B&B and Beyond: Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs, California

This bohemian 1920s villa provides an offbeat alternative to the Palm Springs vernacular. Kirsty Hathaway checks in

Settled beneath the imposing San Jacinto Mountains, Korakia is a tranquil desert retreat where stress is whisked away at check-in. A 1920s former artist's villa once known as Dar Maroc, this Palm Springs retreat encourages a simpler way of life: rooms are without phones and TVs; day beds surround the pool and there are plenty of nooks and crannies in which to hide away and indulge in a good book. Post sunset, large open fires are lit outside; lanterns flicker on the branches of citrus trees and stars twinkle in the sky. Although it sits just off busy Palm Canyon Drive, Korakia has the ability to transport you to a completely different world from bustling Palm Springs.

The Bed

Korakia has long drawn artists, writers and creatives looking for a fresh squeeze of inspiration and escapism. Throughout the main adobe house, the Moroccan Villa and the adjacent Mediterranean Villa, the decor fuses the aesthetic of North Africa – Moroccan fountains and antiques, handmade furniture, dark wood beams and cool stone floors – with southern European influences, such as flagstone courtyards and wild gardens. It's an exotic alternative to Palm Springs' mid-century modern vernacular.

Each of the 16 rooms in the Mediterranean Villa and 12 in its Moroccan counterpart has its special something, whether it's a carved Moroccan wardrobe or a stone bath. Most have fireplaces that warm up a chilly desert night and the beds, made from Moroccan wood, have thick duvets – all that relaxing is exhausting, after all. There's also a spa with simple treatments that are the perfect tonic for a morning yoga session.

The Breakfast

Taken in the charming courtyard planted with citrus trees, breakfast comprises homemade granola and a daily cooked option — for example, the fluffiest of blueberry French toast. In a nod to Korakia's heritage, there's sweet mint tea and freshly squeezed orange juice in addition to coffee and tea served again in the afternoon.

The Hosts

Originally the home of a Scottish painter, Gordon Coutts, and frequented by bohemian high society throughout his ownership, Korakia was rescued from dereliction by Douglas Smith in the late 1980s. The former architectural-practice owner sought to recapture the spirit of the place and imbue it with the warmth and happiness he'd felt while living in Spetses, Greece. (Korakia is Greek for crows.)

Douglas sold Korakia to Makar Hotels and Resorts five years ago and it's now looked after by general manager Paulette Monarrez. However, on my visit she was notably absent and the lack of a personal touch let Korakia down; finding someone who worked there often proved a challenge. Fortunately the relaxed and welcoming nature of the property made up for it and the non-intrusive atmosphere was more homely than lonely.

The Weekend

Palm Springs is popular with Angelenos escaping the grind of LA – therefore there's plenty to keep them satisfied. Palm Canyon Drive is lined with mid-century modern furniture shops and while the fashion scene might be small, it's mighty. For eclectic costume jewellery, look no further then Route 66 at 465 North Palm Canyon Drive (001 760 322 6669; route66west.com). Resale Therapy at 4109 East Palm Canyon Drive (001 760 321 6556; shopresaletherapy.com) stocks some great pieces, from Gucci shoes to Dior dresses. Everything in the back room is 75 per cent off.

Korakia provides bikes for its guests and, given the flat nature of the Coachella Valley, it's a great way to get around. Make a pit stop at the Palm Springs Art Museum (101 Museum Drive; 001 760 322 4800; psmuseum.org) for its impressive collection of contemporary and modern art.

For natural beauty, strike out into Joshua Tree National Park (001 760 367 5500; nps.gov/jotr) to explore the Mojave Desert, bizarre rock formations and striking Joshua trees.

The Pit Stop

There's quite a party scene in Palm Springs, so for a morning-after brunch, head to Citron at the Viceroy at 415 South Belardo Road (001 760 320 4117; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) for huevos rancheros ($16/£10.70) – the Bloody Mary ($10/£6.70) is worth the trip alone. For something later in the day, Workshop Kitchen and Bar at 800 North Palm Canyon Drive (001 760 459 3451; workshoppalmsprings.com) uses fresh, seasonal produce to put together a menu that includes duck confit cannelloni ($14/£9.30).

The Essentials

Korakia Pensione, 257 South Patencio Road, Palm Springs, California, US (001 760 864 6411; korakia.com). Double rooms start at $188 (£125), including breakfast.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'