The Oldest Operating Hotel in Palm Springs Offers a Glimpse of Desert Life Before the Mid-century Makeover

A time and a place.

  • Category
    Homes, Travel
  • Written by
    Darren Elms
  • Photographed by
    Lance Gerber

It’s easy to miss Casa Cody while walking through the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood a couple blocks west of the main drag in downtown Palm Springs. Hidden behind walls of colorful bougainvillea and citrus trees, the tranquil compound could be mistaken for a private home. Well, that’s because it was …

In the early 1900s, Hollywood pioneer Harriet Cody—cousin of the illustrious William “Buffalo Bill” Cody—arrived in Palm Springs by wagon, settled in this spot and built a home with architect husband Harold Bryant Cody. By the 1920s, Casa Cody had become established as a hotel frequented by legends of the arts community including Charlie Chaplin, American opera singer Lawrence Tibbett and French-born novelist Anaïs Nin. And while it recently received a major renovation under the supervision of Casetta Group, the Spanish Colonial Revival heritage and adobe hacienda architecture endure—offering new generations an opportunity to bask in the romance of Palm Springs past.

“We specialize in the revival of small boutique hotels and decidedly unique buildings with a story, breathing new life into structures with great bones layered with our philosophy of sustainability without compromising style,” says Carolyn Schneider, president and partner of Casetta Group. “We fell in love with the remarkable history and timeless soul of Casa Cody. We are proud to continue its legacy through the preservation of its essence and character while elevating the guest experience through unmatched service, design and amenities.”

Thirty accommodations can be found on the 1.5-acre property, connected by winding paths and native gardens in the shadows of the San Jacinto Mountains. A designated Class 1 historic site by the Palm Springs City Council, Casa Cody is comprised of notable structures including four freestanding homes complete with one or two bedrooms, full kitchen, dining room and/or living room, outdoor patio space and outdoor soaking tub or shower.

These include the one-bedroom Olympic Cottage, which formerly housed athletes during the Los Angeles 1932 Summer Olympics; Harriet’s Cottage, a quaint and cozy stand-alone house with one bedroom; Winter’s House, an original 1930s California Ranch House and spacious bungalow; and the two-bedroom, one-bathroom Adobe House, a true adobe built in the early 1900s and one of a handful of remaining adobes documented in Palm Springs. Additional guest accommodations range from standard studios to suites and are available in the 1950s Apache Lodge built by actress Polly Bergen, and units transplanted from the estate of Francis Crocker, the “Father of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.”

Guided by the old-world charm and opulence of Palm Springs along with the vibrant colors of coastal Spain and a modernist mindset, architecture and interior design firm Electric Bowery instilled the interiors of Casa Cody with a rich palette of color and texture that strikes a delicate balance of sophistication and a sense of playfulness to achieve harmony between the property’s historic façade and its contemporary interiors.

“With warm coral velvet, textured blue-green accents and Otomi-patterned pillows, the rooms are imbued with depth to enliven the existing plaster interior,” says Cayley Lambur and Lucia Bartholomew, Electric Bowery’s founders, designers and architects. “Each room features richly colored zellige tile and deep blue millwork in the bathrooms and bar areas, reflecting the Mediterranean influence in a modern design. We custom-designed upholstered elements and cabinetry in the space for an inviting, residential feel. The dark wood tones balance the rich pops of color, creating a classic yet modern aesthetic that is unlike any other in Palm Springs.”

Soon the property will welcome a charming market concept that will double as the hotel’s reception desk. Guests will not only be able to check in here but also delight in produce grown on-site, retail merchandise, and food and beverage to be enjoyed on the outdoor patio or delivered anywhere on property—from in-room to poolside to an idyllic spot on the peaceful lawns.

So this season, when your travels take you to the desert for a stylish getaway, put the mid-century on momentary mute and submerge yourself in another side of Palm Springs history.


Other Early Palm Springs Delights:

Copley’s Restaurant

The former guest home of Cary Grant in the ’40s, this longtime Palm Springs dining spot serves a tempting menu of contemporary American cuisine with both indoor and outdoor seating options.

Old Las Palmas Neighborhood

A former citrus grove, this enclave of homes from the ’20s and ’30s housed celebrities such as Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, Lena Horne and Gene Autry. Leonardo DiCaprio now owns Dinah Shore’s former residence.

Truss & Twine

The cocktail bar may be new, but the Spanish Eclectic El Paseo Building that houses it was built in the mid-’20s.

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