Home surf: the best luxury beach villas in Europe


Home surf: the best luxury beach villas in Europe

No need to go around the houses – our list of boltholes by the beach has your group holiday sorted

Amy Martin

BY Amy Martin13 May 2024

Sun, sand and not an A-road in sight – who hasn’t dreamed of upping sticks and starting over on the coast? A Puglian villa, perhaps, or maybe somewhere Greek, Mamma Mia-style – you could definitely pull off dungarees. Sadly, the commute from Crete is a bit of a nightmare, but when it comes to the summer hols, at least, we’ve got you covered.

So if you do like to be beside the seaside but could do with an extra dose of do not disturb, dive into our picks of the best luxury beach villas in Europe.


Mallorca, Spain

Villa swimming pool and sun loungers over looking the ocean at Villa bel Mar

Villa Belle Mar has been in the same family for generations, so maybe it’s not surprising how swiftly a sense of home-sweet-home develops here. With three double bedrooms and two twin, there’s space for the extended clan – stake your claim to the master suite to snag the private terrace.

Sandy tones and rattan touches hint at the beach below, but you might struggle to make it there once you sink into the mallow-like armchairs.

Our tip? Shotgun the pair of day-beds pointed directly out to sea – that Med view will coax you outside before long. Luckily, there’s no shortage of comfy nooks out here, either – you’ll find a pool and loungers amid the pine-shaded lawns, plus a wraparound terrace with uninterrupted sea views.

A short stroll sees you down on popular Cala Moll, where white sands and paddle-friendly waters (unusually, for Mallorca, they’re completely watersport-free) might have you and your fellow sunbathers congratulating each other on a beach choice well made. Make nice all you want, but be warned – when you coast past them all through your private gate, envious stares are, we regret to say, unavoidable.


Crete, Greece

Two sun loungers looking out over the pool and the cliff side and ocean at Villa Octo, Crete

Dynastic drama aside (none of that on your family getaway, thanks), the Greek Gods knew what they were about when they made Crete their hangout of choice. Fittingly, Hellenic hideout for six Villa Octo is home to a pantheon of mini miracles.

From high up in your hillside pad you’re probably expecting the panoramic sea views, but the show-stealing sunrises might come as something of a surprise. Sure, we can all wrap our heads around a heated infinity pool, but slip down below the lawn and – lo! – a hidden hammam.

And a barbecue and wood-fired oven might seem like earthly pleasures, but flinging the door open to a fully stocked fridge would make converts of us all – okay fine, someone in your party will have to arrange that in advance, but the rest of you can pretend higher powers are at play.

And when you’re ready to rejoin the mortal realm, hop in the car for a few minutes drive to Lygaria beach, a sandy cove with clear, sheltered waters.


Puglia, Italy

View of the beach and the shore, sun loungers and yellow sands underneath the clear blue sky at Borgo Egnazia

Fairy-tale towers, cloistered courtyards and all the luxury touches you could wish for – think of rustic retreat Borgo Egnazia as the glass slipper on Italy’s heel. The resort has a Michelin-starred dining, a golf course and ancient rituals at the Roman-inspired spa, plus two private beach clubs – one sandy, one pebbly.

But really, your (holiday) home is your castle, so allow us to introduce Villa Bella. Forget true love’s kiss; this tufa-stone suitor in Puglia will sweep you off your feet with a private pool, soliloquy-inspiring balcony and archways aching to be posed under.

So much for surface-level charms; inside, you’ll find classic, ivory-toned interiors, a basement snug set up with a state-of-the-art home-cinema system and a master bedroom with – what else – a king-size, canopied four-poster bed. All three bedrooms have ensuites and fit-for-a-princess design flourishes, though, so the curse of competitive room-bagsying can be lifted once and for all.


Sicily, Italy

Swimming pool overlooking the clifftops to the ocean at Rocco Forte private villas, Sicily

Don’t be fooled by their perch high on Sicily’s remote west-coast hills – these Rocco Forte stays are no hermits’ hideouts. In fact, it’s a tall order to be ascetic with the Verdura Resort as your next-door neighbour, where temptations include two championship golf courses, a stay-all-day spa and frosty cocktails on the private beach.

The modernist villas are filled with funky design touches – a feature wall here, a mid-century modern armchair there – courtesy of designer Olga Polizzi.

There are three- and four-bedroom options, each with all the sun-soaking essentials – namely, a private pool, gardens and sleek, sea-facing terrace. Each has a fully equipped kitchen, too, but no worries if you’re no Nigella – a short pootle on your personal golf buggy will bring you to the resort’s eight restaurant and bars. Or better yet, arrange for the private chef to take the reins.


Menorca, Spain

Aerial image of Finca Bellavista, a Zannier Private Estate

Think of Finca Bellavista as a five-bedroom halfway house between bells and whistles and the back of beyond. You (and nine of your outdoorsiest friends) can commit to a full-blown frolic through the 123 acres of forest, fields and farmlands safe in the knowledge that there are no neighbours around to spot you – and that when you’ve worn yourself out, a team of private chefs, spa therapists, yoga teachers and more are just a phone call away.

Back at the ranch, the interiors are true to the homestead’s rustic roots – expect exposed beams, earthenware and antique wooden furniture – but white walls and hand-picked artwork keep things feeling curated.

A sunny stint on the roof terrace reveals an enticing peek of Menorca‘s electric-blue sea. Stroll (or cycle, if you fancy a spin on one of the finca’s four mountain bikes) through the pines down a private path and you’ll find yourself on Son Saura beach, where emerald waters and soft, unspoiled sands await.


Algarve, Portugal

Seating area for two with rosé overlooking the ocean and craggy cliffs at Casa da Rocha

Fair enough – high above the Atlantic on the Algarve cliffs, it’s quite the challenge not to be in cheery spirits. But five-bed Casa da Rocha really knows how to ramp up the feel-good factor.

There’s a family-home feel throughout, and floor-to-ceiling French windows flood the whole place with natural light. En plein air, the private saltwater pool and terrace have your sun-catching sorted, but beyond that wholesome pursuits abound – kayaks, a volleyball court and a star-gazing telescope for starters.

Orange, almond and pomegranate trees grow in the Edenic gardens, but if things start to verge on the overly virtuous, raid the wine cellar for a drop of sinfully smooth red – best paired with sunset sea views.

Ready to re-don the rose-tinted specs? A few steps down the coastal path, you’ll find a cute-as-can-be cove with a name to match – Praia dos Beijinhos, or ‘beach of little kisses’. Mwah!


Ibiza, Spain

Swimming pool and sun loungers at Sa Serra, Ibiza, underneath a blue sky with views out to the ocean

A breath of fresh air from the mainstream Ibiza buzz, Sa Serra sways to a more laidback Balearic beat. Pretty terraces, sun-drenched loungers and a pool with submerged seating area provide the bassline for the ideal island rhythm – swim, sun, snooze, repeat – but crack an eye open to peep the view of pine forests and the bay beyond.

Inside, soothing whitewash and rustic details set the do-not-disturb tone. And with four bedrooms, there’s space enough for all your best friends who need long lie-ins.

For a night out Sa Serra-style, saunter down to sandy Cala Conta or Cala Bassa. You’ll find some of the island’s best seafood spots by the beach, but really, the golden sands and a gorgeous sunset are the headline acts.


Santorini, Greece

Dining terrace overlooking the ocean at Vino Villas

Look, the Greek islands have long known how to do a getaway – why fiddle with the formula? Such is the philosophy behind Vino Houses, a set of four traditional villas on Santorini’s sun-baked north coast. Two-bedroom Vinsanto Villa is an instant classic, curved and whitewashed in time-worn Cycladic style. Airy interiors are peppered with pretty cornflower blue, but it’s outside that the island’s traditions really come into their own.

The private plunge pool and terraces take in the postcard ticklist of Santorini views – mountains to one side, sea to the other and a blue-and-white church in between. A manageable 20-minute meander below, a rocky beach awaits. And each morning, breakfast platters are sourced from the garden (all taken care of by the concierge, of course, so no need to go rooting around the veg patch in your linens).

And then there’s the villa’s namesake. You’re surrounded by some of the island’s finest vineyards, so really it would be rude not to indulge in the most sacred Santorini rite – splitting a bottle as the sun sets over the caldera.


Halkidiki, Greece

Aerial villa exterior of Eagles Villas and surrounding beaches with sun loungers and bright blue skies

Back on the mainland, Eagles Villas in Halkidiki offer Greek family-friendly stay with bucketfuls of all-age activities and golden sands in spades. Highlights for budding waterbabies include a Blue Flag beach, with calm waters perfect for smaller swimmers, and a kids’ club agenda including snorkelling and scuba sessions.

Put that bottom lip away, grown-ups – you’ve got an Elemis spa, fine dining and a cocktail bar right on the beach to keep you busy.

Besides, once you’re ensconced in the Two-Bedroom Pool Villa, who’s to say you’ll venture out at all? Seems silly to stir, really, when you’re all supine on the sun deck or splashing about your private plunge pool. Our final tip? When a little me-time is in order, put yourself in timeout on the roof terrace – there’s a sea-facing hammock up there with your name on it.



Daios Cove beach bar in amongst sun loungers in the Greek sunlight looking out to the ocean

Cut into the cliffside above a private Cretan bay, Daios Cove’s cosy villas for two could woo the sternest sceptic with their butterflies-inducing sea views alone. As with any good first date, a bottle of champagne on arrival sets the ball rolling beautifully.

Other charms include a private saltwater pool and sundeck, floor-to-ceiling windows, a super-king-size bed and an ensuite, all overlooking the Aegean – you don’t have suds in your eyes, that really is the view.

If you’re not won over yet, set out to explore the rest of the resort. There, you’ll find four restaurants and a seductive spa. But the real heart-pounder is the private sandy beach, complete with cocktails delivered straight to your cabana and specially reserved sunloungers – swoon.



His majesty Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe-Langenburg chose well when establishing his holiday home on Marbella’s Golden Mile. Several decades of celeb sightings (Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly et al) and more discreetly done parties later, Marbella Club is still fabulous in its hotel guise, with a playful beach club, thalassotherapy spa and champagne room, dahling.

To feel as though this is your own private abode, the Two-Bedroom Villa authenticates your experience. A bougainvillaea-draped terrace has Spanish tiling and a private sizeable sun-kissed pool; inside, the look throws back to the resort’s halcyon days, with lived-in-yet-luxe retro styling, and there’s a hydrotherapy tub in each bathroom for those impromptu back-to-ours-es. But families will feel at home here too – after all one of the world’s best, village-sized kids’ clubs is a short walk away, where little ones can learn to make music or perfume, garden, cook, throw pottery or paint.

And for toes-in-the-sand time, just wander through the lush gardens, following the sound of the sea to prime sunbathing territory and the simple sunny pleasures the Prince envisioned all those years ago.



If you’ve got your heart set on Mr Whippy ice cream cones and deckchair lazing, then booking somewhere dubbed Sands Studio is an auspicious start to a break in Cornwall. One of Trevose Harbour House’s more secluded residences, this first floor apartment overlooks St Ives Bay (and has a balcony for that summer-breeze-on-your-face feel), and is just a beach-ball bounce from Porthgwidden’s sheltered sands.

Echoing the town’s artistic and design-forward history, this is perhaps one of the most stylish by-the-sea hideaways, too, with decor that reflects the area’s golden shore and light, and original mid-century furnishings (pebble tables by Lucian Ercolani, a floor lamp by Haus Schmidt, Eero Saarinen dining table) and work by local creatives on the walls, such as John Emanuel and John Greig.

There’s a kitchen too, and welcome hamper to get you started, but a concierge can pack you a beach picnic, stock your fridge with local goodies or book a table for you – delis, fine-dining and fish and chip shops aplenty occupy the enchanting narrow streets nearby – just watch those seagulls.

In more of a hotel kinda mood? Check out the best European hotels with private beaches

Amy Martin is a writer, actor and travel buff, based between London and Cornwall. When she’s not lurking around a theatre or scribbling in a notebook on the Penzance to Paddington line, you’ll find her at the cinema, on a long coastal walk, or watching Pride and Prejudice (1995 or 2005 is fine).