Like a private jet or a 50-ft. yacht, your own holiday villa is one of the great symbols of wealth. In straitened times like these, though, such conspicuous consumption can seem out of place even, God forbid, unfashionable.
So rent instead. A good modern rental villa has the same luxuries as any you could buy, including an army of staff, a private garden, courtyards, pool and beach. Bali, Thailand and Sri Lanka are already famous for their sensational villas, but Africa is fast catching up, and the latest place to offer a wide range of exclusive rental pads is Kenya. (For more travel tips and stories visit time.com/travel.)
The most exclusive, and expensive, are the three Alfajiri villas the Cliff Villa, the Beach Villa and the Garden Villa along Diani Beach on Kenya's south coast (www.alfajirivillas.com). It's all here: 30 staff, excellent seafood and gorgeous décor. It'll cost you from $850 per couple per night. Then again, your neighbors could be Brad and Angelina.
Further north, on a spur with stunning views of Kilifi Lagoon, are the Baumontia and Oleander villas (www.kenyaholidayvillas.com), both stylishly furnished Moorish houses with wide verandas open to the breeze. And both are a real bargain, from around $200 a night each.
Those after a little culture should head to Lamu and Shela, two magically well-preserved towns (no cars, just donkeys) on an island also called Lamu off Kenya's northern tip (check out www.shelahouse.com and www.lamuretreats.com). Lamu has been a favorite getaway of the Indian Ocean cognoscenti for years, and many of its old Swahili houses beautifully simple homes of whitewashed walls and wood beams are now villas. Most spectacular is the five-bedroom Beach House with its pool built into one of the balconies (from $700 per night); most reasonable is the Jasmine House, with five bedrooms set around cool, shady courtyards and from around $350 a night, a great way to get a place in the sun without putting your bank account in the red.
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