10 top tips when booking a villa rental property

It sounds simple enough but booking a villa abroad can be a bit like taking a stab in the dark especially at the moment with different Covid regulations in place. That’s why Sue Flynn, an accommodation specialist for Turkey, is urging holidaymakers not to be shy when booking online to avoid any potential pitfalls and make sure the property in question ticks all the right boxes before you take the plunge. Sue, who has run Kalkan Magic, a holiday property specialist in Kalkan, Turkey, for 15 years, has the following advice to anyone embarking on an independent holiday: Beware booking fees When booking a villa online, try and book direct with an owner if possible. By all means use use rental websites such to search and gather info but be aware that if you progress a booking this way, travellers can be charged hefty booking fees, often hidden in the price quoted. Do your research These days it is easy to do a search on the property’s name or owner’s name. Many owners now have their own websites or Facebook/Twitter pages. This way you can contact direct and get a cracking price as well as the most up to date property info possible. Speak with the owner directly Make sure you speak with the owner – a quick telephone call is all it needs. Ask about Covid measures as often owners are now employing professional ‘fogging’ services to disinfect properties between guests for additional peace of mind. You’d be surprised how many people book accommodation with one email then transfer up to £4000 without further ado. Most of the time you’ll be dealing with bona fide owners but it’s not worth taking the risk. Strike up a rapport It’s also worth striking up a rapport with the owner – this way you may be able to negotiate an earlier check-in or later check-out time. You can also ask more detailed questions and get a feel for the benefits of the location and its facilities. You can also ask the owner advice on favourite restaurants and recommendations for that all important nightcap! Think about the type of accommodation that would suit you Decide whether it’s an apartment you really want or a private villa. Some apartments can still be private but the pool will be shared with some other apartments. Many people prefer the social aspects of this rather than having a private pool but many prefer the privacy too – especially if you’re travelling as a couple and don’t want children around. It’s also worth checking how many other properties share the pool as you don’t want to be struggling for a sunbed early in the morning. Check on your transfer to the accommodation If the property owner is booking your airport transfer then check the cost of this – it shouldn’t be a profit-making service. It’s worth asking the question as it’s good to know it’s taken care of. Make sure you have all contact details to hand for your arrival in case of any delays etc. Ask what’s included When establishing your price, check if this includes everything like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, streaming services like Netflix if necessary. You don’t want to add unexpected surprises. Research the location Location is key to a successful holiday stay. If your chosen property is too far to walk to from the town or roads are a bit rocky then you will need to factor in car hire or taxis to your overall holiday price. Ask the exact location and walking distances and if it is easily located in the dark. Check the security It’s easy to be blasé when you’re on holiday but it’s sensible to check if there are safes available and if the property benefits from a security alarm or additional locks. Make sure you have peace of mind If travelling with children, check the ease of pool access as you will need to have peace of mind whilst in your accommodation. Also check on pool depths, shallow ends and, if necessary, baby pools. Ask for full contact details Make sure the property owners give you their full contact details for the UK in case you need to reach them urgently. Also get the contact information of the property managers or whoever is going to meet and greet you on arrival. You should have this before you depart so if necessary you can contact them in an emergency. Ask about currency exchange Finally, a word about money: Ask the owner whether it’s best to take currency or change it there. Also, ask where the best rates are given and how far that is. If you can make your money last longer, you can start thinking about next year! Sue represents a hand-picked collection of stunning properties in the heart of Kalkan in Turkey. Her company, Kalkan Magic, offers a range of luxury properties – from stunning apartments with picture perfect views on exclusive developments to stylish and spacious villas boasting panoramic sea vistas.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Plenty of good sensible advice here. Much of this is practical common sense. In the digital age, it is much easier to gain a thorough knowledge of where you are going than it was when I first started holidaying.

    Usually I am so excited about the destination that I find out many of these answers anyway in my research. I’ve only had one “bad” experience and even that was a good holiday. The charming and hospitable villa owner was renting his very well equipped property but not telling the authorities – ie not paying a tourism tax. Unfortunately, the authorities found out during our stay which produced some anxious moments but allowed us to finish our holiday before taking action against him.

    1. It does sound like common sense. But these are probably things more people don’t take into consideration when booking something, even if it is online. I have found that the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with the process. So it’s good to have somebody offering practical advice to those who need it.

  2. I totally agree with the advice to develop a relationship with the owner. If everything goes well with that booking then if the relationship is good the owner might recommend an even more suitable villa for future years and perhaps a discount.

    1. Exactly! That’s a great point. And that’s probably the only way to get a discount when booking a villa, if you have a good relationship with the owner of the place. That always helps.

  3. Far too often I’ve been hooked by some tempting pictures on the website. I’ve booked villas because of the regal master bedroom, the BBQ overlooking the bay, the super-duper kitchen when none of these have been really that important to our holiday. I’ve even booked 5 bedroom villas when we only needed 2 because I liked the day beds by the pool.

    I’ve learnt to be very hard-headed about the process. Make a list of the essentials, ten things that are important to you – then start looking and stay disciplined. If only I had learnt my lessons 20 years ago.

    1. Reassuring to hear that someone has made the same mistakes when choosing a villa as me. It really is a case of using the head as well as the heart. You have to be very practical about what you actually need. Year after year I’ve had this idyllic image of my husband happily running a BBQ to feed the family. It never happens so I’ve stopped even putting a BBQ on my villa wish list.

  4. Reading this whetted my appetite for a villa holiday so I took a look at the Kalkan Magic website. The photography is stunning and there really are some magical properties on there. Next, I took a look at the testimonials, though one of them told me that the photographs didn’t do the villas justice. I think I’ll take another look at the site when we can fly without the danger of being quarantined whilst we are away.

  5. I’ve found online research to be particularly helpful with all types of holidays to be honest, so I can see the benefits for renting a villa too. You often (not always, but I’ve found it’s typically the case) get quicker responses from companies and individuals when you go via social media, and it can be a good way to hold them accountable as well. I always research before I choose a place to stay now, looking at photos and reviews, but still taking reviews with a pinch of salt and looking into what they say, rather than just skimming the average number of stars.

    After narrowing it down, speaking to those that run the property can get you direct answers to questions and often you’ll get a gut feeling too, like whether they don’t seem very helpful or bothered about your enquiry, or whether they’re really friendly and welcoming. I guess at the moment you’d want to add seeing what hygiene protocols are in place too.

    Sue’s got some great tips here, excellent point about investigating safety issues and what’s available on site if you’re travelling with children.

    1. Great rundown of the process. I’ve also found that when you reach out via social media, it can speed up the process a bit. At least that’s one of the benefits of using social media today… finding a good property to rent!

  6. I’ve recently booked some accommodation through an agency and never again. They blocked twice the sum for the rental on my bank account ‘accidentaly’. Maybe I was just unlucky; however, I plan on renting on my own from now.

    Thanks for these tips, will definitely now call the owner to discuss everything!

  7. Thanks for pointing out that you could consider checking rental websites in order to gather information about the villa that you are interested in. My husband and I are actually interested in finding a lake house that we can rent for a 4-7 day vacation on the 25th. We want to ensure that we will be able to enjoy our vacation without breaking our banks, we will do your tips.

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