For Part one of our Vibes Life Essential guide to Coachella we’re gonna take it right back to the start. There’s a few things to think about now you’ve committed yourself to getting across the pond for 3 straight days of dancing like a lunatic and drinking sangria out of a bag thats being slapped. They may not be the most important decisions you make all weekend but these are probably the most grown up out of the whole procedure, the choices you make here will actually have a cause and effect on your whole experience. But let’s not get too dramatic and take what I’ve just said too seriously, whatever works for you works for you, thats all that matters.
Moving on, have you ever wondered why there’s two different dates when the festivals advertised? Good question, your curiosity shall be rewarded as it’s this very question that brings us to the first decision on the long, hard, sometimes emotional road to Coachella.
Weekend 1 or 2?
This is a question that comes up all the time. In 2012 the organisers added a 2nd weekend effectively doubling the festivals capacity. I’m not sure if any other festivals do this but we salute the idea, especially as it gives anyone who may have other commitments on Weekend 1 (or 2 for that matter) a chance to still enjoy the festival. Imagine the work that goes into putting a 3 day festival on, twice! Despite the hard grafting by the organisers theres always going to be those who will ask this question, “Which weekend is better?”
The truth? They are identical, weekend 2 is just a big old repeat of weekend 1, but you will already know what to expect which I find slightly weird. The Tupac hologram of 2012 was Coachella’s biggest surprise guest to date, and despite it being leaked on twitter there was absolute awe and shock when he appeared on stage singing “Hail Mary”, but we couldn’t help but think, would this still have the same feel the following weekend? Bearing in mind images of the deceased rapper spiting bars on stage had already been plastered over every social media platform and news feed in existence that week!
It is well worth me noting though that in more recent years we’ve seen certain special appearances only happen on Weekend 2, and vice versa like when Damian Marly, and Lauryn Hill turned up for Nas’ set in 2014. So it can work both ways. Although that fresh green grass your greeted with on Weekend 1, surely won’t be the same after 125,000 people have raved on it all weekend!! Whichever weekend you choose the fact remains, the atmosphere will be insane, and what I can only describe as electrifying-It really is a case of what dates suit you better.
General admission Weekend Festival pass
Ok, so you’ve chosen your weekend. Your next big decision is gonna be if you want to stay onsite or offsite. It’s a toughie, but regardless of what you choose your gonna need a GA (general admission) weekend festival pass, individual day tickets are not available so you’re in it for the long haul. The 2018 GA ticket costs $429 which is around £316. When buying your GA festival pass you will be given the option to buy additional passes that are relevant to where you decide to stay for this stamina crunching weekend. If you want access to exclusive area’s and to get a little closer to the performers you can buy a VIP weekend Festival pass. Just expect to pay double the price of a standard GA pass.
Below are some examples of whats on offer in the form of onsite and offsite options.
- Staying onsite
Staying onsite has many benefits but obviously not having to travel that far to and from your digs to the festival site every day is top of that list. Just bring as much food, booze and wet wipes as you can pack, and enjoy 3 days of getting to know your newly adopted Coachella family aka your camping neighbours.
Sound’s like a bit of you? You’re gonna need one of the following:
Car camping pass.
I will be going into the “juicy” details of car camping in a separate part of this guide, it really does warrant its own section, so for now we will keep it brief. A car camping pass is unique in the fact that it allows you to drive your car/ minivan straight through the entrance gates and right up to your camping spot. (We book our camper through Escape Camper Vans, more about them later in the guide). Muddy trolly runs to the car don’t exist, and neither does the chaotic rush for a decent pitch, you just roll up, park and start to unpack. Magic. Arrive in a group, and the Coachella marshals will line you up your cars in a row or back to back to create a dream super camp complete with disco ball’s, dance floor and even hammock’s. Car camping is only for the stamina massive, but who needs sleep when you’ve got beer pong and cheesy puffs on tap? Come on maaaaaaan’
For more information on 2018 Car Camping passes click here
Tent camping pass.Although similar to car camping when you buy a tent camping pass, your tent spot and car parking space are separate, and a short walk is necessary but it’s nowhere near the trek that you have to endure at english festivals. You are able to set up multiple tents in your pitch, this means it’s possible for a group of 4 people to travel in 2 separate vehicles to the festival but still camp together, although a separate companion parking pass will need to be purchased for the second vehicle and this may have to be parked offsite. Just remember if there’s a few of you sharing the spot your tents will take up most of the designated area leaving less space to create that fairy light covered super camp.
For more information on 2018 tent camping passes click here
Like a spot of glamping? who doesn’t? Lake Eldorado’s fully pitched Tee Pee’s and tents are a tempting option with their cot beds, pillows and sleeping bags but like with everything at this festival, they come with a price tag! Also included is all the glamping facility’s you’d expect like exclusive showers, flushable toilets, a separate check in and even a 24 hour concierge? Four person tent’s benefit from a fridge/cooler, which saves you trying to chase down the Ice Truck, you also get some extra lounging chairs.
For 2018 Lake Eldorado passes click here
Safari Tents and Yurts.
And last but by no means least if you really want to, “turn up” book a “safari” or “yurt” tent exclusively though valleymusictravel.com and expect real beds, air conditioning, a “private” rest room and shower, electric sockets, mini bar, a full maid service! Buggy shuttles to and from the stages, oh and free wi-fi of course, so you can give all your followers that Coachella envy, whilst you’re living it up in the desert. The prices may seem steep but included in the price of the tent is your weekend festival pass plus access to VIP and artist areas as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner (think of your Instagram feed). There’s only one thing that bothers me about these type of “exclusive” tents and that’s if you’ve paid that much money for one, you would want to get your moneys worth and that would mean being in your tent a vast majority of the time and missing the festival. My brain finds it tough to comprehend this because there is so much going on at Coachella you literally won’t want to miss a second of it. I’ll leave it to you to check out the prices.
- Staying offsite.
We have a confession to make here, 2018 will be the first year me and Keeley have stayed offsite so our advice on where to stay is not very comprehensive. What we do know is hotels are plentiful. You can also book villa’s, Rv parks, log cabins and campsites so do some serious shopping around. Think about what you want to experience from your stay as well as the festival and spend a whole weekend shortlisting the best ones, then search for deals on every comparison website you can find, just don’t sleep if you find a good one cause prices only go up as the year rolls on.
A lot of people like their comforts, I get that, if you’re one of them offsite is the one for you. A warm shower every morning and clean sheets every night? Even I’m getting a bit jealous, but no! The purists will tell you staying in a hotel is not “doing a festival” but who cares, if thats what you need to come to the festival smiling and full of vibes then be my guest.
Below we’ve listed the hotels that can be booked directly through Coachella’s partners Curadora and valleymusictravel.com, some are available as room only or if you want to completely eliminate the stress of the next part of this guide (online ticket purchasing) they can be booked as part of a festival package where GA and travel passes are all included in the price of the room.
- Day’s Inn Indio
- La Quinta Vacations Rental
- World Mark Indio
- Desert Breezes Resort
- Indian Wells Resort
- Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa
- Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
- Miramonte Resort – Spa Curio Collection by Hilton
- Best Western Plus Palm Desert Resort
- Marriott Desert Springs Villas
- JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort and Spa
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Rancho Mirage
- Marriot Shadow Ridge
- Reed Roof Palm Springs – Thousand Palms
- Marriot’s Shadow Ridge Li- The Enclaves
- Western Mission Hill’s Golf Resort & Spa
- Red Lion Inn Suites – Cathedral City
- Double Tree by Hilton Golf Resort Palm Springs
- Staybridge Suites Cathedral City
- Baymont Inn & Suites Palm Springs
- The Saguaro Palm Springs
- The Avalon Palm Springs
- Day’s Inn Palm springs
- Client Tropics Hotel
- Knights Inn Palm Springs
- Ivy Palm Resort and Spa
- Triada Palm Springs Autograph Collection
- Hyatt Palm Springs
- Best Western Plus Las Brisas Hotel
- Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs
- Aqua Soleil Hotel and Mineral Water Spa
- Travelodge Banning
- Days Inn Banning
- Travelodge Inn And Suites Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree National Park
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Banning
- Super 8 Motel-Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree Nat Pk Area
- Idyllwild Bunkhouse Bed and Breakfast
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Beaumont-oak Valley
- High Desert Motel Joshua Tree National Park
- Best Western Plus Diamond Valley Inn
- Hampton Inn & Suites Hemet
- Travelodge Hemet
- Quality Inn Hemet
- Best Western Gardens Hotel At Joshua Tree National Park
- Americas Best Value inn Joshua Tree Twentynine Palms
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine palms
- Hilton Palm Springs
- Renaissance Palm Springs
- Fairfield inn &suites by Marriot
- Riviera Palm Springs
- Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
- Marriott Shadow Ridge I – TheVillages
- Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa
- La Quinta Resort & Club
- Staybridge Suites Cathedral City
- The Westin Desert Willow Villas Palm Desert
- Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
- Westin Mission Hills Resort Villas Palm Springs
- Courtyard By Marriott Palm Desert
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Palm Desert
- Hampton Inn & Suites Palm Desert
- Residence Inn by Marriott Palm Desert
- Comfort Suites Palm Desert
- Agua Calient Casino Resort & Spa
- Homewood Suites La Quinta
For more information on all the hotels in that list visit these 2 links:
Not a single hotel on that list is in excess of 70 miles from the event but only some act as stops for the Coachella shuttle so consider that before wading in and buying a shuttle pass. Of course you can try your luck with local taxi’s or Uber’s but I reckon you’ll be among an ocean of app wielding rivals causing prices to Surge. The Travel passes are good value for money but if you stay at a “non shuttle stop” hotel you will have to factor in travel to your nearest pick-up/ drop off point, and I can’t generalise here, some of you haven’t come for an alcoholic binge fest and you are more than content driving to and from the festival at which you stay commendably sober. For you lucky (Cyborg) people day parking is free so take full advantage of that.
Everybody else is gonna need the following:
Any Line-Anytime Shuttle Pass.
Total flexibility to ride to and from any shuttle stop within operating hours, and of course getting driven right to you hotels doorstep within an hour of leaving the festival site is the main selling point with this pass. It will set you back approx $75 dollars which is a steal considering the millage the shuttles cover to get to every stop on the map. They are regular but queues form during peak times, so expect that journey time to rise a little. These passes obviously sell out like lightning, so Coachella are quite right when they advise buying one even if you haven’t booked accommodation. Buy together with your GA passes and worry about the hotel after.
RV Resorts and campgrounds.
Some people love the great outdoors, those people are saying “I didn’t come all this way across the pond to sleep in a hotel room” and why should you. If your slipping your first Coachella experience into the middle of a State to State RV epic road trip, you already have a home on wheels so you’re hardly going to park it up and fork out several hundred (or thousand) dollars on a hotel room. You can park your RV in a number of resorts, some only a few miles from the festival and use it as a place to lay your head after running wild all day. When the festivals done you just pack up, and hit the road Jack.
KOA Campsites offer RV spots but also tent camping and dinky log cabins which can sleep a family. We’ve stayed in a couple of these and they are the absolute nuts, it’s a lot of fun to be in your mid thirties and feel like your a kid staying at summer camp. They do get pretty cold at night especially in April but nothing a good bit of spooning can’t fix. They have electricity but no fridge so its either dine out or cook what you caught, joke! but that’s all part of the great outdoors right?
Below is a list of the RV Resorts and Campgrounds listed by Coachella in order of their proximity to the Festival site:
MOTORCOACH COUNTRY CLUB (3 MILES)
INDIAN WATERS RV RESORT 2017 (3 MILES)
INDIAN WELLS CAREFREE RV RESORT (5 MILES)
LAKE CAHUILLA RECREATION AREA (5 MILES)
VILLAGE 29 RV CAMPGROUND (5.6 MILES)
SHADOW HILLS RV RESORT (8 MILES)
PALM SPRINGS RV RESORT (10 MILES)
EMERALD DESERT RV RESORT 2017 (11 MILES)
OASIS PALMS RV RESORT 2017 (22 MILES)
SALTON SEA STATE RECREATION AREA (25 MILES)
HAPPY TRAVELER RV (25 MILES)
PALM SPRINGS/JOSHUA TREE KOA (APPROX. 27 MILES)
SAM’S FAMILY SPA (29 MILES)
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK (APPX. 60-75 MILES)
One of the places on that list we can vouch for is Sam’s Family Spa, an absolute gem of a place-where we have stayed on more than one occasion. More to come on that later in the guide.
Villa’s And Exclusive Residencies.
Finally this is what we’ve decided to do this year and before you say it! We’re not being snobs. We’ve done our time! 5 years of car camping has been a wild experience trust me but this year we’ll have a little 11 month old raver with us. We need to think about our……I mean Emerson’s comfort. So we decided a Villa was the only way to go, we booked through Airbnb but a quick Google search of the area will no doubt uncover a long list of private villa’s and possibly some Airbnb’s still left for hire in the area. This is easily the most child friendly option providing an actual “get away” from the crowds and action, when it all gets too much. You can yam down some brekkie, freshen up and pack your baby supplies for the music packed day ahead. It all sounds a bit “civilised” but lets face it the last thing you want is a tired or grizzly baby when you’ve got three days of stage hopping to do. Obviously sharing is caring, and us sharing the villa with Emerson’s Nanny and 2 aunties we have managed to drastically slash the cost- always good when you are new parents. In a nutshell you can enjoy the festival by day and netflix under a warm blanket at night.
Ok ok, the villas aren’t just for us “oldies” the youngens can enjoy pool party’s during the day and then run wild at the festival all night. You won’t get kicked out the hotel for playing the latest “RL Grime” set full volume at 3am, and you can drink champagne naked while cooking pop tarts without getting arrested (if you want). Granted it’s not a free for all, these villas have house rules and you will be pursed for any damages caused so take a mature approach to pre drinks and afterpartys.
Here is a link to Platinum Estates Residencys that can once again be booked through valleymusictravel.com
We’ve given you all the options, the choice is now yours. I’m sure wherever you choose to stay or whatever weekend you choose it’s right for you and in reality, you’re gonna be having so much damn fun you could be staying in a trash bin and you’d still happy.
That pretty much wraps it up. The next part of this guide will touch on Online ticket sales and how to make sure you bag those wristbands. We planned to release parts of this guide on a 2 weekly basis until the festival but with Coachella very thoughtfully revealing the line up out of nowhere today we have decided that it would be best to publish this first section of the guide as a two parter. Some of you may be trying for General release tickets this Friday and if you are the next section of this guide could be very useful so head over to Part 2 of our Essential Guide to Coachella A Vibes Life Man’s “Crazy Ramblings” Guide to Online ticket Purchasing.