How to Rent a European Villa (and Not Go Broke)
Why spend your European vacation in a small, pricey hotel room when you can rent a private villa?
If the words “because I can’t afford it” are about to roll off your tongue, allow me to interject. While “villa” tends to be synonymous with “exorbitant,” infinity pools, panoramic vistas and private paths to the beach aren’t as out of reach as you might think. You just have to know what to look for, and when. To that end, here are five tips for getting your own exclusive country estate — if only for a week.
A villa from Abercrombie & Kent, which inspects its properties. Not every company or agency has an established reputation, though.
Abercrombie & Kent的一栋别墅，它经过公司的统一核查。但不是每一个公司或机构都有良好声誉。
1. Nab a couples deal Take, for instance, The Thinking Traveller, a villa rental company based in London. The company’s website has special offers on large villas available only to couples, or couples with a pre-school-age child. Just one of the villa’s bedrooms will be made up when you arrive (the bedroom considered to be the best), and while you must sleep in that particular room, you nonetheless get the entire villa and its grounds to yourself. The current couples offer on the Thinking Traveller is for villas in Sicily, Puglia and the Ionian Islands — many with sea views, pools, terraces, gardens — available between now and just before the end of October, starting at about $2,140 a week, or $306 a night (a seven-night minimum stay is required).
1. 抢订一套情侣别墅。比如，总部位于伦敦的Thinking Traveller公司的网站上，就提供了仅限情侣或带学龄前儿童的夫妻租赁的大型别墅。不过，别墅里只为你准备了一间卧室（应该是最好的一间）。虽然只能在特定的房间休息，但你仍然可以享受整套别墅的设施和庭院。Thinking Traveller目前提供的情侣别墅位于西西里岛(Sicily)、普利亚(Puglia)和爱奥尼亚群岛(Ionian Islands)，许多是海景别墅，配有泳池、露台和花园，即日起至10月底可供租赁，起价为一周2140美元，即每晚306美元（需至少预订7晚）。
On a tighter budget? Some villa rental companies have one- or two-bedroom properties that are perfect for couples. If, for example, you search on the James Villa Holidays website for properties that accommodate two travelers, you’ll turn up modest homes with swimming pools that cost less for a full week than some hotels cost per night — like a two-bedroom property with a pool in Mallorca, Spain, starting about $483 a week; and a three-bedroom home with a pool on Costa Blanca in Spain, also starting about $483 a week, or $69 a night. (Use the ratings and traveler reviews on the site to help evaluate the various options.)
预算还是不够？有些别墅租赁公司提供了只有一间或两间卧室的房屋，对情侣来说再合适不过了。例如，在James Villa Holidays网站上搜索适合两人下榻的别墅，就会发现一些价格不高的房屋，而且配备了泳池，一周的租金比有些酒店一晚的房费还便宜——比如西班牙马略卡岛的一套房产，带有两间卧室和一个泳池，起价约为一周483美元；还有位于西班牙白色海岸的一套房产，带有泳池和两间卧室，起价同样是一周483美元，即69美元一晚（可以参考网站上的价格和用户评论进行比较）。
2. Venture farther afield Reputable rental companies make it clear when a property is a bit remote. In addition to tranquillity, such homes generally come with lower prices. A three-bedroom stone farmhouse with a fireplace, pool and a dining loggia, described on Tuscany Now as “off the beaten track” in Umbria (near Cortona), starts at $1,514 a week, or around $216 a night. On James Villa Holidays, a two-bedroom villa with a pool in Arbucies, part of the Costa Brava, was also referred to as “off the beaten track” with “views to the high mountain peaks of the Montseny Natural Park.” Prices during a recent search started about $1,172 a week, or $167 a night. I stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn in Idaho that was more expensive.
2. 租在远点的地方 信誉较好的租赁公司都会说明哪些别墅位置较为偏僻。租赁这类房产不仅可以远离尘嚣，租金也会较低。一套位于翁布里亚（Umbria，科尔托纳[Cortona]附近）的石砌农舍，拥有三间卧室、壁炉、泳池和用餐凉廊，被Tuscany Now公司描述为“非同凡响”，最低租金为一周1514美元，即每晚216美元。另一套获得同样评价的房产来自James Villa Holidays，有两间卧室，泳池位于布拉瓦海岸(Costa Brava)的阿布册斯(Arbucies)，在别墅内可以欣赏到蒙塞尼自然公园(Montseny Natural Park)的山峰。最近的搜索发现，这套别墅起价约为一周1172美元，即每晚167美元。我在爱达荷州住过的一家希尔顿花园酒店都比这贵。
3. Vacation off-season Renting a villa in Provence is most expensive during high season in July and August. Prices tend to go down a bit in May, June and September, though the best deals to be had are during the low season, October through April. On the rental site Ville et Village, a three-bedroom villa with a pool and views of the Alpilles mountains near St.-Rémy-de-Provence is $4,485 a week (about $641 a night) in August. Yet in April, that same villa is offered for nearly $2,000 less: $2,588 a week, or about $370 a night. You may not make use of the pool then but, hey, there’s also a fireplace.
3. 淡季出行 普罗旺斯的别墅在7、8月的旺季租金最高，在5月、6月和9月稍微便宜一点，最划算的是淡季，即10月到4月。别墅租赁网站Ville et Village上显示，在圣雷米(St.-Rémy-de-Provence)附近，一套带有三个卧室的别墅，配有泳池，可以欣赏阿尔卑斯山风光，8月的租金是一周4485美元（约641美元一晚）。然而在4月，同样的别墅租金要便宜近2000美元：一周只需2588美元，即每晚大约370美元。这个季节可能无法使用泳池，但是别忘了，可以用壁炉。
4. Go with family and friends The simplest way to make luxury affordable is to split the bill. Take the four-bedroom villa with a pool and bucolic views on the Côte d’Azur starting at $3,414 a week on Abercrombie & Kent’s villa rental site, AKvillas.com. Share the cost with two other couples and suddenly it’s $1,138 a week, or about $163 a night, for each couple. And there’s still one bedroom to spare. Or try the four-bedroom villa on the Amalfi Coast in Italy with views over the Gulf of Naples and the island of Capri, as well as a pool, sauna and hot tub. A recent search found Abercrombie & Kent offering 25 percent off the villa on the remaining days in September, when the weekly rate is normally at its highest; $8,152. The discount took the price down to $6,114. Divide that among four couples and it would be about $1,529 a week, or $218 a night per couple. October stays are even lower; the weekly rate is typically $5,424 but it too was being discounted, by up to 25 percent. (Note that all of the above prices are for the site’s “villa only” option; not the “hosted” villa option.) A “special offers” tab on Akvillas.com makes it easy to find the latest price cuts on a variety of villas.
4. 与亲友合租 买得起奢侈品的最简单办法就是找人分担。比如，在Abercrombie & Kent’s的别墅租赁网站AKvillas.com上，有一套带有四间卧室的别墅，配有一个泳池，可欣赏蓝色海岸(Côte d’Azur)的田园风光，起价为一周3414美元。如果与另外两对夫妻或情侣合租，每对情侣每周就只需花费1138美元，合163美元一晚，还能多出一间卧室。还有意大利阿玛菲海岸(Amalfi Coast)的一套别墅，四间卧室，可以欣赏那不勒斯海岸的风光，也配有泳池、桑拿和浴缸。如果是四对情侣合租，就是每对情侣每周1529元，合一晚218美元。10月的价格更低；每周的价格一般是5424美元，而且还可以享受至多25%的折扣（请注意，以上所有价格都只包含别墅的价格，不包含别墅主人的服务费）。通过Akvillas.com的特价优惠栏目可以找到各式别墅的最新降价活动。
5. Be flexible Even rental companies with luxurious villas like Abercrombie & Kent and James Villa Holidays offer price breaks from time to time, especially at the tail end of high season. Villas of Distinction, which has properties that go for upward of $16,000 a night, has an “on special” filter on its website where you can find discounts. Some of these “on special” villas will still set you back several thousand dollars a night. But others are in the realm of possibility for certain travelers or a group of friends, like a three-bedroom villa in Croatia with a private indoor pool, sauna and sea views, part of a resort with a private beach, for about $679 a night.
5. 灵活一些 即使是Abercrombie & Kent和James Villa Holidays这样的豪华别墅租赁公司也会经常推出优惠活动，尤其是在旺季结束的时候。Villas of Disinction有些别墅的价格在一晚1.6万美元以上，该公司的网站上有一个“特惠”选项，在这里可以找到折扣。租赁“特惠”别墅仍然可以享受一晚几千美元的价格。但是另外一些别墅可能只适合特定的游客或组团的朋友，比如克罗地亚的一套带有三间卧室的别墅，配有私人室内泳池、桑拿，可欣赏海景，属于一个带有私家海滩的度假区，每晚大约679美元。
Before you plunk down a deposit, however, a word of caution: As good as certain deals may be, some are too good to be true. Even established rental sites have had scammers.
One way to protect your money is to rent from a place that accepts credit cards rather than a wire transfer, because cards allow you to take action against fraud. There are notable exceptions to this, but it’s a good rule of thumb when, for instance, dealing directly with a property owner you don’t know.
If you’re considering renting from an owner or agency that doesn’t have an established reputation (as opposed to a company like Abercrombie & Kent, which inspects its villas), you’ll need to be especially cautious. Read traveler reviews to help determine if the listing is legitimate. Airbnb users should know, for example, that you can filter only for villas belonging to what the site refers to as “superhosts,” owners whose properties have great reviews (at least 80 percent must be five stars), and a steady flow of guests each year. Superhosts also have to respond quickly to guest questions and honor confirmed reservations.
如果你考虑从房主或不知名的机构（而不是Abercrombie & Kent这样对别墅进行统一核查的公司）那里租赁别墅，需要格外小心。一定要阅读游客的评论，确定是否对方是否具有合法资质。比如，Airbnb的用户应该知道，你可以搜索网站评出的“超赞房东”的别墅，也就是获得好评的房主（五星评价不少于80%），他们每年有稳定的客流。超赞房东还必须快速回复房客的疑问，保留已经确认的预订。
Travelers who use HomeAway can buy trip cancellation protection and damage protection, as well as a “carefree rental guarantee,” which “guarantees your payment if the vacation rental is not as advertised or you are unable to gain access,” through a link on the site.
Wherever possible, call and speak with the agency or owner about the property and the terms of the rental. If you want housekeeping or groceries, ask in advance. You may be able to afford the villa, but stocking the fridge, even heating the pool, can cost extra. Such are the travails of villa life.