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  • TheWayToItaly

Why is Renting a Villa, House, or Apartment in Italy better than a Hotel?

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

If you enjoy what Italians call “slow travel” -which means staying in one place for a longer period of time, then renting a Villa, house, or apartment might be for you. You can find long stay (more than 4 days) rentals for 1 or 2 persons all the way up to super large groups (think historic castles). And whether you choose to stay in the city or out in the country, you will always find a rental of some sort if you know where to look.


View of Outdoor Space of an Italian Villa
Outdoor Space of an Italian Villa

Here are a few advantages to renting a villa or apartment rather than booking hotel stays.


Less expensive

Renting a 2-3 bedroom home is typically cheaper than paying for 2-3 hotel rooms of the same comparison. The same is true for even smaller rentals if you just need a one bedroom.


More square footage

Living rooms, dining rooms, and outdoor spaces are either very small or not available in hotel rooms. While Italian homes are on average smaller than American homes, you still have the advantage of private living spaces (living rooms, outdoor spaces, etc) that exceed the square footage of hotel rooms.


Lower food/dining costs

Eating out can be expensive, local produce and grocery items are inexpensive.) For example, when I travel with my mom, we eat breakfast and a small dinner in the house and eat lunch (typically the lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu but less expensive) out, but make it a big lunch at a local restaurant.


More immersive experience

Live like a local. Some houses and apartments are renovated historic villas, palaces, farmhouses, etc. furnished in typical Italian style and often Italian antiques. You mat not get these traditional features when staying in a hotel unless it is a small family-operated bed and breakfast.


Cooking classes can be done privately in your villa/apartment while a class would never happen in a hotel room (can you picture that?). On the first tour I ever hosted we stayed in a “palazetto” (small palace) located in a tiny village south of Florence. I organized a Florentine chef to come to our rental and teach us to make a 4-course dinner. My clients had the best time and we even have enough food left over for another meal when we were too tired to go out for a local dinner or cook again. They loved it and said having leftovers was just like home but the food was beyond better than home.


View of clients in cooking class during Wine and Food Tour  2012
Wine and Food Tour 2012

More like home

Conveniences of multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, gathering spaces, your private pool (when offered), and private outdoor areas make you feel right at home. Depending on your budget, you could even rent a villa with game rooms and media rooms.

13th Century Stone House with Two Rentals (this one was on the first floor) in Historic Village in Tuscany



Generally, hotels in Italy are small and do not have connecting rooms for families traveling with young children.

TRAVEL TIP:

Because most small hotels do not offer connecting rooms for families, some will sometimes offer an apartment close by so you can use all their hotel amenities (check-in, breakfast, pool, etc).


Fewer bags to pack

If your apartment/villa has a washing machine, you can literally pack a few items youwill wash and wear over again. Having a washer in your rental is also less expensive than the cleaning service offered by the hotel. And trying to find a dry cleaner on your own is next to impossible But you can find self-service laundry mats in most towns. I have used them in San Gimignano and San Giovanni Val d’Arno with much regret. For example, washing clothes at a local laundry mat means time away from other activities.


Personal Concierge

Villa/apartment hosts are some of the most hospitable Italians I have worked with (well, in my opinion, all Italians are hospitable-but I may be biased) and are great resources for anything you need while you are renting- think personal concierge. Some owners have their own homes on the property and others are close by -usually in the same village or city.


The owners that are on sight are the best because you will most likely run into them every day and they can answer your questions about where to shop, where to eat, what to see, etc. Some even offer you fruits and vegetables form their garden, or even wine and olive oil they produce. If you rent from a good host, most likely they will offer food shopping ahead of your arrival, bike and/or car rentals, tours, etc.


TRAVEL TIP:

Getting to know your host or landlord really works in your favor. As Italians will treat you like family if they know you. And that comes with all kinds of perks. Typically these rentals are for at least a week, but more often these days we are seeing four-night minimums. It is my hope that you will choose the former rather than the latter and stay a long, long while.


I have a wide range of rental resources that I can access to get you the best villa, apartment, or farmhouse for your next adventure in Italy.


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