Hiring a villa is a quintessential holiday experience, affording guests much more privacy and flexibility than staying at a hotel. That being said, there are lots of lovely perks to staying in a hotel - fabulous food, that little choccy on your pillow at night, a great kids club to keep the sprogs entertained while mum and dad relax. Well, here at Original Travel we're firm believers that you can absolutely have your cake and eat it too. That is to say that some of our very favourite villas are those within a hotel so guests can enjoy the best of both worlds. Here are a few of our favourites...
Borgo Egnazia, Italy
Borgo Egnazia is up there as one of our favourite hotels in Europe and the accommodation, including 28 villas, is designed across 40 acres of grounds to resemble a traditional Puglian village. Think limestone exteriors draped in fragrant bougainvillea, chic, elegant interiors and a private swimming pool overlooked by a shady patio. The hotel itself has six restaurants, a spa by Vair, a beautiful beach and an activities list as long as your arm, from cookery classes to watersports. La Dolce vita indeed.
Domes of Elounda, Greece
Domes of Elounda in Crete takes the concept of the villa holiday to the next level with its Luxury Residences and Ultraluxe Villas offering a dedicated villa manager, pre-booked sunloungers in the VIP area of the hotel's private beach and 24/7 concierge services. It only seems fitting, then, that the food at the hotel is equally impressive with two of the five restaurants being headed up by a two Michelin-starred chef. Add to that its location just a short hop from the iconic Spinalonga Bay and you're onto a winner.
Martinhal Beach Hotel and Resort, Portugal
The Martinhal, on the beautiful Algarve coastline, is designed specifically with families in mind so is the perfect destination for the summer holidays. Its excellent collection of villas are all set in private manicured gardens with the obligatory private swimming pool and views out across the sea. The hotel itself is amazingly equipped to cater to families of all ages with everything from a baby concierge to diving experiences and mocktail making classes.
Castello di Casole, Italy
Staying in a villa in the pristine Tuscan hills and getting a taste of the true Italy is doubtless atop many people's list when they think of a European villa holiday and Castello di Casole, which is set in 4,200 acres of rolling countryside, provides exactly that. The villas here are designed to look like traditional Tuscan farmhouses with exposed brick walls, beamed ceilings and colourful tiling, but with all the mod-cons you would expect from a five star hotel, including gigantic bath tubs, private pools and spectacular views across the hotel's vineyard. A short stroll along a lane lined with cypress trees brings you to the heart of the hotel where you'll find excellent restaurants, a fitness centre, spa and beautiful infinity pool.
If you're in need of a no-expenses-spared, spoil-yourself-rotten kind of holiday then Amanzoe, nestled amongst a grove of thick-trunked, gnarled olive trees on the Peloponnese peninsula, is the perfect pick for you. Accommodation comprises 38 pavilions, each decorated with earthy colours and lots of stone and marble, leading out to your private pool overlooking the sparkling Aegean Sea. A view best admired with a cocktail in hand as the sun sets. One word: heaven.