Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Lautner Compound

Where do I start?  We stayed in a museum, in a piece of architectural history.  John Lautner studied under Lloyd Wright and was directly involved in the building of some of the Taliesin West buildings.  (Also, you know his chemosphere house, right?) So we toured Taliesin, immersed ourselves in Lloyd Wright's architecture, and then stayed in a place directly influenced by it.


So this place is now called Hotel Lautner and here's a bit of its history, pulled from the wikipeeds:

Originally designed in 1947 as a planned community of over 100 buildings, storefronts and pools on 600 acres at Desert Hot Springs in the Coachella Valley, near Palm Springs, California. Lautner's client was the famous movie director Lucien Hubbard, the winner of the very first "Best Picture" Oscar for the silent movie "Wings". After building the first four-unit prototype and pool the project came to a halt and it was subsequently used for Hubbard's stars and starlets as a getaway from Los Angeles; it gradually fell into disuse and sat vacant for almost 20 yrs. After Hubbard's death in 1972 the 600 acres were subdivided and sold off; the pool property burnt down and was bought by the neighboring golf course to be rebuilt in a different design as their club house. The prototype units were purchased by a buyer from San Diego but they sat empty for another nine years until an interior designer renovated them and put in kitchens and baths, although at some point the kitchens and baths were destroyed and removed. This owner kept the property for almost twenty years until the year 2000, renting out the rooms as apartments. It was then sold to Steve Lowe, who briefly ran it as the Lautner Motel. After Lowe died in 2005 the property went through the courts as was finally put back on the market in late 2006, when designers Ryan Trowbridge and Tracy Beckmann purchased it in 2007 for less than $400,000. The couple spent the next three-and-a-half years renovating and restoring the property. Their efforts won the approval of the Lautner Foundation, who sanctioned its renaming as the Hotel Lautner, in honor of its designer. The hotel re-opened for business in September 2011.

Here's a shot looking toward the fire pit at night:


You can see lots more photos of the place on the Hotel Lautner website, but some of my favorites are below.

Caveats:  It is NOT in Palm Springs proper, but in Desert Palm Springs--a nothing "town" about 30 minutes outside of PS.  It is a not a hotel in the usual sense of the word, but more like four apartments sharing a small hot-tub-sized pool (which is NOT a hot tub, nosirree), BBQ grill, and fire pit.  Each apartment has its own kitchenette, cactus garden (with cool night-lighting), and private terrace.  The place is old, so not everything works reliably.  Our cactus-lighting was on the fritz and the fire pit could not be counted on.  (Which sucks when you're all circled around it, comfy with cocktails.)  These were pretty big bummers, and the owners were in contact and came over to replace gas tanks and run extension cords and stuff like that, but it became a hassle to keep contacting them and waiting for their arrival.  Still, waking up in a place like this was pretty special.  In a what-am-I-doing-wrong-that-I-don't-actually-LIVE-in-a-place-like-this? kind of way, but also in an appreciative, nice-to-stay-here-even-if-only-for-a-few-nights way.  And I didn't spill any red wine on any vintage anything, so this proves that I might be just about mature enough to have a nice joint like this IRL.

The mini soaking pool.

Our apartment, the "Bachelor Pad."

Cards Against Humanity was in full effect.

LOVE the light fixture above the bed.

All rooms are equipped with record players, so we had fun spinning while sipping.  Our television was hidden behind the painting at left, something I'd love to do in my real place.  But I guess we'd need an actual TV first.

Here a goofy-faced B shows off the Bachelor Pad, with a view of our private terrace.

I forgot to add that we had the run of the place, with all four rooms rented, and that was pretty sweet.  I can't imagine sharing the fire pit or pool with randoms, though I'm sure it's fine.  Still, if you stay here, line up some friends and take the whole place.  It's really the best way to go.