With the first (sunny) May bank holiday under our belts, I think we can officially say that summer is ON. Bring on the rosé, the sandals, sunshine on our faces, balmy nights and the holidays…Because there’s nothing quite like a holiday. Even if they’re a little different from ones of the past (read not quite as restful with four children running around), a gorgeous sun-drenched holiday is still a tonic for the soul. With this in mind, we asked villa experts Scott Williams for five of their favourite family-friendly bolt holes – from large (great for sharing with friends) to small. Get ready to drool and perhaps even book, because these are The Dream….
With over 150 properties in Europe and beyond, every single one of Scott Williams’ houses has been visited and selected because it offers something that little bit special. Here’s where’s hot this summer….
New for summer 2018, this lovely house is perfect for a family of four. Located on the Greek island of Paxos, you fly to Corfu before taking a short boat transfer to the island. It’s the lack of airport that is the destination’s saving grace, ensuring it retains its uncrowded and traditional Greek charm. Offering beautiful views of the Ionian Sea, there are two bedrooms, each with fabulous views (and its own ensuite), while the pool, set outside the sitting room, has a great terrace with sun beds and two different seating areas. A small path takes you down to Lakkos beach in just five minutes, or wander in the opposite direction and you’ll reach Monodendri Beach, home to the coolest spot on the island, Ben’s bar.
Perla sleeps up to four in two bedrooms and costs from €700 per week, villa rental only, including a daily maid service and the services of Scott Williams’ Paxos concierge.
Offering the same standard of beautiful houses that you’d find in Greek, but at impressively lower prices, Croatia is perfect for those looking for a stylish break in a stunning destination. Villa Zora is set on a hilltop on the edge of a tiny hamlet and enjoys staggering views across the Istrian countryside. Recently converted with beautiful contemporary interiors, there’s a large open plan sitting room and kitchen, a library that’s perfect for escaping midday sun and lots of Scandi cool furniture, handmade baskets and modern sculpture, plus plenty of enormous windows to soak up the views. Outside, the beautiful curved swimming pool has teak on one side and lawn to the other, offering more amazing views, with a large dining terrace offering the perfect evening spot.
Villa Zora sleeps six in three en suite bedrooms and costs from €571 per person, villa rental only and including maid service.
Tesoro is full for summer 2018, but it’s such a gem, we’re sharing so you can get ahead for 2019, as this is the only villa we’ve ever seen with its own soft play room! Sleeping up to 12, this is a great option for families with young children and babies holidaying together – inside there’s the soft play room, as well as an outside fenced garden area with play equipment, a trampoline, ping pong table, a 12x6m pool and a huge range of kid’s games. Inside, Tesoro offers a traditional Umbrian farmhouse with real style – the 16th century building is now a modern retreat, with exposed stone floors, beautiful terracotta tiles and features including a stunning copper bath in the master bedroom and a grand piano. There are four double bedrooms and an enormous children’s bedroom, featuring a bed with a mattress the size of two doubles pushed together. Located in Umbria, the villas of Piegaro and Tavernelle are both 5km away, with Citta della Pieve, Panicale and Castiglione del Lago also close by.
Tesoro sleeps up to 12 in five bedrooms and costs from €419 per person, per week, villa rental only, including twice weekly maid service. Cooks and babysitters are also available to hire, payable locally.
Split into two wings, Casa Ronda in southern Spain is brilliant for two families holidaying together. The swimming pool is gated, meaning parents with small children don’t need to worry, and the outdoor play area is great for keeping children happy. Located in a tranquil spot and recently renovated, the restored farmhouse is surrounded by five acres of gardens, fields and orchards and offers view of the striking mountain range beyond. The house is finished beautifully, painted in soft greens and blues, with original wooden features and rich furnishings giving a luxurious, but welcoming atmosphere.
Casa Ronda sleeps 14 in seven bedrooms and costs from £257 per person, per week, villa rental only and including maid service four days per week. A chef can be arranged, payable locally.
Sitting in 120 acres of one of the most beautiful valleys in the French Languedoc, Maison Francoise offers the perfect escape with families or friends. Transformed from an ancient wine barn, its designer interiors are stylish, with sumptuous furnishings and luxury sheets and towels, while outside a huge private swimming pool sits within a beautiful courtyard. Should you tire of relaxing on the comfy sunbeds, there’s plenty to keep you entertained including a tennis court, bicycles and table tennis, or it’s just a 35-minute drive to beautiful Carcassonne. Each evening, join friends on the terrace for evening drinks as the sun sets, then choose the second terrace or landscaped courtyard as your setting to enjoy dinner, before retiring to the fumior – a decadent cinema space with surround sound and limitless films on tap.
Maison Francoise sleeps up to 14 in six bedrooms and costs from £357pp per week, villa rental only, including four hours per day maid service.