Looking for somewhere to celebrate a family anniversary, a landmark birthday, a reunion of old friends? Travel editor David Wickers offers a grand selection of big houses to rent, at home and abroad

Beside the sea

Description: Pickleridge View in Dale, Pembrokeshire

Pickleridge View in Dale, Pembrokeshire

Sleeping up to 10, with outstanding views across the lagoon to the sea, Pickleridge View is a large semi-detached house with a very fresh, crisp style of its own, as well as a well-equipped kitchen that’s great for cooking for crowds, there are two comfortable sitting rooms, so one can be designated as a TV, games or teenagers’ area while the other is set aside for quieter pursuits, such as reading or taking an afternoon nap after a busy day out on the water.

The ragged, naturally sculpted coastline of Pemrokeshire offers not only scenic beauty, but glorious flowers and hordes of sea birds – including puffins, cormorants, shags, oyster catchers, choughs, guillemots and razorbills. As well as bracing walks along the coast path, Pickleridge View gives easy access to St David’s Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace, whale and dolphin-spotting boat trips, the sailing and windsurfing school at Dale, sweeping sandy beaches… And the village pub is just a walk away.

Pickleridge View in Dale, Pembrokeshire, is available through Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire (01437 765765; )

Flavour of Italy

Description: Soak up the Italian sunshine at the Villa Orizzonti

Soak up the Italian sunshine at the Villa Orizzonti

Villa Orizzonti is a house you’ll want to own for a lifetime rather than a week or two’s holiday. It sits on its own – down a rough track a few minutes’ drive from the nearest town – with wonderful views of hills, trees and fields that shift continually as the sun journeys across brilliant blue skies. Although you’ll be spending most of the days and evenings outdoors – in the pool, beside the pool or eating on the terrace overlooking the pool – the house’s rooms (it sleeps eight) are cosy, the kitchen is well equipped and the bedrooms all enjoy those grand rural views.

The Marche, one of my all-time favourite regions of Italy, is home to all the good things we go to the country hoping to enjoys – including art galleries, medieval hill towns, amazing landscapes, good food, Renaissance architecture and a sandy and scenic coast – without the crowds.

Villa Orizzonti, Italy, is available through Vintage Travel (01954 261431; )

Greek delight

Lounge around on your own private terrace at Filoxenia on Paxos

Filoxenia, which appropriately means ‘hospitality’, is an elegant, modern house sleeping eight that’s biult into the hillside a mile or so outside Paxos’ main town of Gaios. You can easily drive, walk or take a hired boat for the town’s restaurants, cafés and people-watching, but – with a good-sized swimming pool plus sandy beaches within a few hundred yards – it’s even more appealing to say put. The star attraction is a glorious terrace that runs the full length of the villa, providing sun, shade and views of mainland Greece, as well as the pageant of boats travelling along Gaios channel and, occasionally, even dolphins at play.

The tiny Ionian island is an hour by hydrofoil from its bigger neighbour Corfu and, with only 2,500 inhabitants, is little more than a large olive grove. But the harbour in Gaios is a popular port of call for the international yachting crowd, and billionaires and celebrities have been known to sample the mezze in the traditional tavernas that fringe the water’s edge.

Villa Filoxenia in Paxos, Greece, is available through CV Travel (020 7401 1010;

Period piece

Description: Ancient and modern: stay in 17th-century Braydeston in Norfolk

Ancient and modern: stay in 17th-century Braydeston in Norfolk

Approached through a typically English garden along a gravelled driveway, Braydeston is a grand, thatched 17th-century house with plenty of period features (think exposed beams, inglenooks, leaded windows,…) to prove its pedigree. Situated near the river Yare, it sleeps eightt – with one of the bedrooms on the ground floor – and has a pair of comfortably furnished sitting rooms. Note for those with small children: there is an uncovered pond in the grounds, but also equipment for badminton and croquet.

In the heart of the Broads, yet close to the attractions and easy rail links of Norwich, you’ll have the chance to potter about on the water – we went with Broads Tours and met up with a floating ice cream salesman! If you have children with you, Wroxham Barns is also worth a visit – a super farm park with a fabulous, child-friendly restaurant.

Braydeston Cottage in Brundell, near Norfolk, is available through Norfolk Country Cottages        ( 01603 871872;

Thoroughly modern

Description: Ancient and modern: stay in 20th-century showpiece, Clare Park, in Devon

Ancient and modern: stay in 20th-century showpiece, Clare Park, in Devon

Built in 1970 and further modernised in 2011 to bring it stylishly into the 21st century, Clare Park is a bold example of contemporary design. Built on one level around a central courtyard, the house – which sleeps eight –is refreshingly light and airy, inviting the outside in as well as tempting insiders to venture out.

It’s situated on the estuary shores of the Teign, with over an acre of lawns sloping down to the river (there’s direct gated access to the water), so guests can enjoy a range of watersports, including swimming, fishing, canoeing, sailing, rowing, water skiing and windsurfing. If you don’t bring your own boaty playthings, contact Seasports in Teignmouth ( 01626 772 555; And for landlubbers, the gorgeous South Devon countryside is right on the doorstep.

Clare Park, South Devon, is available through Premier Cottages ( 01626 872 472;

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