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LIST: VILLA HOLIDAY OPERATORS / AGENCIES

These are holiday rental companies based in the UK, offering rental properties from city apartments and small cottages to chateaux and luxury villas. (The majority fall, as this list does, under the 'self-catering' label, but at the 'top end' catering options abound!)

Holiday rental companies are really hard to classify, not least because the internet has muddied the waters. Here's my take on it:

If the company organises your travel and has a local rep, it's a Travel Agent or Tour Operator. If they take your money for the rental but leave the travel arrangements to you, they are an Accommodation Agent. If all your dealings are directly with the owner of the property, they are simply a Directory or Noticeboard (online or in the newsagent's window).

Obviously, your money is safer with a bonded tour operator or travel agent, than through an accommodation agent or noticeboard.
Abercrombie & Kent 0845 0700610 A&K have a villas division. It is still sometimes refered to as 'A&K Chapters' because in Oct 02 they bought the luxury villa specialist brand 'International Chapters' and with it an amazing portfolio of around 2,000 stunning luxury properties in exotic locations all over the world - many of them with maid service, nearly all with pools, and most with a serious price tag.
Affinity Villas 01428 727277 Specialists in villas in the Algarve (Portugal).
Avenue Property 01608 658627 Formerly Petersham Properties, now rebranded. Very much at the top end of the scale. If you need an English country house, an Italian castle, a town house in LA, or anything up to an estate on the beach in Mexico that sleeps 70, these are the guys for you!
Brittany Ferries Holidays 0871 244 0744 Pound sign Brittany Ferries have villas, gîtes, chateaux, chalets, cottages & apartments throughout France and Spain (as well as other holiday options such as hotels & campsites).
Casas Cantabricas 01223 328721 Self-catering holidays mostly in 'Green Spain' - Cantabria, Asturias, Picos de Europa, Galicia, and around Salamanca - and in Northern Portugal.
Chez Nous n/a Longstanding (I've been aware of them for over 20 years) holiday cottage specialists in France with a portfolio of over 3000 privately-owned gites, villas, apartments, farmhouses, and other rental properties. Book your holiday home directly with the owners, but they also offer other holiday components you might need such as ferry bookings, motorail, travel insurance, etc. Part of the Hoseasons Group.
Clickstay.com n/a Formerly 'Villarenters' launched in 2003, then part of Teletext Holidays and Daily Mail & General Trust Plc, and now rebranded with over 13,000 holiday homes in 85 countries.
Cottages to Castles 01622 775236 Villas, farmhouses and yes, castles, all over Italy and the Istrian coast of Croatia. Also a range of villas, beach houses, apartments and game lodges in South Africa.
CountryCottagesonline.net n/a Holiday cottages, villas and apartments in the UK, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Eastern Europe, from owners and agencies.
Crete Escapes 01332 880413 Small company specialising in villa rentals for North West Crete (Chania area). All villas are well equipped and the majority have a private pool. Their portfolio has grown organically from one villa (their own) in 2002 when they launched, to around 40 now (2011).
Discerning Collection, The 0800 987 0424 Born from the ashes of the well-respected Tapestry Holidays, Nick and Viv Wrightman's The Discerning Collection focuses once again on boutique hotels and luxury villas in Turkey, Morocco, Mallorca, Italy and the Greek islands of Kefalonia and Crete.
Dominique's Villas 020 7738 8772 starSmall specialist company handling around 140 individually selected chateaux & villas with pools throughout France, for over 16 years.
Essential Italy 01223 460100 A small villa agency run by a brother & sister team offering hand-picked villas, apartments and hotels in Italy, with an emphasis on customer service before, during and after a holiday.
Fleewinter 020 7112 0019 Launched in 2003 specialising in villas and apartments (and boutique hotels) in South Africa. Has now (July 08) expanded to offer the same in Barbados, St Lucia, Tobago, Thailand, Bali, Sri Lanka, and Morocco.
Freelance Holidays 01789 297705 A small number of villas & apartments in Greece, Spain, Italy and South Africa
French Country Cottages 0345 268 0796 Wide selection of properties all over France.
GIC The Villa Collection 020 8232 9780 Extensive collection of villas all over Greece and Cyprus. Formerly known as the 'Greek Islands Club', GIC is a Sunvil company and an AITO member.
Hip Holidays Ibiza 01451 489 001 Specialises in spectacular luxury villas on the island of Ibiza (Spain).
Holiday France Direct 0870 9013 400 Book privately owned villas, farm house, chateaux, hotels, houseboats, studios, apartments, and mobile homes, direct with their owners. Properties located throughout France and a handful in Spain. HFD changed its name from 'Owners in France' in 2007. Part of Brittany Ferries Holidays. Changed
Holiday lettings.co.uk n/a Online database of 10,000 holiday homes in Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Portugal, Florida and 70 other countries worldwide to book originally from owners direct, now from Tripadvisor.
Holiday Tots 01992 550077 Family holiday rental properties in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus that are suitable for babies, toddlers and young children.
Holiday Villa Company, The 0845 052 0660 Thirty years experience providing holiday villas with private pools in Florida, Spain, Italy France (also self catering ski chalets in France) and Portugal's Algarve.
HomeAway Holiday-Rentals n/a Holiday-Rentals is now part of the giant US HomeAway group, with 210,000 properties worldwide.
Hoseasons Villas 0844 847 1234 Pound sign Villas with pools in Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Turkey and Cyprus.
Ilios Travel 0845 675 2601 Luxury villas and farmhouses, mostly with private pools in rural locations, in Italy, Spain, Turkey, Portugal and Madeira.
Interhome 020 8877 6370 Longstanding (since 1965) provider of self-catering holiday accommodation throughout Europe with over 32,000 holiday properties in 30 countries. Interhome is a member of ABTA and operates a strict inspection code on all properties.
James Villa Holidays 0800 074 0122 Pound sign Villa specialist with numerous properties in Tenerife, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Corfu, Malta, Italy and Florida.
Kestral Travel 01672 520651 Villa rental agency with 200 luxury villas in the south of France and 30 chalets in the French Alps.
Lazydays 01202 484257 Privately owned villas, cottages and apartments for short-term holiday rental in Goa, India.
Little Domain, The 01326 240028 Sister site to the Big Domain (see above) but specialising in rental cottages and hideaways for two, in the UK and abroad.
Lys Booking n/a Stylish noticeboard site with thousands of rental properties all over the world, but especially Europe.
Mallorca Farmhouse Holidays 0118 947 3001 Small family-managed company offering luxurious, 4 and 5 star private villas and farmhouses on Mallorca originally, and now in the Caribbean too. The name has been simplified to 'Mallorca Farmhouses', to match with the new brand name, 'Caribbean Villas' for their portfolio on Barbados & St. Lucia.
Oliver's Travels 0800 133 7999 Luxury property rental brand launched Nov 2013 by Oliver Bell & Ravi Sabharwal combining 2,000 luxurious and quirky properties from the portfolios of Simply Chateaux (their first brand in 2003), Simply Caribe, Simply Italy and Stately Escapes, all in one brand.
One Off Places n/a star A (mostly) rental property website, launched Sept 09 to rave reviews for specialising in apartments, villas, cabins, tents, wagons, houseboats, windmills, treehouses, etc, with something unique about them - their design, their history, their location, their decoration, whatever... (I may be picky but the only downside for me is that they still hide their address, which is usually not a good sign.)
Optima Villas 0800 612 0997 Lanzarote villa specialist with a portfolio of over 70 villas with private pools in Playa Blanca.
Private Properties Abroad 01423 330533 A large range of magnificent country houses, villas, chateaux, and converted farmhouses in France, Italy and Spain (Balearic Islands)
Quality Villas 01442 870 055 Quality villas is a family-run business set up by Margaret Rees in 1986, specialising in luxury villas, farmhouses and chateaux with private pools, in coastal and rural France and Italy.
Shamrock Cottages 01823 681060 Over 300 cottages in some of the most scenic locations in Ireland with ferry & car hire packages.
Solmar Villas 0870 381 3000 Private villas with pools in the Balearics, Canaries, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Spain & Portugal.
Sovereign Villas 08703 661 634 Sister brand to Meon Villas (see above).
Summer's Leases 0845 230 22 23 Apartments, Cottages, Farmhouses & Villas in Tuscany & Umbria
Sunvil 020 8568 4499 Sunvil do so much these days it's easy to forget that their original core product is still villas in Greece and Cyprus.
Susan Paradise 01395 597759 starSmall specialist holiday-rental company offering 150 character properties from fisherman’s cottages to luxurious villas in three regions of France: Brittany, Cote d'Azur and the Auvergne.
Thailand Retreats 020 8144 0482 A large collection of luxury villas to rent across Thailand in Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Phangan. Established for over 10 years and family run. Each villa is inspected in person before being added to the site. ABTA bonded.
Thomas Cook Style Collection 0844 879 8442 Pound sign Upmarket villas with pools on mainland Spain, The Balearics & the Canary Islands, the Algarve, Greece, Cyprus, Crete, Turkey, Gozo and Florida.
To Escape To 0871 711 5282 Set up in 2003 by Ingram Casey and Tom Corcoran to offer long-haul villa holidays and personalised travel arrangements to Southern Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Mozambique and Botswana. Their website is notably easy to use and won a 'Best Tour Operator Website' award in June 06.
Tots To France 020 8123 4511 Small online lettings agency specialising in toddler-friendly rental accommodation in France.
Tots to Travel 0870 458 5528 starOnline agency specialising in villas for families with toddlers in France and Italy. They check out safety standards at each property and make sure they are fully kitted out with all the baby and child equipment families need, from cots and highchairs, to sterilisers, blenders, toys, potties and more. Also babysitting is available at most properties.
Umbria Rentals 07776 250 381 A small number of apartments and villas in/around the Umbrian village of Panicale.
Under The Thatch 0844 5005 101 star Hand-picked selection of special properties to rent in Europe (mostly UK), especially quirky & environmentally cool properties like a modern eco-croft in Scotland, woodland cabins, a cave house in Spain and several gypsy caravans.
Vida Villas 0845 301 7722 A wide range of villas, apartments & town houses on Mallorca and other Mediterranean destinations (including Menorca, Greece, Croatia, Italy & the Algarve), plus the Caribbean, Canaries and Thailand.
Villa Agency, The 01392 424 400 Villas with pools in Portugal
Villa Plus 01727 836686 Villas in the Algarve (Portugal) and Costa del Sol (Spain).
Villarama.com n/a U.S. web rental company with offices in the UK (and priced in sterling). They have a large number of villas in over 30 countries.
Villa Retreats 0870 013 3979 Specialise in rental of luxury villas with pools and apartments in Portugal, Andalucia, Mallorca, Menorca, Croatia, Barbados and Florida.
Villas2Go4 n/a Florida villa specialist. Lists hundreds of villas across Florida, including the Keys, to rent direct from the owners.
Villas de Maitre 01296 334138 Tailor made luxury villa holidays in the Indian Ocean for over 19 years (2013), with properties in Mauritius, Seychelles, Zanzibar and Mozambique.
Villa Select 01789 764909 Small specialist villa company offering carefully selected villas with pools on the Algarve, Cyprus, Costa Blanca, Menorca, Mallorca and the Greek islands of Kefalonia, Crete & Zante.
Villastogo.com 0845 241 7733 Launched in April 05, an online villa agency offering apartments and villas with pools in Mallorca, Tenerife, Corfu, Cyprus, Ireland and Florida. It was set up by Kathleen O'Brian who used to be with Something Special which got swallowed up by Thomsons.
Villas Worldwide 01756 751777 Villa holiday specialist offering villas in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Indonesia/Bali, South Africa and the Caribbean.
Vintage Travel 01954 261431 Villa specialists since 1989 in France, Spain & Portugal and more recently, Croatia and Greece. Member of AITO.
Welcome Cottages 0845 268 0816 Holiday properties in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy. Part of the Hoseason Group.
Wimco 0870 850 1144 The West Indies Management Company is a reservations and marketing company specialising in private holiday villas and distinctive small hotels in the Caribbean and now Europe.
Wish Sicily 020 7193 7302 Villa specialist to Sicily with an extensive portfolio of villas, cottages and apartments, on the coast and inland. Bookings are made directly with the property owner.

Notes

  • Campaya has a refreshingly clear & simple site offering holiday rentals around the globe for rent directly from private homeowners and appointed agents.
  • The Danish rental agency Novasol has 28,000 properties throughout Europe, especially in Croatia, France and Denmark itself.
  • Estepona Villas is a Spanish based agency specialising in villas in and around Estepona.
  • Belvilla, formerly known as Euro Relais, is a Dutch company founded in 1981. They've built up a portfolio of more than 20,000 properties available in 19 countries across Europe, but mostly in in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.
  • PCI Holidays (Property Care International) is a property management company with private villas available for holiday lets in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.
  • Cyprus based Durmast Travel have specialised in villas and apartments in Southern Cyprus for over 20 years.
  • Home in Italy have a selection of exlusive elegant private villas, cottages, farmhouses, apartments and other properties in regions all over Italy.

Over 400 lists with over 7500 entries to browse

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