Review: The New Palm Springs Hotel That Actually Feels Like an Escape

Dive Palm Springs gets the tranquil getaway vibe other desert hotels skip on

December 5, 2019 9:27 am
Dive Palm Springs desert getaway

People generally go to Palm Springs for two reasons: to party, or to completely unplug and relax. Unfortunately, those two priorities can often conflict, or come and go in waves. Finding a balance between both can be quite a challenge. Staying at the larger, popular hotels with massive pools and party scenes is great when I’m in that mode, but a little overwhelming when I want to move into a more relaxation-focused phase of the trip. I’ve stayed at the sprawling, technicolor Saguaro (affordable) and the Ace Hotel & Swim Club (luxurious), and despite their charms, they’re both heavy on the party and light on the “tranquil getaway” vibe. 

While the Ace offers plenty of Instagrammable moments, it’s such a familiar spot by now that it barely registers as exciting, aesthetically, and the Saguaro is big enough that it can feel very “spring break” on busy weekends. Still, renting an Airbnb out in the middle of nowhere usually feels a little bit too isolating, and nobody wants to drive or Uber from what amounts to the suburbs of the desert to get to the pool party when they’re on vacation. And a house rental never has quite the same feel as a hotel: the continental breakfasts, the hospitality, the other human beings around to look after you or answer questions and give suggestions.

Spotting this hole in the market, the Dive Palm Springs slid into place over this past summer. A boutique hotel with only 11 rooms, it registers more as your independently wealthy friend’s summer home than a hotel — but the centerpiece pool, wonderfully hospitable staff and ‘60s French chic vibe bring it all back home. Below is a point-by-point rundown of my recent stay the newly opened property.

The centerpiece of the hotel is the pool — and it’s open 24 hours a day.

My least favorite part about staying at a hotel instead of an Airbnb is being told when I can and cannot submerge my body in water. I’m an adult, I can make decisions for myself. I’m confident enough to bring my phone and a glass of wine into the pool with me. I’m capable of handling both. And I should be able to take a night swim or an early morning dip, or splash around whenever I damn well please. Dive is very onboard with that perspective: guests — and only guests — have access to their pool 24/7, and it is the highlight of the property. Oh, and did I mention this hotel is adults only? There are no children splashing in this vintage, heated Libott Pool, lined with thousands of tiny blue tiles that are cool on your feet even in the hot water. Swimming under the stars in the desert at night is about as close to bliss as I’m going to get this year.

No kids allowed at Dive Palm Springs. Thank God.

The hotel is mostly made up of casual common areas, creating a communal feel.

The buildings of the hotel are laid out in a sort of L shape, enclosing the private outdoor area where guests can spend most of their time. Between the pool, a koi pond, a still in-progress bar area (the rooms are stocked with booze so you can help yourself depending on your mood), a tucked-away, grassy nook with a bocce ball court and two fountains, a hot tub and sun beds near the pool, and lots of seating and lounging both indoors and outdoors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Indoors, lots of wicker furniture and a backgammon game help tie into the space’s French Riviera feel. The layout also encourages guests to talk and mingle if they wish, and allows plenty of room for solitary sunbathing if you’re feeling introverted. Oh, and if you’re ever craving that raucous party environment, the Ace and the Saguaro are both just a few blocks away — you can go partake, and then return to the peacefulness of the Dive. Or maybe even end the evening with a night swim.

The rooms are sanctuaries.

Instead of treating the room as an afterthought, or cramming them full of furniture, like some smaller hotels tend to do, the rooms are the most beautiful part about the Dive (yes, I’m putting them ahead of the pool even). Each room is custom painted a different color with original wall paintings above the bed, and come with completely renovated bathrooms, huge showers and boutique bathroom products. An enormous, circular mirror that functioned like the world’s biggest ring light set the mood while getting ready, and a private outdoor patio gives guests some outside space that’s just theirs. King Suites come with a corner daybed that that makes a cozy workspace, or the hotel can make up as a full bed if a visitor drops in for a night. All the rooms face the pool and are equipped with two nearly floor-length windows that bring in beautiful light.

’60s French chic in the desert.

Aesthetic and Instagramability are on point

Inspired by the vintage that over the desert, owners Abdi Manavi and Dale Fox were inspired by Saint Tropez and ‘60s French chic, combining the relaxed feel of an island with the elegance of Paris. The whole aesthetic of the hotel leans into a playful, feminine feeling that’s never heavy-handed, but absolutely looks great on Instagram. They’ve been mindful to give the property a timeless look, while incorporating modern touches like hanging chairs, colorfully painted daybeds, sturdy, wooden lounge chairs, and even lots of running water to block out traffic noise. Looks-wise, this might be the prettiest hotel I’ve ever stayed at, and that’s a major selling point in the Instagram era.

The human element is a major factor

It’s the rare hotel where the owners are on property, let alone the ones who greet arriving guests. When I checked in for my stay, it was with Abdi and Dale, who were able to give me the backstory of their purchase and renovation of the place, and share some of their ideas about accessible, genuine hospitality, the importance of aesthetic and space, and plans for the future as the hotel continues to grow. Abdi himself handles continental breakfast for all the hotel guests, lovingly arranging any combination of granola and yogurt, fruit, toast and eggs on a tray and bringing it to the table. Eventually, they plan to have a lunch cart that loops the pool every hour, offering sandwiches and salads a la carte, along with custom bottled cocktails, and other drinks. It’s these uniquely human touches that sum up the whole energy of the Dive, and encapsulate the personalities of the two men who are working to create a haven in the desert.

Overall verdict

Lately I’ve been avoiding the desert because I didn’t have a place to stay that I was really vibing with. I’m old enough now that the party scenes of the other two main hotels in my budget were slightly annoying, and though I love the desert, I didn’t find relaxing by the pool to be possible when the pool was the center of the party. The Dive is a perfect alternative for those who love the quality and style of the Ace, or the brightness of the Saguaro, just with a lot more intimacy and thoughtful touches.


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