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Five villas with impressive historic connections

From a rock star’s lakeside retreat to an American millionaire’s 19th-century mansion, we round up villas with a historic connection that will impress clients.

Villa Cetinale was constructed in 1680 for Pope Alexander VII
Villa Cetinale was constructed in 1680 for Pope Alexander VII

Recommending a property with a historic connection is a fantastic way to introduce clients to the concept of a villa holiday, and there are some great options on the market, from the former holiday home of an A-list celebrity to properties built during periods of architectural innovation.


And with villa breaks becoming increasingly popular and offering attractive commission rates, now’s a great time to start selling them, says Danny Waine, commercial manager at Interhome.


“Interhome bookings from the UK are doing really well,” he says. “We’re currently trading at plus 16% year-on-year, which is on top of a record 2019. For summer, we’re currently up 9% year-on-year, and although trading is inconsistent, overall the bookings are coming in.”


He adds that a historic villa stay is a great option for clients who want a unique property with plenty of talking points.


“When it comes to a historic villa, you feel like you’re stepping back in time, but still enjoying all the luxuries of a modern property. Whether it’s the architecture from a particular period, the pop culture or a more authentic experience
where the owner bakes you a cake; it allows clients to say ‘I’ve been there and had the most individual experience’.”


Here, we profile five villas with a historic connection to suggest to clients.



Duck House near Montreux, Switzerland, has hosted many rock stars over the years including David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Freddie Mercury, who began staying in the property in the 1970s for its secluded location and stunning views of Lake Geneva. Eagle-eyed rock fans will recognise Duck House, which appeared on the cover of Queen’s final studio album, Made in Heaven.


“Duck House has been lovingly kept with its original 1970s furnishings and is a great option for die-hard Queen fans, as well as those who love music in general,” says Waine.


“The property can sleep up to seven guests so it’s a sure-fire winner for groups of friends looking for somewhere unique with a mix of pop culture in a tranquil setting.”


BOOK IT: Interhome offers seven nights in Duck House from £3,511 for seven guests sharing. Price based on stays between 2-9 May 2020.



Perched on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula on Italy’s south-west coast, Onefinestay’s Villa Astor offers clients a wealth of history to explore, such as the on-site ruins of a first-century Roman villa once belonging to relatives of Emperor Augustus, and the adjoining monastery of Saint Vincenzo, purchased by American millionaire William Waldorf Astor.


With six luxury suites and a dedicated catering, housekeeping and gardening team, Villa Astor is an ideal option for clients seeking a showstopping villa, and it can also act as an impressive wedding venue, says Zach Barnes, director of global sales at Onefinestay.


“Guests can celebrate by the private swimming pool with its romantic views over the Sorrentine Peninsula; in the fragrant garden rated one of the 10 most beautiful in Italy; at the natural grotto; or within the villa itself, which houses more than 150 pieces of historical artworks and artefacts. The villa offers a perfect blend of the ancient world with modern amenities and unmatched personal service.”


BOOK IT: Onefinestay offers nightly rates at Villa Astor from £17,617. Clients must book a minimum of three nights.



Constructed in 1929 for Captain Caric, a famous Croatian sailor, Villa Dubrovnik combines art deco design with modern amenities such as a swimming pool and air conditioning. Historic features include the villa’s art collection, centuriesold tapestries and original stone staircase.


“Villa Dubrovnik sits just 200 metres from the Old Town city walls and is perfect for groups to enjoy everything the historical destination has to offer, with all the comforts of a villa to return to,” says Jodie Perkins, product and purchasing manager at James Villa Holidays.


She recommends agents book stays in September or October for their clients, when cooler temperatures and fewer tourists allow for a better sightseeing experience.


BOOK IT: Seven nights in Villa Dubrovnik starts from £899pp, based on eight sharing from 10 October 2020.



Oliver’s Travels’ Chevaliers Gatehouse in the Shropshire countryside offers clients the chance to stay in a Grade I-listed 16th-century building and explore the grounds once trodden by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and Margaret Thatcher. The property would appeal to clients interested in English history, Tudor-era decor and Elizabethan architecture, says sales manager, Brittany Phillips.


“Guests should explore the private garden with its flowerbeds, fruit trees and fountain. Or check out the region’s historic sites, scenic walks and gastro hotspots,” she advises. “Extra beds for children can be provided on request. However, due to its spiral staircases leading to the bedrooms, the property is not suitable for those with disabilities.”


BOOK IT: Oliver’s Travels offers seven nights in Chevaliers Gatehouse from £1,734 based on a four-person occupancy between 20 April and 22 May 2020. Agents will earn 5% commission, increasing to 10% from the second booking onwards.



Constructed in the Roman Baroque style in 1680 for Pope Alexander VII, Villa Cetinale still features many original fixtures, including the Giuseppe Mazzuoli statues, surrounding gardens and vaulted ceilings. Sleeping up to 27 people in 13 bedrooms, the property is ideal for groups of friends with a penchant for luxury, says Daniela Bastiani, Italy contracts and operations manager at CV Villas.


“The villa has had a wild past, with many famous faces staying there. These include Princess Margaret, Tony Blair, Mick Jagger and Kate Moss.”


Villa Cetinale is situated just nine miles from Siena in Tuscany, and also offers clients a perfect base from which to discover the medieval city’s historical sights. The city centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site and features impressive architecture including the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Tower of Mangia.


BOOK IT: CV Villas offers a week in Villa Cetinale from £22,959 for 27 guests sharing, with daily maid and chef service included.

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