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Renting a villa allows you to experience a culture from the inside out, but it’s not for everyone. As you weigh the villa vs. hotel option, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Busy vs. Relaxed

When you travel, do you try to visit as many places as possible and see everything you can? Or do you prefer to travel at a more leisurely pace, taking in the countryside, absorbing the culture, and reserving time for R&R?

Villas are a good fit for people who subscribe to the “slow travel” philosophy– where the objective is to “live” versus “stay” in a location. Most properties rent on a weekly basis, which means your villa will act as the base for your explorations– a familiar place to return to each afternoon. Many villas have pools and gardens where you can relax and wind down. You’ll be able to shop locally and prepare meals at home. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see all the major attractions, too, but it does likely mean that they will be a little lower on your priority list. Instead of spending a week in a central Florence hotel, you may, for example, take the train in for just one or two days.

2. Group vs. Couple

Villa renting is a fantastic option for a group of any size. Rather than being boxed into individual hotel rooms, a villa gives a group room to congregate as well as find personal space for downtime. In a hotel you might have to gather in one room, or meet in the lobby– whereas in a villa you’ll have a furnished living room. The kids can run around outside, and if you want a sit-down family meal you can do that, too. Another plus: The bigger the group, the lower the cost per person!

A villa or apartment can also be a good choice for a couple. If you’re traveling alone or with one other person, the price for a one-bedroom rental is probably going to be comparable to a hotel. However, unless it’s a studio, rental apartments will still have a living room and a kitchen, giving you more space and flexibility.

3. Cultural Experience vs. Convenience

Part of the attraction of renting a villa (or an apartment) is the cultural experience it offers. If your villa is located, for example, in the Tuscan countryside, you’ll find yourself happening upon wineries and hill towns that you may not find in any guidebook. You’ll also be able to shop local markets for fresh fruit and vegetables; not only is this fun to do, it saves you money! It’s definitely not an experience you can get while staying in a hotel. Do remember, however, that you’ll be interacting with locals rather than businesses that cater to tourists, so be prepared to pull out your English-Italian dictionary or put your pantomime skills to the test!

Villa renting requires an independent spirit. While sometimes you’ll find a book of restaurant and activity suggestions provided by the owner, it’s really up to you to plan your itinerary and orient yourself. If you’re the type of traveler who prefers a tour guide, or wants someone else to worry about the details, then a hotel might likely be a better fit.

Hotels do have one major convenience that villas don’t: a front desk. At RentVillas.com, you’ll be paired with an expert Travel Advisor, and you’ll be met by a keyholder or owner at the property– but in most cases nobody will be on call 24/7. If the washing machine stops working at 10 PM, you’ll have to wait until morning to call someone. And if it’s broken, it might be a day or so before it’s fixed. Most of the time these things don’t happen, but occasionally, they do!

But think about this: How many hotel rooms have a washing machine? Or a kitchen? Or a garden? And how many amazing cultural experiences happen because you got lost or because you had to ask the neighbor for help? Yes, having a concierge to answer every question and fix every problem is convenient, but it also eliminates an element of surprise and exploration!

As you can see, making the villa vs. hotel choice depends a lot on your personality and what kind of travel you prefer. In general, villa renters tend to be open-minded, adventurous people with an appreciation for good food, good wine, and good company. Are you among them?