Movie Colony Hotel

Central, Palm Springs, United States

One of Palm Springs' best-kept secrets: a landmark mid-century Modern hotel with a pool, small spa and easygoing vibe, just steps from downtown
When Swiss architect Albert Frey arrived in Palm Springs in 1934, the Hollywood party was in full swing. But Frey was dazzled by the desert - 354 days of startling sunshine and a wall of mountains soaring 9,000 feet up to an achingly blue sky. While Golden Age stars hosted soirees in their Movie Colony mansions, Frey was mixing a brand new cocktail of desert-friendly glass, corrugated metal and stitched canvas for his groundbreaking San Jacinto Hotel. Several renovations later, the hotel (renamed for its proximity to the Movie Colony neighbourhood) remains a classic example of Frey’s Desert branch of the mid-century Modern aesthetic that flourished in Palm Springs.

Today, it's a stylish enclave (authentic furnishings include Wassily sling chairs and moulded plastic rockers) with an intimate vibe. Shimmering-white poolside townhouses and shuttered casita-style rooms cuddle up to tranquil outdoor living areas, dressed in swaying palms, bougainvillea and cactus. By day, soak up the quiet, hike in the desert or borrow a cruiser bike and explore downtown. At sunset, sip complimentary wines in the courtyard, where fire dances on a mound of glass and Rat Pack-era tunes transport you back to the 1940s.


  • A must for architecture buffs; renovations were blessed by Frey, who also designed PS's city hall and aerial tram station. Original construction is visible in the linen room
  • Pop culture lovers should book Townhouse #29 where rocker Jim Morrison leapt from the second-storey balcony into the pool in 1968
  • Friendly service and relaxed sociable vibe: BYO alcohol or help-yourself to soft drinks; a complimentary happy hour every night
  • Spacious rooms have private outdoor patios or curtained balconies with mountain views
  • Just a block from Palm Canyon Drive - so an easy walk to restaurants, entertainment and superb antiques, and great mid-Century Modern shops


  • Adults only (age 21 and older), and only 2 guests per room or townhouse
  • No restaurant on-site - an internet-based company provides room service for limited hours, or you can walk to downtown restaurants
  • No desks in rooms and WiFi is sketchy in some areas of the hotel
  • Front desk closes at 7pm; if you’re arriving later, call ahead for instructions
  • Recent reports of some wear and tear

Best time to go

With more than 350 days of sunshine and less than six inches of rain per year, Palm Springs is as close to a sure thing as you can get in the weather stakes. Winter brings mild, sunny days; summer days can be scorching. From September through November, expect near-perfect days without the crowds.

Our top tips

Hike in nearby Joshua Tree National Park. Its spindly Joshua tree were made famous by U2, plus there's a range of other-worldly geologic formations.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 15
  • Breakfast (+ walk to restaurants)
  • Children not permitted
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available


With its shimmering white façade and sleek metal railings wrapped in yellow tarpulin, Movie Colony has a cruise ship-chic feel outside. Inside, the 3 townhouses, 8 patio-facing rooms and 4 second-storey standard rooms are a study in minimalism: geometric shapes, monochromatic black and tan tones peppered with abstract prints and 3-D wall-mounted art. Mid-century Modern purists will relish the authentic detail: low-slung Wassily chairs mixing with comma-shaped leather settees, cube club chairs, moulded rockers, brass-and-glass tables and fuzzy area rugs. Shower bathrooms have pedestal sinks and rosemary-mint Aveda bath products.

The 2-storey townhouses were the heart of Frey’s original hotel. In addition to spacious living rooms you get sublime mountain views from private balconies. Of the three, #29 retains the most period detail - including crank-out windows and a wood-burning fireplace. Minimalist rooms have a cosier, cabana feel with lower ceilings, plantation shutters and sea-grass carpet. While some tend toward muted tans and dark gray, we loved the cream and light yellow walls in our room (#19). Our bougainvillea-draped patio had a pair of Adirondack chairs and a mountain view. Lovers of the best accommodation in the house will go for the Fireside Suite which has a separate living room, 2 bathrooms, and a large counter plus bar sinks for mixing drinks to enjoy on the private patio near the firepit.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Dvd player
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


A continental breakfast buffet is set out from 8:30-11am. Grab a diner-style stool and copy of the Los Angeles Times or take a tray and coffee press back to your room. There are juices, muffins, bagels and croissants (with butter, cream cheese and jam), and granola and fresh fruits.

The motto is Help Yourself Around the Clock at the courtyard bar (no alcohol); coffee, teas, ice and hot water are available throughout the day.

The mostly organic lunch menu at nearby Cheeky’s includes a grilled persimmon sandwich with prosciutto, brie and watercress. Decide on dinner plans over a glass of wine, beer or martini and snacks during the complimentary social hour (5.30-6.30pm). Reception staff will help you with reservations and directions.

If you'd prefer to stay in, an extensive room service menu is available through Order Inn (with a hefty service charge). Choose from pizzas, appetisers, salads, sandwiches and burgers, pasta and seafood entrees plus desserts and beverages (limited hours).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service


  • Laze: indulge in a massage at the hotel spa; sunbathe by the pool; have a cup a tea at the courtyard bar; page through books on architecture and design in the lobby
  • Cycle: borrow a cruiser bike and pedal through the neighbouring Movie Colony or to downtown shops
  • Shop: follow Palm Springs' own Walk of Stars on Palm Canyon Drive, stopping into eclectic boutiques and galleries specialising in Mid-century furnishings and décor. The northern section is touted as the Antique and Heritage Gallery District.
  • See a show: the vaudeville-style Fabulous Palm Springs Follies (in its 15th season of sold-out performances) showcases music and dance of the 1930s and 40s with a cast of performers all over the age of 55; the Annenberg Theater hosts top-notch comedy, dance and musical performances. And the stellar Palm Springs Film Festival is held every January
  • Take in the view: take the world’s largest rotating gondola up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. Hike through pine forest of the 11,000-acre Mt. San Jacinto State Park and take in a view of the Coachella Valley all the way to the briny desert lake known as the Salton Sea
  • The 1200-acre Living Desert & Gardens is a reserve, museum, zoo, and educational centre where you can see everything from bighorn sheep to roadrunners
  • The birding is surprisingly good in the desert too; keep an eye out for the noisy cactus wren and the red-tailed hawk

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Theatre
  • Well being
  • Wildlife


Children are not allowed; guests must be at least 21.

Kid Friendly:

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