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9 Quirky Desert Lodgings

9 Quirky Desert Lodgings

These offbeat California lodgings are “out there” in more ways than one

California deserts are anything but predictable, with sites as bizarre as they are beautiful. So it’s no surprise that these dramatic landscapes offer some weirdly wonderful places to bed down for the night.

You can go retro-cool in luxed-up Airstream trailers near Joshua Tree National Park, tuck into a teepee in the Mojave Desert, or stay in a TV mogul’s over-the-top casbah near Palm Springs. Here are some of the state’s most memorable desert lodgings.

Two Bunch Palms

1. Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa, Desert Hot Springs

While there’s a full fleet of mud baths, massages, clay wraps, and salt rubs at this spa resort, Two Bunch Palms—located on 77 palm-shaded acres near Palm Springs—is also known for its alternative therapies. Sign up for a shamanic healing session, take a “sound bath” with gongs and Tibetan singing bowls, or feel the beat with drum-circle therapy. Then head to the Grotto, where Desert Hot Springs’ famous mineral water rushes out of the ground at more than 150°F and flows into a massive rock-lined pool. The 70 elegantly appointed rooms and suites range from vintage-hip to ultra-chic, and include the Capone Suite, named after onetime patron Al Capone. (More: Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa)

2. Harmony Motel, Twentynine Palms

The Harmony Motel was made famous by the band U2, who stayed at the retro-cool spot while recording their iconic 1986 album The Joshua Tree. The lobby features U2 photos and memorabilia, while rooms offer colorfully painted walls, open-beam ceilings and some kitchenettes. Lounge by the pool or relax on your own private patio for memorable views south into Joshua Tree National Park. (More: Harmony Motel)

29 Palms Inn

3. 29 Palms Inn

Art and nature thrive at the family-owned 29 Palms Inn, a resort of thick-walled adobe bungalows and wood-frame cabins on 70 acres within Joshua Tree’s Oasis of Mara (two of the cabins date back to the 1920s). There’s no lodging closer to the 29 Palms Visitor Center, and no place that better captures the artistic essence of J-Tree. The relaxed grounds include a two-acre organic farm, a boho-style restaurant, an enclosed gazebo sheltering a hot tub, and a sprinkling of hammocks. Walk the property and you’ll discover hand-carved signs that deliver both practical and quixotic messages. (More: 29 Palms Inn)

Kate's Lazy Desert

4. Kate’s Lazy Desert, Landers

For a stroll down retro-chic memory lane, stay at this kitschy compound of tricked-out vintage Airstreams. Located about 15 miles from the town of Joshua Tree, Kate’s Lazy Desert is owned by B-52s lead singer Kate Pierson and her partner Monica Coleman. Sleep in the artistic equivalent of a tubular lava lamp in “Hot Lava,” or get your groove on while sipping cocktails in the mid-century-inspired “Tiki.” Each trailer sleeps two and has its own bathroom and small kitchenette, plus A/C for summer and heat for winter. While you’re in Landers, check out the Integratron, a giant white dome that offers a healing “sound bath”— one of the trippiest experiences you'll ever have. (More: Kate’s Lazy Desert)

5. Merv Griffin Estate, La Quinta

Got an extra $24K? Or maybe a dozen or so friends who want to split the tab? Book a three-night stay (the minimum) at this Moroccan-themed estate, where the legendary entertainer and creator of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune lived large. The 5,400-square-foot Merv Griffin Estate features 13 palatial bedrooms spread out among the main house, guesthouses, and pod-like guest casitas. Play bocce ball, check out the 16-stall horse barn, or just sip cocktails next to the massive infinity pool. The compound sits on 39 acres, so there’s room to stroll around, or even go for a paddleboat cruise on Lake Merveilleux (“Lake Marvelous”), the 2.5-acre lagoon.