Moroccan Martinis and Historic Pueblos in Desert Hot Springs

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Desert Hot Springs is a desert oasis. Set atop ancient hot and cold aquifers, the town is known for abundant resorts and mineral spas, world-class drinking water, secret celebrity visitors, and a few other hidden gems.

I began a recent getaway to Desert Hot Springs by checking into the El Morocco Inn and Spa, an enchanting boutique hotel with an alluring, Arabian theme. Set against a backdrop of Joshua trees and jagged mountain ranges, the inn offers 12 unique guestrooms, full-service spa, pool and Jacuzzi, lush gardens, a Sultan’s tent, gourmet breakfast room, poolside bar, and lots of colorful Moroccan-styled architecture – all tucked into an unassuming residential neighborhood in the middle of the Palm Springs Desert.

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El Morocco Inn and Spa is an enchanting and exotic boutique hotel 

The fun started when a friend and I checked room 103, dubbed “The Arabian Alcove.” True to its name, this enchanting den features an alcove living room complete with a curved sofa, bistro style dining setup and a Moroccan Martini Bar with microwave and mini-fridge. The bedroom, separated from the living room by a beaded Moroccan archway, features a cloud-like, four-post king bed, draped with a romantic canopy net.

And like all guestrooms, The Arabian Alcove is only a few steps  from the property’s natural, hot mineral water swimming pool and Jacuzzi spa. The water comes from ancient hot and cold aquifers that the city of Desert Hot Springs sits atop. For thousands of years, Native Americans in the region used the waters for survival.

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Guest rooms boast a fun Arabian Theme 

Today, the city’s cold water is rated among the world’s best for drinking, and its hot mineral water has propelled the town into a spa resort haven attracting celebrities and visitors from around the country – and world.

Once nestled into our room,  we explored the city and found another desert jewel: Cabot’s Pueblo Museum (, a 75-yr-old, hand-built,  hideaway with 35 rooms,150 windows and 65 doors. Set in Desert Hot Springs’ scenic hills , the design of the pueblo looks like an old-west movie set, and was inspired by the Hopi Indians.

The builder behind the rustic mansion was Cabot Yerxa, a renaissance man, who began building it in 1941 at age 57, and who helped found Desert Hot Springs. It began in 1913, when Cabot homesteaded 160 acres of dry, unforgiving land, where few English-speaking people lived. According to articles Cabot wrote for a local paper, he would walk 14 miles to get water from a trickling clay bank at a place called Two Bunch.

pic 4Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is a hand-built masterpiece built in the desert 

At one hillside location he found remnants of Native Americans and decided if they could survive there, so could he. So he dug two wells and discovered hot and cold mineral waters deep below his property. With water available, he built his 5,000-sq-ft, Southwest Indian pueblo-styled mansion and put it together with anything he could find laying around the desert, including abandoned cabin pieces, used tires, tin cans, old telephone poles, buck board wagon, and more.

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The museum features many Native American artifacts and sculptures 

Back at El Morocco Inn and Spa, we enjoyed a “Morocco-tini” at the hotel’s nightly happy hour, hosted by hotel owner Bruce Abney. Held at the hip, poolside bar, the event is a chance to meet fellow guests and talk with Abney, who designed the inn after visits to the North African country.

“I wanted to create something totally different for folks,” says Abney. “It needed to be an experience rather than just an overnight stay.”

After traditional Moroccan hand-washing and a couple potent Morocco-tini’s, I relaxed on a sofa in the hotel’s “Casablanca Room,” where a TV plays an endless loop of the classic Bogart film, which is set Morocco during WWII. In the morning I hit the inn’s daily complimentary continental breakfast buffet. Featuring an array of fresh juices, avocados, pastry, crème cheese, tomatoes, bagels, cereals, yogurts coffee and teas, the feast is a perfect way to start a Moroccan morning in Desert Hot Springs.

pic 6 (2)Moroccan hand-washing and Morocco-tini’s are highlights of a stay at the El Morocco Inn

The El Morocco Inn and Spa is located at 66810 4th Street, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240. For more information, call 888.288.9905 or

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