Once the choice hotel of the Hollywood elite, where Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Dean Martin stayed and played, the Riviera Palm Springs has transformed into an enticing blend of retro sophistication and contemporary comfort. With two pools, sprawling grounds, well-appointed rooms and lots of family-friendly dining options and activities, the Riviera is a great choice for families visiting Palm Springs.
The Riviera Palm Springs: Retro Family Fun in the Heart of the Desert
Located on 24 lushly landscaped acres at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains in Southern California, the Riviera Palm Springs captures the essence of chic 1960s Palm Springs. The hotel, which opened in 1959, has undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade, but made it a point to keep that swanky old Hollywood vibe.
From the moment you walk into the brightly lit lobby, you’ll feel like you have entered another era. The furnishings are chic and mid-century modern. There is even a pool table off the lobby (no quarters required!) and cozy sitting areas tucked into little nooks along the long hall leading out to the pool and restaurants.
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The Riviera is laid out like spokes on a wheel, with six two-story guest buildings spreading out from the central hub, where you’ll find fire pits, lounge chairs, cabanas and the main pool. Additional buildings branch out the back, housing more rooms, along with a ballroom and conference rooms. Some people may find the sheer size overwhelming (it took us a full day to get our bearings!) but once you find your way around you will realize this feature is one of the things that make the resort so unique.
What Works for Families
- Two pools
- Free parking
- Cozy fire pits
- Large, comfortable rooms
- Free bike rentals
- Free internet access
- Easy access to free shuttle to downtown Palm Springs
- Lots of on-site and nearby dining options
- Live entertainment at the pool
- Super attentive and friendly service
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- Sprawling property can make for a long walk if your room is not situated by the pool or lobby area
- Long, dark interior hallways
- Some of the restaurants are very pricey
- Hot summer weather (this is the desert after all!)
With the bold retro artwork, geometric patterns and vivid colors, the Riviera has maintained the cool Rat Pack feel of the 1960s. Staying in this very unique atmosphere was a nice change from cookie-cutter resorts. Although the property is older, it was very well maintained and updated, extremely clean, and dare I say “hip?” Not too often do you get to visit a 60 year old hotel that feels hip, but this one definitely did!
The Riviera has two pools and a fitness center. There is also an 11,000 square foot spa, designed in a Moroccan theme. With 18 treatment rooms, a rare and expansive Watsu pool, and a staff of dedicated therapists, the spa experience is not to be missed!
There are five bars and restaurants. From the retro-chic Gypsy Rose to the farm-to-fork fare at Cafe Palmetto, this Palm Springs resort offers something for everyone. We enjoyed the Soleil Pool Bar, poolside dining on an expansive sundeck. Located at the Soleil Pool in the heart of the resort, the menu offers California-inspired cuisine with choices of salads, grilled sandwiches or fresh daily seafood.
Breakfast at Cantala was another win, with reasonably priced fare and an excellent kids menu, set on a whimsical outdoor patio overlooking the pool.
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Although the resort is sprawling, wide green lawns and lots of secluded areas dot the resort, so if you want to be outdoors but away from the busy pool area, you have lots of options!
TMOM Tip – For anyone who likes to work hotel points and rewards (like me!), the Riviera recently joined the Tribute Portfolio of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (which has merged with Marriott) which means you can expect all the high standards of these upscale properties. Even better, members of Starwood’s SPG loyalty program, as well as Marriott Rewards members, will be able to earn points or pay in points when they stay at the Riviera. I have been a Marriott Rewards member for many years and love racking up and using those points, so this is a huge perk!
There are 398 guest rooms and suites, many with balconies, and all featuring great amenities including refrigerators, wif-fi, marble bathrooms and lush linens. They are decorated in the same classy retro theme of the hotel, with pops of color and mid-century geometric patterns and artwork.
The resort’s recent upgrade has resulted in a bevvy of modern conveniences. For example, guest rooms are now fully equipped with modern technology, including large flat screen TVs and iPod/DVD/computer docking stations.
I visited in the fall with a girlfriend and our two sons. We found our room with two queen beds totally comfortable for four. There was a big desk and sitting area. The boys enjoyed plugging in their laptops and relaxing in the room, making it easy for us moms to slip away for the evening, knowing our tween sons were safe and happy.
All rooms enjoy a view of the pool, landscaped grounds or spectacular mountains.
If there is one down side the rooms, it is the thin walls and lack of soundproofing. All the upgrades in the world can’t change the bare bones of a building designed decades ago. However, this was not an extreme problem for us. Just something to be aware of if you are going to stay!
Things to Do
Perfectly positioned in the heart of Palm Springs, The Riviera has no shortage of activities both at the resort and nearby to make your stay a memorable one.
We spent an enjoyable afternoon at the pool. There was a DJ playing tunes, making for a very lively atmosphere. We were even able to order lunch and eat it right on our lounge chairs! A good thing, since it didn’t require making the boys dry off and change to go to the restaurant.
Borrow one of the hotel’s bikes – included with the resort fee – and ride into town for a coffee or frozen yogurt, or just to see the sights. You can also take the trolley; there is a stop right across the street from the hotel.
With two pools, hot tubs, lawn activities, a billiards table, spa, tennis courts and fitness center, surely you can fill a whole weekend without ever having to leave the property. But take the opportunity to wander! Palm Springs has a whole slew of family-friendly activities you can enjoy with your kids.
Nearby excursions include:
- Palm Springs Air Museum
- Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
- Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
- Palm Springs Art Museum
- Indian Canyons
- The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Desert Hills Outlet Mall
With so much to see and do at The Riviera Palm Springs, you’ll have to force yourself out of the comfy poolside lounge chairs to take it all in. But make sure you do!
Healthy Tip for This Destination
This sophisticated Palm Springs resort offers four recently revamped outdoor tennis courts, as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center overlooking the pool.