The best way to escape the last week or so of winter (and general responsibilities, for that matter) is by going off the grid with a desert vacation. Turn your phone off, grab your closest friends, bring your own booze, and have a weekend by the pool with no worries other than the threat of potential sunburn. It’s a recipe for a damn good time. (Especially with Coachella on the way.)
When it comes to finding the ultimate desert destination in the United States, California’s three desert towns of Palm Springs, Indio, and Joshua Tree are hard to beat. Fortunately, each dry and cacti-filled enclave comes complete with a slew of badass rental properties that are basically begging to be visited. And with Coachella coming, now is the time to pick which one best fits your crew.
Below, we’re sharing the coolest and sexiest rental properties in Palm Springs, Indio, and Joshua Tree. So grab your SPF and your sunglasses, and head to one of the vacation rentals.
PART I: JOSHUA TREE
EDITOR’S PICK — The Onyx House: Secluded Villa, Pool & Yoga Deck
I could wax poetic about the lines and angles of this midcentury desert oasis quite easily. In fact, it deserves that — especially because so many rentals these days try desperately to hit those midcentury-minimalist-Nordic design notes and miss. Or skimp on the wrong features. Everything looks awesome until you walk into a room and see a generic piece of artwork (this happens in even the best rentals and I totally get it — stylish shit is expensive!).
The Onyx House gets everything right. You walk into the place and immediately feel 20% cooler. Clearly, it was created by someone with good taste. But as great as the design and layout are, those aspects aren’t the property’s biggest perk. Here’s what hit me the hardest during a recent stay:
- Best Pool And Hot Tub Of Any Rental I’ve Ever Stayed In. This isn’t even up for debate. The pool gets up to 90 degrees (I didn’t figure this out until the morning I left, sadly) and the hot tub fits eight comfortably. Both are in-ground and incredibly sleek. Call me a weird hippy but I’ve never liked boiling in a big extruded plastic container. The inherent sexiness of a hot tub is killed by the human-soup-in-plastic vibe. By comparison, this tub and pool are both poured from concrete and feel clean and new. They’re also both saltwater — meaning your skin doesn’t get dry and your eyes don’t water from excessive chlorine. Oh, and they have lighting systems for your night hangs! And they’re incredibly photogenic, as evidenced by my wife:
- A Very Cool Gathering Space. The main living room of the Onyx house is actually separated from the bedrooms and kitchen by a hallway. There you’ll find a massive TV linked to all the streaming apps, a very comfy couch, and even barn doors to open the space up. Does it feature a bunch of cool art and rustic ceramics? You’d better believe it.
- A Yoga Platform. Every morning of my life, I wake up saying “I want to do breathwork! I want to do yoga!” But I almost never have time. I did both breathwork and yoga during my stay at the Onyx House because the space spoke to those sorts of pursuits but more importantly because I had room to practice them without distraction. The yoga platform is surrounded by desert and rocks and if you’re going to do some sun salutations I can’t think of a better place to do them than while watching the sun crest over the craggy hills.
- Nature All Around. The past few years have seen a land grab in “J-Tree” as LA folks with tons of style buy up properties on the cheap, remodel them, and give them cool names. But as much as everyone wants to lay claim to being an “oasis,” I’ve rarely seen a property that is truly built into the hills in this way. Whereas many trips to the desert include driving to trailheads, at the Onyx House we just walked straight up into the wilderness from the backyard. It was beautiful and made the home feel incredibly private.
- Big Hotel Energy. The Onyx House is not one of those “clean every dish, strip the beds, and mop the floors” type rentals that everyone (rightfully) hates. This property is refined and operates much more like a true hotel. Check-in was easy, check-out was easier, and the property was beautifully appointed. I didn’t feel like I was in someone’s bedroom — I felt like I was at a hotel. Except better because we were the only guests.
Break that price down for three couples: ~$300 per couple, per night for a private hideaway with the sexiest pool and hot tub for miles? It’s an absolute steal. – Steve Bramucci
Price Per Night: $1165
Seven Arches: Joshua Tree
If I would brag about anything in this life, it’s that my taste is on point. That can be hard when covering hotels or rentals because if something is cheesy, I’m gonna catch it. While staying at Seven Arches in 2022, I said, at least ten times: “There’s nothing I would change about this place.” From the plates to the kitchen layout to the hot tub to the sprawling grounds (dirt bike track! cornhole! horseshoes!), it was dialed and buttoned up.
Want to get more granular? I was just there so it’s very fresh in my mind:
- Best bedding I’ve ever had at a rental. Period. Soft pillows, high thread count sheets, wide beds — perfection.
- Art by RealFunWow. A very stylish artist who works in earth tones that match the property’s upscale-meets-desert vibe. (In fact, I found out about this spot when I saw the RealFunWow mural being painted on Instagram.)
- Tons of space. There are “pretty spacious” bnbs and then there are “desert spacious” properties — spots that sprawl in a way that leaves plenty of room for chilling, eating, being loud. This property boasts the latter.
- Insane degree of Instagram-ability. Be honest, we all want to tell the stories of our trips. This property was clearly designed with that in mind and by looking at IG tags, you can see how popular it’s been with influencers. Every corner begs to have a photo taken — just see my own pic below.
- Organic in the best way. Earth tones. Nothing feels fake. There are jars of water at the bedsides and the forks are wrought iron. If you’re into the mushroom scene, this spot is a dream — there’s no plastic and no flashing lights from excessive electronics. Even if you’re not, you’re sure to note that the amenities are built to last.
It doesn’t get much sexier than this. Or much more engaging. There’s so much to do and the house is so incredibly comfortable, don’t be surprised if you stay home all day before spending the evening alternating between the plunge pool and the hot tub. – Steve Bramucci
Price Per Night: $904
Five-Acre Japanese Zen Retreat
There’s no better place to find your zen than in a secluded desert hideaway — with the comfort of knowing downtown Joshua Tree is only minutes away. This rental property delivers an authentic Japanese experience in the desert with one-of-a-kind design pieces that are ethically sourced. The property includes a tatami room (or zen room) that’s meant to be used for gathering, reflecting, meditating, or having an intimate conversation. This combined with the two comfortable bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, private outdoor lounge area, and the record player and vinyl collection makes the property a serene desert escape.
Where else are you going to find a tatami room in Joshua Tree? If you’re in need of healing and rejuvenation, this is the place to do it. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $283
The Desert Sunrise
If you want a desert escape that’s not too far out from civilization, this house is an excellent option. It’s nearby Joshua Tree National Park, local art exhibits, farmers markets, and thrift stores. You can keep yourself entertained during the day and night with the backyard amenities, which include a fire pit, hot tub, and bocce ball.
If it gets too hot, you can head inside to the game room to play vintage arcade games and shuffleboard.
The property’s interior is designed to reflect the calming essence of the surrounding area. It features classic desert colors like beige, orange, and yellow, and unique artwork of the famous local Joshua Trees.
When you’re out in the desert with your friends, it’s nice to have a wide selection of games to keep you busy. Plus, the fire pit, hammocks, and hot tub make the backyard a great place to sit back under the stars, which you generally miss out on if you’re visiting from a big city. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $174
Villa Kuro — A Serene and Minimal Hideaway
One of the best parts of escaping to the desert is the opportunity to connect with nature. That’s what this property is all about. The minimalist yet modern hideaway focuses on “fusing natural simplicity with contemporary luxuries.” It’s exactly the kind of place one goes to rest and reflect. The property offers several outdoor living areas, including a covered patio with a fire pit, a saltwater hot tub, and a 600-square-foot rock and cactus garden courtyard.
Yep, we’ll take it.
Overall, this property is great for a romantic getaway with someone special. The unobstructed views of the desert hills and stars, the saltwater hot tub, and the general intimacy of the property make it a sexy desert escape. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $795
Five-Acre Joshua Tree Desert Homestead
This five-acre, eco-conscious property is coined as the “Togetherness House,” and for good reason. It’s ideal for a group of friends who want to connect with nature and with each other on a deeper level, while still maintaining the comfort of modern conveniences like WiFi and high-quality cleaning services. The property’s patio and outdoor lounge spaces deliver some of the best views in Joshua Tree, where mountainous landscapes and clear skies take center stage.
Great views with good people. That’s all you really need to enjoy this intimate desert retreat. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $186
This 1,200-square-foot ranch-style property sleeps up to six people and features brand new appliances and furniture throughout the house. The backyard comes complete with both a hot tub and a cold tub, so you can soak during the day and at night. There is tons of space to spread out in the backyard, where you’ll also find a deck, multiple hammocks, a variety of games, and several lounge areas.
The interior of the property combines rustic chic decor with pops of color, creating an inviting environment. In fact, the home was designed by one of Bravo TV’s Best Room Wins designers.
This ranch-inspired property is an affordable option that still offers great amenities and lots of space for groups. Plus, it’s only a few minutes from town, so you’ll have the option to explore the area outside of the rental. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $242
PART II: PALM SPRINGS
Spectacular Mid-Century Modern Pad
This mid-century masterpiece features three bedrooms and fits up to six guests, making it roomy and comfortable enough for your friend group to spread out. There’s also the full-sized private pool, cushioned lounge chairs, outdoor tables, and lounge area with a couch and pool table — making the backyard the perfect place to hang, both during the day and after the sun goes down.
Aside from the amenities, the property’s chic design sprinkled with pops of neon color is exactly the kind of young yet sophisticated environment you need for a weekend in the desert.
Pool, games, spacious living room, and kitchen…check! – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $679
Moroccan Vibes in a Mid-Century House
If you’re on the search for a massive backyard and an ultra-modern space, look no further than this newly refurbished mid-century property. The backyard features several lounge areas to kick back in, a saltwater pool and spa, and plenty of room for party games. The main living area inside the house includes porcelain flooring, a fireplace, and bar seating. It truly is the perfect place to celebrate a weekend with your friends away from home.
Plus, it’s close to downtown Palm Springs where shopping and dining options abound.
For a group of eight people in Palm Springs, this freshly upgraded rental property covers all the necessities for an epic desert vacation. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $799
Stylish Midcentury Home With Stunning Backyard
Made for a serene weekend away, this fully remodeled eco-friendly oasis fits up to four people in two bedrooms. Designed with original artwork, mosaic tiles, and a remodeled floorplan, it’s ideal for a low-key couples retreat or small group of friends in need of rejuvenation. The private property also features a large saltwater pool and in-ground spa, so you can soak in all the good energy the house has to offer.
If you feel like venturing out for an afternoon, the property is only a mile away from the bustling downtown area and only a few minutes away from several popular golf courses.
All-day ragers by the pool are great, but sometimes it’s nice to have something a little more tranquil to help you feel refreshed. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $345
PART III: INDIO
Yes, you can have desert vibes and lakeside living in one place. Located within a gated community, this two-story, four-bedroom home that fits up to 12 guests really is a lakefront dream. Picturesque mountains and desert sunset views surround the property, which are easy to see from the backyard patio or second-floor balcony. The backyard alone features an infinity pool and spa looking over the lake, an expansive patio with a built-in barbecue, an outdoor bar, seating areas, and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows at night.
The bottom line is that this classic lakefront property couldn’t be more perfect for a large group. Whether you’re hosting a bachelorette party, birthday celebration, or family vacation, this property offers more than enough space for your gathering. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $1,050
The Desert Tortoise
When you first walk up to this Indio home, you’ll notice that it’s the epitome of desert aesthetic — from the loose dirt and cacti to the stone tortoise statue guarding the front yard (hence, the rental’s name). However, the inside of the house reflects a more modern, sexy, chic design with sleek white counters and light-wash wooden and tile floors that create an open and airy space. The rental fits up to 10 people and all four bedrooms feature a king-sized bed and smart TVs.
The pool is what sets this property apart from others in the area. The private backyard includes beach-like access to the saltwater pool and an oversized spa. You’ll likely want to spend every minute of daylight wading in the water. It’s the ultimate play space for a large group gathering.
If you’re spending time in Indio, you’re going to need a good pool to cool off in. This backyard saltwater haven is exactly the remedy you’ll need. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $422
Modern Lux Home — Putting green, XL Pool, Games
Luxury, relaxation, and fun collide at this epic Indio rental property. It’s a little piece of paradise in an otherwise desolate desert. For starters, the backyard is so nice that you’ll likely spend most of your time in town just lounging by the pool. The large pool itself features deck jets, a waterfall spillway, a tanning shelf, multiple seating ledges, and sparkling pebble tech that glimmers in the sun for an added touch of glamour.
Next to the pool, you’ll find a four-hole, thirty-foot putting green, a ping pong table, a foosball table, Jenga, lawn darts, Connect Four, and a ring toss. When you’ve had your share of fun, you can relax in the lounge area while you watch sports on the outdoor TV. The interior of the house is just as nice as the backyard, following a rustic-style theme where cow print and wooden accents are aplenty.
This vacation rental is like an adult playground. If you’re looking for party vibes without skimping on luxury amenities, you’re going to want to book this spot ASAP. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $899
This luxurious rental property is on the pricier side. However, it fits up to 14 people, making it more affordable for large groups. The newly renovated home is ultra-spacious and comfortable, but the backyard is likely where you’ll spend most of your time. It features turf on both sides of the heated saltwater pool that comes complete with two waterfalls and a hot tub. You’ll also find a putting green, corn hole, a ping pong table, and a barbecue, as well as a pool table inside.
Between the games, pool, barbecue, and roomy interior, this vacation rental is the perfect friend group getaway. – Chloe Caldwell
Price Per Night: $2,040