This month, for a brief moment, a dream came true for whomever munched on gorditas at Taco Bell while thinking: “I’d love to live here!” The tex-mex inspired fast-food franchise transformed the V Palm Springs hotel in California, United States into The Bell at Palm Springs, best known as the Taco Bell Hotel.
Multinational restaurant company Yum! Brands announced this limited time initiative back in May. Reservations became available on June 27, at $ 169 per suite, and totally sold out in two minutes. Those who managed to get one of the 70 coveted rooms – or better yet, got invited – prepared for a weekend full of food, drinks and themed entertainment in an environment inspired by the elements that characterize Taco Bell. But was it worth it? Was the Taco Bell Hotel a mild, hot or supreme experience?
Welcome to the Taco Bell Hotel
It takes a lot of imagination to extrapolate the experience of consuming Mexican food diluted for the masses and converting it into a boutique pop-up hotel. The Taco Bell marketing team deserves praise for their creativity, as well as for carrying it out in a fun and viral manner.
Palm Springs is a beautiful city with arid climate and desert features, a natural setting that immediately positioned the Taco Bell Hotel as an oasis in the minds of those who took part. Like a typical luxury experience, guests were greeted at the reception with a welcome cocktail and a gift bag full of Taco Bell branded beach goodies.
Brand presence was unavoidable without becoming annoying. The rooms included murals, bedsheets, pillows and bathrobes featuring Taco Bell designs. The most used visual element in all designs, besides the iconic bell logo, was the hot sauce packet. Beach towels were a gift for the guests, but the rest of the items had to be left behind or purchased.
Taco Bell, Gourmet Edition
The first thing someone would expect from a restaurant-based hotel is good meals included with your stay. Everyone present, invited or not, love Taco Bell unironically. However, their culinary expectations were exceeded by what Rene Pisciotti, the brand’s Executive Chef, cooked up.
Room service and Baja Bar menus included Taco Breakfast in Bed and novelties such as Fire Chip Chilaquiles and Avocado Toast-ada. The highlight was the Toasted Cheddar Chalupa, which consists of two chalupa shells toasted with cheddar cheese, then stuffed with fried chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, tomatoes and guacamole. Featured among the drinks was the Baja Blast Birthday Freeze, an anniversary variation of the of Mountain Dew Baja Blast served in the Freeze Room.
Apart from the food and decor, the weekend at the Taco Bell Hotel became what each person wanted it to be. Visitors had access to the pool and the typical activities available at V Palm Springs, like sunrise yoga.
They could also dress for the occasion with clothes and accessories sold at the Taco Shop. These included custom swimwear from L*SPACE and Chubbies, as well as special edition DIFF sunglasses. The most radical guests could go even further at the Salon, where they could get their nails painted with Taco Bell designs or get a haircut with the bell logo shaved on their head.
Nacho Ordinary Shows
Entertainment included poolside movie screenings, synchronized swimming by the Aqualillies, as well as live music from artists sponsored by Feed the Beat, Taco Bell’s music promotion program. Nothing surpassed the Baja Birthday Bash, a “silent” electronic dance party by the pool where everyone listened to the DJ’s show through headphones.
There was even a honeymoon at the Taco Bell Hotel, for a couple who married at the Taco Bell in Las Vegas, Nevada. Let’s be clear: a couple decided to join their lives forever (asterisk), so they consecrated their love in a fast food joint and celebrated their nuptials in a hotel inspired by said restaurant. Oddly enough, this is not the first time couples have married in Taco Bell. This service has been part of the menu at their Las Vegas location since 2017.
Without a doubt, the Taco Bell Hotel was a unique experience. Possibly unrepeatable, as there are no current plans to relaunch it. If we measure its effectiveness by media impact, influencers and reporters who visited it have made it an online trend. If its success depended on how good a time guests had, they’ve all spoken wonders of their experience on social media.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of this initiative is how Taco Bell created a laboratory hidden in plain sight, where they could test the marketing strength of their brand and experimented with new menu options. (The Toasted Cheddar Chalupa is coming to Taco Bell restaurants in select markets.)
For those who could not visit the Taco Bell Hotel, the brand shared an inside look at the experience narrated by Erika “EJ” Prime, star of their social media and YouTube channel. If that isn’t enough, you can buy all exclusive Taco Bell Hotel items at the online Taco Shop and replicate the experience this summer wherever you want.