Late Checkout: 36 Hours of a Winter Wellness Wonderland in Palm Springs

The mystical, brooding energy of Casa Cody, right up against the San Jacinto Mountains. (Credit: Christina Frary for Casa Cody)

Late Checkout is TQE’s travel vertical. Whether you’re seeking an Eat Pray Love moment of your own,  or a wholesome family sojourn, we hope you embark on an adventure requisite of a late checkout below.

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Nine out of ten times, when you ask someone in Los Angeles what they’re doing over the weekend, you’re going to hear “Going to Palm Springs!” no matter the season.

As the easy, go-to getaway destination for most Angelenos, Palm Springs (or “PS” if you’re an expert) consistently brings the heat (literally and figuratively). Whether you’re hanging by the pool, purveying mid-century architecture, eating high-end cuisine, meditating near crystals, or dancing the night away, Palm Springs offers a full spectrum of activities for pretty much anyone and everyone looking to escape the manic, bustling energy of L.A. Some might even argue that this desert city against the mountains somehow manages to balance familiar cosmopolitan culture alongside a slower pace and an even more open landscape.

Since I was one of the 10 million Angelenos about to pull their hair out from everyday city stress, I thought it was worth disrupting my everyday routine to head to Palm Springs’ desert vortex for a 36-hour break. The only thing on my mind was maximizing wellness and wellbeing—with laser focus, might I add—and I really did just that.

To Stay

When I told people I was staying at Casa Cody, absolutely no one knew what I was talking about. “It looked cute in the pictures,” I’d protest. I started to wonder if I had made some kind of a booking mistake! However, when I pulled up to Palm Springs’ oldest operating hotel in town, I was wildly surprised that Casa Cody isn’t the first name on the tip of everyone’s tongues when they’re recommending where people should stay.

Founded in the 1920s by female pioneer Harriet Cody, Casa Cody finds itself completely nestled against the San Jacinto Mountains right in the heart of downtown Palm Springs (you’re literally around the corner, walking-wise). The hotel is an official historic site that carries with it a pretty spiritual air, if you ask me. It’s not surprising considering Charlie Chaplin, American Opera Singer Lawrence Tibbett, and AnaÏs Nin are just a few famed legends to have graced the presence of nature-forward, intimate grounds.

You might be wondering, “Well, if the hotel is the oldest in Palm Springs, doesn’t it feel….dusty?” In 2020, Casa Cody changed hands to Casetta Group, who managed to give the grounds a much-needed facelift while preserving its historic exteriors or components.

“The gates of heaven are always open.” - Yitzhak Sinwani in Madonna’s “Issac”

Here are a few things I loved about my stay:

+ The grounds are riddled with citrus trees—orange, clementine, lemon, and grapefruit—that you’re able to pick from. The hotel even offers citrus kits so you can make your hotel room a farm-to-table endeavor if you so please.

+ Focused on community and ease, Casa Cody has a fully packed activity schedule in their Lobby / Marketplace for anyone looking to feel like they did something without leaving the hotel. I got to indulge in wreath-making during my stay, and it made me feel like the holidays had already arrived.

+ Sustainability, comfort, and quality are always top of mind. I discovered Casa Cody uses Parachute bed and bath linens, organic MoonCloth Designs x Casetta bath amenities, Finery x Casetta poplin robes, and earth-friendly toilet paper from PlantPaper.  

+ Their Marketplace carries high-quality, local goods that many Angelenos can identify (and made me feel instantly at home away from home). Seeing brands like Wonder Valley and Amass on the table let me know that wellness would not be hard to achieve during my short stint in the desert.

+ Every morning, they offer a breakfast spread (albeit limited) of pastries, yogurt, berries, and Other People’s Coffee with the option to fill your day with satiating snacks, bites, and interludes off of their Marketplace menu.

Please note the div-ine mineral tub to the right. Also note that this is just a sliver of the expansive grounds.

To Do

Since I was going to Palm Springs for only 36 hours, desperate to simplify my life and slow down, I narrowed in on finding something spa-esque for my one full day in the desert. Through an LA influencer-type, who also doubles as a family friend, I learned about Azure Palm Hot Springs, located in Desert Hot Springs, which is just a 30-minute drive from Palm Springs (traffic-less the whole time!).

While Azure is a resort where people can stay overnight, they also offer one-day spa passes that give you full access to their two Finnish saunas, indoor and outdoor pools, and natural mineral tubs (you can also book any of their spa services as well). Let me just say: I.was.obsessed.

From around 11am until 4pm, I went back and forth between the Finnish saunas, the cold shower, and the 104-degree mineral tub that was outside amongst the desert landscape. It was like I had transcended any stress I had ever experienced, which may or may not have been from the natural lithium absorbing into my skin from the mineral water. By the end of the day, any hormonal acne, intestinal distress, or muscle aches had completely disappeared, and my skin was buttery soft. This is not an exaggeration.

Hot Tips (and yes, that is meant to be a pun): I’ve been on a #HairRepairJourney for the last few months, so I brought my Agent Nateur holi(locks) strengthening hair growth serum to use before I got into the sauna for deeper absorption and efficacy. FYI, this stuff is a true phenomenon and I have seen a ton of growth and significantly less shedding because of it.

I also knew that a day at the spa, while relaxing, can also take a toll on the body’s electrolytes, so I ripped open one of my GOODONYA Hydrate Sticks so I didn’t feel depleted by the end of the day.

Think: ABC Carpet & Home, but make it desert-chic. (Credit: Market Market)

To Shop

When I saw Market Market’s bright, trendy signage, beaming from an upscale strip mall, but five minutes down Palm Canyon Road (which is the main drag in Palm Springs), I knew I had to go in.

In a 40,000 square-foot space, Market Market is leveling up the vintage-shopping game in Palm Springs with one of the more elite layouts I’ve seen in a long time. The space itself felt like an art gallery, which made me feel as if I had knocked off “Art Gallery” on my to-do list. But what I was most drawn to was the mini “grocery” section at the entrance.

Filling the shelves were a multitude of Brand Darlings (as I like to call them) that we all see in the culinary zeitgeist. Everything was curated to service the likes of me, an upwardly mobile millennial, who was coming for a short boop, looking for familiar-but-elevated food and drink products to bring back to wherever I was staying or take with me for a day in the desert.

Staples included high-end olive oils like Yiayia & Friends and Graza, on-the-go Asian food essentials like Momofuku’s Tingly Chili Wavy Noodles, Omsom’s Sauce Sampler, and Fly By Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp, non-alcoholic companions like bonbuz, Aplós, and Figlia, and sustainable toilet paper from betterway. The packaging was a 10/10 across the board and made me want to come back for longer so I could curate a premium desert picnic.

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There is no way to capture the iconically cozy, sexy vibe at Bar Cecil properly. 

To Eat

Finding high-quality food that fits into a Los Angeles vibe (and dietary) check is not necessarily the easiest “journey,” is what I’ll say. That doesn’t mean I didn’t find some seriously tasty gems, though (is what I’ll also say).

On night one, I found myself at Bar Cecil (which is right next to Market Market). Bar Cecil has become one of Palm Spring’s hottest (only figuratively) restaurants in town, run by the same culinary minds who led food programs at Holiday House and Sparrow Lodge. That makes sense, given I had to make a reservation at midnight one month in advance.

The Red Thai Curry Mussels, Steaks + Frites, and Bibb Lettuce Salad are a flavorful must. If you have room for dessert, you have to get the Chocolate Chip Cookies (which are warm and gooey) and the bright Local Lemon Tart. Oh, and the service was im-pecc-able (h/t Anthony).

On day two, I knew I wanted something to match my spa energy, which was perfect because Azure Palm’s Café had everything I needed and then some.

As a picky, “does this have sugar?” LA-ite, I find it can be difficult to find food that I both enjoy eating, want to eat, and will digest easily. The Café menu at Azure Palm had me gooped and gagged with the quality and level of wellness-manship involved in this seemingly modest space.

I got the Azure House Salad with salmon and avocado added (you know, for healthy fats), and was jazzed to see that the salmon was wild-caught and the dressing was made with pure, clean ingredients (no sneaky seed oils to be found). I knew they had my heart when they told me they tried making their own coconut milk from scratch, but just didn’t have the storage space.

Does Workshop Kitchen + Bar feel like you’re entering a modern capsule that only the future could have created? Yes. (Credit: Time Out)

With two chef’s kiss meals down, the stakes for my second night’s dinner was seemingly high. I had booked a rezzie at Workshop Kitchen + Bar  based mostly on the photos of the restaurant alone. The menu at first glance didn’t really do it for me, but the location was optimal in relation to Casa Cody, and the reviews were promising.

For all of the people out there, who have already looked at the menu and said “No, thank you,” I beg you to reconsider.

I followed the waiter’s lead and got the off-the-menu Housemade Bread + Truffle Butter, the Farmers Market Lettuces, the Oyster Mushrooms, and the Diver Scallops. The food was beyond. Everything was masterfully made with multifaceted flavor that had me inhaling and savoring my food at the same time. My meal felt like it could have only been crafted by experts, and I left feeling like I had truly fulfilled my trip and my appetite (and yes, of course I got the seasonal special, marshmallow ice cream!).

My go-to puffer for anytime the weather drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (Credit: Italic)

What I Packed

My new motto for travel in my 30s is “I DESERVE TO BE COMFORTABLE!” That typically means that—even for a 36-hour trip—I’m bringing a large suitcase so as to include my special neck pillow and all of my hygiene routine accouterments. You might think I’m crazy, but I swear there’s wisdom involved.

Here are some of the things I packed to accommodate winter desert weather and maximum comfort. Don’t forget wellness!

Italic Adeline Hooded Down Puffer Jacket I swear by this puffer. I’ve now made it through a New York winter trip, an LA tundra, and a desert jaunt with this cropped, cute AF down jacket that is made like a Mackage jacket, from the same manufacturer as a Mackage jacket, without costing like a Mackage jacket.

Monrow Soft Knit Waffle Sweat Set The two-hour drive from LA is certainly not that bad, but it doesn’t mean that things don’t get a bit uncomfortable when you’re sitting for that long. For this reason, I consistently rely on the Monrow Crew Neck Sweatshirt and Oversized Sweats when I’m traveling by car, plane, train, boat, you name it. I can look put together while seated in motion, right?

Facile Targeted Skin Serums I’ve been a Facile Fangirly for a while now (I literally use their entire line), but I cannot, cannot, cannot leave home without their four legendary serums. “Four serums in two days? Are you insane?” No, and let me tell you why. In the AM, I use the Clear + Brighten, and then lean on Brighten + Calm in the evening, switching off with Reverse every other night. Given that I wanted some renewal (aka retinol help) while I was away, I needed the whole kit and kaboodle.

Cotidié Scallop Sleep Set I’ve raved about this Sleep Set before. Wearing adult pajamas has made me feel more like an adult, who can dream better (about my life and during deep REM). This set is light, airy, and outrageously comfortable, where I feel luxurious even if I’m just wearing them to lounge around.

Perfame Elixir No. 55 Finding a new scent, let alone a scent you feel aligns with your own personal “brand,” can be a challenge. Perfame has changed my fragrance game with affordable, high-quality perfume inspired by famous scents we all know and love. Elixir No. 55 reminds me of Coco Mademoiselle, and I’m addicted.

Broc Shot Original Knowing that I was going to be eating outside of my usual comfort zone and on a different schedule than usual, staying consistent with my supplement routine was of the utmost importance. Broc Shot has been my everyday antioxidant dose that keeps me regular and shining bright no matter where I am. Read more about my full experience here.

Peepers Out of Office Sunglasses I’ve been obsessed with Peepers for a while now. They’re essentially unbreakable and have polarized lenses and UV 400 protection blocks so your eyes don’t get f***ed up when you’re basically glaring into the sun. Considering I was headed to the desert with very little sun protection, I knew these were a must-have.

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