Chateau du Moulin in Brittany.
One of the things that’s really going to make or break your trip to France is your accommodation, and unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend or relative who lives there (or a crowbar and some questionable personal ethics) chances are you’re going to have to book somewhere to stay.
Setting aside some of the more esoteric choices (who wants to spend their holiday in a yurt anyway?) your options essentially boil down to two: Either a hotel or a French villa rental. There’s pros and cons for each, with a lot depending on the kind of holiday you’re looking for and how you enjoy relaxing. Let’s break it down a bit…
Hotel Lutetia, Paris
A hotel will pretty much be the first thing that comes to mind when you start thinking of your holiday accommodation. But what sets them apart, and what leaves them wanting?
The main thing hotels have going for them is their convenience. Often situated at the heart (or at least within easy travelling distance) of city centres, a hotel offers a handy place to rest your head after a day taking in the sights. Many decent hotels will have bars and restaurants attached too, so if you’re dead beat after a day shopping and sightseeing (or you’re just in one of those lazy moods) a spot of food and drink is only a moment away – or a phone call to reception, if you’re lucky enough to be staying somewhere that offers room service.
Place Vendome Hotel, Paris
Another good plus point of hotels is the fact there’s staff on hand. Maids will keep your room tidy at no extra cost, and the front desk is always there whether you’re looking for local recommendations, information, or someone to call you a taxi for a night on the tiles. There’s also rarely any penalty for shorter stays at hotels, so if you’re just looking to be in town for a night before jetting off to your next destination, a hotel is a hassle-free way of securing yourself a place to bed down.
Hotel on the French Riviera with pool
Thing is, many hotels can be a little impersonal. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, a hotel can sometimes feel little more than a dormitory, and unless you’re booked into a flashy penthouse they’re rarely somewhere you’ll want to spend a lot of your time away. You’ll also have to share facilities, so if the hotel offers a pool or spa be prepared for that awkward eye contact moment when you step into the sauna to find a total stranger wrapped only in a towel.
Extra costs can sometimes be an issue when you’re staying at a hotel. Everybody knows about the dreaded minibar (€10 for one measly can of Coke? Insanity!) but you may have to pay a little more for faster wifi, parking and porterage or even access to the leisure facilities. You might even find yourself with a surcharge if you oversleep and miss your checkout time, so make sure you set that alarm!
Bordeaux region, sights, culture and luxury villa rentals
Villa rentals are an increasingly popular alternative for holidaymakers, but what do they have over your classic hotel room? And what are the potential downsides to renting one?
Chateau Morvan in Burgundy sleeps 12
Where hotels can sometimes feel a little brisk and businesslike with the treatment of their guests, one of the best features of a luxury villa rental is the unprecedented amount of freedom it offers. A villa is somewhere you can really call your own, coming and going as you please with no disapproving looks from the receptionist if you roll in “tired and emotional” at 2am. Unlike the majority of hotel rooms, a villa is also somewhere you’ll want to spend your R&R time. With many offering your own private pool, expansive gardens and beautifully decorated living spaces, a villa is more of a home-from-home than somewhere you just head to back for forty winks – with all the privacy, comfort and amenities that entails! There’s also generally a much greater choice with villas when it comes to design and location, so it’s easier to find accommodation that’s tailor-made to your preferences.
The Millhouse in the Charente
And if you’re looking to spend some quality holiday time with friends and family, a villa rental can’t be beat as it’s the perfect mix of shared and private spaces. There’s also the cost – surprisingly, a villa rental can often come to far less than booking a hotel room, with some quality luxury villas even coming in at under £15 (about $23) per person per night. Many villas are also found further out into the countryside, so you’re guaranteed some peace and quiet – as well as an authentic French experience and some stunning views!
gg2p Founder Doni Belau’s maison in Southwestern France
While it might be nice to get off the beaten track, this can also turn out to be a bit of a downside. If you book somewhere really rural you’ll need to hire a car, as a taxi out there may be pretty pricey, and you may not be near public transport. This also might mean a bit more travel if you fancy a spot of big-city shopping or a day at the beach, though considering there’s a huge range of locations when it comes to villas, you can usually find one that’s not too far from the holiday experiences you’re looking for.
Domaine de Favaze in the Languedoc
Another of the positives can be seen as a bit of a drawback too. Though smaller villas are available, the average rental usually sleeps between 8 and 20 people. While that’s prefect for a big family get-together or wild break with friends, if you’re a couple looking for a romantic break you may find yourselves paying over the odds for a rather empty property. Also, it’s worth mentioning that while many villas and chateaux include various services, you may have to pay extra for stuff like, cleaning, babysitting or hiring a chef.
Note: If you’re thinking of heading over to France and are interested in a Villa Rental in the near future, just visit www.oliverstravels.com, (all of the Villas and Chateaux pictures are for rent from this company). If you are a gg2p Go-Card Member, don’t forget to mention it so you can receive your complimentary champagne reception and local welcome hamper on arrival as your special gift.
PS. This is the company that rents my own small villa, Le Priolet. Also please do consult our site for the many hotels that we have partnerships with.