The Travel Facter: The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn


Willows Historic Inn in Palm Springs.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned in this romantic haven.

Now may not be the time to visit Palm Springs if you don’t enjoy extreme heat, but you can probably get a deal on this luxurious inn, which caters to VIPs. Built in 1927, this Mediterranean Villa makes its guests feel like they are visiting a friend’s antique-filled home.

Located at the end of Tahquitz Canyon Way, it is secluded enough for the utmost privacy, yet only a few blocks from the main drag. The inn is gated; you need a remote to get in.

There are only eight guest rooms; each with its own character. This writer was fortunate to get upgraded to the largest room, named after Marion Davies — she once resided here.

From a king-sized feathered bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and down pillows, the room has a fireplace, a living room area with a couch and two chairs. Various individually wrapped snacks of dried fruits await each guest, with Perrier and various cold drinks below a mini-library.

The most unique thing my bathroom had to offer was a chaise lounge. It also had a separate deep-claw soaking tub and marbled floor shower. Two gift boxes sit on a bathroom table with more amenities than you’ll ever need.

An innkeeper is the welcoming committee. There is no lobby for check-in; you do that privately in your room and are instructed to call when you’re ready for cocktails, as the appetizers are freshly prepped.

Whether you choose to sip your wine in the living room (with piano), dining area or various gardens, you can enjoy hors d’oeuvres consisting of brie with apricot sauce, homemade empanadas, artichoke dip, filo triangles, spinach and mushroom quiche, a pesto and smoked tarte and fruit. Billie Holiday was in the background.

In the morning, guests sit by a 25-foot waterfall in the garden and are treated to a three-course gourmet breakfast consisting of fresh OJ, homemade granola, freshly-baked orange/rosemary muffins, peppered bacon and apple sausage, baked eggs with black truffle sauce and parmesan, German pancakes with berries and coffee/tea. Chef Joan Johnson, onboard for 12 years, personally delivered breakfast — you rarely see/hear anyone else.

Former guest, Albert Einstein, would rise to hike to Inspiration Point and watch the sun rise. The pool/Jacuzzi overlooks the San Jacinto Mountains.

Directly across the street is a French restaurant that’s considered one of the best in California. Le Vallauris is Willow’s go-to room service. There’s inside seating with Flemish tapestries and Louis VV furniture, but you want to head straight to the tree-canopied garden, if tables are available. Handsome owner Paul Bruggemans greets each guest. He named the restaurant after the French city where Picasso made ceramics. Each table has an exquisite white rose centerpiece. RSVP with charming Maître d’ Patrice.

Our dinner included duck ravioli with orange sauce, prosciutto endive baby frisee salad, roasted veal filet with Portobello mushrooms, mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach.

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz dined a few days earlier. Michael Douglas dined there after his Palm Springs Film Festival honor. The extensive menu lists every culinary treat, including an exotic Baba with “regular” Suzanne Somers’s Somersweet. 

Sue Facter’s news agency is dedicated to the luxury lifestyle brand. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times and TV Guide.

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Sue Facter writes about all things A-list for publications world-wide. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.

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