Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rooms with a View, and Nothing to Do

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rooms with a View, and Nothing to Do

Article excerpt

YELLOW MAGENTA CYAN BLACK avoids shopping (cheat by ordering two) as it contains 40 items such as cooked ham, tuna, rice, pasta, vegetables, fruit and cereals.

Gourmet basket of local food and drink (pound sterling26); children's basket of breakfast cereals, soft drinks and pizzas (pound sterling24); drink-and-snack basket with beer, wine, mixers, soft drinks, snacks (pound sterling40). Villa price includes maid.

Nanny (pound sterling70 per day) and cook (tailor-made prices vary) on request.

Sleeps 10, from pound sterling2,525 in April/May with car (flights extra). Villas of Distinction (0870 166 4959, villas-ofdistinction.

co.uk).

Ponsacco, Italy A large gravelled terrace spans the front of La Grillaia, a tall, naturalstone farmhouse near Pisa. It's set in extensive wooded grounds complete with gamekeeper. A path through the trees surrounding the gardens leads to a 16-metre-long outdoor pool and Astroturf tennis court.

Decor is country chic (stonewashed walls, terracotta floors, wooden furniture) and there are two living rooms, one with a fireplace.

Take the self out of self-catering: leave the fully equipped kitchen to the price-inclusive cleaner and cook (who'll also do the shopping) while you chill watching satellite TV and videos, listening to CDs, playing tennis or swimming in the pool. If you must, there's an ISDN line and fax.

Sleeps 12, from pound sterling575pp in April, including car/flights. Simply Travel (020 8541 2206, simplytravel.com).

Panzano, Italy Villa Bracciano is an elegant, ochre-painted manor house, built 500 years ago by the wine-producing Ricasoli family and surrounded by cypress trees and olive groves.

Vineyard views and vaulted wine cellars plus large outdoor pool and sauna.

Decor is classical (terracotta f loors, high ceilings, antiques, ethnic artefacts) with a 110ft first-floor salon. Bedrooms are carpeted - rare for Italy.

Take the self out of self-catering: Chiantishire cooking from a visiting chef who whips up fourcourse meals (crostini, tagliatelle, steak Florentine, tiramisu) at E11 per hour (including shopping, cooking, serving and clearing up). …

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