-moving traffic, a casual laid-back nature, makes biking around a breeze. Although we had a hire car, we biked to the local coffee bars, for breakfast, to the flagship Mr Turk store and on a local trail.

After our ride, we visited the brand new Arrive hotel for dinner, which we can recommend (and somewhat, in hindsight, wished we’d stayed at the Arrive) followed by some late night Short Motivation planning over a coffee at their brilliant Customs Coffee house.

One of the many “things to do” when in the region is to visit the incredible Joshua Tree national park. Consisting of over a thousand miles of dessert you could spend months trailing through here. We settled for the Cottonwood Spring area and the lost oasis trail. Getting up super-early, arriving at 6 am, we found a deserted desert in darkness, which had a certain mystique, whilst we trekked and ran around in eerily silence with the moon behind us. After a couple of hours of trekking, we sprinted in the desert, performed rock jump across the boulders and used the TRX on the various trees scattered through the park. The great outdoors is just a giant gym waiting to be explored, and a lot more enjoyable to boot.

After spending a long morning in Joshua Tree, a filling breakfast was needed. Whilst there are plenty of options to find a cleansing juice, or a caramel soy frappuccino, we required something a little bit more substantial after running around in the desert. So we plumped for Cheeky’s. Cheeky’s is perfect for breakfast/brunch. It’s worth adding that Cheek’s is so popular, there’susually a long queue outside, but if you have some patience and put your name down  early, you’ll soon be invited in for your breakfast.

You know us well at Short Motivation and we like to get down the gym where we can and often avoid the hotel gym. We always seek a local gym which will accept a day or weekly pass. Luckily we had a flexible AnyTime Fitness membership, enabling us to drive over to AnyTime Palm Desert, a swift 15 minutes from the Avalon. We’ve utilised our Anytime fitness membership in Florida, Barcelona and our home club in London.

With the thrill of trekking through Joshua Tree fresh in our minds the next day we decided we wanted to continue exploring the area. A short bike ride from the Avalon is the Tahquitz Falls trail. This circular trail is a fairly easy (although can get tough in the scorching heat) and culminates by the waterfall where you can take a very refreshing shower in the powerful waterfall. The views on this trail are spectacular, but make sure you keep on trail as you can encounter rattle snakes snoozing in the midday sun, which the various signs along the route like to consistently remind you (we didn’t see any, however).

For dinner we wanted to try something a little more informal so we decided to head to Birbap, a trendy bar which serves a nice variety of food including fantastic pizza. Opting for a relaxed setting at the bar we tucked into our pizza,  enjoyed some drinks and chatted with the locals.

Although we enjoyed the Avalon hotel, we wanted to experience the modernist architecture of Palm Springs first hand. For our final two days we opted to stay in a local Airbnb and a beautiful two-bedroom house with a private pool greeted us, which was a pleasant surprise. We enjoyed the minimalist architecture indoors and loved the private pool as well as picking fresh lemons the size of melons out the front.

After enjoying the final two days in our Palm Springs Airbnb, it was time to bid farewell. A final coffee at what had become our regular morning haunt – Ernest Coffee. These guys produce some great coffee, bought from local roasters Joshua Tree Coffee Company and this was the perfect pick-me-up before a long journey home which included a the two-hour drive to LAX before heading to Vancouver for a quick stop before returning to London.

 Have you had the opportunity of visiting Palm Springs? What did you think of the desert oasis? Let us know in the comments section below.

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About Author

Alex is the co-founder of Short Motivation and currently resides in Texas, heading up the US part of the website. He's busy with his PT qualifications and in the planning stages of Short Motivation events across the US later this year.