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Inn of the Month: California's Miracle Manor

It's a miracle, all right: a miracle you found the place, a miracle you didn't turn back once you saw it. High on a hill in the Palm Springs area's least glitzy town, the two low-slung buildings, dingy with dust, look as if they're trying to hide from the sun. But step into the courtyard and Miracle Manor starts to work its magic. The five-room 1940's motel-- let's call it what it is-- was renovated by architect Michael Rotondi and designer April Greiman, who bought it last year and reopened it in January. If the outside is somewhat raw, the interiors are the polar opposite: slick and spare in a way that suits the desert. The walls are painted putty tones; the floors are panels of varnished plywood (or, in the bathrooms, plain concrete); the linens are deliciously gauzy. Here and there, a flash of color breaks the cool monotony like a wildflower on the desert floor: a lime green towel, a bowl of peaches, gold-wrapped toilet paper. There are no televisions, phones, or clocks, and you won't miss them. You'll be sitting out in the hot tub (fed by a spring under the property), or succumbing to the on-call masseuse, or maybe just lying on your bed, looking out the window at the mountains beyond, wondering why you didn't think to buy this miraculous place yourself.

MIRACLE MANOR, 12589 Reposo Way; 760/329-6641; rooms $65 ($125 with kitchenettes).

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