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Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Hotel Lautner was the stage for a Town & Country fashion spread--featuring actress Gretchen Mol. 
With the best of intentions noted Hollywood film director of his day, Lucien Hubbard (winner of the very first “Oscar” for Best Picture for the silent movie “Wings.”) commissioned in 1947 architect John Lautner to design and build a 600-acre master-planned community in the Mojave Desert near Palm Springs.
       Hubbard’s dream was to create a getaway destination for Hollywood types that included various buildings, pools and storefronts.
After building the first four-unit motel and pool the project fell through.  The prototype languished and was passed from owner to owner until 2008, when interior designer Tracy Beckman and business partner and furniture designer Ryan Trowbridge spent four years on a renovation, which gained the approval of the Lautner Foundation, who sanctioned its renaming as The Lautner, a hotel in honor of its designer.
       After a splashy redux in 2012, The Lautner do-over operates albeit stylishly somewhere between obscurity and cult status in a dusty corner of Desert Hot Springs, a hardscrabble town north of Palm Springs.
       Given the pedigrees of John Lautner and his original client, design and travel magazines have included the hotel whenever California desert living articles are run.
Architect John Lautner
In 2012, Town and Country magazine featured the hotel as a backdrop to a fashion article wrapped around its celebrity model actress Gretchen Mol (lately of cable’s Boardwalk series.)  The place remains as lovely as that Town & Country spread.
       Today, the hotel remains stylish and well appointed.  It provides a classy bed with designer sheets and no breakfast.  It operates much like a high end airbnb.  There’s no front desk or concierge.  Keying is done via phone and or the Internet.   Room rates hover around $200-$300 per night.
       It is an adventure for lovers of Lautner architecture in the desert: (Elrod House; Bob Hope residence and the Lautner Hotel); lovers of mid-century design and lovers, period.
       But like many a Hollywood tryst, there’s not a lot to do in Desert Palm Springs once the aura has waned.
       Bottom line: enjoy the tiny Lautner Hotel while you’re there.  Commune with the hot sun.  Channel Julius Shuman, ogle the truly stunning Gretchen Mol and splash in the minerally water before scratching it off your bucket list.

The following images are by Julius Schulman, 1949 (black and white); Art Streiber for Town and Country magazine, various hotel publications and Google Maps.

Desert Hot Spring's Hotel Lautner, 2016 and 1949 below.

1949 Entry 2012

The one and only room, 2016 top and 1949 above.

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