Coachella

Coachella Where to Stay - Camping vs. Hotel vs. House

Event Track / Coachella / Planning Guides / Coachella Where to Stay - Camping vs. Hotel vs. House

Article Summary

  • Camping is the least luxurious option but it is the cheapest and is the closest to the festival, which lets you maximize your time at Coachella.
  • Renting a house is a great option, especially if you have a group to split the costs.  The only risk is your house rental is rarely guaranteed and the owner could cancel on you last minute.
  • Hotels are typically the most expensive but do offer the most amenities and allow you to recharge between Coachella days.

As we move to the end of the year that means it’s time for Christmas, New Years and best of all the announcement of the 2017 Coachella lineup.  Typically the lineup for Coachella is announced in the first or second week of January and the general sale for tickets occurs shortly after that.  Once the general sale happens the rush for accommodations happens shortly after.  I assure you that you do not want to wait too long after tickets go on sale to figure out where you are sleeping at night or you may end up either sleeping in your car or opening up the checkbook.

The Options

So if you’ve never been to Coachella this guide is for you to aid you in your quest to find a reasonably priced place to lay your head at night.  Typically you are looking at three different options.  The first is to camp at the festival itself.  This can be done by purchasing either the additional car camping or tent camping pass which can be had for $99 with the purchase of your ticket.  The second option is to rent a house, most likely through AirBnB but there are other options out there too.  The final option is to rent a hotel.  There are hotels in all the surrounding areas of the festival including Indio, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and more.  There really is no bad way to enjoy Coachella; the best of the three options will vary from person to person.  So let’s go through each of the options and try to figure out the best one for you.  

Coachella Camping

 

Campchella

Camping is probably the most Coachella-y experience of the three options.  For the 96 or so hours you are living and breathing Coachella, which could be a good or a bad thing.

The Pros of Camping at Coachella

  • Location, location, location - By far the best part about camping is how close you are to the festival.  The campgrounds are setup literally right outside the festival grounds.  You can roll out of your tent, take a 5 minute stroll and you are in.  If you really want to see as many bands as you possibly can than camping definitely makes this easiest.
  • Saves you some benjamins – Camping is also the cheapest option. We currently collect data on hotel prices for nearly 50 major events with 5600 hotels for those events, and Coachella is our third most expensive event only behind the Kentucky Derby and Sundance Film Festival.  We are seeing average hotel prices around $560 a night which is nearly  300% increase over the usual rates in the area.  Camping passes can be had for $99 for either a car or tent camping pass.  This is more affordable than renting a house and by far more inexpensive than a hotel
  • Part of the Experience – Similar to Glastonbury, part of the Coachella “experience” is being there and enjoying the revelry of the campgrounds and the late night / early morning partying.

The Cons of Camping at Coachella

  • It’s Hotter Than The 7th Circle of Hell – Seriously it is really f’ing hot at Coachella every year.  I love it, but good God is it hot.  In mid-April in Indio it is typically in the high 80s if you are lucky and usually closer to 100.  The days are especially long if you are at the mainstage or the outdoor stage a lot as there is absolutely no shade to be had. Sometimes it is nice to just go home to an air conditioned house or hotel room after a long day of sweating in the sun.
  • Good Luck Sleeping – So earlier I said you live and sleep Coachella at the campgrounds, which could be a good or bad thing.  Well part of the bad is people are going to be up late making noise partying and up early partying, so catching a catnap could be quite difficult.
  • The Usual Camping Stuff – No electricity (and thus no AC), limited areas to charge your phone, limited showers, etc.  Just not as comfortable as having a house or a hotel.

Housechella

The whole area of Indio and surrounding areas like Palm Springs really are perfect for finding a house to rent.  A lot of people have winter homes in the area that they just rent throughout the year.  Obviously there are other ways to rent a house but primarily this is going to be done on AirBnB.

The Pros of Renting a House

  • Expensive, But Cheaper Than a Hotel – You can still find houses for reasonable rates, especially if you move away from Indio where Coachella is held.  Of course the houses can get stupidly expensive but if you are reasonable and not renting a mansion you can definitely find good deals on house.  For example, I have seen houses available on AirBnB for under $200 a night, which is a good deal during Coachella.  Every once in a while you can find a unicorn where the owner doesn’t realize it is Coachella weekend and snag a really good deal.
  • Strength in Numbers – If you have a group of people you can get a big house and split the cost across the whole group.  The best part is it’s a pretty affluent area so a lot of the houses are really nice with pools, BBQs, etc.  If you book early you can definitely get some really nice houses at a good rate.
  • You Can Still Have Good Location – There are plenty of houses in Indio where you can either still walk to the festival or rent a bike and ride in.  These houses go quick though so don’t wait around and expect to still get these for less than the cost of selling one of your kidneys.
  • Lots of Options - There are a ton of houses to rent across all of the surrounding areas. Many people rent their houses out as they know it's profitable during Coachella.

The Cons of Renting a House

  • Not Guaranteed – When you book through AirBnB there is nothing requiring the person who is renting you there house from cancelling on you.  For example, check this out for an Airbnb horror story. Essentially the host will get a smack on the wrist for what will completely ruin your trip.  If your host does cancel your best case scenario is they do it early because if they do it late you are pretty screwed.  Just make sure you book through someone with a lot of reviews and reach out to your host about this concern.

Average Price of Hotels for Coachella 2018

Hotelchella

The last option for Coachella accommodations is booking a hotel.  Full disclosure, this is what I end up doing for Coachella every year now.

The Pros of Book a Hotel

  • Air Conditioning, Amenities, & Air Conditioning – So as I said before Indio is hot and its damn nice coming back to a hotel where I can crank the AC, take a shower and take a dip in the pool.  Coachella days are also really long and tiring so getting into a comfy bed at the end of the night is also really nice.  It’s also nice to not need to worry about cleaning up or anything like you may have to do at a house
  • Finding a Deal Isn’t Impossible – Often people wait too long for a hotel and are stuck with paying $400+ a night.  Now I’m not saying you are going to score a 4-star resort for $85 a night but you can avoid the absolutely ridiculous prices if you book early.  Typically when we have booked a hotel we have found good hotels, with good reviews, for $170-$210 a night.
  • Food Options – Typically at the hotels you are obviously going to have more options for eating than camping but also more than if you rent a house as well.  For example, if you stay in Palm Springs there are a lot of great restaurants and bars in the downtown area within short walking distance
  • Festival Breather – So like I’ve said, this could be a good thing or a bad thing for you.  I find it nice to be away from the festival at night and in the morning so you can recharge for the day and be ready to go again the next day.

The Cons of Booking a Hotel

  • Need a Bus Pass – Well you either need a bus pass or you need to figure out how the hell you are going to get to Coachella.  The bus pass is an additional $60 which brings the Coachella pass to a whopping $459
  • Far Away – Unless you are ballin out of control your hotel is going to be far away so you can’t walk or even bike to the festival.  I have seen the Super 8 in Indio, which I’m sure is a fantastic establishment, going for $500 a night.  So most likely you are staying further away and will need the aforementioned bus pass, or a lot of ubers.  This long trek to the festival can be a bit of a pain so just be prepared for it.  At least you can drink on the bus.
  • $$$$$$$$$$$$ - We track hotel prices for almost 50 bucketlist events currently and Coachella is the third most expensive event for hotels in America, just behind Sundance and the Kentucky Derby.  As I mentioned before, you can get a deal if you book super early but if you don’t you could be looking at spending your tax return on your Coachella hotel.

The Final Verdict

It totally depends on you, your budget, and the experience you are looking to have at Coachella.  I personally prefer to stay in hotels, but I totally get the appeal of camping. So take some time to think about it and decide which you think is for you, but don’t take too long as prices only go up in the long run for Coachella accommodations.

So where do I stay for Coachella if I go with a House or Hotel?

So you've decided camping is for you, and now you have to decide where you want to stay. Let's go over the main areas people stay for Coachella. I will say this: there are more houses than hotels by far. Staying in a house is generally more popular as hotels are limited, fill up quickly, and are expensive. Palm Springs and Palm Desert have the most hotels, so if I stayed in those areas that's probably the route I suggest. If you stay in La Quinta, Indian Wells or Cathedral city I would go with a house. Just be sure to know how you are getting to Coachella

Staying in Indio / La Quinta for Coachella

How to Get To Coachella From Indio: Walk or Bike

If you can snag a place at a good price in Indio then I would not hesitate. Indio is where Coachella actually takes place so this will put you as close to the festival as possible besides for camping. If I stay in Indio I would walk if close enough or just rent bikes and ride into Coachella. It's a flat area and there are plenty of places to park a bike at Coachella. This will give you the freedom to come and go as you please, and will be cheaper than Ubering. Unfortunately there aren't many hotels in Indio, and the ones that are there are pretty run down and overpriced. The Super 8 in Indio charges $400+ a night at times for Coachella to put it in perspective. There are a ton of people with houses renting them out on VRBO and Airbnb, so this is probably your best bet for Indio. I highly recommend booking early as these will fill up quickly - people (this guy included) begin booking their accommodations a year in advance. Houses in Indio are at a premium and will go quickly.

Staying in Palm Springs for Coachella

How to Get to Coachella From Palm Springs: Shuttle or Drive

Another very popular option for Coachella is staying in Palm Springs. It's actually so popular we have a full article on the topic, which you can read here. To summarize: Palm Springs is far away from Coachella, but it does offer a lot of hotels, nice restaurants, and a relaxing atmosphere. There are a few shuttles that run from Palm Springs to Coachella, so getting to the festival is relatively easy albeit a long journey. If you are OK with a hour or so bus ride (it' not that bad) into Coachella daily Palm Springs is a popular option for Coachella.

Staying in Palm Desert / Indian Wells

How to Get to Coachella From Palm Desert: Shuttle or Drive

Palm Deset and Indian Wells are also popular areas for Coachella. These areas have a little less to do than Palm Springs, but they do offer plenty of hotels/houses to rent and have several shuttle locations to get you to Coachella. The areas are more resorty - in Palm Springs you will probably go into downtown and find a restaurant whereas in these areas there isn't much in walking distance so you will just eat at your hotel most likely. Both Palm Desert and Indian Wells will only be about a 20 minute ride into Coachella, so it is much closer. Hotels are generally more expensive in the area and you should expect to pay for the convenience. Generally hotels will be between $300-$400 a night, so it's pretty expensive. Houses in the area will fill up quickly given it's good location.

Summary

The first decision is to decide if you want to camp or not. If you don't want to camp you can begin looking for Airbnb and hotels. I would then decide if you are OK with a long shuttle ride or if you want to be closer to the festival. If you want to be closer realize you will have to pay for this convenience. We stay in Palm Springs as I don't mind the shuttle ride and really enjoy the area, so it works for us. If you prefer to be closer I would start my search in Indio (closest to the festival) and move away from there. As always if you have any questions on booking accommodations for Coachella I am more than happy to help.

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