Rumour has it that summer is on its way… And to help those of you who haven’t yet booked a family-friendly rental for the summer holidays, we have scoured our Kids Collection for villas and apartments which still have availability. But be quick: they’ll book up fast…
An hour and a half’s drive inland from Seville brings you to the remote and verdant Alajar Valley, filled with oak and chestnut forests flanked by dry-stone walls. This delightful 6-cottage retreat has a swimming pool, a tennis court, boules and donkeys to ride. There’s an organic vegetable garden for you to harvest from, and a welcome hamper can be arranged. Ancient footpaths lead from the front door, and maps are supplied; there are stalactite-rich caves and Knights Templar castles nearby, too.
The mystical Ionian Islands off the western coast of Greece enchant all who are lucky enough to visit. Kefalonia, of Captain Corelli fame, has exquisite views across turquoise seas, and its charming harbour village Fiskardo offers tavernas and boat trips. Base yourselves at this trio of stylish hillside houses (which sleep 2-6 apiece), each with a private pool, BBQ terrace, safe garden and excellent kitchen, and just 5 minutes’ drive from a perfect cove.
The perfect venue for an extended family get together, this 16th-century chateau on the Dordogne border has had a magnificent makeover. The 9 huge bedrooms (2 of which are twins) and gorgeous reception rooms (including 3 salons, a billiards room and a dining hall) are filled with mid-century modern design classics and bold art. The swimming pool in the extensive grounds is heated and gated, and there’s a cinema room, football pitch and Baby Grand, too.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER: 25% discount on week-long stays in July and August
Once a convent, then a girls’ school, this is now a well-placed and great-value rural retreat for families. The 7 minimalist-chic self-catering studios all have private external space, and most can accommodate 1 or 2 children. It’s surrounded by fields (there’s a useful farm shop a stroll away) with no other neighbours in view, yet you’re only minutes from wonderful beaches and regional hub Fasano (for food shops and an animal park). Alchemy indeed.
LOCAL DISCOUNTS: A ‘My Puglia’ discount card on arrival for reductions at local attractions, shops and eateries
If pretty fishing village Charlestown feels familiar, that’s because it’s been used as a location for numerous period films and TV dramas, most recently Poldark. Much of this collection of beautifully restored fishermen’s cottages and a handsome townhouse is perfect for families (a couple are for couples only), with sheltered sun-trap gardens, cosy living rooms, and extensive baby and toddler kit to borrow. The Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, beaches and the Shipwreck Centre are all at hand.=
OFFER: Two kids up to the age of 12 stay for free in Blossom, Olivia and the Cottage; rates for Marine Villa include 4 people. Three-night minimum stay
Although not on Santorini’s famous (and crowded) caldera rim, these 2 tranquil restored houses for 4-6 have a plunge pool each, plus a sheltered courtyard and shuttered windows – all will keep you cool in the height of summer. You’re in a pretty car-free village in the centre of the island, so whether you want black-sand beaches for swimming and snorkelling, boat trips to the lava islands or crater views, you’re surprisingly well-placed.
OFFER: A free round-trip airport transfer and car hire per booking
With a stunning infinity pool, a private beach and jetty, a shady gazebo, a great range of outdoor games and snorkels to borrow, and – above all – fantastic and welcoming staff, this is the perfect Caribbean villa. You get light open-plan interiors with 3 airy bedrooms in the main house, plus another couple in the annexe; this works brilliantly for a pair of families, those with teens, or those who want to bring the grandparents. And there’s plenty of gear for smaller kids, too.
Surrounded by mango and peach trees, a short walk from sandy beaches and restaurants, is this perennially popular eco-resort of volcanic-stone cottages and Mongolian yurts. Kids will adore it here: the imaginative playground has a giant chess set and a real boat to clamber over, there’s a pool and trampoline, and there are friendly animals from ducks to donkeys to meet – as well as other children to play with.
One of our all-time favourites, this is a magical organic estate of flowering pastures and wild forests. Choose an apartment within one of 3 former farm buildings (each with a pool), or book out one in its entirety, depending on your size of party. The Slow Food ethos extends to pasta-making demos, bread-baking lessons, bee-keeping guides and a handy on-site farm shop.
The ‘live like a local’ concept has become a cliche, but in truth there is no substitute for renting an apartment in a friendly neighbourhood with shops and green spaces. This one successfully marries 19th-century Baroque features with classic-contemporary decor, and comes with 2 bedrooms (one double, one twin). There’s also a great kitchen, and it’s close to tramstops.