Whether it's an old Andalusian cottage with a turquoise pool in the Sierra de Grazalema or a modern Florida home with its own boat dock and spot by Miami Beach, a luxury villa usually means having a vacation with a difference. This guide offers tips and hints on the top destinations and styles of private villas out there today.

All sorts of luxury villas to pick from

There's no hard and fast rule about what luxury villas have to offer. Some are glorious mansions with beachfront locations. Others are rustic barn conversions with tile-rimmed pools in the garden. Read on to get a feel for just a few of the different types you can pick from.

Choose deluxe villas with pools

Everyone wants to snag a villa with a private pool. And why not? Having your own place to dive and dip means adding just another layer of luxury to that home away from home. Of course, pools differ greatly from destination to destination, and from rental to rental. You might be looking at a sprawling infinity pool that spills down to sugar-white Floridian sands. Or, it could be a shared pool in a complex, where you can meet and mingle with other sun seekers over evening cocktails.

Romantic private villas for couples

Honeymoons and loved-up getaways with someone special fit right into the villa rental mold. There are compact options where you can look forward to it being just the two of you. And it's even possible to get homes really far from the maddening crowd, in locations famed for tugging at the heart strings – think the pastel-painted villages of the Amalfi Coast, or the shimmering pebble coves of the Cote d'Azur.

Luxury villas that are perfect for families

Just because luxury villas come with a taste of the jet-setter lifestyle, it doesn't mean they aren't great places to vacation with the whole crew. There are loads that offer multiple bedrooms and extra living space. And that's not even mentioning the availability of private villas in tried-and-tested family resorts – think Galveston, with its rattling Victorian trams and historic district, or Orlando, where the looping rides of Disney World roar overhead

Luxury villa rentals in Europe

So, you're looking to hop over the pond? Great choice. Long siestas under Andalusian orange trees and Italian pizza evenings by the poolside await in the luxury villas of Europe. The destinations below are just a glimpse at why the continent has become such a doozy for luxury villa holidays…

Spanish vacation villas of all sorts

Some say there's simply no beating Spain when it comes to planning luxury villa holidays. Start with the world-famous Costa del Sol, a region that wiggles along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea with glitzy yacht harbors like Marbella, and glinting stretches of golden sand. Go beyond that, and Andalusia's enchanting puebla blanca – white villages – cap the dusty hillsides. Move further north, and you can tread in the footsteps of Cervantes and Don Quixote between the cobbles of Madrid and the cheese-making towns of La Mancha.

Luxury villas in Italy

Romance oozes from the pores of old Italian vineyards as they roll over the undulations of Tuscany and Umbria. These regions, which are so close to the legendary historical relics of Rome and Florence, pack in loads of luxury villa rentals. Most have their own pools, which could boast striking views over the sweeping Chianti Valley and the UNESCO-tagged churches of Assisi. And there's a rustic-chic vibe, with country kitchens and ancient pizza ovens in the garden.

Greece has countless private villas

You might never lay eyes on a sunset as stunning as the one that glows pink-red across the rugged volcanic cliffs of Santorini. It's one of Greece's most amazing islands, with ancient history and age-old villages topped with cubist cottages. Crete is a great alternative for the beach lover – from Falasarna to Malia, it's laced with pebbly sands and some of Europe's warmest seas. And then there's Rhodes and the rest of the Aegean, where you'll explore medieval crusader castles and taste mezze platters of hummus and saganaki cheese.

Private villas in the USA and Caribbean

From the palm-topped inlets of the Aloha State to the glistening coral cays of the USVI, the pointers below range across North America and the Caribbean to offer a little destination inspiration that shouldn't be too far from home.

Hawaii's luxury villa rentals

Get your slice of the topical life by opting for a luxury villa in Hawaii. Complexes of rentals offer glimmering pools just feet from the shores of happening Waikiki in Honolulu. Alternatively, there are homes spilling onto the fairways of PGA-rated golf clubs in Kapalua, or salt-washed surf shacks with a Tiki vibe by the pumping waves of the Oahu North Shore.

Florida has oodles of vacation villas

Florida remains one of the most popular spots of all for vacation villas. It's hardly a wonder, what with the rattling rollercoasters and fairy-tale draws of Disney World right at its heart – countless family homes with covered swimming pools and big living spaces await near Orlando. Head to the coast and things take a turn for classic sun, sand, and sea. From heady Fort Lauderdale through sleek Miami Beach and all the way to Santa Rosa Island, there are homes to have you sleeping by bath-warm ocean waters and lapping waves.

Luxury villa holidays in the Caribbean

Oodles of low-cost flight connections now link major US air hubs to the resplendent isles of the Caribbean. That means a trip to this sun-splashed corner of the globe could be just as feasible as a staycation this year. There's so much to get through, too. Steaming volcanic springs pop up in the mountain-shrouded grounds of private villas in St Lucia – one for the honeymooners. The USVI has swish modern villas with yacht moorings. And there are elegant colonial-style homes peppering the Bahamas, surrounded by manicured golf courses and pink-tinged beaches.