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By Anna Sarjeant

Villa holidays are the best way to experience local life in gorgeous European countries. Your House of Travel expert will find you a match made in villa heaven, but here are 10 considerations to mull over first.

1. Ask yourself where you want to go and get specific
Sounds obvious, but the South of France spans seven regions alone. Start with must-see landmarks, cities or a preferred landscape. Do you want to be close to the coast, the capital, or châteaux?

2. Are you taking the kids?
Look for villas with living spaces well away from the kids’ bedrooms — for when the younger guests have been put to bed. Preferably close to the wine cellar.

3. Consider how isolated you really want to be
The rural lifestyle is dreamy; stone cottages surrounded by nothing but sunflowers — lovely. But do you really want to get the car every time you need bread? Ask for villas in walkable distance of local shops.

"If you’re intending to book a beautiful Italian villa, start by marking on a map all the places you want to visit, then ask your consultant to find a villa right in the middle. Don’t forget to include plenty of local trattorias!"
By HELEN JACKSON, House of Travel Remuera

4. Get savvy with your expenditure

You might be drawn to Lake Como or the Côte d’Azur, but so is everyone else. Foreign visitors go gaga for these areas and it has an eye-popping effect on the price. Go inland to push down the price. You’ll lose the sea views, but you’ll gain more Euro for other indulgences, such as a swimming pool, or daily croissants from the patisserie.

5. Book several months in advance 
Villas fill even faster than you might think. When you consider the French mostly holiday in their own country, you’re not just competing against foreign visitors, but residents too.

6. Ask about shoulder months 
Villa prices can drop by at least 15-20 per cent in April, May and September, with weather staying mostly fair. Worth bearing in mind if you aren't restricted by school terms. 

7. Always dreamt of a palace abode?
An Italian villa may be just that, a country retreat, but there are also farmhouses, palaces and monasteries that have been converted into hotels and apartments and sit under the ‘villa’ category.

8. Ask about all the local experiences 
You’ll love interacting with the neighbours. The owners of the local bakeries and food shops will eagerly talk to someone they see every day, and you’ll go home with a better feel for the culture and rhythm of the country.

9. Go inland to push down the price 
You’ll lose the sea views, but you’ll gain more Euro for other indulgences, such as a swimming pool, or daily croissants from the patisserie.

épicerie \e.pi.s i\
The French equivalent of a dairy, perfect for quick shops and snacks. A supermarché is big, but don’t pass up the boucherie (butcher), charcuterie (deli) or boulangerie (bakery). 

10. Avoid sharks. Not literally. 
But by booking through House of Travel you’ll avoid any possibility of online scams. You’ll benefit from assistance before and during your trip, and if anything does go awry, your consultant is just a phone call away.

Villa you come for a chat? Pop in-store to suss out your ideal villa stay, or Click Here for all our UK & Europe holiday deals. 

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> Italy: Know before you go

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