Les Cactus, a hotel that opened just prior to the pandemic is raising the bar for design in the chic-as-it-is hot city of Palm Springs California. Located in the Warm Sands neighborhood, just minutes from famed Palm Canyon Drive— it is unofficially the most Instagramable hotel in town.
Named after the 60’s French rock ‘n roll hit by Jacques Dutronc, the property was built in two different phases between the 1930s and 1940s. After going through different owners and a variety of iterations over the years, the most current is likely the last.
Owner and designer Matthew Kurtz came up with the concept to fill a gap he discovered in the marketplace during this own travels. “Living in Los Angeles, my wife Solène and I would often look to visit Palm Springs for a quick weekend getaway. Unfortunately, the well-designed boutique hotels we wanted to visit: Sparrows Lodge, Korkia Pensione, the Colony Palms, were routinely charging well over $400 per night, which was out of our reach.”
In addition to being less expensive than most hotels in the area, Les Cactus is also an adults-only experience. Due to the intimate size of the property, Kurtz wanted the hotel to be as quiet and relaxing as possible.
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A Stylish Experience
With just 27 guest rooms, the single-story hotel has a very exclusive feel. There are three different room types: Cozy (250-300 square feet), Comfortable (300-350 square feet), and Suites (350-400 square feet), all of which are unique in terms of size and design.
Although the property isn’t large, the six-month-long renovation was quite labor-intensive. “Our main challenge revolved around staying in budget,” Kurtz tells me. “With our goal of delivering great design while charging guests less per night than our competition, it was imperative to keep our spending in check. We were very fortunate not to hit any roadblocks or find skeletons in the closet during this process.”
Kurtz intentionally decorated the space without any of the commercial-grade furniture typically found at most hotels. Items were purchased from a variety of well-known vendors including CB2, One King’s Lane, Rejuvenation, Hay, and Selamat. “In addition to placing importance on the design of the hotel, during our planning process, we also wanted to make sure our hotel and guest rooms were extremely comfortable and felt familiar,” he explains. “We hoped that by sourcing furniture from well-known sources, our guests would feel as if they were staying at a good friend’s home versus an unfamiliar or sterile place.”
The only design element repeated in each room is a framed square of floral Gucci wallpaper as well as a piece of spin art.
Select rooms also feature custom wood headboards, nightstands, console tables, shelving, and desks.
A Charming Lobby
The lobby is of equal caliber with furniture from Serena and Lily, Selamat, Gucci, and CB2. Kurtz sourced the decor from Etsy, 1st Dibs, local flea markets, and the numerous antique shops found in Palm Springs.
The layout of the space is untraditional, sectioned off into several areas. There’s a communal kitchen at the far end where post-COVID guests can enjoy a fully stocked snack-bar and a refrigerator full of drinks. Due to COVID, Les Cactus offers a light continental breakfast in the morning and has colorful cans of wine and cocktails available for purchase from a retro-inspired cooler during the day.
There are main two sitting areas: one adjacent to the front desk featuring rattan chairs and another by the pink fireplace.
Filled with light and bright pops of color, the lobby is the perfect place for relaxing or an impromptu photoshoot.
Challenges With The Pandemic
Les Cactus is also one of the few hotels that’s truly pandemic-friendly and not just because of its size. With two entrances— one on the side of the building and another through the main lobby, it’s easy to maintain social distancing. The rooms are entered through the spacious center courtyard where there’s a pool, hot tub, and plenty of socially-distanced seating.
However, operating during the pandemic has been challenging. The hotel was forced to shut down just one month after opening. They were able to re-open again in June, albeit with some logistical changes. “By instituting new rules and at our hotel, including stringent cleaning procedures, we have remained safe, busy, and are happy to report we were able to re-hire all of our original staff,” says Kurtz.
Although the pandemic will eventually end, the impact on daily life and travel is likely to last for years. But now that the hotel is up and running, Les Cactus isn’t likely to run short on business or Instagram shares any time soon.