How to Find a Luxury Vacation Rental in the City or on the Beach

The Web Can Find You the Right Private Vacation Digs, but It's Not the Only Way

Have you decided to bypass the traditional hotel stay in favor of a vacation rental? This article will tell you all the ways to find your dream vacation place, whether a bedroom in a city apartment or an entire villa on the beach.

• See the pros and cons of vacations in a luxury villa versus a luxury hotel
• And then check out the several ways to find choose your private vacation digs...coming right up!

  • 01 of 04

    Most Popular Route to a Villa Vacation: Web-Surf

    Magniicent modern vacation villa on Crete in Greece
    ©Luxury Rentals by HomeAway

    The Internet may be ruled by cats, but the Web is also a great place to find vacation properties. Today, you'll find many vacation-home services online. Bigger is better for you: the more numerous the offerings. These are some of the major players.

    • Airbnb, the big name, is approaching two million property choices around the world. The offerings are mostly rooms in private homes and apartments, but complete houses are available, too
    • HomeAway and its upscale division, Luxury Rentals from Home Away (see 13 great houses)
    • Other companies, such as Rental Escapes (see 12 good-value homes)
    • View Retreats offers the top vacation properties in Australia and in New Zealand
    • Avoid surcharges and surprises by knowing the villa-rental rules.

  • 02 of 04

    Get into House Swaps and Home Exchanges

    House swap home exchange in Miami Beach
    ©LoveHomeSwap

     

    Another Huge Internet-Driven Vacation Trend: Home Exchanges and House Swaps

    If you have a nice home or apartment of your own, you can trade it with someone else. The deal is: You trade places! You stay in each other's house at the same time and have a comfortable, "live like a local" vacation.
    • See the reasons why home exchanges are a global trend
    • And check out 10 beautiful international homes from LoveHomeSwap.com

  • 03 of 04

    Join a Travel Club

    Luxury villa on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand
    ©3RD HOME

    Some luxury travelers want to delegate their villa-vacation planning. For them, the ideal solution is to join a high-end vacation club. Some clubs are expensive: you pay membership fees and, often, an initiation fee in addition to your villa rental.

    • The top such villa vacation club is Inspirato with American Express, with a portfolio of vacation homes and luxury hotel suites in hundreds of locations
    • Another style of vacation club is 3rd Home, which arranges luxury homestays in other members' homes
    • Yet another style of vacation club: G2G, or Getaway to Give, a club in which much of the fee goes to causes of your choice (think: charitable donation

  • 04 of 04

    Use a Villa Agent

    Luxury villa on St. Barths
    ©WIMCO

    Or maybe you don't want to work with a massive DIY website or even an elite club. And you know where you want to vacation and you want to hire an agent or agency.

    • The villa owner (not you, the renter) pays the agent's commission
    • Agents live and die by their reputations, and it is in their interest to do right by the renter.
    • Using an agent is more secure. You'll probably be able to pay in dollars and have some recourse if the property has been significantly misrepresented

    The Best Reason to Use a Villa Agent

    They have inspected every property first-hand and know the owners

    On Airbnb and other villa websites, you've got user reviews to go by. But if you want a guarantee of what the villa is really like, villa agents will personally know the properties they represent -- that's their client and source of income.

    How to Find a Qualified, Reliable Luxury Villa Agent

    • If you have a travel agent or are connected to the Virtuoso luxury travel network, ask this pro to recommend a reputable villa rental agency or association.
    • Network! Ask people you know who vacation frequently, perhaps in the region you're looking at 
    • Look for villa agents' advertisements  in high-end travel magazines and their websites, and in college alumni magazines

    Beware of Websites that Seem to Feature Luxury Villa Agents

    If a website posting as a villa agent is simply a villa aggregator that are no more than virtual bulletin boards for unassociated individual properties. With these, you'll deal with the owner directly

    Some Villa Agents Featured Here on Luxury Travel

    In Villa Veritas, for extreme, celebrity-style villa rentals
    WIMCO, specializing in the Caribbean, especially St. Barths
    Vive Unique, in London and Asia