Modernist Hotel Up for Sale

Palm Springs' 1947 Hideaway—designed by a 'mystery man of mid-century modern'
Modernist Hotel Up for Sale
Poolside at the mid-century modern Hideaway hotel in Palm Springs. Now on
the market, the Hideaway is being listed for $2.75 million.
Photos: courtesy Kevin Miller
Modernist Hotel Up for Sale
Interior of one of the rooms.

Ladies and gentlemen, design freaks and dilettantes, modernists and moguls: step right up to hear all about a once-in-a-lifetime offer of a desert paradise, replete with a thriving business, pleasant lifestyle, and breathtaking views of a magnificent mountain!

It's called the Hideaway hotel—in Palm Springs.

But who's the 'mystery man of mid-century modern' behind the Hideaway who originally designed and operated it back in 1947? Where did he come from? And where was he trained?

It's a mystery, folks. "I can't get a lot of stuff on him. It's pretty amazing," says Kevin Miller, the present owner/operator of the Hideaway, regarding the bio of designer Herbert Burns. "But he had such a unique style."

Herbert and Gayle Burns reportedly moved to Palm Springs the year before the Hideaway hotel was built (as the Town & Desert Apartments). (1946-'47 was a hallmark era of modernist construction in the desert town, including Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House, E. Stewart Williams' Frank Sinatra Residence, and William Cody's Del Marcos Hotel.) The Burns built the Town & Desert at 370 West Arenas Road to live in and rent to snowbirding friends, and then added two other hotels a few doors down Arenas in the 1950s.

Despite Burns' active social life in the 1950s, his work with the chamber of commerce, and onetime City Council candidacy, very little is known about his early or later years. When the City of Palm Springs recently recognized the Hideaway as a local 'Historic Site,' the application was informed by a few magazine and newspaper clippings as well as by researchers' interviews with Gayle Burns in 1968 and a younger colleague in 2014. Gayle died in 1976 and Herbert in 1988.

Herbert Burns was apparently not a certified architect, but his wife said he was a "major in the [Army] Air Corps" and "a building designer in Los Angeles" before they moved to the desert. Miller notes that Burns was quite prolific in his desert years, designing and developing an estimated 20 homes and 15 apartment buildings.

In 2007, Miller and wife Jinny Park bought the Orbit, another nearby MCM hotel in Palm Springs (at 562 West Arenas) from a couple who had substantially restored it with the help of architect Lance O'Donnell, and then bought the Hideaway from them last year.

"It's just an amazing place," Miller said of the Hideaway, which was renamed by the prior owners in reference to an Architectural Digest story that dubbed it a desert hideaway. "It's really not a big deal if we sell it or not, but the market is just so crazy right now."