Renting a Holiday Villa

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More and more people are choosing to holiday in a villa rather than a hotel. let's look at how to make sure it's a happy holiday.

Almost everyone wants a combination of sea view, privacy, and walking distance to beach, shops and restaurants. And at a keen price. That's a very difficult combination to deliver, so work out which of the features you are willing to compromise on in advance, rather than being seduced by the first nice pictures you see.

Villa hire is usually by the week, although out of season things get much more flexible. You will usually be
asked to arrive in mid to late afternoon, and leave by ten in the morning, to allow the owner or caretaker to clean the villa. If that doesn't suit with your flight timings always ask, as if there is no-one arriving the day you leave a late checkout can often be agreed.

Villas are usually owned by individuals, and let either direct, or through agencies who handle the administration of bookings and brochures. This means the level of service / friendliness / cleanliness will never be wholly consistent. Opinions are divided on whether booking direct or booking through an agent is the best option. A site like will have tens of thousands of villas to choose from, whereas a specialist agency site like will only have two or three hundred. If you book direct, remember there will be no-one but the owner to complain to if things are not as promised, so make sure you have detailed, written commitments in advance.

Price is not a good indication of what a villa is like inside. Price is related much more to location, how many it sleeps, and what time of year you are looking to rent it. Don't be afraid to ask for more pictures by email if you are not sure about anything. In fact asking for more information before you book is a really good way to find out how helpful the people are that you are dealing with.

Check what is included in the price. This varies with different companies, with some seeming to make charges for everything. Items to check include booking fees, credit card charges, bed linen, air conditioning and electricity

Email is better than the telephone! Ask questions by email and store the answers. Then if you have a dispute later you have a written reference of what you were promised. Never assume that anything will be fine - confirm it before you go.

You will normally be asked for a deposit when you book, with the balance to be paid around two months before your holiday. After paying your deposit you will receive a letter of confirmation, with details of your villa, price paid, when the balance is due etc.

Beware of low- or no-deposit offers. They look attractive, but if you have to cancel your holiday you usually lose the full deposit, which can be quite a lot of money.

You will normally be given detailed directions to find the villa in your travel pack. These are usually written by people who know the area well, and spend all their days finding obscure properties. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive in comfort, and preferably in daylight. Villas are not like hotels, and don't have big illuminated signs outside. Take a torch in your hand luggage! Even if your flight is due to arrive in daylight delays happen, and a torch can be a godsend when trying to find a villa.

Another benefit of arriving in good time is the chance to ask for guidance as to local shops, places to eat etc. No matter how helpful the owner / caretaker may be, they have probably just been working frantically to clean your villa, and really want to go home and put their feet up. Make sure you know how everything works, and above all check contact arrangements for if you have a problem.

If you do have a problem, ask the owner or caretaker to resolve it. If that doesn't workand you booked through a company - call them straight away. They don't want you to suffer for a week then write a letter, because there is nothing they can do at that stage. Take notes of when you called, who you spoke to etc.

Most holiday villas are great, and a little care and attention will make sure you get a great one!
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