There are two kinds of fast food consumers in this world: Those who buy it, eat it, and move on with their life, and those who turn it into a lifestyle. For those in the latter camp—criteria may include wearing a fast food-themed Halloween costume, involving a chain in an important life moment, or creating a social media account dedicated to said chain—the Taco Bell Hotel and Resort really was a dream vacation come to life. From top to bottom, the V Palm Springs was decked out in Taco Bell swag and decor with about a thousand photo ops along the way. The cheese-crusted chalupas didn't hurt either.
The occasion, of course, was a five-day pop-up called "The Bell." Announced in May and booked up in minutes, I made my way to Palm Springs on behalf of Delish during the hotel's media day on Thursday. I must admit, I drank the Kool-Aid. In this case, it was a Mountain Dew Baja Blast—my 24 hours at The Bell began with said drink topped with a watermelon sangria popsicle handed to me seconds after I received a hot sauce-packet room key. What a world!
From there, I checked into my room—see photos below and try and count all the Taco Bell references in each, I dare you!—and explored the property. There's the salon, where guests can book a nail or hair appointment to Taco Bell-ify their body. Personally, I went with the "Cinnabon Delights" hair style, sans glitter. Gotta keep it profesh, you know?
The ever-elusive Freeze Lounge (it's very hot in Palm Springs, causing occasional technical difficulties) served up frozen Baja Blasts while the pool bar, dubbed the Baja Bar, was the place to go for both food and cocktails. A highlight that I can only hope makes its way to menus: jalapeño popcorn chicken served with cilantro ranch dressing.
Throughout my stay, a Taco Bell gong alerted guests when new food was coming, which was passed out by Taco Bell staff...some of whom had see-through fanny packs containing all the Fire hot sauce you could want (and Mild and Diablo, don't you worry). A poolside marquee alternated between listing off menu items and more general phrases (Stay Saucy!), doubling as yet another photo spot.
As for the rest of the food, breakfast was without a doubt the star of the show. Guests can order breakfast in bed or eat by the pool (or, if you're on a mission to try everything, both). Room service includes a build-your-own breakfast taco spread with eggs, bacon, potatoes, cheese, salsa, and tortillas, plus a bowl of truly delicious Cinnabon Delights.
Down by the pool, the breakfast burrito and chilaquiles were excellent and weren't too far off from what you're used to at T. Bell—the avo toast and fish tacos, while good, felt more resort, less Taco Bell. And at the end of the day, we all just want our value menu quesadillas and tacos. And maybe a spiked Baja Blast. OK fine, throw in a Taco Bell robe for good measure. They were comfy!
Come Monday morning, The Bell will lose its hot sauce decor and go back to being the V, but if I had to guess, the masterminds at Taco Bell are probably already cooking up the next event to come. A Taco Bell theme park? Food truck? Airbnb? We shall see. In the meantime, learn from my Bell adventure: don't sleep on the Cinnabon Delights.
Madison Flager is the Lifestyle Editor at Delish.com; she covers food news and trends, travel-worthy food experiences, and the products you need in your kitchen right now. She has a deep love of coffee and manchego cheese.