The long winter has left us fantasizing about all the places we want to escape to this summer. Now that we got a taste of the warm weather over the weekend and are in official countdown mode for the end of school year, we are ready to make one or two of those daydreams into reality.

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Aries Villa, Costa Careyes Mexico

While we are not one to turn down a stay at a great hotel or resort and all the pampering it comes with, there is nothing quite like settling into a private home – whether it be an apartment, cottage, villa, or chateau – to immerse yourself like a local in a destination. For families and groups who need more space or privacy (not to mention value), its a no-brainer. And now, it’s more common than ever to find homes that offer the amenities of a resort experience—chefs, daily housekeeping, concierge services, free WiFi, stocked refrigerators, and more.

We’ve scoured the sites, saved the clippings and spoke to some of the best luxury vacation rental companies.  From the Cotswolds to Lake Como, Normandy to Jackson Hole, here are ten of our favorite luxurious places to rent this summer: places that have simply blown us away. And, any of them can be your home away from home this summer – if even for just a week. Are you ready to escape? 

1) Post Safari Sanctuary – Villa Santorini, Mozambique

If you are planning a family safari in Botswana, South Africa or Tanzania, you might as well take advantage of some of the nicest beaches on the coast of Africa while you are on the other side of the world. This over-the-top villa in exotic Mozambique captured our attention right away.

The five-bedroom (each facing the ocean with private decks) ocean-front villa, Villa Santorini, accommodates 8 adults and 6 children perfectly. The villa is decked out with a lounge, TV room and library along with a fantastic pool. It is also only steps from the village of Vilanculos. The all-inclusive price comes with staff to cook your meals, drinks, a guided day tour of the town’s markets, sports activities and more (the villa’s 27-foot boat is always on call but extra).

2) Wild over the Cotswolds – Wildwood House, Oxfordshire 

Ever since watching Brigitte Jones Diary and The Holiday (remember the Kate Winslet-Cameron Diaz home swap?), we have been eyeing the charming villages of Cotswolds for a family summer vacation. Our favorite place to search? Unique Home Stays, a well-respected UK-based company with over 120 breath-taking homes in the U.K. to choose from.

We found the perfect home – a manor house in Burford (named one of the 10 best places to live by CN Traveler), perfectly situated near Oxford and all the nearby Cotswolds storybook villages. This gorgeous 5-bedroom home (more rooms are in the barn), fittingly named Wildwood House, comfortably fits four families and comes with tennis courts, a heated swimming pool, and lush back yard with to-die-for views of the countryside.

3) It’s All About The Views In Paris

We are always surfing the web for the perfect apartment to rent in Paris. Two that caught our eye are with Time and Place, (all vacation rentals include concierge services for reservations, chefs, excursions and more) who have some of the best vetted selection of luxury rental homes worldwide we have seen. Our requisite feature? Glorious views that remind us every morning we wake up that we are in our favorite city in the world.

The first one that grabbed our attention is a contemporary 4-BR, 1,700 sq. foot contemporary apartment (comfortable for eight people) in the 3rd arrondissement with open floor plan and a whole wall of oversized windows with views of the city. In this Saint Martin apartment, you can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Couer, Notre Dame and Pompidou Center all before your eyes.

If you want something more central and a bit more cozy but with equally stunning views, check out the classicly Parisian 2-BR, 1,000 square foot apartment with private balcony. The Saint Louis Island Luxe apartment is situated on – you guessed it, Ile St. Louis  – and comfortably sleeps six people. Can’t you just picture yourself with a café au last and croissant at either of these places, gazing at the sights before you?

4) Nesting in Notting Hill, London

The next time our family goes to London, we will play house with One Fine Stay – who has an incredible vetted selection of apartments and townhouses in London equipped with the essential amenities and space for families. Our heart is set on the charming neighborhood of Notting Hill and this 5-floor charmingly decorated townhouse won our hearts the minute we saw it.

The perfectly situated and airy 4-br townhouse, Ledbury Road III,  on Ledbury Road comes with a beautiful outdoor garden, spacious kitchen, plenty of living space and even two dogs (who occupy the 1st floor)!   The Portobello antiques market, fashionable restaurants of Westbourne Grove and trendy boutiques of Notting Hill are all at your disposal. Not surprisingly, this townhouse is in high demand but still had some summer availability when we last checked.

5) Lapping in Luxury on Lake Como – Villa Di Torno

Tuscany often comes first to mind when families look to rent a villa in Italy, but it’s worth taking a second glance at Lake Como for its incredible scenery (and maybe a few celebrity sightings too – George Clooney has a home here!), outdoor activities and proximity to Milan.

Villa Di Torno is a 6-BR, 6.5 Bath truly grand villa (fitting 12 guests comfortably) that comes with everything you could possibly want: stunning views from each room, a heated child-friendly pool, a large terrace overlooking the lake, staff, central A/C and Wi-Fi. We particularly love that it is also only a five-minute walk from the villa’s front door into the town of Torno (the villages of Como, Cernobbio and Bellagio are only  a 20 minutes drive away).

6) Hanging on the Happy Coast – Villa Aries, Costa Careyes

Trust me, if you haven’t heard about Jalisco and Costa Careyes already, you will undoubtably be reading more and more about this relatively undiscovered gem of an area on the Mexico’s Pacific coast. Otherwise known as “The Happy Coast”  this is where you want to go for barefoot luxury, authentic cuisine and surfing without the crowds.

A small selection of very special villas can be found here.  Constellation Aries villa is our favorite among the mix for its authentic Mexican architecture and decor and sweeping views of the Pacific. Fully staffed with a butler, chef and maid, this 4 1/2 bedroom hideway (in a 24-hour security gated resort) also comes with a media room, open-air living room and infinity pool to keep the kids fully content.

7) Caribbean Zen – Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos

We wrote about our love affair with Parrot Cay after a long weekend there in February and were fortunate to have the opportunity to tour two private rental villas that blew our socks (well, sandals) away: Rocky Point or Tamarind. Either of these villas – each just steps from the impossibly turquoise sea – would do nicely for us, thank you very much. The 5-BR Tamarind is beyond ridiculous with a minimalist Eastern zen vibe and a media room that any Hollywood mogul would envy. For a more boho chic Hamptons style, we felt right at home at the 3-BR home of Christie Brinkley – Rocky Point.

Rates are at their lowest for Parrot Cay villas during the summer.

8) Into The Woods – Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole is synonymous with winter and all that comes with it – skiing in Teton mountains, snowmobiling through Yellowstone park and sleigh riding through Elk Refuge, for instance. But missing the beauty of the area and outdoors activities during the summer is a shame. There are endless activities in and around the parks – hiking, fishing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and horseback riding, to name just a few.

The Clear Creek Group has a gorgeous selection of 55 log mountain homes in the Jackson Hole area, all with concierge services. We love this authentic 1940s, 3-BR cowboy log cabin right in downtown Jackson on the slopeside of Snow King. “The Cabin” has loads of Great Camp atmosphere in a Wild West setting – from the wood-burning fireplaces to the moose-antler chandeliers in the vaulted ceilings to the vintage furniture. We especially love the kids bunkroom and backyard with outdoor firepit.

9) Les Liaisons Dangerouses in Normandy, France

Our list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t throw in a Chateau somewhere. Normandy is eternally on our list. The local offerings of Mont St. Michel, D-Day beaches, Bayeux tapestries, and the American Cemetery not to mention the charming villages of Alencon, Camembert and Rouen are enough to keep any family member happy and occupied, young or adult.

The 500-year old, 10-room Chateau de Saint Paterne (the site where King Henry IV indulged in many a royal romp), which looks like something right out of a fairy tale, sits right between Normandy and the Loire in the charming town of Alencon. It is both a private family-owned chateau and boutique hotel – perfect for those that want the ambience of a home but with the perks and services of a hotel (there is an on-site restaurant). The chateau is particularly family friendly (the owners have three boys of their own), providing special children meals, tips for kid-friendly excursions nearby (go karting, zoos and horseback riding, for instance) as well as plenty of on-site kid-loving activities at your disposal: a huge trampoline, croquet, ping pong and an outdoor heated pool are just a few things you will find on its picturesque 2.5 acre property.

10) Private Villa and Yacht in the Galapagos – Villa Escalesia, Santa Cruz

If you think going to the Galapagos means having to live aboard a confining boat, you have got it all wrong! We love the idea of having the perks and comfort of being in our own private villa and taking a private yacht to the islands instead. The perfect place? Latin Excursion’s Villa Escalesia is a bay-front 4 BR, in Puerto Avora in Santa Cruz island. Ideal for two families, this villa comes with an infinity pool, Turkish bath, personal staff (chef, concierge and housekeeper) and a 2BR guest house. A private yacht with naturalist guide for excursions to the Galapagos island is included as well as meals, wine and numerous other amenities. Mention Inviato when inquiring for the best amenities and rates.

Special Mention

The words summer and Nantucket are practically synonymous so we would be remiss to not remind you of the drop-dead gorgeous White Elephant Loft, we featured on Inviato last August. Located in the heart of town, this 3-BR residence with oversize windows overlooking Main Street provides you the privacy of your own home with all the hotel benefits and services of the White Elephant Hotel located a few blocks away.

Read our Inside Look of the White Elephant Loft.

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