For our family summer holiday, my husband and I always choose self catering holidays in flats, apartments or villas. We find it more relaxing knowing that the maid isn’t going to knock on the door to clean the room at any moment, so that we can lie in or take siestas whenever we please! Plus of course the advantage of being able to prepare ones own meals keeps the cost down and we can also come and go as we please.
For many years, we stayed in one bedroomed apartments particularly when the kids were tiny, but now that they’re bigger and want to stay up later we find two bedrooms makes for a much more relaxing holiday!
These are the things we look for to have a successful villa holiday:
1. Pay for as many bedrooms as you can afford. We had a three bedroom villa last summer at a bargain price , even though there are only four of us, and it’s made us always want one! If anyone suffers from insomnia or if one of the kids has a bad dream, it’s great to be able to spread out and know that you don’t need to disturb anyone else. Great for afternoon siestas too – kids in one room, mum in one and dad in one!
2. If you’re going somewhere hot in the summer, try and book somewhere that has air conditioning. Breeze from open windows can be great, but if you suffer from mozzies like I do, it’s good to be able to keep everything closed and still be cool. It can be a lot easier to sleep with air conditioning too, plus you can turn it up, down or even off to make sure everyone’s comfortable.
3. Location is really important. My husband isn’t happy unless we go out every night, even if it’s just for a drink and a wander, so a remote villa high on a hillside with fantastic views isn’t going to work for him. Check walking distances with the owners or agents to see where you can get to, to avoid arguments about anyone having to drive in the evenings.Of course it works the other way too – you might be looking for complete peace & quiet and not want to be any noisy bars and restaurants.
4. If you can, book somewhere with a washing machine (seem to be standard in lots of villas nowadays). I actually quite enjoy doing the washing in Spain as I know I can hang it out on the line and it’ll be dry the same day! This means you don’t have to pack as many clothes either, which in turn helps with the more meagre luggage allowances.
5. Try not to take too many toys, books etc. Many places have lots of these that have been left by previous tenants so again, will save precious luggage space. Most people buy cheap toys for the pool locally and then leave them behind – sadly we don’t get as much use for them in this country!
6. If you don’t want a hire car for the whole trip, make sure you can get to a supermarket on foot – you might need to go every day if you don’t have a car. Alternatively, think about hiring a car for just a day or two and use it to do a big supermarket shop for things like drinks and bottles of water.
7. Having your own pool can be a great advantage to booking a villa – no sunbed sharing, no other people’s children making a racket – it’s some how ok when it’s your own children in your own pool! Make sure you have very strict pool rules especially for little people. We locked the door to the outside last year and put the key high up, so kids couldn’t get out there without us. We also made sure the youngest wore a floating jacket at all times near the water.
8. Some villas have lovely glass topped tables outside as they’re great for all weathers. We find the nearest cheap souvenir shop and buy plastic bowls, cups and plates for the kids. They’re usually very cheap, easy to bring home if you want to and less worrying on glass surfaces…
9. Finally – do lots of research before you book. There are loads of websites with owners advertising their private villas so you don’t have to go through travel companies if you don’t want to. Bargains can often be had either very early (year before) or sometimes by booking late, so if you can be flexible you may well get a good deal. Have a great time!