As much as I travel, I still find it very taxing to wade through all of the hotel reviews to really get a feel for the comfort of the accommodations.
On this last trip to Umbria, we decided to rent a private villa for the week since we were traveling with another family. Unlike most tourists who think “I won’t be in my room that much”, we’ve been to the region many times and knew we wanted a place where we could just relax and while away lazy afternoons and drink Umbrian wines. We wanted to be close enough to the vineyards yet a quick drive into Perugia, so we chose Villa Santa Maria in Deruta. We hired a private chef to prepare our meals and as a bonus, she gave us a few Italian cooking lessons.
It’s a great way to mix with the locals and truly learn their culture, as opposed to staying in a hotel filled with other international travelers. And villas often offer many amenities you can’t find at even the most luxurious hotels.
4 Reasons to Stay in a Private Villa
1. True concierge services – I corresponded rather frequently with the home’s owner, a local who owns one of the big pottery stores in Deruta. Now here’s where booking a hotel and booking a villa differ greatly. The owner offered to provide a chef, personal trainer, housekeeper, cooking instructor and just about any kind of service we could desire. She offered to arrange local tours to wineries for us and even recommended local golf courses and spas.
2. Space to spread out – The villa itself was spectacular and quite spacious. With four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two eating areas and a large terrace, it truly felt like home for the week for the six of us. Traveling with friends can often be an exercise in communication. Are they awake yet? Should we call them to meet us at the pool? Are they ready to leave? In a private villa, we all seemed to gather in common areas, like the outdoor terrace, to discuss our plans for the day.
3. Eat what you want, when you want – I always like to have access to a kitchen when I travel, not only because it saves on dining costs, but I’m a comfort girl so I like to have access to things like cold water, snacks, and a fridge for leftovers. More important, in a villa, you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to get that morning coffee!
4. Privacy – We lucked out with perfect weather the entire week so we spent most of our time outdoors by the pool. Lunch was usually an antipasti tray we put together from a selection of cured meats and cheeses at the local deli – with wine of course! Late afternoon, we finished off what was left of the antipasti as we uncorked one of the wines purchased on our daily wine tasting. We read books, played cards, and napped without seeing or hearing another soul. Do that at a hotel pool!