What we found so genuinely charming about the Hacienda Springs Inn, in Desert Hot Springs, CA, was its embrace of the simple pleasures in life. The accommodations weren’t overtly luxurious in the conventional sense—cozy, clean rooms, mini kitchens stocked with plates and mugs in place of mini bars, and homemade toiletries in the bathroom.  But places like these (true gems, to be sure) can’t be bothered with Jacuzzi tubs and brand name furnishings—it’s just these kinds of superficial distractions that most of their guests are coming to escape.

The Hacienda Springs has better things to focus on: slowing down time, easing into shimmering natural springs, breathing in the desert purified air, and gazing dreamily at the impossibly blue sky.  Here you will find yourself telling time by what you’re sipping: luscious coffee, then vibrant lemonade, then succulent wine, and wondering if you’ll even have the motivation to venture outside of its lovely gardens.

Of course, eventually, when you’ve thoroughly cleansed yourself of all that urban stress, a few excursions are highly recommended. Nearby, the enormously expansive Joshua Tree National Park is like nothing you’ve ever seen. You might actually have to make 2 visits in order to adequately take in the strange, alien beauty of its cactus “forests” and wildly compelling rock formations.  The town that gets all the attention, Palm Springs, is only a 30 minute drive, and will gladly give you your nightlife fix.

In the mornings, guests gather at the long, common table under a shaded roof, for the aforementioned coffee, along with a glorious array of fresh fruits and yogurt, accompanied by homemade granola.  As the Hacienda style goes, you’re encouraged to do your own thing—be it chat about the upcoming day’s adventures with other guests, or retire poolside for a quietly thoughtful breakfast.  Should you strike up a conversation with the gregarious hotel manager, Karl, you’ll find a warm and accommodating host with a fabulous sense of humor! He’s also a wealth of knowledge about the local area, so our advice is don’t be shy.

Let Karl tell you all about the natural springs.  We’ll try, but really, there’s something magical about being immersed in warm, silky, magma heated water, while someone meanwhile regales you with the geographical wonder that makes it all possible.  Suffice it to say, Hacienda Hot Springs has a flurry of natural fountains bubbling up into both natural streams and man made pools. The two man made pools are both actually cooled from their scalding temperature to more serene levels – one a hot Jacuzzi and the other a lovely, temperate swimming pool.

As the desert sun fades out to reveal an ink black sky arrayed with glittering stars, you will sink into the natural Jacuzzi, a glass of wine within arm’s reach, and wonder at how little happiness actually requires.

– Ava Fedorov

Photographs by Jeff Owens and Ava Fedorov for Socially Superlative