How to Score an Amazing Airbnb for Coachella

Jan 24, 2019

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For two weekends in April (April 13 to 15 and April 20 to 22), music fans will converge at the Empire Polo Club in southern California for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. While the deep lineup will power you through the sunny days, you’ll need a warm bed to get your through the cold desert nights. And though Coachella is still months away, places to stay are already booking up.

There are still plenty of hotels you can book with points in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. But with traffic during the festival, the drive between Palm Springs and Indio can be an hour-long or more. For many travelers, splitting an Airbnb with a group of festival-loving friends may make more sense — and be more convenient.

Airbnb rentals offer a wide variety of accommodations, and can be a great option for large groups, travelers seeking amenities like a kitchen and people who’d like to be within walking distance of the festival grounds.

Last year, The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, was able to score a stunning 3,600-square-foot home on VRBO. The sprawling property can accommodate up to 14 guests, and is an easy bike ride or walk to the Empire Polo Club. Best of all, it’s available again this year on Airbnb for both weekends of Coachella. (Remember, you can split the cost with 13 other people.)

If you want to live like TPG lives, here is your chance.
If you want to live like TPG lives, here is your chance.

Tips for Booking an Airbnb for Coachella

You may be inclined to let someone else deal with the lodging headache. There are, however, some nice perks in store for the person who takes charge of the accommodation search.

First, you can prioritize your preferences. Want a pool? Need to be able to walk to see Beyoncé and The Weeknd? Modify your search filters accordingly.

Also, the person who finds the booking typically gets first crack at a bedroom. Hello, master suite!

If you book the Airbnb, you’ll also get the points! Just be sure to use a a great travel rewards credit card for Airbnb. Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, and you’ll get 3x points, good for a 6% return according to TPG’s latest valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And with prices for Coachella weekends skyrocketing, you could quickly find yourself with enough points to make a pretty sweet redemption.

Of course, just make sure that everyone in your group is trustworthy and will pay you back for their portion if you’re covering the full cost of the booking.

If you’ve scoured Airbnb, evaluated all your hotel options and still can’t find anything that fits your travel requirements or budget, keep in mind that not every bed is always accounted for when an Airbnb is booked — particularly large ones — and sometimes plans change and trips fall through. Put the word out to friends and on social media that you’re looking for an open spot in an already-booked home.

And remember: American Express is returning to Coachella once again with a slew of benefits for cardholders, including a $10 statement credit, free Ferris Wheel ride and private lounge area. They’ll also be hosting a Platinum House at the Parker Palm Springs for card holders with The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Centurion Card like they did in 2018 with free food, drinks and private performances.

Ready to book the Airbnb of your Coachella dreams? Study up on these general Airbnb booking tips, and then consider a few of these great places to stay that (at the time of publication) are still available for at least one festival weekend in April.

Walking Distance Airbnbs

There are still some great homes available within walking distance of the festival grounds, but the reason they aren’t booked is that the owners are charging a hefty festival premium. They know from experience that someone will eventually need the house and pay. That could be you.

Before you book, make sure everyone else in your group is comfortable splurging for the convenient location, and remember: at least you’ll be splitting the cost with a number of travel companions.

This three-bedroom in Indio, for example, typically charges $300 a night. But for the festival weekends, you can expect to spend $1,800 per night. You’ll also need to spend at least four nights to secure this Airbnb during Coachella.

This listing, which is normally goes for $300 a night, jumps up to $1800 per night over Coachella.
This listing, which normally goes for $300 a night, jumps up to $1,800 per night during Coachella.

And there’s also the gorgeous five-bedroom where TPG stayed during Coachella. Though the property is sometimes available for under $700 a night (that’s about $50 per person at capacity), that price increases more than 4x, with minimum stay requirements, during Coachella.

Airbnbs with Organized Shuttles

There’s no way around it: At Coachella, you’ll be walking a lot. Even if you get dropped off at the Empire Polo Club, you’ll still have to cover a lot of ground to get into and around the festival. That’s why those polo players use horses.

So realistically, unless you find something within a couple blocks of the festival grounds, you’ll need to take a taxi or Uber. If that’s the case, being a few miles away won’t make such a big difference. Also, some larger residences, such as the WorldMark Indio complex, organize shuttle vans to and from the festival for a fee.

I stayed at the Worldmark twice, and the huge pools make great hangouts before the festival.

I stayed at the Worldmark twice in a unit like this one, and the huge pools are great for hanging out before the festival. From here, you can arrange a shuttle to the festival grounds. Though it appears to be booked for the first weekend at this time, you can still score the space for $475 per night the second weekend of Coachella.

Look for a Spare Room

Maybe the big Airbnb idea won’t work this year if you’re having a tough time organizing a group. If that’s the case, consider searching for a place for just you, or you and your significant other.

Many Airbnbs are simply spare bedrooms in a house. If you’re really just interested in the festival and all you care about in terms of accommodations is a place to sleep, a quiet home away from other festivalgoers may be your best (and most affordable) bet.

This private room in a home can accommodate two, and is just a short bike ride from the festival. Get it for $250 per night, with a minimum three-night stay during the festival.

Start Planning for 2020

Because some of the best Airbnbs (or at least, the best deals) can book up six months to a year in advance, it’s not a bad idea to start planning your Coachella trip for 2020.

Plenty of listings are already taking bookings for April 2020. Sure, the dates might not be confirmed and you have no idea who will be headlining. However, with the two weekends consistently taking place in mid-April, it’s a safe bet that a rental during the weekend of April 18, 2020 will cover one weekend during Coachella.

This great find was booked up long ago for 2019, but it's available for 2020.
This great find was booked up long ago for 2019, but it’s available for 2020.

At the time of publishing, all the places listed above were still available — but selling out fast. If you see something you like, don’t wait to book!

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Feature image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella.

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