Precious summer holiday dates are guaranteed to get snapped up by the end of January at every single one of these top European rentals. So, you’d better book your stay now for 2020 before they completely sell out – availability is disappearing by the day!
Despite the creamy beach of Porthmeor being mere seconds away on foot (60, to be precise), we’ll understand if you find it hard to leave a lazy breakfast in bed at St Ives Boutique Hideaways. And with décor featuring pebbles, slate and driftwood, nature’s textures are as important to the indulgent interiors as the cottages’ coastal setting. Polish off a romantic supper while staring out to sea.
Dreamy Chateau Les Carrasses boasts a silhouette pulled straight from the pages of enchanting literature. Surrounded by protective vineyards, this castle was rescued from abandonment and is now home to self-catering suites, a charming gardener’s cottage and wine cellars-turned-villas. Irish owners Karl and Anita have brought this fairytale bang up to date with a heated infinity pool and a Mediterranean-style brasserie.
Hidden among fruit orchards (and without a neighbour in sight), Pollensa Bay Villa is part Mallorcan finca, part Swedish show home. White walls and beams frame French windows that open out to the wraparound terrace and pool. Multi-generational families can find their nook to relax in – be it a poolside Balinese daybed, the movie room, the cosy sitting room or the secluded granny flat.
Seeking the ‘real Crete’? White River Cottages is a beacon of resistance to mass tourism. These restored stone houses stud a leafy valley, just inland from Makrigialos beach. There’s a pool in the heart of the hamlet to wind down in after a hike through the pine-shaded gorge just above the cottages. Plus, the thick walls of each rustically and simply furnished cottage mean interiors stay blissfully cool in July and August (though there’s also A/C if you need it).
This collection of villas will make you rethink resorts. Villas Martinhal Sagres has it all: sleek-line designs, eco-concerns, fully-fitted kitchens (juicers n’all), three restaurants within walking distance… Oh yes, and a long beach nearby, four heated swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa, football academy, kids’ clubs, a crèche and cartoon screenings on long, balmy summer evenings. Your kids will be telling tales of their adventures until it’s time to visit all over again.
Head to the forested hills between Guernica and Lekeitio, where you could stay in an apartment within a Basque-style house, a tiny bucolic cabin or grand-design ecological house (a personal passion project of owner Peio). The area surrounding Ea Astei’s clutch of self-catering boltholes is renowned for its local cheese, cider and honey. So between dips in the glistening pool, head to Guernica’s market and stock up your kitchen. Don’t forget to sample the Txakoli wine.
Availability at The Boathouse at Knotts End is like gold dust – blink and it’s gone. Thankfully, there are still some dates for a quick summer getaway. So, run for The Lakes! And there you’ll find this Tardis: its arched oak doors conceal a burst of modern and antique furnishings. Plus there’s the jaw-dropping view over Ullswater. Row your very own boat out onto the water, hire a kayak, hike up Helvellyn or simply sit and watch birds flutter by from your balcony.
The Gecko perches above a sleepy village on the remote, wild west coast of Lefkas. Though the villa can sleep four adults, it makes the ultimate island hideaway for two: its exquisite galleried master bedroom and pool (complete with long, uninterrupted views from mountains to sea) offer stylish seclusion you won’t want to share. Lie in bed and gaze out to the ocean beyond.
Maisonettes and cottages of all shapes and sizes (sleeping 2-13) are spread around Borgo Pignano’s idyllic 750-acre estate. This retreat offers the chance to disconnect from the rest of the world, yet two picture-perfect towns are nearby, and it’s less than an hour from Florence, Siena and Pisa. Or, indulge in isolation: climb the tower and stargaze, tour the biodynamic garden, go horseriding, book yoga and pilates sessions or take an art class. You certainly won’t miss the TV.
Minimalism reigns supreme at Tavira Boutique Apartments. But that doesn’t mean it won’t feel like home. Splashes of colour and tasteful furnishings bring each apartment to life. This former convent on the edge of Tavira’s alluring old town is close to Ria Formosa’s best beaches, plus it’s surrounded by miles of salt flats and a lagoon. The best bit? All this could be yours for a snip – the rates even include some self-catering basics.
Apartment from £145 per night.
*Please note, all prices may vary according to which month you book.