Monkey Tree Hotel: Vintage Charm in Palm Springs

May 16, 2019 in California, Travel - 10 Comments
lounge chairs at pool

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I’m an architecture lover. A gorgeous building with strong design features and I’m in heaven. So it’s no surprise that the Monkey Tree Hotel in Palm Springs captivated me.

Despite the name, there aren’t any monkeys. The Monkey Tree Hotel is a monkey-free hotel except for the luggage trolley’s wood monkey cutout and the beaded monkey in the Jungle Room.

You won’t find monkeys, monkey themed rooms or paraphernalia.

A good thing because ever since watching the original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston when I was a kid, monkeys and apes have freaked me out. And not in the good Chic Le Freak way.

More like the scary clown in It way.

But you will discover a blissful, serene spot to relax and enjoy your stay in Palm Springs.

But enough of my fear of apes, here’s why you’ll want to stay at the Monkey Tree Hotel when you visit Palm Springs.

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, my trip was provided for review purposes as part of a #IFWTWA press trip sponsored by the Palm Springs Association of Small Preferred Hotels #PSPSH #StayAuthentic.  All opinions are 100% mine.

The Monkey Tree Hotel Vintage Charm in Palm Springs

lounge chairs at pool
Monkey Tree Hotel pool

A 16 room boutique hotel, the Monkey Tree Hotel in Palms Springs is the perfect spot for a getaway.

Once you cross through the double doors you’ll never want to leave. Not only is it one of the most Instagrammable spots in Palm Springs, but it is also a private paradise.

mid-century hotel exterior
The Monkey Tree is a 16-room boutique hotel that offers complete privacy

Designed by architect Albert Frey, who shaped the midcentury modern movement known as desert modernism, the hotel debuted in the 1960s.

The one-acre property set behind a six-foot high wall guaranteed privacy. Safe from the paparazzi the Monkey Tree Hotel became a celebrity hideaway for Eric Clapton, the Beatles, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn.

It’s rumored that President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe had a tryst in one of the rooms later renamed the Presidential Suite. Now called the Apartment, the 725 square foot room (room #15) pool facing suite has a kitchenette, 550 square foot patio, and private entrance.

Frey designed the hotel to take maximum advantage of the views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Palm trees and San Jacinto mountains
views of the San Jacinto Mountains from across the Monkey Tree Hotel

The Monkey Tree Hotel changed owners and names several times before Kathy and Gary Friedle purchased the property in 2015. All that remains of the Legacy, an all male clothing optional hotel, is the name at the bottom of the pool.

Clothing is no longer optional at the Monkey Tree Hotel.

Location

Set in a residential area the smoke-free Monkey Tree Hotel caters to travelers desiring relaxation. Guests under age 14 and pets are not allowed at the Monkey Tree Hotel.

It’s the perfect base to explore Palm Springs and the surrounding area. One mile from downtown Palm Springs’ shopping galleries, and restaurants like Eight4Nine.

Leave your car in the Monkey Tree Hotel parking lot and take an Uber for $8. Much easier than trying to find parking downtown. Plus you’ll have extra cash because the hotel doesn’t charge a resort fee.

For ultimate privacy, the Monkey Tree Hotel only allows registered guests on the property. Each guest gets a gate code for access. As a solo female traveler (99% of the time) I loved this safety aspect.

Mid-Century Design

Not wanting to “create things but to restore” the Friedles sought to honor Frey by restoring the hotel to its former mid-century glory.

They kept the original gold mirrored mattress frames and left cabinets and bathrooms as found. Yep, that bathroom tile dates back to the ’60s.

Inspired by the color scheme of Frey House II, Kathy used the same colors but different hues for the Monkey Tree Hotel’s renovations.

Unlike large hotels where every room looks exactly the same, each room at the Monkey Tree Hotel is different.

A room may have concert posters from Eric Clapton while another has B-52s posters and a leather sofa.

The non-cookie cutter aspect lends to the Monkey Tree Hotel’s playful, vintage vibe.

Only the decor is a throwback to the past. Rooms include modern creature comforts like free Wi-Fi, DIRECTV, HBO, Power Cubes, robes, and hairdryers.

Courtyard facing room windows have mirrored reflective film for daytime privacy. At night, people can see in so you have to remember to close your drapes.

Deluxe King With Kitchenette

California King bed in hotel room
Deluxe King with Kitchenettte

I stayed in room #5, a Deluxe King with a Kitchenette.

These rooms are 425 square feet and include a California King bed, love seat sofa, dining table, and kitchenette with sink, mini-fridge, microwave, and oven. Vintage ice buckets add to the nostalgic touch.

hotel room with kitchenette
Room to cook and relax

The room at the Monkey Tree Hotel was so vintage, cute, and spacious. More than enough room for one person and generous for two people to move around without bumping into each other.

If you’ve read my other hotel reviews, you know how much I love a comfortable bed. This one was just right and it came with a pillow menu.

From the living area, you have a nice view of the San Jacinto Mountains, the courtyard, fire pit, and the pool.

mid-century sofa
Leather midcentury loveseat

The kitchenette was the perfect size and stocked with everything you need including plastic glasses to enjoy beverages by the pool. I liked having a fridge for drinks and leftovers. Being able to make oatmeal was a bonus.

I was pretty busy during my visit so didn’t get a chance to use the oven. But next time, I’m getting a take and bake from Bill’s pizza!

girls eating pizza
Was craving some pizza

Be sure to visit Eight4Nine Restaurant for dinner and Mr. Lyons Steakhouse for cocktails at Seymour’s speakeasy.

Great shower pressure and the curved shower curtain keeps it from wrapping around your legs. Toiletries were sg branded.

1960s bathroom
Original tub and hardware

My kitchenette included a makeup and vanity area.

vanity
vanity

The Jungle Room

owl macrame above bed
Jungle Room at the Monkey Tree Hotel

Eric Clapton stayed in room #1, now called the Jungle Room, at the Monkey Tree Hotel.

The decor drives home the jungle theme. Leopard (or is it a cheetah) print wallpaper faces the bed and vanity. Animal print cushions top the leather sofa.

A wicker monkey hangs from a macrame planter.

wicker monkey
Monkeying around in the Jungle Room at the Monkey Tree Hotel

But the bathroom is pure vintage Roman tub. Not today’s soaking tub but a step-down tile lined soaking tub.

tiled roman tub
Roman tub with original tiles

The tub to ceiling plate glass window adds natural light.

Roman tub with floor to tub windows
Step down Roman tub
60s dual vanity
Bathroom has its original fixtures

Guests have a private patio.

lounge chairs and table on patio
Jungle Room private patio

Pool

With only 16 rooms and a maximum occupancy of two people per room, there is a pool lounge chair for almost every guest.

Thirty-one other people at the pool is the right number. More than that would be too overwhelming for an introvert like me.

I noticed the pool water was more buoyant. Kathy explained that Monkey Tree Hotel has salt conducted with chlorine pool. In other words, not your traditional pool. But not technically a salt water pool either.

Regardless, you’ll enjoy hanging out in the refreshing water day or night.

pink flamingo in pool at night in Palm Springs
No crowds the pool in the evening

 

pink flamingo in pool at night in Palm Springs
Hanging with (pink) Floyd the flamingo at the Monkey Tree Hotel

The pool bench is the perfect height to sit, relax with a drink, and chat with friends.

When you’re partially submerged, you’ll tan faster because water reflects sunlight. Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen.

It’s a chill atmosphere with 60’s tunes playing from the speakers.

Pro-tip: The nightly 10 PM curfew is strictly enforced. If you’re looking for a party pool atmosphere you may want to stay at another hotel like the Ace Hotel & Swim Club.

Tether Pool

outdoor tether pool
work out in the tether pool

Training for a triathlon or want to keep up your lap swim routine? Check out the tether pool at the Monkey Tree Hotel.

tether pool in the morning
Get your laps in at the tether pool

It’s kept at 75 degrees so you can work out all year.

Pro-tip: Be sure to ask about the free gym pass during your stay.

Scandinavian Spa

dry sauna
The dry sauna at the Monkey Tree Hotel with room for you and a few friends

Indulge in hydrotherapy without flying to Scandinavia. The Monkey Tree Hotels offers Palm Springs’ first Scandinavian spa.

Enjoy a traditional Nordic bath circuit by working up a sweat in the sauna, then take a plunge in the cold water pool, followed by a soak in the hot water pool.

plunge pools
Hydrotherapy plunge pools

Hydrotherapy reduces stress, tightens and firms the skin, rids the body of toxins, stimulates the immune system, improves blood circulation, and more!

sauna, hot water pool at night
Enjoying a dry sauna at night for a good night’s rest

Pro-tip: Spa hours are 9 AM to 7 PM daily.

Ask for the paint if you want to leave your mark on the rock wall.

painted rock wall

Sangria Afternoons

Looking for an afternoon pick me up? Grab a free house-made sangria from the bar every afternoon at 4:30 PM.

Not a drinker? No worries, free soft drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages are available in the Smeg fridge.

Floyd must have had one too many because every morning I found him in the bar.

Breakfast

continental breakfast
homemade continental breakfast

Homemade continental breakfast at a hotel? Yep! Gary makes all the pastries and bread from scratch! Labels let you know what you’re eating.

There’s also an assortment of yogurts, granola, fruit, deli meat, and cheese. Even hard-boiled eggs! Gotta love a continental breakfast with some protein and isn’t all carbs. If you love tea, you’ll love the tea bar.

fridge with yogurt and eggs
yogurt, eggs, butter, and cream cheese

The best part, it’s free and included in your room rate! Available every morning in the breakfast room from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM.

mid-century designed room
When the hotel opened, the breakfast room was the hotel owner’s living and dining room.

 

Mid-century couch, chairs, fireplace
Enjoy breakfast in front of the fireplace

Early risers can grab free coffee and tea from the Tiki Bar.

tiki bar coffee and tea
Fuel up with coffee and tea

Refill your water bottles at the water bottle station near the lobby. Tesla owners will love the three charging ports in the parking lot.

The Monkey Tree Hotel
2388 E Racquet Club Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262
760-322-6059

Check rates & reviews: Expedia | TripAdvisor

Conclusion

The Monkey Tree Hotel in Palm Springs with its vintage charm offers a private sanctuary for relaxation.

With only 16 rooms, the boutique hotel never feels crowded and owners Kathy and Gary Friedle provide a personal touch that large hotels don’t offer.

Only a mile from downtown Palm Springs you’re close to the center of the action but far enough away to enjoy bliss while taking in views of the San Jacinto Mountains. The hotel is a short drive to Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge and Mr. Lyon’s Steakhouse.

Rooms include daily continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi and parking without resort fees.

I’ve stayed at quite a few hotels in Palm Springs from big hotels, Instagram worthy hotels like the Parker Palm Springs, to independent hotels. But this was the first time I’ve stayed at a Palm Springs small boutique hotel and it won’t be my last.

Which is your favorite small boutique hotel?

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Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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10 Comments

  • The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Katja Gaskell May 18, 2019 at 5:02 am

    I LOVE the look of this hotel! It’s got such a cool retro vibe while also being really modern. And I love the rock n’ roll pedigree, too. Sounds like you had a great stay. Bookmarking for when we eventually make it to Palm Springs.

  • Danik May 18, 2019 at 6:37 am

    I think for the me the pool sells it. I love a good pool for a quick dip when the tempartures are warm. I do have to admit, I do like the decor of the room insides and how the certain colours blend into the room (like the yellow duvet..that does stand out). Havent got to Palm Springs yet but would consider staying here if I was in the area.

  • noel May 18, 2019 at 9:46 am

    I’ve seen so many pictures of this place and totally love the vibe – it’s been awhile and I definitely need to go back to Palm Springs and stay here for that mid century experience

  • Medha May 19, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Thank heavens that they do not have any monkeys there! Or ape-themed rooms and public areas. My first thought after reading the name of the hotel was exactly that – I do not like monkeys at all! The hotel looks quite nice, I like the Jungle Room, nice to know that Eric Clapton stayed there. It’s such a nice getaway in Palm Spring, thanks for this suggestion.

  • Shreya Saha May 19, 2019 at 8:49 am

    I would love to spoil myself in Monkey Tree Hotel. I love the vintage charm it holds. When I visit Palm Springs, I will surely keep this hotel in mind. The spa would be my favorite part of the hotel stay.

  • Linda (LD Holland) May 20, 2019 at 11:55 am

    I was glad to read at the start that there was no risk of finding monkeys at the Monkey Tree Hotel. Interesting that this hotel was a celebrity hide away. With each room design different, it means that every visit could be different. I love the idea of the Tether Pool. And the chance for a sauna afterwords. But the Sangria Bar would be my favourite stop. A good hotel to check out if we return to Palm Springs.

  • Rosemary May 20, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Great space and decor.Love the laid back vibe. The spa amenities including the Nordic bath are quite impressive. The room feels like a home with vintage charm and decor. Spacious and loving the idea of having pillow choices. We’ve only been to Palm Springs once and I’d love to go back again and get pampered at Monkey Tree Hotel. Great review.

  • Tami Wilcox May 20, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Ooh, fun to paint the rock wall!! I would love that! The Monkey Tree Hotel looks like a great place to hang out in Palm Springs, with cute rooms, and lots of stories. I love that the new owners have kept the vintage charm intact and not tried to change things up.

  • Mansoureh Farahani May 21, 2019 at 11:55 am

    When I saw a title I was expecting to read about your deal with the monkeys in the hotel 🙂 The room looks so colourful yellow and blue. I usually like to stay in a hotel with spacious rooms.

  • Punita Malhotra May 22, 2019 at 6:03 am

    The reason I like smaller hotels is that they add personal touches and hints of innovation to their decor. The room with concert posters from Eric Clapton sounds super. I love his music. I wonder why they kept the name Monkey Tree Hotel.

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