In the comedy world, accommodation in Edinburgh during the Fringe period is notoriously expensive, and highly variable in quality. As the festival was getting under way we asked comics going to this year's festival what their digs are like for 2019, and if they have any horror stories from Fringes past. As accommodation becomes an ever-hotter topic, there's some eye-opening reading!
Accommodation is very nice, at the Grassmarket, so five minutes from most things.... but like so many others this year it nearly wasn't. I booked and paid for it last October, but once there was a legislation change earlier this year that meant that people didn't HAVE to move out in August there was blanket chaos thrown over everyone's Fringe accommodation plans. Including mine. I'd paid for a flat that they could no longer rent to me.
They tried to fob me off with some guff in New Town but I did the thing that you always should in situations like this and kicked off at the rental manager. Sometimes you have to be the biggest pain in the arse to get what you want and that's not normally my strategy but I feel like with estate agents in general you have to take the opportunity to engage in some karmic payback. (NB The estate agent for my current home was a Boris Johnson-type pseudo-charming weasel. I'm sure there are lovely ones out there.)
Troy Hawke: Tiles of the Unexpected!
I have high hopes! Last year, between the poor students leaving and the cash cow comedians arriving, the landlady buffed the wooden floors in our flat. And boy did she buff! It was like an ice rink. We bought grippy socks and wore those to reduce the chance of breaking our necks. Man we looked cool.
Dave Bibby: Crazy Cat Lad-y
We've paid for a flat we've seen no photos of this year. Last year we slept in a tent. All is well.
Last year I lived above a pub with The Noise Next Door and due to an overactive extractor fan we all smelled like chips for a month. This year I'm aiming for anything other than that.
Laura Lexx: Knee Jerk
The first year I came to Edinburgh I stayed in an Air BnB with a strange woman and her intimidating son who made it clear he didn't like me via the look in his eyes and the words in his mouth. My friend came to visit and locked himself out of his hostel, so i invited him to crash in my room. The son caught us sneaking in, threatened to call the police, and at 4 in the morning woke me up towering over my bed as rain beat the window and and lightening etched his shadow on the wall. He screamed 'you think you own the place Richard'. I told him my name isn't 'Richard', which made things a lot worse. I'm hoping this year is smoother.
The accommodation this year is very expensive so I was expecting luxury. But it is literally the house that Jack built. There are doors hanging off, windows that won't open, other windows that open and then smash straight down onto your head like a blunt guillotine. The water pressure is so strong in the bathroom it's like being water boarded every morning ... strangely pleasant.
Mandy Muden: Is Not The Invisible Woman
It's been remarkably unstressful. I'm at the same place I've been for the past two years which I found through Theatre Digs Booker back in 2017. It's a lovely place, 15 mins walk from the Royal Mile, a room to myself and an art gallery's worth of outsider art on the walls to enjoy.
Tales of Whatever
My flat is literally on Bristo Square, about 30 seconds from my venue. If the effort of rolling out of bed to perform gets too much towards the end I'll just yell the show through a tube out the window.
Daniel Nils Roberts: The History of the World in 1 Hour
At my first Fringe in the late 90s, I shared a flat with mice and maggots, as well as the eight cast members of the play I was directing. For my first Fringe as writer-performer I'm sharing with just one good friend in a flat above a musical instrument workshop. The landlord assures us the craftsman doesn't start sawing or playing the instruments until after mid day.
Izzy Mant: Polite Club
Luckily I teamed up with a few VERY organised housemates and we found something pretty central. The first time in Edinburgh I rented with a group of people in a basement flat. It was super dark and damp. Never again! That sort of stuff drives you crazy over a month. The flat this year at least has some natural light.
An Audience with Yasmine Day
I've got friends who bought a place in Edinburgh. As friends go, they are Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket. If they ever think of getting divorced, I'll pay for counselling. Still cheaper than paying Fringe rent.
Stella Graham: Sneaky Little Bitch
The rent has gone up quite a bit his year, so I will be in an apartment that I will share with about half the population of the Earth, located light years away from my venue, and it will only cost me all the money I have.
I never had an accommodation disaster, but the first time I went to Edinburgh I stayed at an Airbnb whose decoration could only be described as the wet dream of Saddam Hussein's interior decorator. One morning I was woken up by a putrid smell, when I opened my eyes there was a cat's arse in direct contact with my face. When I got out of bed, I stepped on what I thought was lumpy carpet, only to find out that it was a second cat that started angrily meowing at me. All of this was witnessed by a third cat on the wardrobe. Those three cats knew how to open doors and tormented me throughout the fringe. It got so bad I had to start blocking the door with a chair.
Isa Bonachera: The Great Emptiness
I found a cheap, central flat during the festival last year, so I reserved it straight away. However, it turned out that the estate agent had been sending out invoices on company letter headed paper, but getting the deposits paid into her personal bank account and had now done a runner with them! Fortunately, because I had it all in writing, the estate agent had to offer me another flat. Otherwise I might have been like the anarchist performance artist I met last year, wild camping on Arthur's Seat!
It could seem strange but I've always had the same problem in Edinburgh: in this country you don't use blinds or thick curtains and I'm not used to morning lights and I wake up at dawn every day. Coming from Italy, I would have never thought I'd have problems with the sun in the UK!
Francesco De Carlo: Winning Hearts and Minds
This is the worst year yet for accommodation. We've still got no WiFi or hot water, plus the buzzer doesn't work and we're on the top floor. But although it's very expensive, the consolation is that they demanded ALL OF THE MONEY UP FRONT BACK IN MAY.
Ed MacArthur: Humoresque
It's looking great, I'm staying with some brilliant comedians and humans in a very central location and it was fairly cheap- I'm starting to think that this is too good to be true and that there must be some sort of catch.
Horrible accommodation disaster last year: my flat didn't have WiFi for 3 days.
Jack Gleadow: Mr Saturday Night
As a comedy double act, we are used to sharing dodgy rooms in murdery B&Bs. But for Edinburgh we have splashed out on a flat that not only has two bedrooms, but TWO TOILETS. We are unbearably excited at the prospect of not having to hear each other poo.
This year our accommodation looks extremely adequate - a student let like I've had for the last two years. One of these included a minor disaster in which we were burgled, however within 48 hours we'd recouped all of our losses thanks to a benefit gig MCed by Daniel Kitson with James Acaster - a lovely little bit of fringe magic for the likes of which I would happily consider being burgled again. Although I'd probably have to up my game and get robbed at knife-point this time to elicit the same generosity.
Andy Barr: The Ruby
Would you count a 'previous disaster' as paying for what turned out to be half a double bed for the month, with the other half being given out to random performers every night? If so, very much yes... we can confirm that performance poets with bad body odour do not make great bedfellows.
Max & Ivan: Commitment
I'm sharing with three lads, so I'm hoping this means more shower time for me. I'M SO SEXIST. Last year's accommodation had extremely-polished laminated floors and on the first night there, I was so paranoid that I was going to slip and break my neck; that I almost cancelled my show and took a train back to London before the festival had even begun. I guess you could say I'm a wee sensitive at times.
Naomi McDonald: Copycat
This year I am staying in an apartment with a cat, which I am nervous about because I think cats are enchanted human beings. In my mind this a likely scenario: I'll be talking to the cat daily and if the cat is Scottish it will probably be annoyed by my Americanisms and scratch my eyes out.
Lucie Pohl's Immigrant Jam
It's looking alright. I saw a nice 1 bed flat for £27,000 and made a video about it on my Twitter, then 2 Scottish Newspapers did a story about it. I didn't go for the £27k one though, I have picked a nice one because there was a guitar on the wall in the living room in one of the pictures. Last year on day one there was water flooding through the kitchen ceiling/lightbulb, not really ideal.
Chris Washington: Raconteur
I'm lucky this year. The wonderful Lesley & Martin Sloss are taking me in to their home in Fyfe. (They're Daniel Sloss's parents. He's a "comedian" and I think there's a bright future for him, if he just focused hard on being better, funnier and maybe take care of his skin. Don't let all his Netflix shows fool you.) I'm looking forward to living outside the festival. Treat this year more like work.
Borne of Chaos
I've stayed in the same flat for the last 3/4 years but this year it turned out one of the people renting the flats was scamming acts out of their deposit money. When their job was terminated and replaced the new person tried to cancel my booking (offering me a full refund + £500) so they could rent it out for 3.5 times what I had already paid for it... so yeah. This year has been stressful flat-wise (in the end they let me rent it but in future it would cost a LOT more).
Simon Caine: Every Room Becomes a Panic Room When You Overthink Enough
Mate! It's so claustrophobic and bleak they should have called it a Free Fringe venue.
We did rent a house one time that we thought belonged to strange fetish people, but it turned out the metal bars in the doorways were just for chin-ups, so I was very disappointed.
John Robertson: The Dark Room
I'm pretty excited as I'm in an all-vegan household this year (with Jamie D'Souza and Riordan DJ) and we've got some intense Scrabble games planned (we're very Rock 'n' Roll!)
I've only had one Ed Fringe flat disaster. I used to work for C Venues in 2015 and we had to share 3 bedrooms with 14 people. We had one shower.
Matt Hoss: Here Comes Your Man
I'm staying with an Italian man I have never met before, so who knows! Although to be fair it would be tough to beat my most surreal experience. I stayed with a lovely lady who just happened to be a work-from-home phone-sex operator last year. I learnt so much about which household objects to use when trying to make sexy sound effects in the kitchen.
Steve Hili: The Sexy Environmentalist
One year we'd booked a hotel for the final night but missed the chance to check in because we were too involved in a ceilidh, so slept on my friend's sister's doorstep on some pillows we found in a skip nearby. This year I'm staying with a vicar, which feels much safer.
Harry Baker: I Am 10,000
I live in Edinburgh so frankly it's the lap of luxury compared to my first year when I shared a tent with 12 people. Nine of whom we lost in the mud and never saw again!
Improvised Director's Cut
We're in ruddy Voldemort's flat! Our landlord is one Mr Riddle, and the view from our kitchen is Greyfriar's Kirkyard where his ancestors are buried. (FYI, J.K. Rowling got the name for her Big Bad from the Greyfriar's graves.) We're terribly gothic this year - our comedy show is based on Jekyll & Hyde and we're performing at the Voodoo Rooms. Spooky-dooky!
Jekyll Vs Hyde
Considering last year I was sharing a single bed in a flat meant for 12 people with 17 crammed in, this year sharing a sofa bed in a living room is looking like a five star hotel right about now.
Bodily Functions And Where To Find Them
Good, nice and close to my venue and Noodle & Dumpling. There's the same number of comedians as there are rooms, which is always a bonus.
My first year was brutal. I slept on two couches pushed together in the corner of the kitchen. It was kind of like a really dry hot tub. Plus the couches were two-seaters and I'm 6'2 so I couldn't actually lie flat. Never again.
Daniel Muggleton: Pimpin' Ain't Easy (But I Reckon it's Easier for Straight, White Men?)
My accommodation is my house because I live in Edinburgh. Our home becomes a hostel for fallen or homeless comics during August - it's like working in a Seaman's Mission.
Madame George By Keir Mcallister
It's looking sound this year. My first year at the Fringe (2014) I booked my accommodation very late and ended up staying with a 50-odd year old businessman who had OCD. It wasn't quite the match made in heaven, with my quirky tendency to go out and get hammered and come home and rearrange things. We fell out massively several times. I actually saw him on the streets of Edinburgh last year and he just stared at me like a serial killer. I'm pretty sure he is one TBH.
Adam Rowe: Pinnacle
The Lusty Mannequins and Flo & Joan are sharing a house this year. It'll only be mere minutes of moving in before we crack out crisps, gin and boobytraps to prank each other.
Lusty Mannequins: Uncommonwealth
I once made the mistake of renting a place big enough for my teenage kids to come and stay in with me. Never again.
Cally Beaton: Invisible
Musical Comedy Guide Showcase (Answered by show creator Dave Nattriss.)
Managed to get a very well located and high quality room in a shared house just last week, though have had to pay over £50/night for their privilege. Edinburgh is now my annual holiday as well as work. Musical Comedy Guide Showcase
I'm sharing with 9 other people this year, and I don't know who they are. I think they're comedians, but I don't know which ones. I feel like I've entered myself into the shittest sort of lucky dip, and instead of winning a bottle of wine I'm going to win a man who runs an open mic night in Scunthorpe sleeping in the room next to me. I think the building itself will be nice. Edinburgh flats always are - such high ceilings!
David McIver: Teleport
This year seems really difficult to get anything that doesn't require selling me selling my soul, thankfully the small fee of £4,000 has awarded me a small flat split between me and a couple rats. They are part of a drama group hoping to win the main award this year.
Previous disasters included a window that fell off and me getting to the Fringe a day early.
Njambi McGrath: Accidental Coconut
It's nice! My Fringe flat has beautiful exposed brick...wallpaper. My flatmate manages The Baked Potato Shop off the Royal Mile, and has offered me complimentary fare during my stay. It's been a complete disaster to my waistline.
Zach Zimmerman: Clean Comedy
This year the Fringe gods have blessed me with a cheap central flat, which I am renting with some hilarious performers. Which will hopefully be better than the year I arrived with a group of 8 mates to realise that the house we had paid to stay in, was this interesting Scottish architectural phenomenon, where the building was invisible...because it wasn't real and we had been scammed! Cue a group of dramatic theatre kids crying on the cobbles to the distant sound of a bagpipes...
Séayoncé Déjà Voodoo
Last year the flat was owned by a woman with long hair. It hadn't been properly hoovered and her shed hair stuck to my foot on the way to the loo in the night. So that was nice.
Jeremy Nicholas: What Are You Talking About?
I am staying in the basement of a leading financial journalist's house with the cerebral heavyweights that are Simon Evans and Andy Zaltzman, so my accommodation will be both corporeally and intellectually sound.
Dominic Frisby: Libertarian Love Songs
I'm staying with family this year, it's the best way to keep costs down. Before that I've stayed in various places around the city. Some were great, some were not. One was just a room with nothing but a bed in it, a bit like a cell. I have a friend who once closed the door to the lounge in his flat and the door handle came off in his hand, so he had to spend the night in the lounge until morning when someone outside opened the door to let him out.
Paul F Taylor: Odd Paul
This year I'm staying by Greyfriar's Bobby (in a flat, not just by the dog statue), earning responses ranging from 'that's great that it's so close by' to 'wow right in the action, you're getting no sleep' - so it's safe to say I'm a big ball of nerves over what it's like. Two years ago when I was visiting I stayed with my friend Joby Mageean who said we were just a bus journey away. Turns out it was a 45 minute bus journey. And a tent. So I'm hoping it's better than that.
Edy Hurst: Hurst Schmurst
The first year was a caravan in Leith on the beach, I woke up one morning and I was bobbing along on the North Sea, honestly I could sleep through an alien invasion. Luckily I speak dolphin and was delivered back to the shore before anyone knew I'd gone missing. I treated myself to a bargain bucket that night.
Diane Chorley: Down the Flick
One year I had booked a 2 bedroom flat for myself and my 2 flyers who had started dating before the Fringe. They moved into the second bedroom. By the end of the first week they had broken up. So one stayed in the spare bedroom and one in the front room. Then they both started dating other people by the 2nd week. They then moved in their new partners in. This 2 bed flat had now become a small community, but with tension, exes & new lovers. It was like an episode of Coronation Street that had never made it to telly.
Patrick Monahan: Started from the Bottom, Now l'm Here
This year I'm staying with my best friend, Laura Davis, so I'm looking forward to it. My first year, I lived in a storage closet for a month in a flat with 5 men I didn't really know, so I know how bad it can get. Having a two bedroom flat with my best friend feels like heaven.
Alice Fraser: Mythos
I have no idea what our accommodation will be like this year. I've left sorting it in the hands of Adam Hess, which might have been a terrible error. I've had many disasters in the past. A couple of years ago I was sure that our place was haunted. I kept hearing strange noises from a locked cupboard that we couldn't open, and halfway through the Fringe we had a strange infestation of FLIES that suddenly disappeared one day, it was mad. Also, our landlord that year lived upstairs and said that if we smoked in the flat he'd shoot us and he was really posh so I believed he had a gun.
Jack Barry: Alien
We've spent what feels like a criminal amount of money for what looks like a lovely flat in New Town. (Fingers crossed!) Coming all the way from Australia, we wanted to really enjoy the festival, and that meant prioritising a comfortable living space. Also we're in our 30s and we don't think our backs could take a month sharing a mattress on a share house floor.
I once had a toilet that the door opened inward on but the room was so small the landlord had sawn a toilet-shaped silhouette out of the bottom of the door!
I'm always amused by how random the contents of a rental flat kitchen are. Places that come with a fish knife but not a tin opener, that sort of stuff. What kind of tenants were you expecting?
Alun Cochrane: Brave New Alun
I'm living with a guy called Martin who has nothing to do with the Edinburgh Fringe. While my interest is nice reviews and good numbers, his interests are nice ironed clothes and good Chinese food. It's a match made in heaven. I've been blessed with previous years, as I never plan who to live with. I'm not that organised. I hope comedians who I lived with feel the same way about me.
Fred Cooke: Fred Space
Accommodation during the festival has become so expensive. If you want your own room (which shouldn't seem that big a luxury when you're in your late twenties), you have to pay on average £1,000 for the month. Then often the internet doesn't work, the flat is damp and you have to buy your own bedding. It's amazing the landlords get away with it really - BUT WE KEEP GOING BACK! Not a very funny answer... I promise I don't talk about rental prices in my show.
Annie McGrath: Shepherd
This year I'm renting the smallest flat in the world for roughly the GDP of a developing nation but most others years I rented a garage from an old couple. They were the sweetest pensioners and they had kitted the garage out very nicely.
There was something sweet about coming home from all the drinking, swear and debauchery to stay with two dear OAPs. Nice tea.
Steve N Allen: Better Than
I'm living with the delightful Kelly Convey, Fiona Ridgewell and Ophelie Hocquard. Ophelie's just trained in crystal healing so hopefully we'll all have some great auras this August.
Maddie Campion: Truly Maddie Deeply
It's looking okay, and yeah I've had disasters: the three years people claimed to have Wi-Fi and we turned up only to be handed a dongle; and the year we were in the flat above an angry man who wore an Australian hat and hammered through walls in his flat at 4am.
Ashley Storrie: Hysterical
Well due to the new laws, I think everyone can agree that accommodation is ludicrously expensive this year. I've got a place with good people, but it's really worrying. Not only for a performer's point of view, but now accommodation has risen so high, Edinburgh is running the risk of shooting itself in the foot. Audiences simply won't be able to afford to come. Interestingly my previews in London have sold multiple times what they did last year. I wonder if that could be people not going up because of cost and so watching shows down south instead.
Tom Houghton: That's What I Go to School For
I live in Rosyth. The bus stop is just outside my house and it is a £5 return every day.
I have NO spare rooms in case anyone is asking to live with me.
Ross Leslie: Pretty Shy for a White Guy
Real talk: it's looking a little small. But because we're a tech startup, we like to describe our box bedrooms with one single unshaded lightbulb as 'bijou', 'utilitarian chic' or 'putting the fun in functional'. Last year we stayed with a man that owned too many cats. The year before, some of us stayed with a woman that didn't have enough cats. We're really Goldilocks-ing this experience.
Noser: The Startup Musical
I'm in a pleasant place in Bruntsfield this year, with a bunch of other people doing solo shows, so hopefully we can all be there to cradle each through the lows and envy each other through the highs. The first time I came to the Fringe 8 years ago, I was meant to sleep in a large wardrobe on a blow up mattress, but I would frequently come home to find it was taken by others in the flat who had partners up to visit them at the Fringe and saw my limply inflated futon as an opportunity for some privacy. I spent the majority of nights on a coat on the living room floor. No disasters this year fortunately, though I did receive an email from a letting agent this year advertising a 4 bedroom flat for £21,000 for the month. That must've had one NICE wardrobe!
Archie Henderson: Jazz Emu
Looking good this year as Liz and Phil have freed up a room in Balmoral for me. It's about the same cost as a place near the hub - £23,600 for the month. But I do get to ride the swans.
Phil Nichol: Too Much
Accommodation this year is looking like it does every year. Ran out of time and have spent £20k on a flat the size of a bin. It's marginally better than 2011 when I slept in my friend's bath, and marginally worse than an actual bin.
Stevie Martin: Hot Content
One year a letter arrived through the door at the start of the month about the imminent demolition of my block of flats. I called my letting agency who told me not to panic, it wouldn't start until the festival was over. They started digging up concrete outside my window 7am in the second week of August. I nearly had a breakdown.
John Pendal: Monster
I was quite late to the party this year but I have somewhere now. It doesn't have any windows but when you spend most of your time out in town who needs them?
Gethin Alderman is: Sublime
I always stay in the UNITE student halls. It's pricey but just about cheap enough to allow me to convince myself I can afford to stay on my own and that life is going pretty well.
Action Figure Archive With Steve Mclean
Probably the nicest it's ever looked. First time I stayed up for the month, I stayed in a shared house where people were having sex literally all the time, and I was not. Looking back, I should have realised that it was probably a brothel.
Archie Maddocks: Big Dick Energy
Goodbear (Answered by Joe and Henry.)
Well it's day two and we're still without hot water or working internet and the keys aren't working in the locks. Most of the furniture is also missing. Sam (our landlord) if you are reading this please reply to our email asap. Cheers mate.
It's looking expensive! Congratulations to the residents of Edinburgh who will be sunning themselves in Barbados with the monthly rental of our cast... ;) We are also bringing a large wolf-dog to the festival with us. (Look out for him flyering - he's black and white...) Which didn't exactly make finding accommodation any easier or cheaper!
Whose Mind is it Anyway?
Voldemort & Hogwarts Musical (Answered by Chris Grace.)
We are in our same flat as last year, a lovely and convenient location that just happens to have plumbing from the 1100s.
Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody
It looks nicer than my real home. Once you've heafed a stupid baby out and need your own flat, you can't make money in Edinburgh. Ever. The rent for a two bed flat for one month is a basic minimum £3k now. Yep. Two years ago I got one for £2,800. Have you seen that documentary Years and Years? ANYWAY - I think if you're going to spend that much money on somewhere to stay you might as well spend an extra £300 and get somewhere nice. So it's looking swanky AF. Thank you VERY much.
Jessica Fostekew: Hench
Looking good this year. Not like the time 30 years ago when my bed was a shelf in a cupboard. I'm 6ft 6" and every time you used the door handle it cut you.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live at the Fringe
Because Edinburgh is so expensive during the Fringe and because you spend so much time awake at crazy hours, the best thing to do is find a place next to a kebab shop open late. In 2019, I have accomplished that. Therefore, no matter what happens at my show, I can still drunkenly eat a pizza at 3 am. 7 Fringes in, that is a success in my book.
Sid Singh: American Refugee
One time my bedroom was next to the 'Edinburgh Silent Disco' meet-up point, where 50 people tragically dance around the city sober. Whilst it's a silent disco, every morning I'd hear them at the top of their lungs shouting Mr Brightside out of tune. Very traumatic.
Jack Rooke: Love Letters
We're back in the same place we were in last year, which we love. But our costs are insanely higher because of the changed laws in Scotland. Aaaargh. I understand why, to protect tenants, but why couldn't they have waited until the Fall to enact the law? WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS?
Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvised Full Band Musical
First year in Edinburgh I slept in the corner of someone's living room for £10 a night on a deflated mattress and next to a draught in the wall. There were a lot of spiders scuttling about and one of the lads in the flat had really loud sex....but I have kids so it was still more relaxing than being at home. It was a spa break in comparison.
Esther Manito: Crusade
I left it too late. If I had a personal trainer he'd compliment me on giving myself an hour walk each way every day. Let's hope there isn't a Nando's en route.
James Phelan: Troublemaker
It's looking pretty good. Same place I stayed last year with mostly the same people, who are great. Also there's a fart machine in our flat for some reason and when you're sleep deprived it's a lot funnier than you'd imagine.
Adele Cliff: Undershare
I am staying with two female comedians so I plan to wear a shirt with the words 'The Patriarchy' written on it. However, they are both white so I plan to print them shirts which say 'The Colonial Oppressor'
Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist
It's looking good, I got lucky but I know that isn't the case for everyone. It's been very financially tough for acts this year. In previous years I've organised it and it felt like herding cats. I shouldn't be allowed to be in charge of anything, ever. Maths is not my strong point, memory is not my strong point, assertiveness is not my strong point. I'm a chaotic and confused leader.
Kate Lucas: Is Selling Herself
Ahhhh. We thought we would commute. Waze is saying we would have to leave the day before to make our show time. Which means we will probably only be able to do every third show. Bad planning.
Felix and The Scootermen: Self-Help Yourself Famous