Just returned from an overnight stay at El Morocco Inn & Spa. A perfect getaway, an oasis, a jewel in the desert, a paradise. Exotic, magical, and romantic described our experience from staying here.
Nestled in the foothills of Desert Hot Springs (DHS), the city is located within the Coachella Valley in Riverside County: 12 miles to Palm Springs, 112 miles southeast of Los Angeles, 140 miles northeast of San Diego. It has the finest natural hot mineral water aquifers, which made this place a premiere tourist destination since the 1950. A true spa experience, tranquility of the natural desert environment and therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters are the reasons visitors frequent the spa zone of DHS.
So close, yet so far away. Tucked away in an unexpected residential neighborhood, El Morocco Inn & Spa looked unimpressive from the outside. Once inside, it magically transported us to a different world, a far away, exotic country in North Africa, called Morocco. Small and intimate, this boutique-type hotel is a Moroccan-theme inspired luxury inn; adorned, decorated with authentic decor and furnishings the Owners had shopped for during their multiple travels to Marrakesh.
The Inn has 12 guest rooms referred to as “chambres” each one uniquely designed, and assigned an exotic name like Arabian Alcove, Berber’s Boudoir, Sultan’s Playpen, Pasha’s Paradise, Sheik’s Retreat, and so on. Moroccan sofas or chaises (some are built-in), ornate lamps, framed artwork featuring different parts of Morocco, canopied bed, brightly painted tables…all add to the ambience and authenticity of the room. You’ll think you’ve checked into one of the Riads in Fez, Casablanca or Marrakech (popular cities of Morocco).
Feast your eyes on so many visual delights at this hotel. In keeping with its theme, special touches and attention to details are evident everywhere you look; no space or corner are left void.
The focal point of the property is the courtyard with a swimming pool filled with mineral-rich spring water with temperature around 85 degrees. Plenty of lounge chairs to relax, bask on the sun, daydream, etc.
The hotel does not allow guests less than 18 years old, making this place perfect choice for special occasion such as honeymoon, anniversary or a romantic getaway.
Other option for your pleasure (whatever it may be) are two comfortable, decorated day beds. One placed under a shade, the other exposed to sun. Read, take an afternoon nap or check your emails. Yes, there is wi-fi and it’s free.
For warmth and comfort on cooler nights, the lit gas fireplace and fire pit provide inviting ambience for guests to gather, meet and make new acquaintances.
Or find a private corner and have a romantic evening as you watch the flickering flame.
Besides the pool, there is also a covered spa set to 103 degrees temp. that seats up to twenty people. The night we were there, our group (nine of us) practically had the entire property to ourselves. The only other guests were the couple from Toronto, whom we befriended so they won’t complain about our noise. I even invited them to join us for dinner (typical Filipino hospitality).
The spa felt a bit hot when you 1st go in, but after few minutes was OK.
Guests are free to use the spa late into the night. The management only request is to keep the noise level low in consideration of other guests. After dinner we soaked in the spa to soothe and relax our sore muscles. A prelude to a restful sleep, or so we thought. The hotel is old and has no central AC. The window AC unit makes a lot of noise every time it turned on. Hey, I never said the place is perfect besides we all did manage to get some sleep after all.
FYI, the place offer massage and other spa treatments.
The hotel offer so many amenities and extras. Snacks and beverages are available all day long. French-pressed coffee, chilled water, lemonade and soda. Dates, dried apricots, and fresh fruits for snacks..
Breakfast is included in our room rate. Its healthy, hearty and ‘all you can eat”. There’s bagel, cream cheese avocado, boiled egg, yogurt, cereals, fresh fruits, orange juice and apple juice, French-pressed coffee.
The place thought of everything. A library full of DVD’s, games, books kept us busy and entertained. A lounge with a big TV that plays continuously the movie “Casablanca”. A soft piped-in background music constantly playing, genre in keeping with the theme, of course, but not obtrusive and just right for the mood.
If you’d rather play games, you have many to choose from. If you want to read and learn about Morocco, they have them at the library or in your room.
A time-honored tradition in Morocco is eating with their bare hands, so they do a “hand-washing ceremony” before eating. They use a kettle filled with water scented with either, rose or orange. It was fun to experience such tradition, and our hands not only came out cleaned but smelled really good.
The happy hour which was from 5:00 – 6:00pm was so enjoyable. They served their specialty drink, “Morocco-tini“….sooo good we asked for refills again and again! Florence happily obliged to share the ingredients: orange juice, cranberry, dry vermouth and sake.
El Morocco Inn & Spa has no restaurant on site. The choice for dining outside is very limited (most will deliver to the hotel) to mostly fast-food, pizza, Mexican, a Thai place and a Chinese restaurant. We ate lunch at the Chinese place before we checked in. The restaurant is very close to the hotel, and their food is delicious and reasonably priced. If you prefer fine dining, then take a 20 min drive to downtown Palm Springs. We did not want to waste time going out to dinner, so I brought food. The kitchenette, in one of our rooms, made it easy to prepare and assemble our dinner. Our meal consisted of shrimp & watermelon salad with lime vinaigrette for appetizer and Mexican carnitas bowl for main course. I pre-cut everything, and just needed to warm up the rice & carnitas.
But wait, there’s more to tell about this place. Two years ago, they added and designed a beautiful garden to be part of the hotel. The garden provides more space for guests to spread out, more seating, a private nook. There are two hammocks that will sway & lull you to sleep. Or play a game of “boce” (not sure if correct name) or be challenged playing a game of chess using giant pieces. If you are so inclined, the big tent set up on the middle of the garden is for yoga, exercise or meditation. The big, tall trees give much-needed shade outdoor, and with a gentle breeze, a cool respite from the hot weather. Not sure though at triple digit temps, esp. in summertime, if the garden would be comfortable enough.
The morning of our departure I met Bruce, one of the Owners, who was so friendly and a proud owner of this unique place. We had a long chat, his travels to Morocco and how his whole family helped in creating the ambience of the hotel. He told me why peacock feathers are commonly found and used in Morocco. Two giant vases filled with peacock feathers sitting on both sides welcome guest upon entering the inside of the property. Supposedly, when guests walked/brushed thru the feathers it removes dust from their hair & clothing. He also pointed the two massive old doors that adorned the DVD library and shared how he acquired them. He had to sit, chat and drink mint tea with the owner for over three hours to convince him to sell. He declared it was worth it!
All things good or bad must come to end. Surely, we had a wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable time we lingered for as long as we can. Check out time is at noon, we checked out at exactly 12:00pm.
El Morocco Inn & Spa is a hidden gem, jewel in the desert.