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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us