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Food

Inside the Taco Bell hotel in Palm Springs

When the Taco Bell hotel in Palm Springs opened its valet on Thursday afternoon, an eager cavalcade of Crunchwrap-loving guests filed in. When reservations for the pop-up hotel went on sale in June, they sold out in minutes.

The company is taking over the V Palm Springs for the weekend only and turning it into the Bell. Everything from the check-in desk to the staff uniforms is adorned with taco decals and Taco Bell paraphernalia. Check-in comes with a “Baja Blast” cocktail with a watermelon Popsicle sticking out of it. Rooms are stocked with half a dozen bags of Taco Bell chips and a fridge full of soft drinks. There’s also a plush Taco Bell robe in the closet.

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The watermelon Baja Blast cocktail from the Taco Bell hotel in Palm Springs.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

House music thrummed as guests lounged by the pool on hot sauce towels. Some were dressed in bathing suits with the word “fire” across the front; one piece of the Taco Bell merch available in the lobby gift shop along with sunglasses, shirts, shorts, pins, towels and pillows.

Lauren Godwin, 19, from Los Angeles, said she cut a trip to Cancún, Mexico short to be at the hotel. “I had like a 10-hour drive to get here,” she said. “It’s [Taco Bell] definitely like a weekly basis almost daily basis kind of thing.”

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In the salon adjacent to the pool, hotel guests can get a Taco Bell manicure or a fade with the words “Taco Bell” or “Live Mas” or the outline of a fire lick shaved into the side of their heads. .

The pool at the Taco Bell hotel
The pool at the Taco Bell hotel.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

When the doors to the hotel opened, the kitchen was turning out fried chicken bites, guacamole, crudité, Caesar salad, fish tacos and veggie wraps. Taco Bell chef Rene Pisciotti created the hotel menu items as riffs on the actual Taco Bell menu. A little while later they started serving cinnamon Twists and nacho fries. The staff promised another “food drop” around 6 p.m. with different items that can be ordered at a poolside bar or lounge chair.

Kaleb Nation, 30 and Taylor Nation, 24, a married couple from Los Angeles, said they ate Taco Bell the night before they arrived at the hotel. “In our home, Taco Bell has helped bring us closer,” Taylor said. “There are more framed photos of Taco Bell Tweets than there are of me in his office.”

Taco Bell-themed shirts and other merchandise is for sale in the gift shop.
Taco Bell-themed merchandise is for sale in the gift shop.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

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Drinks by the pool included actual craft cocktails such as the Cucumber Crush (vodka, falernum, cucumber, pineapple, lime) and the Watermelon Splash (vodka, watermelon, lemon, lime with a Tajin rim).

The program in the tote bag says “Mean Girls will play poolside at 10:30 p.m.,” and, until then, it seems that most of the guests assembled are focused on getting drunk and getting shots for their Instagrams. The advertised “Freeze room” wasn’t open yet. I’m hoping for high-powered air conditioners.

Fish tacos with tortilla chips, left, and a take on a Caesar salad.
The fish tacos, left, and Caesar salad at the Taco Bell hotel.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

The Bell, 333 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.

Updates:
1:08 PM, Aug. 09, 2019: This story was updated with comments from some of the hotel guests.

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