Best hotels for Coachella
If you find that every Airbnb within a 30-mile radius of Indio is already spoken for—or you just don’t like the idea of going without housekeeping and room service—the Embassy Suites is a solid back-up plan. For starters, the rooms are huge (hence the name), so you and your crew will have plenty of room to spread out, do sun salutations, play Twister, or whatever it is you do. Secondly, the place was recently renovated, so everything from the lobby to the beds has that factory-fresh luster. There are even a few resort-style perks, like a full, cooked-to-order breakfast and nightly cocktail reception (both included in the price). Just go easy on the free booze—you came for the music, right?
It’s not quite the French Riviera, but you can’t fault this 24-room villa for trying. Enter into the lobby, a vast hall with a fireplace and red velvet armchairs, and the emphasis on design is immediately apparent. Vibrant, cosmopolitan guest rooms have unexpected touches like Victorian-inspired chandeliers and hardwood floors. The whole property backs up to a shimmering man-made, but nevertheless picturesque, lake. Compared to the swarms that await you down in Indio, this place is entirely too civilized. But once you’re sipping champagne out on the patio and watching sailboats drift by, who are you to complain?
It’s a long way to the top, so until you’re chartering private jets into the desert, just remember: Holiday Inn is your friend. This three-story tower, built conveniently along Highway 111, meets all your basic needs (bed, microwave, wifi) without keeping you away from the party down in Indio. You’ll get a free breakfast, too, which is about all you can ask for $80 a night.
Just 15 miles away from where Coachella takes places, this well-groomed spa resort is generic in all the right ways. The 500-plus rooms and jacuzzi suites are predictably warm and muted, all with desks, coffeemakers and private patios. Heads up: you’ll probably be sharing the facilities with families who have children, but peace and quiet is easy enough to come by either with a morning jog along the resort’s running path or by flopping onto one of the enticing, lipstick-red daybed loungers perched next to the adults-only pool. Keep in mind there’s a $32 resort fee, which covers gym use and wifi, though sadly not breakfast (if you do feel like splurging, there’s no shortage of restaurants, some with fancy outdoor terraces and roaring fire pits). Even if you’re not a golfer, the property’s two pristine courses—set among glassy lakes and rippling mountains—mean there’s not a bad view to speak of.
As if built for the yearly festivities in the Coachella Valley, this former Motel 6 is a bona fide party destination for hip young travelers heading to the desert. This well-trodden hideout has all the accoutrements, from a photo booth and retro macrame in the lobby to record players and vintage magazines in the rooms. There are also fancy robes and decked-out walking sticks for guests to use during their stay, which means that as the day goes on, more and more guests look like hippie cult members running around with hoods and canes. And it is a bit of a cult—the guests here are die-hard, looking to see and be seen by the pool, out on beach cruiser bikes or in the decent (but a little over-priced) restaurant, King’s Highway (which used to be a 24-hr Denny’s). The hotel offers $20 day passes ($30 on weekends) for pool use, which gives non-guests access to the scene (and the parties and live music that often grace the grounds, particularly during festival season). The Ace is almost so hip that it’s becoming a caricature of itself—if you’re down to party all night with trendy 20-somethings, this is your spot, but the more sophisticated (or relaxed) traveler might look elsewhere.
The Saguaro is way less cheesy than it looks. A bright, color-blocked facade and blue bedrooms with lime furniture and purple carpeting may sound like a design worst nightmare, but somehow this place pulls it off. Maybe because it’s so pleasant to be here. The hotel is massive, but the amenities are plentiful, the staff is friendly and the spa and pool are quite nice (though they do blare poolside music rather loud). The food is nothing to write home about, but it’s Palm Springs, so no one arrives expecting five-star fine dining anyway. If you’re here on the weekends, it may feel a little Jersey Shore-ish, with lots of bachelor/ette parties and booze-fueled bros, but the place is set up so you can mostly avoid anyone you don’t wish to lounge near.
A reliable option in low-key Palm Desert (about a 25-minute drive from Indio), this colorful little hideout makes a great home base for those who need their R&R at the end of the day. The husband-and-wife owners clearly have green thumbs, as almost every inch of outdoor space—the corridors between rooms, the patio furniture, the oasis-like pool area—has some sort of leafy embellishment, be it flowering vine or a cheerful cluster of potted palms. That coziness is mirrored in the rooms, which are unremarkable but well-furnished (some have kitchens). Each morning, a basic breakfast is laid out. Don’t come expecting lemon ricotta pancakes, but it’ll be enough to fuel you for a full day of hip-swaying and sun-drenched singalongs.