European Villas: A Home Abroad

6 December 2014

From stately castles nestling lochs on the outskirts of Edinburgh, to hilltop estates that grace Croatia’s coastline, private villas are dotted across Europe. There’s no need to forgo that Parisian escape or Roman rendezvous; a stay in a European estate is a great way to break up city sojourns when you simply want to get away from it all.

Self-catering villas provide plenty of peace and quiet, allowing you to relax or explore as your mood takes you. Think undulating green hills and immaculate grapevines, powdery ski slopes and roaring fireplaces, or sundrenched Mediterranean Sea views and salty ocean breezes. Amid these stunning landscapes, villas award lashings of benefits that create an incredible home away from home.

 A villa in France's Languedoc-Roussillon region

All The Added Extras

When it comes to value for money, a European villa can be hard to beat. Whether you’re travelling with a party of five or 25, the cost of a villa split between a group is incomparable to a hotel, given all the exclusive extras.

From multiple living rooms to private theatres; pool decks to shaded terraces, gone are the days of vying for a sun lounger before the crowds hit. Villas offer infinitely more freedom than a hotel, as couples and families alike usually have the home and rambling grounds to themselves.

European villas are mostly found in secluded settings with few neighbours so there’s the added bonus of extra privacy. Those seeking a sightseeing base will also need to consider a location near transport connections. Simply unpack once and use your accommodation as a base for day trips.

Live Like A Local

A European villa offers the chance to wholly embrace the local culture. The choice is yours whether you choose to employ extra help during your stay, but a housekeeper, or majordomo – often whose family have cared for a house over generations – and cook are often the most memorable aspect of your holiday. You’ll feel as though they’re part of the family!

Not only can they make your getaway even easier by assisting with caretaking, cleaning and cooking, but they’ll also provide a great insight into the local culture.

 Climbing ivy is a common sight at private villas

Just think how much you could learn by joining the resident cook on market trips to pick up the day’s ingredients, before partaking in an informal cooking class in your villa’s very own kitchen. You may be let in on family secrets in the preparation of specialities like Tuscan panzanella salad, or regional variants of Zagrebački odrezak (a Croatian veal steak).

For parents, it may also be worth hiring a babysitter to take care of the kids as well as broaden their cultural horizons, while you head out and explore.

Seasonal Savings

Chateaux, cottages, beach houses, ski chalets, castles – these impressive and one-of-a-kind villas add another dimension to a European escape. While a villa’s overall value for money is far better than a hotel, seasonality and location can affect how much you pay.

Popular destinations like Tuscany generally command the highest rates, so consider travelling to smaller European wine regions like Umbria or Provence for a fraction of the cost. For those seeking a sea change, the resplendent Istrian Coast in Croatia or Turkey’s Lycian Coast are exotic and affordable alternatives to the famous Greek Islands.

These comparable destinations offer excellent cultural immersion at significant savings.

 Enjoy the spoils of your own private gardens and pool in Umbria

Best deals can be found in the low season so try and plan your European villa holiday in the spring or autumn in months like April, May and September. When it comes to wine regions, the best time to visit is in September or October during the grape and olive harvest.

Off-season doesn’t always mean avoiding the European summer. Chamonix, a major ski region in France, is a great place for adventure seekers when the weather heats up. Rates for villas or ski chalets generally decrease, and a number of lifts operate to elevate hikers and climbers to lofty altitudes.

If you can wait, last minute bookings in the low season may also mean prices of villas are negotiable.

In the end though, a European villa means so much more than an affordable accommodation option. The engagement with local communities is invaluable, and what makes a villa holiday memorable.

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.