I originally fell in love with Korakia Pensione much like I do with many destinations these days — via my Instagram feed. For several months following, I began daydreaming about this intimate, white-washed hotel that I initially assumed to be halfway across the world — somewhere in Marrakech or Tangier perhaps.
When I discovered that it was in fact located a short 2-hour drive from Los Angeles in Palm Springs, I instantly started scheming how to make this Moroccan oasis mine if only for a weekend. Luckily, it wasn’t that hard to convince my two girlfriends to come with me for a Labor Day weekend getaway.
But things didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned..
To be fair, I can’t blame it all on Korakia. It was a string of unfortunate circumstances that sometimes seem to happen all too often when traveling. First, my friend Lauren got into a minor car wreck on her way to the airport the same night we were supposed to arrive in Palm Springs. She was able to make it to her flight unscathed, but was greeted with a several hour delay into LAX. By the time we picked her up at the airport and drove out to Palm Springs (with a food stop along the way, of course), we were rolling into Korakia at about 1 AM and the hotel staff was long gone by then.
The friendly security guard showed us to our room, but when we pointed out that there was nowhere for the third person to sleep, he kindly motioned to a small vintage daybed that was about as comfortable looking as patio furniture. Great for falling asleep by the pool…not so great for a real night’s rest.
The only viable option was to sleep like sardines sandwiched into one double bed, which reminded me of Bruce Weber’s famous shot of Lara Stone, Kate Moss and Daria Werbowy in one such situation–albeit a much sexier one. But as much as we were able to laugh it off, the couples theme pretty much permeated throughout the rest of the weekend: twin robes hanging in the closet, tables set for 2 in the hotel’s courtyard, impossibly chic couples venturing around the property at every turn (a few of whom gave our trio some curious glances).
But I don’t want to talk about why you shouldn’t go here, because here’s the thing: you should.
It’s More Morocco Than Palm Springs
Built back in 1924, Korakia was originally an escape for painter Gordon Coutts. It was inspired by his earlier life spent in Tangier, hence the iconic keyhole-shaped grand entryway and other architectural details resembling a Moroccan-meets-Mediterranean oasis. If you’re a design nerd like I am, you’ll go gaga over all of the gorgeous details like the fountain out front, perfectly white-washed archways and seating areas featuring vintage furniture and cozy floor cushions. Swoon.
However, Palm Springs is known for its sun-soaked pool parties with cocktails flowing, and you won’t find this vibe at Korakia. This villa is calm and quiet as can be and is a great escape from the bigger party spots like the Saguaro or Ace Hotel.
Character and Charm Trumps 24-Hour Room Service
What’s your hotel style? I much prefer a unique property with character and charm (perhaps at the expense of a few amenities) over a chain hotel serving hundreds of guests per night. But if your idea of a stellar accommodation is one that will deliver french fries to your doorstep at 3 AM each night, then this may not be the place for you.
Couples Will Do Best Here
Let’s be clear on this one. Staying here with three people is not impossible, but it’s definitely not recommended. No one wants to spend $30 extra a night to sleep on a mediocre cot especially when on vacation, so I highly recommend booking only for 2 people per suite. If you’re a couple, perfect. You’ll swoon over the outdoor fire pit, comfy daybeds to snuggle up on, romantic string lights at night and the gorgeous stone bathtubs featured in many of the rooms.
The rooms here don’t have TVs and telephones for a reason — it’s meant to be a place where you can completely unplug from the trappings of a technology-saturated life. OK, don’t freak out–yes, there is wifi. But everything about Korakia feels reminiscent of a bygone era, from the lack of technology, record players and vintage books in each room, down to the classic films screened by projector each night. We spent three days straight listening to Bob Dylan on vinyl, and I don’t regret one second of it.
Perfect for the Health-Conscious
Health nuts will love the villa’s weekend sunrise yoga sessions, free unlimited bike rentals and home-cooked complimentary breakfast in the courtyard. Plus, many rooms have a kitchen or kitchenette so that you can stock up on healthy snacks or cook your own meals at will.
No Children Allowed
Think your kid won’t mind the daybed? Think again. Korakia doesn’t allow children under 13 to stay at the property, so if you can’t leave the kids at home you’ll have to stay elsewhere.
Final Note: Overall, once we were able to straighten out the kinks from our first night, we loved Korakia and their staff is some of the kindest I’ve come across. They brought us a cot the next morning and felt so bad for misleading us about the room’s max occupancy that they only charged us for 1 night instead of three. Amazing customer service, and you bet I’ll be back to check out one of their other 27 rooms and suites. PS. We stayed in the Bedouin Suite).
Have you stayed at Korakia Pensione? Let me know how your experience was in the comments!