ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Choose Your Perfect Holiday Home

Updated on February 5, 2019
Riviera Rose profile image

Riviera Rose moved from London to the French Riviera in 2000 and hasn't looked back!

Your dream villa?
Your dream villa?

Planning your next vacation? Are you considering renting a villa or an apartment, and finding it hard to choose between the extensive selection on offer? If you’re a group of friends or an extended family, a villa is the ideal solution, offering flexibility and lower costs than hotels. Why not stay as core guests and invite people to join you, sharing the costs? It’s an ideal way to get to know an area and enjoy the freedom to buy food at local markets and grocery shops, therefore keeping an eye on finances. A villa (or apartment) also gives you space, and plenty of room to lounge around in if the weather lets you down, not to mention your own pool, if you want it. The internet is full of sites for renting holiday homes, but here are some basics to consider before making your choice.

What Is the Set Up?

Are you renting a stand-alone villa with private pool, or are you renting an apartment within a villa, with a shared pool? If the pool is shared, by how many people? Do you have access to the poolside barbecue and kitchen? Can your children play in the garden, or are you limited to a terrace/balcony? Make sure you know what to expect in advance!

Disclaimer

I manage the villa next door to me in the south of France. This hub is based on my own experiences and tips and comments from friends who rent out their properties. It is not just a shameless plug for my property, honest, even if there is a link to my website at the bottom…

Local knowledge can make all the difference
Local knowledge can make all the difference

Are the Owners/Managers Near By?

Where is the owner/manager? Will they be on hand to offer advice and local knowledge, or will you be left to your own devices by someone who’s managing several properties?

A little local knowledge can be invaluable, but you might find that, once you’ve been handed the key, that’s the last you see of you owner/manager until you’re returning it a week later. Ask if they’re near by, especially if you’re unsure of your language skills. If they are, don’t be afraid of asking about local shops, markets, restaurant recommendations, activities for children, etc. Most will be only too happy to help – not only do they want you to have a wonderful holiday experience, they also want you to come back next year AND tell all your friends!

Double or twin - it could be an embarrassing mistake!
Double or twin - it could be an embarrassing mistake!

How Many Rooms and Beds Do You Need?

If you have children and fancy a holiday with other friends, work out first how many rooms you need – are the children happy to share? How is the house/villa divided up? Take a good look at the bedrooms – if one is substantially bigger or more luxurious than the others this might cause problems. Likewise, think about the configuration of beds. If the children can share, are there enough twin-bedded rooms? Do the owners have spare beds, and if so, is there a room big enough to fit it comfortably, and do they charge for additional linen? Are all the rooms on the same floor, or on different levels? Some may even be in separate buildings – which is fine for adults, but not suitable for children. Also, if travelling with older companions, you might want to check that there’s a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor.

Too close or just right?
Too close or just right?

How and Where Is the Pool?

In photos, the size of swimming pools can be deceptive. If the owner hasn’t given dimensions, the chances are the pool is on the small side. Which might be fine, unless you’re keen swimmers or have many children to keep entertained. Likewise, how close is the pool to the villa? Families with older kids might be delighted to find the pool right by the living room, but this creates obvious problems for families with very young children. Then again, some might grumble about a pool being considerably far away from necessities such as refrigerators and bathrooms!

Walking distance to the bakery?
Walking distance to the bakery?

How Remote Is the Villa?

The idea of a remote cottage miles away from anywhere might be romantic, but have a think about the practicalities. It makes a world of a difference having a food shop and a bakery within walking distance. Likewise, you don’t want to drink and drive, so restaurants close by also make life so much easier.

HOW ARE THE ROADS?

If you’re hiring a car, or taking your own, it doesn’t hurt to find out about the roads you’ll be driving on. A lovely village in the hills might entail hairpin bends and extremely narrow lanes – if you’re driving a huge people carrier this might prove stressful!

On your doorstep, or a drive away?
On your doorstep, or a drive away?

What About Outdoor Activities?

If you love the great outdoors and want to go swimming or hiking or cycling during your stay, how far are you from the nearest beach, or good cycle lanes, or hiking trails? Are they on your doorstep or are you going to have to get in a car first, which often rather defeats the object.

What Are the Facilities Like?

Don’t be seduced by the beautiful photos, but go through the details (often listed and ticked/checked on the website) to make sure of all the facilities. Is there a hairdryer? Is there a dishwasher? Do you have access to a washing machine and (especially in low season) a tumble dryer? Take a few minutes to think of what you might need – a microwave, for example, or a DVD player, or a docking station for your iPod – and then go through the facilities offered to check they’re on the list.

Relax without worrying about Ming vases!
Relax without worrying about Ming vases!

Is the Villa Too Posh?

This might sound strange, but if you’re a group and have children, you don’t want to spend your holiday fretting about breakages or spillages and losing your security deposit. You want the villa to be friendly and charming, not a museum. Study the photos carefully – does it look like something out of an interior design magazine, or does it look like somewhere where you and your children can be relaxed and happy?

Want to hire a bike?
Want to hire a bike?

Get Advance Info

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, both in advance of booking and arriving. If you want to hire bikes, for example, check with the owner/manager if bike hire nearby is available. Likewise, if you want a table at a famous and popular restaurant in high season, ask the owner/manager if they’d mind booking it on your behalf. It’s better to get these things sorted in advance rather than springing last minute panics on people!

Changeover Day

Most villas have Saturdays as their changeover days, with departures by 10:00 and arrivals not welcome until 16:00 to allow for cleaning. If your plane is landing earlier than that, see if you can deposit your luggage and then perhaps head out to a nearby supermarket for provisions. If you’re arriving later than that – have a think about what you’ll need. Will there be a restaurant open? Can the owner/manager buy a few provisions on your behalf? (Many will offer a welcome pack as a matter of course.) How is the shopping situation on Sundays? In France, for example, many small shops are open on Sunday mornings (to catch the church-goers) but remain stubbornly closed all day Monday. Ask in advance where you can buy your necessities.

Beware Dodgy Electrics and Plumbing

We’ve all been there – you have a load of washing to do, the dishwasher’s full and the air-con or radiator is blasting away. Then you switch on the kettle and boom! – all your power goes. Where is the trip switch? It’s hard enough finding your way around in the dark in a property you know, but if you don’t even know what you’re looking for, this can be a nightmare. Make sure to ask on arrival where it is, and ask the owner/manager if there are any dangers in using too many appliances simultaneously. Likewise, sometimes even the fanciest-looking of bathrooms can let you down – missing plugs for example. It doesn’t hurt to pack a universal plug in your luggage to be on the safe side.

Winter on the Cote d'Azur
Winter on the Cote d'Azur

Beware of Hidden Costs

Everyone prices their villas differently. Some will come up with all-in fees, while others charge extra for bed linen and towels, cleaning, electricity, water and gas. Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for when booking.

CONSIDER LOW SEASON

Some places, such as the South of France, are genuinely lovely over winter – quieter, with less traffic and fewer restaurant or museum-goers, but still sunny and warm by lunch time and early afternoon. The rates are lower and you can get a good deal – and there’s no harm in trying to get your rate down or negotiating a rental period that isn’t Saturday to Saturday. That said, there is no point in trying to do either in peak season – owners and managers know what their property is worth and that if you don’t take it, someone else will.

A Final Word of Caution

If you’ve chosen somewhere in a very smart, well-known area, the chances are local burglars know only too well that the villa is rented and that Saturday is changeover day. They also know that visitors will invariably be tired and disoriented, and more inclined to leave valuables lying around within easy reach. If the villa has shutters, use them. Keep your valuables with you in the bedroom. Be on your guard – these people are opportunists, don’t give them any! Dare I say it’s a good argument for renting in lesser-known, more discrete towns or villages, from where you can drive to the ritzy spots.

Choose the right property, in the area suited to your needs, and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful holiday. I hope this helps you to make the right choice for you and your loved ones. Enjoy!

A Quick Poll

How do you feel about renting a vacation villa?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Rajan Jolly, thank you for your nice comment and vote. Do come and visit France one day!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Useful pointers for choosing a vacation home. I haven't had the opportunity to do so as yet as it has been either with relatives, friends or hotels with whom we've stayed while on vacation but will keep them in mind.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Deborah, thanks for you comment. Come to France one day!!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      8 years ago from Iowa

      Great tips. My husband and I rented homes for the last two vacations we took and have found it's definitely the way to go for us.

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Letitia, thanks for your comment, and I hope you enjoy the website!

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 

      8 years ago from Paris via California

      Having done this a number of times, this is very wise advise. I'd say more, but I'm too anxious to dash off to check out your property!

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Kidscrafts, thanks for visiting - and come and visit France again soon! Il sera un plaisir de vous rencontre!

      Hi Muldercub, thanks for your comment. I c ouldn't agree more, much nicer to have the place to yourself without other guests getting in the way! And so much easier to pinch the best sunbed! :)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      8 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      That sounds interesting and you give a lot of informations! Usually we go in hotels but I think for a longer stay, it would be nice to rent an appartment or a villa!

      Très bon article.... et très belles photos! Merci!

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Girishpuri, thanks for your lovely comment - and do come and visit France some day, there's so much to enjoy here!

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      8 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Your hub inspires to visit France. some very good advice and Awesome hub. God bless.

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Kalmiya, well I hope my hub didn't put you off!! Sadly security is an issue wherever you are in the world it seems to me, but it's that first night in a holiday rental where you're most susceptible. I wanted to highlight that, but I certainly don't to put people off!! Thanks for your comment and vote.

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 

      8 years ago from North America

      You've mentioned some very good advice for renting a vacation villa/apartment. There are many things to consider and especially depending what part of the world you're in, security. Currently I just take a hotel room and after reading your hub will continue to do so! Thanks for the info and voted up.

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi INFJay, thanks so much for your comment, and good luck with your trip!

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 

      8 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Reading your hub has inspired me to plan a trip! Excellent ideas and advice. Thanks.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)