6 Unique Rentals to Book in Joshua Tree

The California desert has long attracted visionary architects and creatives, from Albert Frey to Paul R. Williams, but that ingenuity doesn’t stop with modernism in Palm Springs. In the high desert around Joshua Tree, a slate of newly opened vacation rentals serve as architectural and design gems that offer next-level experiences to connect with the region’s wondrous landscape.

The Bungalows, for example, have recently been renovated into the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, a spiritual campus also known as the Institute for Mental Physics that was designed in the mid-20th century by Lloyd Wright, son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The property also features 14 on-site units that were designed by California architect Harold Zook, which local hotel company Homestead Modern has since restored in collaboration with designer Brad Dunning. The result? Dog-friendly accommodations with an understated, serene mid-century vibe; the rooms bring “an updated desert sensibility” while making sure to “complement the original architecture” as Dunning says on the property website.

Homestead Modern also hosts nightly tours of the AZ West House, the former compound of renowned desert artist Andrea Zittel, who founded the nonprofit High Desert Test Sites and its annual exhibition of outdoor art installations. (You should definitely check the organization information “greatest hits” driving map if you are in the area). The sprawling 80-acre property is home to Zittel’s artwork and “experiments” in intentional living, which “can be found in the house’s various spaces, objects, and systems, all of which have been prototyped.” and reworked countless times before being collectively preserved as a complete work of art.” the company says on its website.

“There is no question that a certain segment of our guests are looking for and willing to pay a premium to stay in a property that exudes what I call qualities of modern, aspirational design. And clearly, social media has been a force multiplier for this, as visitors want to stay in cool properties so they can show off to their fans,” says Dave McAdam, founder and co-owner of Homestead Modern. “All this has not gone unnoticed by others. That is why we continue to see a pronounced boom in architect-designed homes here in the high desert.”

When is the best time to visit Joshua Tree?

Fall is the best time to visit the bucket-list destination, when the summer heat subsides and the autumn breeze begins to tickle the creosote bushes that dot the desert region. Plus, there’s the added benefit of the annual Joshua Tree Music Festival, which this year takes place October 6-9 with performances by Ibibio Sound Machine, Ghost-Note, Brass Against and more (yes, tickets are still available).

Book a fall trip? These are some of the most outstanding accommodations in the area:

Area 55 Future House

Area 55 Future House

Area 55 Future House

airbnb.com

Head off the grid for a Out of this world experience in a restored Casa Futuro. Shaped like a spaceship (or UFO, whichever you prefer), this solar-powered house is packed with board games; You must visit the nearby open-air art museum of the late artist Noah Purifoy.


Western Arizona House

Western Arizona House

Western Arizona House

Jamie Kowal/Modern Homestead

Artist Andrea Zittel’s former house is open for overnight stays for the first time with hospitality company Homestead Modern. There’s no TV, but you’ll have plenty to see and do: Zittel’s artwork remains scattered throughout the house and property, from the handmade bins in the kitchen to the shelves made from recycled boxes.


the bungalows

the bungalows

the bungalows

Jamie Kowal/Modern Homestead

Fourteen mid-century modern units are perfectly positioned among the Joshua trees and have been painstakingly restored by Homestead Modern. Architecture buffs: check out the breeze block and post and beam details.


Joshua tree of the invisible house

invisible house

invisible house

reservation.com

Instagram users are in love with this mirror box, which would be 22 stories if they were put upright. The 5,500-square-foot home hides a 100-foot indoor pool and was designed by architect Tomas Osinski. Did we mention that the master suite features a glass bed?


Monument House

Josh Schweitzer designed this quirky trio of colorful buildings just 1 mile from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. After a recent renovation, it is now available to rent through Homestead Modern; amenities include a hot tub, backyard fire pit, and rock-strewn views.


sacred sands

sacred sands

sacred sands

booking.com

East four bedroom retreat is a long-standing getaway located just down the street from the national park entrance. Freestanding outdoor soaking tubs are the highlight here, with wall-hung windows that open so you can take in expansive desert views during a soak.



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