We can’t get enough of Spain. Last year the UK’s favourite holiday destination said hola to over 15.5m visitors, a 4.5 per cent increase on 2014. If your perfect holiday idyll is a place in the sun on the costa or a traditional farmhouse tucked into the olive and orange tree-dotted countryside, you will be able to find it somewhere among Spain’s diverse and captivating landscape.
The country’s 1,200km-long Mediterranean coast immediately conjures images of palm trees, sandy beaches and glittering seas. The Costa del Sol is its most popular year round option for good reason, with its 160km of beaches stretching west of Malaga. Further west again is the Costa de la Luz and the popular Atlantic beachside resorts of Tarifa and Cadiz. North of Barcelona, towards the French border, the Costa Brava is a popular getaway for locals with fewer crowds.
It’s worth remembering that Spain’s stellar summer status means in demand properties get booked up well in advance. If you are not restricted to the school summer holidays, when prices and availability are their peak, travelling in the shoulder seasons (for example June or September) can reap big rewards.
A word of caution - the rise in peer-to-peer websites has also seen a marked increase in online holiday villa fraud. It’s safest to use an intermediary like a tour operator, or book your villa as a part of a package. If you do decide to book directly with the owner, make sure you take advantage of any secure payment options available through the website, do your homework and never transfer money directly into someone’s bank account.
The Canary and The Balearic Islands continue to attract the largest numbers of Brits, accounting for almost 50 per cent of all visitors. The silver sand and sparsely populated beaches of northern Spain are a world away from the crowded costas. When the summer heat descends, many city-dwelling natives pack their bags and head north to Asturias, the Basque Country, Cantabria and Galicia. One of northern Spain’s loveliest seaside resorts, San Sebastian (ds2016.eu), is also showing off its artistic side this year with lots of events celebrating its tenure as European Capital of Culture 2016. For more information, see The Spanish National Tourist Office website at spain.info
It’s not all about partying in Ibiza but Villa Antonia has the best of both worlds. Set in a tranquil spot in the island’s interior, it’s also a short drive to the lively town of Sant Eulalia and 15 minutes from Ibiza town with its buzzy bars and clubs. It has its own pool, sleeps up to eight and comes with a 24-hour concierge service and a daily delivery of bread and newspapers. It costs from £794pp, based on eight sharing, and includes return flights from Heathrow and car hire, through Coastline Villas (coastline.co.uk).
With its mix of child-friendly beaches and rugged interior, Mallorca has a lot to offer families. Freelance Holidays (freelance-holidays.co.uk) has just expanded its offering on the island and among the new offerings is Ca’n Credo on the edge of Pollença. This recently upgraded farmhouse has three bedrooms, a garden and small swimming pool. A week starts from £650.
Considered the quietest of the Balearics, Menorca has rapidly been growing in popularity, thanks to its 216km of coastline, which alternates between beautiful beaches and quiet coves. Villa Select (villaselect.com) recently added several new properties on the island including the cliffside Villa Rocamar, near Cituadella. Sleeping up to eight, it costs from £1,688 per week.
Spain’s largest and most southerly region, Andalucia, is home to some of the country’s most recognisable beach resorts like Marbella and Almeria. But venture even a small distance inland and you are transported to tranquil rural scenes. SJ Villas (sjvillas.co.uk) has just added the stylishly decorated La Quinta, which is set on a private estate 10 minutes from the pretty village of Gaucin. The 18th-century manor house, which sleeps up to 10, is built around a central octagonal tower and has been painstakingly renovated with salvaged materials and antiques. There’s a pool, beautiful views and a maid service. One week starts at £2,000.
Villa Lotea is a pretty stone villa in the hills near Frigiliana, bookable through Thomson (thomson.co.uk). It sleeps up to six and has its own pool, while the Costa del Sol and Playazo Beach are within easy reach. Seven nights’ self-catering including return flights from London Luton and car hire costs from £565 per person, based on two sharing, departing on 15 May.
With balmy temperatures that hover in the 20s year-round, the Canaries are an attractive option – particularly for families – as the mainland swelters in high summer. Environmentally-conscious holidaymakers will love Cool Stays’ (coolstays.com) latest beachside property, set on the sprawling Finca de Arrieta estate in the less-touristed northern tip of Lanzarote. The Eco Luxury Farmhouse, sleeping eight, is one of 15 properties on the estate, which generates its own electricity and has a heated pool. A hybrid car is also available for the duration of your stay. It costs from £1,813 per week.
Oliver’s Travels (oliverstravels.com) offers the Villa Waiola, set on the Salobre Golf Resort on Gran Canaria. The sandy expanse of Maspalomas Beach is not far and guests can pay a fee to use the facilities of the neighbouring Sheraton resort. The villa also has its own pool and sleeps up to six. The price for a week starts at £1,590.
Best of the rest
New for this year, La Umbria is a converted farmhouse in a lovely setting in the hills of the Sierra de Columbares near Murcia. The beaches of the Costa Cálida are within easy reach and if you want to stay put, there’s a heated swimming pool. The property has four bedrooms and costs from £1,300 per week, through Dominique’s Villas (dominiquesvillas.co.uk).
If you really want to escape the crowds consider the Casa Salto del Caballo, a 19th-century finca in Extremadura available through One Off Places (oneoffplaces.co.uk). It’s set in the sleepy village of La Fontanera, straddling the Spanish and Portuguese borders – the front door opens into Spain and the back door to Portugal - and has two bedrooms, a terrace and a pool. It costs from €520 per week.
Casas Cantabricas (casas.co.uk) has recently introduced the charming Casa Lucinda in As Loberas in southern Galicia. The stone cottage, which sleeps up to eight, is a short drive from two dreamy beaches; Playa de Mino and Playa de Perbes. It costs from £1,050 per week.
Spain is well-connected with the UK, and there are several additional routes this summer. British Airways (ba.com) is introducing new services including from Stansted to Malaga and Palma and London City to Alicante. Ryanair (ryanair.com) also has new flights from Newcastle to Malaga, Newquay to Alicante and Birmingham to Madrid. Other airlines include Flybe (flybe.com), (norwegian.com), easyJet (easyjet.com), Monarch (monarch.co.uk), Thomas Cook (thomascook.com), Iberia (iberia.com), Air Europa (aireuropa.com), Vueling (vueling.com), Jet2 (jet2.com), Thomson (thomson.co.uk) and Condor (condor.com).
If you would rather take your car, Brittany Ferries (brittany-ferries.co.uk) operates ferries between Plymouth and Santander and Portsmouth to Bilbao and Santander.
Other companies offering villa rentals include Spain Select (spain-select.com), Chic Retreats (chicretreats.com), Only Apartments (only-apartments.com), CV Villas (cvvillas.com), Sawdays (sawdays.co.uk), Airbnb (airbnb.com), Homeaway (homeaway.co.uk) and Vintage Travel (vintage.co.uk).
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