Review: Welcome to the Azure, The Only California Hotel With In-Room Hot Springs Tubs
Palm Springs has a lot of resorts and spas. But only one of them has these.
One of the best things a hotel can do is introduce guests to something they’ve never experienced before. On that front, Azure Palm Hot Springs’s in-room hot springs tubs are pretty astonishing. Plenty of Californians have taken a dip in a wild hot spring at some point — but even they’ve probably never encountered the luxe, completely private, custom-built tubs that Azure offers in their Spa Suites.
Having opened this spring following some COVID-related delays, this remote hotel was worth the wait. While there are other hot springs-centric and mineral water-focused resorts in the area, Azure’s desire to separate itself from the pack succeeds on a number of levels. Though the private tubs in the Spa Suite are ingenious, the property also boasts a massive main pool; two additional, outdoor hot springs tubs; two indoor hot springs tubs; a sauna; a yoga area; and a Himalayan salt room. If a wellness weekend is what you’re after, this is the perfect place to be.
Azure isn’t right near downtown Palm Springs like 7 Springs, and it lacks the ultra high-end feel of Two Bunch Palms — but the property’s off-the-beaten-path location can add to its getaway vibe. Just fifteen minutes from the heart of Palm Springs, Azure feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere in the best way. As the hotel takes its place alongside the classic hot springs resorts of California’s most beloved spa city, here’s a rundown of what they’re doing best — and the kind of unexpected amenities you can only get here.
Do yourself a favor and book one of the Spa Suites.
Listen: Just go ahead and book the suite with an in-room spa tub. There are other options without this amenity, but if you’re coming to Azure, these custom concrete spas are the main draw. If you’re traveling with friends, the Spa Suites with both a king and queen bed are a breath of fresh air (particularly in an industry that can seem always oriented around couples), and there’s also a standard option with a single king bed.
Along with a lot of space, some occasional views of nearby Mt. San Jacinto (depending on the room and the often hazy weather), and the massive soaking tub, these suites also offer guests complimentary access to the property’s Himalayan salt room — which they note is the only one in the Coachella Valley. Another unique offering for a hotel, the salt room is accessible 24 hours for Spa Suite guests — as are the public hot springs pools. One option for locals — or those who are just passing through — is a half-day room rental, with add-on spa services like massages or facials.
Get ready for a next-level hot-spring experience.
This hot springs water isn’t smelly, boiling or gritty — even though it’s laced with plenty of sulfur.
If you’ve taken a balmy dip in wild hot springs before, odds are you remember the smell. When it comes to plenty of naturally occuring hot springs, there’s just no separating the sulfur-rich water from the rotten-egg smell that comes along with it. And given the prevalence of the phrase “naturally occurring” here, there are a handful of hot springs I’ve visited that come a little too heavy on the natural side, with grit, sand, mud, or other elements intruding on the experience.
There’s no fear of this at Azure, where every pool is carefully appointed, including the gigantic one: a 100 foot-by-40 foot main pool that’s also filled with slightly cooler mineral water. It’s big enough to swim laps if your wellness-weekend mantra requires some cardio, but peaceful enough to take a break from the hotter, smaller tubs when you need to cool down. Plus, these pools never close, so come down any time of day or night to get your soak on. Azure’s water emerges from the ground at 174 degrees and is then cooled for the various pools on property to between 85 and 104 degrees.
Go super-healthy … or get the whiskey and rolls.
An on-site cafe focused on health foods is available most days, and it’s the kind of spot that’s truly excellent for a wellness-focused trip: The menu is nutritious yet hearty, with plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. That said, Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey is just down the road, too. If you want a little bit more decadence, why not try one of the most popular sushi restaurants in all of Greater Palm Springs?
Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey is known for chef Engin Onural’s many accolades — he’s among the top 30 sushi chefs in the world following his qualification for Japan’s World Sushi Cup. Since 2018, this hot spot has been serving up insanely good rolls, a finely curated list of Japanese whiskey, and a highly refined mash-up of Scandinavian and Japanese design. Get the namesake Sandfish roll covered in fried potato threads and never look back — oh, and if you do want to stick to more of a detox theme, go for their expertly balanced, Seedlip-based mocktails instead of whiskey.
Did you catch that there’s a Himalayan salt room on property?
In the times before COVID, one of my most cherished rituals was visiting Olympic Spa once a quarter to get some much-need soaking, sweating, and scrubbing. The main reason I went there? The Himalayan salt room. Yes, hot springs and all manners of heated water are a balm for the soul, but there’s nothing like sweating out in the Himalayan salt room. Yes, saunas can be equally wonderful — and Azure has one on property, too — but the calming, quiet heat of the salt, the aura of its pink peacefulness, and the comfy woven mats are another one-of-a-kind experience. It’s a meditation, a spa treatment, and a cleanse, all rolled into one. Bring a book if you have trouble focusing, or head down in the middle of the night to get the hot little pink cave all to yourself — the room is open 24/7 for Spa Suite guests. And if you end up wanting a scrub down, there are scrubs and body wraps and polishes on the spa service menu.
Azure Palm is not a luxury hotel, but it is luxurious.
In the more affordable range of spas in the area, Azure offers the kind of services and amenities that feel luxurious without the pressure of a chi-chi or pretentious environment. In fact, finishing touches like lacquered cement floors in the Spa Suites — to help cope with frequently wet occupants — are designed to be functional and welcoming more than anything else. But if you are in want of something truly elegant and refined while out in the desert, check out frequent local art exhibits like Modernism Week, a recent show that opened up iconic homes designed by local legends like Raymond Kappe and Sean Lockyer to the public for touring. These multi-million dollar homes are a dream to visit, and spending time admiring desert architecture can be a nice break from developing prune-y skin at the spa. But what’s the first thing you’ll notice when stepping inside these elegant homes? The concrete floor. Maybe Azure is on that luxury level, after all.
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