New Zealand-born, London-based Susie Marquis has always loved visiting foreign cities and faraway places. “When travelling I like to feel like a local, pop out to the bakery for bread, choose a bottle of wine, discover the street markets and so on,” she says. It’s this approach – coupled with many years’ experience in the travel industry – that inspired Marquis, with son Freddie, to create a website dedicated to high-end city rentals providing very local experiences. “It was so successful that my other son Jamie joined us in 2014,” she says, and at that point they added villas to the impressive international line-up of The Luxury Travel Book.
In Venice, for example, it has a majestic six-bedroom Palazzo (€24,000 per week) a 20-minute walk from San Marco in the Castello district, kitted out with a beautiful garden and roof terrace, as well as heated pool and gym. In Paris, Saint-Germain Abbey (€14,000 per week) is an incredibly spacious and bright three-bedroom triplex apartment built on the only remaining wall of the 13th-century Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Barcelona’s top offering on Carrer-del-Consell-de-Cent in the Eixample district is an elegant, terraced three-bedroom space (price on request), while in Lisbon a spectacular four-bedroom duplex (€3,300 per week) is located within the walls of São Jorge Castle, its bucolic garden terrace providing sweeping city views. All have availability in September.
“We only work with destinations we know well and love visiting ourselves,” says Susie. “We compile a useful diary of cultural events in each city. And while we are an online service, we’re always on hand to discuss clients’ preferences.” The team also does “all the behind the scenes work” – from arranging transfers to securing theatre reservations.
“For villas, we are particularly strong on the Amalfi coast, Tuscany, Croatia, Portugal and the Greek and Balearic islands,” adds Jamie. A stunning example is Villa Firostefani (from €10,500 per week) on Santorini, a three-bedroom contemporary “cave house” overlooking the Aegean Sea, its whitewashed living spaces ingeniously arranged inside the natural contours of the volcanic cliffs. And looking towards winter sports, there are superb locations in Val d’Isere, Chamonix, Megève and Saint Martin de Belleville worthy of anyone’s wish list.