Envision an open house where it feels like the whole town shows up. Palm Springs’ 19th annual walking tour of 19 properties in the city’s Historic Tennis Club District, just off Palm Canyon Drive, brought thousands to downtown on a balmy winter’s Thursday evening in mid-December. The popular annual Walking Tour of the Inns self-guided tour is organized by the Small Hotels of Palm Springs, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs Woman's Club and Eat Drink Palm Springs. Participants are encouraged to bring a toy for the Holiday Toy Drive but there are no fees. And because the properties are spread out over 12 city blocks, there are no lines, just groups of friends and friendly strangers on a pleasant ramble.
Many of the city’s smaller boutique properties, like the Moroccan-themed Korakia Pensione or the mid-century styled Hideaway, are hidden away and rarely open to non-guests except on this night. While the idea is to keep moving, it felt just right to stop at the Viceroy Resort & Restaurant’s posh-all white Citron bar for a potent Manhattan and hang out in one of the artfully decorated suites by the fire to catch one’s breath.
Non-hotel properties are spotlighted too. The landmark Palm Springs Woman’s Club was a must stop to see the famed interiors decorated to the hilt with members selling treats like homemade cookies and mistletoe as a fundraiser. For event planners, the gorgeous Spanish Revival-style Colony 29 (six restored buildings on seven acres behind high walls) was also a must; the manicured grounds and a paved “Spanish street” are among Palm Springs’ most well-tended properties and a versatile indoor/outdoor event space.
A suggestion, begin the tour at its start time (4 p.m. in 2014) to take in as many of the charming and distinct properties as possible. And save the date for 2015: December 10, 2015. (Walking Tour of the Inns)