The Pioneertown Motel and Pappy’s & Harriet’s Palace, two absolute must stops when in the California’s Yucca Valley. Here is our review.
Finding the right places to stay or eat while traveling on the scenic back roads of California can sometimes be a challenge. A task we had to struggle with on various occasions during our recent 14 days road trip around the Golden State. (Read our complete travel guide here). But that doesn’t mean you can’t be lucky once in a while. And in this case very lucky ! Indeed, as we passed through the Yucca valley, we had the pleasure to spend a night at the wonderful Pioneertown Motel, and enjoy a delicious diner while listening to great music at Pappy & Harriet’s Palace next door.
Both are located in Pioneertown, not too far off the Joshua tree National Park. The town itself is a touristic treat, looking straight out of a Hollywood Western. And it should, since the entire town is in fact an old movie set. Built in the 40’s this place has seen a lot of filming. Now both the motel and the “palace” are more recent additions, yet they fit right in the overall mood.
The Pioneertown Motel
The hotel is a dream. The design is perfect, and It’s so quiet in and out you know you are gonna sleep like babies.
The first thing that strikes you as you arrive at the Motel is its simplicity. In a sense, there is nothing much to describe. The rooms are bare, all the useless has been removed, just the strict essentials remain. Nothing here is overdone, nothing here is pretending. Just a cleverly mix a few key design elements and materials, tying the room to its natural surroundings, all with comfort in mind.
I can’t even remember if there was a TV in there, because it felt useless anyway. In any other place you would find it weird, but here, in the solitude of the Yucca valley, it makes all the sense in the world. You didn’t come all the way here for TV, WIFI, e-mails and other urban non-sense. You’re here because you wanted to run away from it all. You’re here for the silence and peace of the bare landscape. Heaven !
Pappy & Harriet’s Palace
Now, you’re not in complete isolation. PioneerTown has a place for you to eat and get entertained. Just one, mind you, but what a pleasant surprise ! Pappy & Harriet’s PioneerTown Palace. Not at all what you’d expect in the middle of nowhere. We are far from the outback biker’s joint stereotypes so often caricatured in Hollywood B movies – empty, sleazy and dirty -. Instead the place is packed, and the music coming from inside sounds fantastic. As you enter a sign above the hostess warns you; “If in a hurry, you’re in the wrong place”, and indeed the waiting list is a mile long.
We are some of the last guests having a shot at a table before the kitchen closes, some two hours later. (An hour and half roughly for the two of us will be necessary). The sign wasn’t lying !! We wait at the bar enjoying the band. Again, not your usual local country folk band. This place is famous for hosting some of the best artists, local or worldwide (Paul Mc Cartney actually played here!). The list of them reads like a musical Who’s Who. The crowd that night matches the vibe of a West Hollywood club, mixed with cowboy hats and rock climbers here and there.
The food is simple, the expected Tex-Mex cuisine, only they serve the best Vegan burger I have ever tasted !
It is so good, I take a moment to check if they didn’t mess up the order and gave me a real steak instead. I have been to many many places in the world. Many culinary hot spots and tried many vegan burgers before, but this is the best one EVER ! Who would have thought I’d find it in a place I didn’t even expect to care about serving a vegan burger. Definitely worth waiting that long for it !!
We return to our room after diner for a good night rest. While the band is still playing at the Palace, the room is quite. As expected we fall asleep right away, only to wake up with the first rays of the sun the next day.
After a pleasant early walk through the town, admiring the various buildings – Saloon, the bank, the bath house, etc… – we come back to enjoy a nice cup of coffee by the front desk with others travellers from various parts of the world. Like us they’re all very pleased to be here.
We didn’t know it yet, still then at the beginning of our journey, but in the end, when time came to decide on the favorite places we stayed, The Pioneertown Motel came as our top choice, for both my wife and I. As such, we can only highly recommend both the Motel and the Palace to you, and hope your stay will be as pleasant as ours.
All the useful infos are listed for you below.
Motel & Restaurant Informations
34°09’27.53”N – 116°29’35.97”W
5240 Curtis Rd
Pioneertown, 92258 CA
Princing $ to $$ depending on the season
Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
34°09’25.88”N – 116°29’35.82”W
53688 Pioneertown Rd
Pioneertown, 92258 CA
Classic American cuisine – Best Vegan Burger ever.
Check website for events & concerts.
This hotel & restaurant review is part of a broader travel guide covering California. For the entire guide, click here.