Ten Best: Sunshine sanctuaries
Nicola Brady tracks down the most stylish villa getaways for soaking up the sun
Designed by a villa expert and built by her Greek husband, Villa Metapothia has everything a family could need. On the terrace, the large swimming pool features a shallow children's section and a Jacuzzi, overlooked by a marble-topped table for al fresco dining.
Four of the bedrooms have their own individual terraces, with views out to the sea or the mountains.
Details: Summer rates are currently reduced to €3,150 per week with Freelance Holidays (0044 178 929 7705, freelance- holidays.co.uk). Fly to Heraklion.
La Fontanella is a traditional Tuscan stone cottage in the heart of Chianti. The villa is just on the edge of San Sano village, but hidden from view with a large laurel hedge. In the garden, a raised pool overlooks the Tuscan countryside, with an outside dining area.
There are numerous vineyards nearby where you can pick up a local Chianti for a sundowner on the terrace. Inside, the villa is spacious and light, with terracotta archways and plenty of room to relax.
Details: A week in July starts at €2,200 with To Tuscany (01-663 3939; to-tuscany.ie), which has a wealth of villas in the area. Fly to Florence.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Luxury Villa Amalfi is an exclusive dwelling in the traditional village of Nerano, at the furthermost point of the Sorrento peninsula. Sleeping up to 10, the villa has a private pool tucked between olive trees and flowers. From the expansive terrace you can look out upon the stunning coastline, but the water isn't far – the nearest beach is 600m away.
Details: The villa currently has 20pc off, costing €4,973 per week in July and August with Holiday Homes in Italy (0044 845 229 7057; holidayhomesinitaly.co.uk). Fly to Amalfi.
There are two gorgeous patios to choose from at Villa El Laurel – a shady poolside pergola for long lunches and a raised terrace to relax on at the end of the day.
The three bedrooms are all en suite, with the villa sleeping up to six. Though the pool is private, the manicured grounds are shared with two other properties, making it a great choice for a few families looking to get away together.
There's also maid service included twice a week.
Details: A week in July starts at €1,794 with CV Travel (0044 207 401 1099; cvtravel.co.uk). Fly to Malaga.
For the freedom of a villa holiday with the advantage of hotel facilities nearby, try one of the Cala di Falco Villas in Sardinia.
Located in the grounds of the Resort Cala di Falco, the villas have full access to the hotel's freshwater swimming pool, children's clubs and restaurants, but benefit from a quiet location in the gardens.
The beach and port town of Cannigione is 500m away, with a weekly market for provisions and numerous restaurants.
Details: Prices in July start at €2,054 per villa with Just Sardinia (0044 120 248 4858; justsardinia.co.uk). Fly to Alghero.
Tall iron gates mark the entrance to Es Pujolet, an expansive villa in among olive and almond groves in Mallorca.
The property is set on almost four acres, with a spacious terrace around the pool looking out over the rolling hills and down towards the sea.
Far from the busy coastal resorts, the rural location offers a different perspective of the island, where life moves a little slower. There are villages close by with markets and restaurants, and the nearest beaches are a 15-minute drive away.
Details: Prices range from €2,870-€4,473 in July and August with Vintage Travel (0044 195 426 1431; vintagetravel.co.uk). Fly to Palma.
For a smaller family option, Villa Volicella is an ivy-clad home that sleeps up to four. The private pool is set in lush gardens where you can relax away from the crowds. When the heat gets too much, the shady veranda is the best place to chill out away from the sun. Porto Vecchio is the nearest town, about a 10-minute drive away, where you can find numerous restaurants and boutiques.
Details: Currently reduced from €4,042 to €2,830 in July/August with Affair Travel (0044 207 616 9990; affairtravel.com). Fly to Bastia.
Pop your head out of the pool at Casa de Arena and you'll be looking out at the rolling hills and wheat fields once known as Rome's breadbasket.
Converted from an 18th-century country house, the villa is in a prime position to admire the stunning countryside. Walks through the grounds take you through orange and lemon groves, and views from the terracotta-tiled terrace stretch out as far as Mount Etna. The interiors have been lovingly restored, retaining original features while introducing all the mod cons.
Details: A week in July or August starts at €3,040 with Think Sicily (0044 207 377 8518; thinksicily.com). Fly to Catania.
Not all villa holidays are made equal. Villa la Font is a modern and stylish dwelling, located in the exclusive residential area of Pollenca. Perched on the top of the hillside, the villa looks out over the countryside and coast from a contemporary terrace that looks more like a boutique hotel.
The villa features a play area as well as a pool for kids, but also comes with a full-time nanny to keep everyone happy. It doesn't stop there – there's also a resident chef and host to cater to your every whim, as well as full maid service.
Details: Prices start at €1,959 per person per week in high season with Scott Dunn (0044 208 682 5080; scottdunn.com). Fly to Palma.
Villa holidays in the summer can be expensive enough, even before you start to factor in the extras. This is where Rana Evi stands out. A week in this villa on the Turkish Med includes airport transfers, daily maid cleaning, a welcome hamper and the use of a jeep for the duration of your stay.
With a domed roof and thick whitewashed walls, the villa was inspired by traditional Greek homes, which keeps things cool in the heat of summer.
Details: A week starts at €3,410, based on four sharing, with Exclusive Escapes (0044 208 605 3500; exclusiveescapes.co.uk). Fly to Dalaman.