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Slow Europe shows you how to find vacation rentals in Europe - villas, houses, cottages or apartments that you rent by the week.

What are Vacation Rentals?

Vacation Houses in Europe

by Pauline Kenny, February 2008

Europeans live daily life differently than we do in North America and their vacation houses reflect that. The major differences that I have noticed are outlined here.

Experience Daily Life in a Historic Building

Vacation rentals in Europe are often in historic buildings. A vacation rental may be an old stone outbuilding on a farm, an apartment in the wing of an Italian villa or English manor house, a row house in a village or an historic apartment in the center of Paris, Rome or London. These are wonderful living experiences but there are downsides.

We once rented a ground floor apartment in a house in Locarno, Switzerland. The house was on a steep hillside above the town and there were over 200 stairs to climb to get to the house (not mentioned in the description). We were in good shape by the end of that week.

We once stayed in a vacation rental where the bathtub was tucked into a corner under a staircase. You could not stand up in the bathtub and had to bend down and sort of roll into the tub.

For me half of the fun of vacations in Europe is staying in historic buildings so I try to be forgiving about small rooms, low ceilings and odd layouts. We have stayed in cottages where I could touch the ceiling and had to duck to get through a doorway, or where the bedroom was just a bit larger than the double bed in it. We enjoyed these cottages but it is good to know what to expect before you arrive.

Maybe Not All the Mod Cons

Read the vacation rental descriptions carefully to see what mod cons (modern conveniences) they have or ask the agency/owner.

Some people like to burn mosquito coils in the house at night but I do not use them or bug sprays because of the chemicals in them.

I travel with a couple of good knives and wooden spoons because the ones in vacation rentals may not be adequate.

Beds (Why a King is Really a Queen)

Most vacation rentals in Europe have "double" or "single" beds. Some may have a King bed, but their King is nearly the same size as our Queen. You rarely find a US King sized bed. The chart below shows the sizing and name differences (sizes in inches, width by length).

US/Canada United Kingdom Europe


39 x 75 in


36 x 75 in (90x190cm)


36 x 78 in (90x200cm)


54 x 75 in


54 x 75 in (135x190cm)


55 x 78 in (140x200cm)


60 x 80 in

King (5 foot bed)

60 x 78 in (150x200cm)


63 x 78 in (160x200cm)

Eastern King

76 x 80 in

Super King

72 x 78 in (180x200cm) for US sizes. John Lewis for UK sizes. MattressOnline for Europe sizes.

Read more: What, No Queen? (Slow Travels)

Internet Access (Broadband)

Some vacation rentals offer high speed Internet access (broadband) but most do not. If you travel with a computer and need to go online these are the options:

Bringing North American Electronics to Europe

Household electricity (voltage) is different in North America and Europe (US/Canada is 120V, Europe is 220-230V and UK is 230-240V).

Because plugs are a different shape in the United Kingdom and in Europe you need a plug adapter to make our North American plug fit into the European socket.

Note that North American DVDs will not play in European DVD players unless they are set up for both regions.

Differences by Country

Some countries have more differences (e.g. you will never find a clothes dryer in Italy) and those country-specific things are described in each country section.

NEXT: Agency or Rent-by-Owner?

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