Friday, November 20, 2009

Best Sites for European Villas on the Cheap

With three of my best friends (you know who you are, you lucky bitches) gearing up for their annual Thanksgiving mecca to St. Barts, it has started me thinking about getaways to exotic places complete with villas, breathtaking scenery, and amazing food. If you are traveling with a group and plan to stay in one place, renting a villa is the way to go. For one, you can forgo the "never-really-relaxing" vibe I get in most hotels (you always feel like you should not be hanging in the room), and with a villa you can also explore local cooking, cocktails, and just plain vegging out. Now, there are villas and there are villas. I am obviously not talking about some $30k a week luxury palace retreat, but something of more humble origins while remaining sophisticated, of course. Here are four companies featured in Travel + Leisure that offer European villa rentals at a great value.

Ville et Village -
With over 250 properties in France and Italy, Carolyn Grote, the founder, says the best bang for your buck is in Provence. For example, La Ferme, a four-bedroom villa outside St.-Remy is going to for $3,488 a week in July. That boils down to $125 a night per bedroom.

Spain-Select -
The "Great Deals" section on the website features properties that are no more than $130 per person per night during high season. A three-bedroom seaside villa called Torre Blanca on the Andalusian coast is just over $1600 per week.

RentVillas -
Based in California, RentVillas has over 1,600 properties throughout Europe. A huge bonus is that they can connect you with previous renters for their unbiased opinions. Imagine this: five-bedroom Villa Bodamia in Islamir Turkey with views of the Mediterranean for $1,294 per week. Ya, getting my passport renewed immediately.

Dream & Charme -
Dream & Charme rents both luxury villas and those a bit easier on the wallet. They recommend Umbria and Pugila in Italy which are 20-30% less than Tuscany. Definitely filing away that gem of info for when the times comes. A five-bedroom, five-bath villa in the Umbrian countryside rents for $4,265 a week---that's right, it's $121 a night per bedroom.

It's not too early to start planning for this summer!

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