Sign up for the SSD Newsletter


Sleeping With Luminaries In Palm Springs

Having dreamt many times of meeting a great idol of mine, Albert Einstein, sleeping in a room where he and his wife once also slept brought me closer to that dream than I ever thought possible. The Willows Inn in Palm Springs has a rich history of hosting everyone from the Einstein’s to Shirley Temple and Clark Gable or more recently an A-List actress the Inn Keeper was too discreet to reveal. Just blocks away from the main street, The Willows is tucked behind gorgeous trees and the Palm Springs Art Museum which was once part of the Inn’s land, the properly remains one of the ten oldest historic landmarks in the area.

Einstein’s Room

If history is of any interest to you, this hotel does not disappoint. In 1924 prominent businessman Angeleno William Mead and wife Nella decided to build a winter retreat in Palm Springs. A member of the Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners and original developer of the beautiful hills of Los Feliz, Mead was all about preservation so much so that he insisted homes in Los Feliz, as well as his Palm Springs estate, be built around the trees and natural water flows, making development costly but gorgeous as you know if you have seen the number of beautiful trees in those areas. To date, a small ravine still flows in the entry way of the Inn because of his dedication to preservation and in one of the bathrooms a boulder is exposed by the shower and tub per his request to not alter the natural rocks of the land. Back in the 1920’s the Mediterranean mansion was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most luxurious in America,” and by The New Yorker in June 1926 in “The Talk of The Town.” Stunning landscape natural to Palm Springs remains with private hiking trails and sitting areas overlooking the entire city and mountains.

Sadly Mead’s unexpected death in 1927, at the age of only 65, emotionally forced Nella to sell the property to legendary New York attorney Samuel Untermyer. The first lawyer ever to attain a $1,000,000 fee, having taken on John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan. Like Mead, Untermyer was a powerful outspoken civil rights advocate, one of the first to speak out against Adolph Hitler and a preservationist. Einstein, a good friend, was enchanted by the Inn, feeling the land had magic healing powers and inspiring properties, he along with many other figures spent a great deal of time there till Untermyers death in 1940. There is still plenty of creative inspiration continuing to date. The Library Room was occupied by Director/Screenwriter of “There Will Be BloodPaul Thomas Anderson while working on finishing his script, he became inspired there, after a long bout of writers block. Anderson extended his stay beyond the Inn’s seasonal hours to continue his streak and finalized the masterpiece, going on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards. Ironically the very room he stayed in was once occupied by Upton Sinclair who wrote the 1927 novel Oil which the film is based on and is said to have completed much his novel there as well. Upton was not the only creative to inhibit the Inn, after Untermyer’s death, the Willows was taken over by actress and mistress of William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, who’s suite is still named after her and has been restored to match her original decor.

Marion Davies Suite Terrace & Fireplace View

By the 1990s, the Inn had changed hands many times till Dr. Tracy Conrad and husband Dr. Paul Marut decided to rescue the neglected estate, executing a multi-year restoration. Today Willow Inn is an exclusive intimate luxury home, operating without a front desk or checkin area, guests are greeted at the private gates and welcomed by the Inn Keeper who instantly makes you feel as if you are his most celebrated guest in his own home.

Complimentary breakfast is served daily, as well as sundown aperitifs and wine. The staff will gladly plan any outings, reservations or spa treatments. The Inn is perhaps the most intimate feel one could ever ask for in a hotel, if we can even call it that.

For more information and let us know if you have interest in booking.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted on: August 31, 2013