When I lived in the UK, friends and I would often band together and go on holidays to giant houses in remote parts of the country, including the Scottish Highlands or the Lake District.
We usually hired extravagantly huge houses for these adventures. I remember one on a 10,000 acre estate which came complete with its own Scottish Loch (prehistoric monster as an optional add-on).
Beyond the optional monster, that one had a 10 mile, hour-long, tremendously bumpy drive between the entrance gate and the actual building, more rooms than I can remember, and an entirely disturbing collection of dead animals on the wall.
I mention this because we were recently invited down to the Costa Brava region of Spain, to meet up with some friends we made a couple of years ago, who run a website which rents out rather charming houses in said region.
Charming houses not entirely dissimilar to the style that I used to holiday in, except with more Spanish weather and less dead animals on the walls. Obviously we said yes.
When we visited last time round, Naturaki was a two person affair which had only been running for a year or so – the lovely brother and sister team of Carme and Narcis, who made us feel incredibly at home. So much so that we were absolutely thrilled to head back and hang out with our friends.
Since then, they’ve expanded both the team and their property portfolio – but the personal charm and friendliness of this local company remains the same.
Narcis explained to me that for them to take on a property, it has to be special. It has to have character. And ideally, it has to have a pool. I couldn’t argue with that philosophy.
We stayed in a couple of these houses during our week in Costa Brava. They were:
Can Fort is kind of everything you want in a giant five bedroom property split across two buildings with it’s own pool. I mean, that sentence should be enough to persuade you as to its virtues, but just in case you’re not convinced:
- It has its own pool (I may have already mentioned this).
- The upper outdoor dining terrace has sunset views to die for. Well, just views to die for. There’s another terrace, which has rather jolly views as well.
- If you don’t like views, there’s a billiard table, free Wi-fi, a massive TV and also a fireplace. You don’t have to go outside!
- There are two kitchens, in case your group falls out over who is the best chef.
- There are five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
- There’s an outdoor area as well as a barbeque.
Of course, the property is not the only thing to be excited about. Set in the countryside around a half hour drive from Girona, there is plenty to see and do in the region, including visiting the gorgeous towns of Cadaques, Besalu and Girona itself, not to mention the countless beaches and other attractions in the area. We’ll be writing a post on all those options soon.
We also stayed at Can Martinot, which is tucked away at the end of a mountain road, around 30 minutes drive from Figueres at the start of the Pyrenees Mountains.
This is a perfect place to get away from it all, particularly if you are into hiking. There are trails heading up into the mountains, and we did a 10 km day hike up one of the nearby hills, ending in a surreal hippie village.
We were guided on our hike by Naturaki co-owner Narcis, and we were particularly lucky in that when we got back to the house he made us his own personal paella, based on a closely guarded secret recipe. As you might imagine, it was rather good.
Obviously, I can’t guarantee you a secret paella recipe, but I can say that if peace and quiet in a tiny Spanish village, in a five bedroom villa set across four floors, with the sound of a river to keep you chilled out, then you could certainly do a lot worse than Can Martinot. Find out more about what Can Martinot has to offer here.
Enough talk. Tell me how I stay in these places for less than the price of a hostel!
Ok, ok. That was a lot of words to get to the point of the post, which is how you can stay at these amazing properties for so little money.
Well, it’s easy. Find some friends. Let me explain.
You see, somewhere like Can Fort is currently listed in peak season, at a price of €2290 per week.
That sounds like a lot. And sure, it is.
For that money you get a five bedroom property spread across two houses, a billiard table, flat screen TV’s, Wi-fi, pool, two kitchens… well, the list goes on.
The other thing is you can sleep up to fourteen people in the property. €2290 divided by fourteen is €163 per person. Or about €23 a night.
And that’s peak season. Come here in the low season, and you’re paying €15 per person per night!
Let me just remind you here. This is a spectacular villa, with its own pool, masses of living space, five bedrooms, two kitchens… and it’s only €15 per person a night!
Admittedly, you have to find fourteen friends who want to come share with you. And I know the hassle involved in finding fourteen people willing to synchronise their vacation time is not trivial, because that’s how I managed to hire the houses I mentioned at the start of the post. Turns out I’m not super rich after all.
If you tell your friends the price and what’s on offer, you might find them to be a bit more willing. Or find someone with brilliant organisational skills and let them deal with the headache. Pro tip – if you’re in charge of the organisation, ask for all the money up front, you’ll find out soon enough who’s serious!
If that doesn’t work, the good news is that you don’t need to find as many as 14 friends. Naturaki have properties to suit four to twenty people. Find just seven friends (and you!), and you could stay here in the low season for €15 a night. Kind of a bargain if you ask me.
The other thing to think about is transport, of course. Properties like this are usually found out in the countryside, and require a means of transport to get to them.
We think the best option for that is just to hire a car. Looking at Argus Car Hire for example, you can pick up a reasonably sized car for €50 – €100 for a week in the Girona region. Hardly a bank breaker, especially when you split this cost out between a few of you. Then you can explore at your leisure, which is our preferred way to do everything.
And that is pretty much it for this post! How would you like to stay in a property like this, and did you ever think it would be so affordable? Let me know in the comments below!