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How to Rent a Holiday Villa

Image of Bunny in Provence

Bunny as a Villa Rental Guru 

Renting a villa abroad can be a daunting prospect, particularly for a first-timer. Just a few years ago, Bunny was one of these first-timers, nervous and somewhat skeptical of the whole experience.

She has since become a total villa-lover and now regularly rents villas for holidays, including with the extended Bunny family. Read about Bunny’s experience and learn from her tips below.

Why Rent a Villa?

Villas can be exceptional value especially for family holidays. They can offer privacy and exclusivity for prices not otherwise attainable. In addition, they provide much more space than a hotel stay usually would. Exclusive amenities, such as private pools, are the icing on the cake.

For reclusive nature-lovers, such as Bunny, the villas are also appealing for their quiet and often scenic locations. It is fully possible, for example, to get a villa sometimes even directly on the beach or situated in a vineyard.

Image of sailboat
Image of Croatia

Fancy a view to the sea? Or to the vineyards?

Renting a villa will also give you more freedom to organize your days as you wish. You are not tied to any pre-determined breakfast or dinner times, the pool is open all day (and night) long and you can usually be less concerned about the noise you make in a secluded villa setting.

Renting villas with a group of friends can also be great fun. Who wouldn’t want to party around the pool in a sunny location with their friends, drinks at hand? You don’t have to be George Clooney to afford that.

Image of Bunny in the pool
Image of Bunny with a drink
Image of Bunny playing table tennis

Poolside fun in France, Grenada and Croatia

Best of all, if you choose to have a villa holiday, you can avoid all the annoying other people! The villa is just for you and your chosen companions. In Bunny’s opinion, that is definitely something worth splurging for.

How to Rent a Villa?

For a first-timer, renting a villa through an agency is the safer option. There are a number of excellent and reputable companies providing these services. Their websites are usually very comprehensive and include search options that make it very handy to compare different villas and locations.

Going through a reputable villa renting company gives you a certain peace of mind about the property as they are fully inspected and vetted by the company in advance. You can also trust that the pictures of the property on the website correspond with reality. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said about the villas on more independent sites such as Airbnb or Tripadvisor’s vacation rentals section.

Image of villa bedroom
Image of Villa Maslina

Bunny booked her Carriacou villa independently and the one in Croatia through an agency

Also importantly, if something goes wrong, there is always a local representative of the villa rental company you can contact for assistance. For example, once Bunny experienced a blown fuse late at night which lunged the entire villa into darkness but it was sorted in no time by a local representative with one easy (though somewhat frantic) phone call. Going through a villa rental company will also provide you with a certain security regarding the payments you have to make, usually weeks in advance.

Villa rental companies often offer a number of additional services too (flights, car rental etc) but these can be of poor value. Just stick with what they know the best, the villas, and organize the rest on your own.

Best Villa Rental Agencies

Based on her experience, Bunny can recommend the following two companies for renting villas in Europe:

Abercrombie & Kent Villas

Vintage Travel

Both have excellent websites, friendly and efficient customer service, and a fabulous collection of properties.

But there are also many other villa rental companies that can help you in your search for the perfect property.

Image of Le Mas de Caseneuve
Image of pool view
Image of Welcome Villa

Are There Any Disadvantages to Renting a Villa?

Like any travel arrangements, villas have their cons too. Bunny can think of a couple.

Unless you rent a villa with its own butler, there will be no-one there to serve you. If you are like Bunny and appreciate privacy over pampering, this is not a problem. But, if you are the kind of person who needs your drinks carried to you while laying by the pool, well, it’s not going to happen in a villa (unless you have a really nice partner).

Meals can also be a bit of headache if you’re not into cooking and the villa is in an isolated location. In the Bunny family, at least, it is sometimes difficult to find a volunteer designated driver to skip wine when going out for dinner.

The solutions to these terrible first world problems include:

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    Choosing a villa that is within walking distance from local restaurants
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    Enquiring about local chef services or
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    Taking turns cooking at the villa. If you are staying with an extended family, cooking simple delicious meals together can actually be a lot of fun in a relaxed environment.
Image of Bunny at dinner table
Image of wine bottle

On a villa holiday, you will need a designated cook or a driver...

When to Go?

Now that you have found a reliable agent (and website) and know what you want, it is time to think about when to rent your villa.

Off Peak

You may not have a lot of leeway with the timing of your holiday, but if you do, it is always advisable to avoid school and other busy holiday periods. This way, you can take advantage of cheaper prices and fewer crowds around. Why pay more for the same villa as you would a week earlier or a week later if you can avoid it?

Check the Weather

This is very important. Even though pictures online might entice you with pools and white sandy beaches, the reality might be that the weather in that particular location is only warm enough for these activities a couple of months a year. November in Tuscany is not pool weather, for example. The same goes for most, if not all, of Europe at that time of the year. A villa holiday in Tuscany in November might be a lovely break regardless, with practically no crowds, cheap prices and potentially lovely sunny autumn days. But pool weather it is not.

And speaking of pools, even in warmer months, say May or September in Europe, a heated pool is an option worth splurging for. Check the villa website carefully for this option and note that you are very likely to have to pay extra for the heating.

Image of heated pool
Image of Magazine Beach

Make sure you have a heated pool or choose a year-round sunny destination

Making Sure the Chosen Villa is Right for You

After you have found a property that fits your needs and budget, and you know when you want to go, you are ready to make the booking, right? Not so fast. Bunny has a long checklist to make sure that the villa is indeed as presented and that she is getting the best possible value for her money.

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Bunny's Checklist Before Finalising Any Booking

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    Check online whether the villa has its own website or Facebook presence, independent from the villa rental company if you are going through one. Oftentimes you will find more pictures and information this way, giving you a better understanding of the property and its surroundings. A general web search on the villa will also reveal if it has been featured in any travel magazines or blog posts in the past (usually a good sign!).
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    Check independent reviews and photos of the villa on Tripadvisor or other travel sites. In particular, read extra carefully the bad reviews to understand whether there are any potential issues that could hamper your holiday. Sometimes the bad reviews raise issues that are of no concern to you (no facilities for children when you are travelling without them) or can even make your experience better (isolated location when you’re looking for one).
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    Check the Google maps satellite picture of the villa to avoid any nasty surprises. You will get a good idea of the location, neighborhood and even the "street" views that way. If you see that a construction crane has suddenly sprouted up, this could save you from disappointment on arrival.
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    Check the property rental prices on a number of different websites before committing to any of them. Sometimes there are substantial differences and you can save a lot by shopping around.
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    Check the cancellation policy and payment protection of any offer you are considering. As stated earlier, going through a villa rental company often provides more security but sometimes it is possible to book the villa cheaper with the owners directly, even if you originally found it through a villa rental company.
Image of a villa with a view
Image of view from window

Bunny's villa elegance in Carriacou and Provence

All of this may seem like hard work, but trust Bunny, it really does pay to do research in advance to make sure your holiday villa will be a success.

Hoppy holidays!

Interested in Bunny's Choices? 

See below for a list of excellent family villas Bunny has rented in the past couple of years:

Image of Bunny paw prints

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  • I found this blog post to be very informative. I have already bookmarked this link. Keep us the Good work.
    Also, Check our house rental provence .

    • Bunny says:

      Thank you! I hope we will all get to travel sometime soon again… ??

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