2020 was the year of the road trip, and heading to the desert never sounded better.
Due to pandemic guidelines, quarantine precautions, and #podlife, traveling somewhere nearby in a car was the safest and easiest way to keep from going insane during a time that was challenging for everyone. So, if Palm Springs and Joshua Tree weren’t already beloved havens for Angelenos aching to get out of the city, their appeal doubled and tripled during the latter part of last year, with an urge for regional travel spilling into the early months of 2021.
But suddenly, what guests were looking for in a property had shifted dramatically, no longer was a central location or an “it” factor part of the rubric, instead, remote settings with lots of privacy and a lowkey reputation were way more desirable. Oh, and if almost everything could occur outdoors, with very little touching, that would be great, too. Luckily, strangely, or coincidentally, Hotel Arrive in Palm Springs managed to meet all those criteria and then some, offering a touchless, polished haven for burnt out travelers. It’s actually a wonder that this relatively new desert boutique hotel hasn’t become a bigger deal in the five years it’s been open, because it’s one of the most objectively perfect-for-a-pandemic properties I’ve ever stayed at.
Set up with tech-savvy travelers in mind, at the Palm Springs location you check into your room at the bar — and from that moment on, guests deal with the concierge by texting, and can even close their bar tabs via text. Though this system was established for technological ease, it also happens to be entirely COVID-friendly, as is the fact that 98% of the hotel property is outdoors. In old school motel fashion, all the connecting “hallways” are outdoors, over half of the restaurant seating is outside, and like most desert hotels worth their salt, the central outdoor pool is the true heart of the property. With plenty of wooden lounge chairs, and an entire back wall of covered, poolside cabanas, it was easy to keep distance from other guests, or separate groups out from the other solo or paired off travelers.
With an outdoor bar, well-placed fire pits next to the pool, and even an in-house coffee shop, the fabulous Cartel Coffee Lab, it would’ve been possible to stay within the confines of the hotel for the entire trip, and lack for nothing. And though Arrive isn’t in the heart of downtown, it’s still across the street from the best sushi in town, Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey, and only about a fifteen minute walk from the main shopping and dining areas, if you want to walk or borrow a bike from the front desk. Another amazing bit of hospitality was a list of local restaurants, bars, and local sights that the owners recommended. It was like having a local tell you exactly where to go for the best in every category, and the kind of finishing touch that millennials have come to expect from hip properties like this one.
Given the option to decline housekeeping, no one else entered our room for the entire weekend, and we never even needed to be indoors with anyone else to take care of any hotel business — again, a happy coincidence that just so happened to serve the hotel well during these strange pandemic months. Though we spent many more hours laying by the pool than in our rooms, the studio option came with a king bed, wifi, Egyptian cotton sheets, a rain shower that was almost bigger than some studio apartments I’ve lived in, and remote controlled curtains that roll across the high mid-century windows for an idyllic blackout effect.
The other room style is down on the patio, closer to the pool and with its own private outdoor space, which would’ve been a great choice, too. But those rooms are probably a bit noisier, so we opted for an upstairs spot with a bit more privacy. On a return trip, I’ll probably try the patio style just because, retrospectively, the private outdoor space seemed worth a little more noise. With just 32 rooms total, the property manages to maintain a boutique feel, even if they can actually service quite a few guests. Still, the place will never feel crowded like a bigger hotel can get on busy weekends.
The only element of the hotel that seemed like it could use a little work was on the in-house restaurant, though it’s safe to assume the truncated menu was drastically impacted by COVID-19. In normal times, Arrive values its place in the neighborhood community as a place to where locals can grab a bite or a drink, or come for a poolside hang. The restaurant and pool have been mostly confined to hotel guests during the pandemic, and this likely led to a menu with far fewer options than normal. The curly fries weren’t ideal, and lack of traditional weekend pool foods like hearty salads, pizza, or other shareable appetizers seemed like an oversight. The drinks more than made up for the mediocre food though, particularly the spicy margaritas that helped cut through the heat.
If and when the pandemic precautions are lifted, Arrive is also an ideal place for a day party even if you’re not staying there — that’s how good these drinks are. But if you’re looking to get out of town, safely, for a weekend in the desert, there’s no place where touchless service is more prevalent.
Learn more about Arrive Palm Springs here.