An introduction to villa holidays
Holiday villas offer a home from home, whether you're looking for a property with its own pool, a luxury villa or a stunning sea view...
Villa holidays offer a different experience to staying in a hotel or apartment. They let you set your own holiday pace, often include a private pool and give you the freedom to do what you want whenever you want to do it. It’s like having your own holiday home – a recipe for a truly relaxing trip.
When planning villa rentals, it’s important to consider what you want from your holiday. Do you want to relax around the pool and fit in sightseeing at a leisurely pace, or is a central location that minimises the travelling distance to major sights your top priority? That’s why it’s a good idea to list your must haves, as well as the amenities you would like to have – while remembering to keep an open mind.
When opting for a villa rental, you can often find somewhere that meets all your holiday needs. But whether it's the first time you've booked or something you've done a hundred times before, our tips can help you find the perfect place.
You can rent a villa in a wide variety of destinations across Europe and beyond...
The most popular destinations for British tourists are the Spanish mainland, the Balearic Islands, Cyprus, France and Florida.
Spanish mainland – the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca are the home to a high concentration of villas. From high-end, luxury villas to resort complexes and converted farmhouses known as fincas, you will find a range of properties along the Mediterranean coast. Read more here.
Majorca - the largest of the Balearic Islands has a huge number of resort areas to choose from and is ideal for families and groups looking to get away from it all, while remaining within easy reach of the UK. Read more here.
Nearby Ibiza is a great alternative to Majorca. Villas in Ibiza can be a good choice for those going on clubbing breaks and wanting to keep the party going in their own holiday home.
Florida – the Sunshine State is where many Americans have their holiday homes. Why not enjoy the same experience by renting a villa to make the most of your USA vacation? Read more here.
France – with the option of taking your own vehicle or flying in and picking up a car, you have the choice of many types of villa holiday in France. Read more here.
Cyprus – Aphrodite’s island offers a range of quality properties, many of which come with wonderful sea views and offer easy access to the excellent food and drink on offer in the various coastal resorts. Read more here.
Algarve villa holidays – this coastline in southern Portugal boasts an array of villas – as well as wide sandy beaches and year-round sun. At less than three hours from the UK by air, it’s also excellent value for money and ideal for families and sporty types.
Greece villa holidays – the many islands of the Greek archipelagos offer a great choice of villas for a summer holiday. Pick from bigger islands such as Crete, Rhodes and Corfu, or get away from it all on smaller ones such as Skiathos and Skopelos.
Italy villas – from classic destinations such as Tuscany and Sicily to the rustic charms of unspoilt Puglia, a villa holiday in Italy can offer a real slice of ‘la dolce vita’.
Turkey villas – choose from villas in the Bodrum region on the Aegean coast or from resorts around the Mediterranean coast such as Olu Deniz, Fethiye and Kalkan.
Once the preserve of the rich, a villa holiday is now very affordable and should not be dismissed due to concerns about your holiday budget...
Villas vary hugely in price and can be very reasonable. Out of the peak season you can easily find one at the cheaper end of the scale that will cost you less than £100 per person per week.
However, as you generally pay by the week for the whole property, you will need to find one that fits your party size. Booking a villa that sleeps eight for a group of only four is always going to work out more expensive. So think about the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms you need and try to fill all the rooms to keep the per-person cost down.
Many of our villa holiday partners can include car rental as part of their villa quotes. However, it always makes sense to see if you can find car hire cheaper elsewhere. Remember too when booking that you will generally need to pay for flights or ferry crossings on top of the accommodation costs.
Here’s our checklist of things to think about when planning your villa rental and organising your break...
1. Villa location.
You may have decided upon your destination, but what about the location of the villa itself. Are you looking for somewhere near the beach, the countryside or close to a city? An isolated retreat may seem ideal when you're booking it, but think carefully about the practicalities – especially if you're with children or a large group. Is there a shop or restaurant within walking distance, for example?
2. Choose the right sized property
Think about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you'll need and check whether any of the beds are sofa beds. Will it be a problem for a member of your party to sleep in the lounge?
3. Swimming pool
The quality of the pool can make or break your villa holiday. So before booking, check the size of the pool, whether it is heated and if so, whether you have to pay to switch the heating on? If you're holidaying with children, check too that the pool has a shallow end and a shelved entrance or steps for toddlers. Other factors to consider include whether the pool is exclusive to your villa or shared with other properties, and whether there enough sun beds for everyone travelling.
Villa holidays are generally self-catering. Some homes are supplied with large, well-equipped kitchens while others will just have a kitchen corner or kitchenette. You should always have enough pots, pans etc. for the maximum amount of people that can occupy the villa, but if you're planning on a lot of cooking it's best to inquire about the nature of the facilities.
Check the facilities for children. If the villa has a television, does it also have UK satellite channels or a DVD player (in which case, you might want to pack some favourite films)? If travelling with a baby, meanwhile, make sure there is a cot and high chair.
Some villas have specific days of the week for check-in and checkout, (usually a Saturday) so ensure this fits in with your plans. If you're looking for a 10-day break, for example, you might want to book a week at a villa plus three nights at a hotel. The same goes for weekend breaks – during peak holiday periods these may not be permitted unless there's a last minute booking or a cancellation.
When it comes to choosing the date of your villa holiday, remember that weeks in the school holidays get booked up very early – some of the best villas are booked 12 months in advance. So be prepared to book early to get the accommodation you want, or to be flexible and change your dates. Also, check your flight times. Most villas need to be vacated in the morning and are not available for new arrivals until late afternoon. So try to time your flights or ferries accordingly to prevent having to hang around.
Look out for villas with free wifi and air conditioning, as well as any other items you need such as a cot or an entertainment system. It’s also worth checking whether bedding and towels are included – just in case. You will often have to leave a deposit on arrival. This will be refunded at the end of the holiday unless you cause any damage.