Lake Como FAQ

Introduction/Useful Information

A villa or apartment rental can make for the vacation of a lifetime, as you get to experience Italy in a way that hotel stays just don't cater for. Holiday rentals allow you to feel like a local, shopping at the daily markets, finding that special neighbourhood bakery as well as giving you the freedom to come and go as you please - no more getting up at the crack of dawn for a disappointing hotel breakfast. You will also have that warm feeling of coming 'home' at the end of a busy day of sightseeing to a living room, balcony or terrace where you can put your feet up and relax without having to worry about hotel timings. All of this in addition to the homely facilities to make a cup of tea whenever you like or to open a bottle of wine straight from your own fridge.

We want your holiday to be enjoyable and memorable and encourage you to ask questions so that you know what to expect when you finally arrive in 'Bella Italia' with us at Bella Como. In order to help you with your holiday planning, we have provided answers below to some of the most frequently asked questions that occur during the reservation process.

We pride ourselves on our knowledge of every property that we list. We personally inspect each property so that we can give you an accurate account of what to expect. We turn down many more properties than we accept, as they don't meet with our high standards. We always recommend that when you shop for a holiday rental in Italy, ask the person you are dealing with if they have personally seen and inspected the property that you are interested in. Many rental companies are 'advertising supermarkets' for large, faceless rental wholesalers, with descriptions and photos provided by the owners and managers who often omit information that may be important to your criteria for selection. If the answer you get is that 'my colleague' or 'our Italy representative' has inspected the property, pay careful attention as this might mean they don't have first-hand experience of the properties they represent. If they are relying on someone else to inspect and evaluate the property they may not have a very accurate idea of the quality of the property and be giving a biased view.
Not all holiday rental companies define their seasons in the same way. In our experience, demand is high for all of our properties during periods when the weather is optimal i.e. Spring through to Autumn as well as the December holidays. We try to be as fair as possible and only base our prices on minimum occupancy where possible to ensure you are not paying for unused beds.
We operate a more flexible approach than most agencies and try to accommodate arrivals on any day of the week. There are some properties where restrictions apply so please check the property pages carefully.
You will find this with the pricing information for each of our properties. In some cases, there is a seven night minimum booking period but with most of our properties we can accept as few as four consecutive nights. If this information isn't provided with the property pricing information please ask us. During high demand weeks we often require at least a seven night or more for a stay. We typically do not accept shorter than a three-night stay but if you can see on the availability calendar that we have a two or three night gap between bookings that fits your dates, please ask if a short stay is possible. In that case there is usually a short-stay surcharge to cover our cleaning and administrative costs, as we do not have the same margins as larger hotels. Typically the more nights you book with our properties the better value they become, so if you only require a one or two night stay then we usually recommend looking at staying in a hotel instead.
We do often provide discounts for stays of a month of more. The discount varies by property and the season. Please request a personalised quote.
We have provided a handy 'Availability Search' tool which is not only on the Homepage but also on the Property list pages. Simply input your dates in the 'search by dates' section and fill in the rest of the criteria i.e. number of nights, how many people are in your party and whether you want an apartment, villa or search to include all properties. You will then be shown the results of what is available.
On the property page itself that you are interested in, scroll down and just underneath the calendar you can input the dates you want to book from, the number of nights you want to stay and add any additional people. As a guide the pricing table to the left of the calendar will show you how much it is for a seven-night stay between certain dates and also the number of people the prices are based on which can differ between properties. So, for example, if the property you like is based on two people and there will be four of you staying then just add two additional people in the adult or children section and then click on the 'calculate price' button. This will then give you the total amount in euros for your proposed stay. Just to the left of this will then appear the booking form which you will need to fill in and, once sent, will come directly to us. We will then send you a confirmation of booking email and call you, normally within 24 hours, to discuss your booking. We do this so that we can check that the property you have chosen actually suits your needs and check that the details you have submitted are correct before we discuss payment options.
Please see our terms and conditions (T&Cs) under Useful Links at the bottom of any page.
Our properties are reserved as much as a year in advance from our clientele. A cancellation, even months in advance, usually means that the property goes empty and the owner receives no rental income. Cancellations are rare but can be due to many reasons i.e. illness or a death in the family, a business or a personal crisis, weather or a natural disaster. We are not in a position to cover you for these unfortunate events or to certify the reasons. In certain circumstances we can credit your payment towards a future stay but this is not always possible. This is why, in accordance with our T&Cs, we insist you purchase inexpensive travel insurance from the experts to cover yourself in case you need to cancel, as you would do to cover your other travel costs such as airfare.
We will normally provide you with a 48-hour option from the time we email you the booking confirmation.
Unfortunately we are not set up to notify clients when requests come in that might conflict with their desired dates. We hope there will still be availability once you have your travel dates in place but booking as early as possible means you won't be disappointed at a later date.
All properties require a security deposit. This refundable security deposit will be returned after check out, less extra charges, if any. Rates vary by property and will be detailed in your Accommodation Voucher once the balance has been paid.
Due to the volatile nature of foreign currency rates, we price our properties in Euros and only accept payment in Euros. Payments can be made by bank transfer (usually bank charges apply), or by Visa and MasterCard debit/credit cards.
Each property description indicates if utilities are/are not included. Italy is completely reliant on other countries for its energy, as it has none of its own resources. As a result, the cost of electricity and gas is the highest in Europe. The exorbitant cost makes Italians very energy conscious and the system of charging for the utilities separately protects property owners from incurring huge utility bills from guests who are not necessarily mindful of the expense. Typically gas, electric and water are included in the price but where it isn't included, the standard process is for the person who is assigned to meet and greet you is responsible for taking a meter reading upon a guest's arrival and departure. This is then deducted from your security deposit. For properties where the utility allowance is included this is meant to help defray, not eliminate, your utility costs.
This is slowly changing but many have neither. As remodelling occurs, some properties are being retrofitted with screens but it is still relatively uncommon. In the guest information brochures we provide practical advice on mosquito abatement since this an annoying aspect of warm weather in Italy. Air conditioning is becoming more common but due to the high cost of energy, Italians use A/C sparingly and only during the hottest months i.e. July and August. When guests plan their trips for April, May and June please bear in mind that the weather can be quite balmy and few, if any, Italians will use their air conditioning during these months. The chances are that you won't need it either as the thickness of the walls of the ancient buildings, high ceilings, tiled floors and wooden shutters help to keep out the midday sun and keep homes remarkably cool naturally.
In most properties you can control the thermostat. Please ask on arrival if you need more information. However, Italian law regulates heat usage in order to control national energy consumption and heating cannot be turned on (by law) before October 24th or after March 31st, unless an emergency law is passed to address a cold snap. The same law prohibits setting the thermostat over 21'C or 70'F. When we are chilly at home we are accustomed to turning up the thermostat whereas Italians put on a sweater and slippers. We recommend you come prepared with extra layers and slippers in the event of a cold snap during spring and autumn, and to help control your expenses in winter if utilities are charged separately. If a property has A/C it will typically be individual units in the main rooms of the house, not in the kitchen, hallways or bathrooms. This is so that you only use what you need, when you need it, in order to control the high-energy costs.
Each guest has their own usage patterns and habits so it is hard to give a precise quote but we can usually give you a perspective based on previous guests who have stayed at the property during the same season. Most property rental prices come inclusive of utilities but please check the description details on each property.
You'll get to learn a lot about your Italian neighbours by observing the laundry on their lines. First you'll notice that this is a morning routine: wash clothes early in the day so you can get them out to dry before heading out for the day. Given the high cost of energy, dryers are expensive to run and Italians also believe they damage clothes so they are just not commonly used. Properties with washing machines usually have a collapsible drying rack. Heated towel racks in bathrooms are also a convenient way to speed up the drying process in winter when the central heating is on since the towel racks are usually tied into the heating system.
Our regular arrival time is in the early evening, usually between 3.30pm and 6.00pm by appointment. The only way to guarantee an early check-in is to reserve the apartment or villa for the night before. By reserving the night before it will be ready for check in as early as 8.00am. If the property is not booked the night before your arrival, please check with us a few days before you arrive to see if an early check in is possible. If so, we are happy to accommodate this since we know how tiring international travel can be. For families with children or seniors who might need a rest after a long flight, we strongly recommend booking the night before so that you can settle in right away if you arrive in the morning. You will gain most of a day by being able to arrive, unpack, shower and then get out for lunch and enjoy the afternoon in your destination.
If the meet and greet person is available earlier than 3.30pm to let you in at midday to drop off your luggage, we will try to arrange this. Otherwise we recommend that you check your bags at the train station/airport luggage check facility.
We have a lot of 'meet and greets' to coordinate and for some of our personnel (particularly females) it is not always feasible for them to be out late at night. Therefore for meet and greets after our normal arrival time of 6.00pm there is a charge of 30 Euros up to 10.00pm. Between 10.00pm and midnight this charge rises to 50 Euros. There is no check-in after midnight so please plan your travel carefully. Keep in mind the additional amount of time required for obtaining baggage, clearing customs and transportation into the city which can easily add up to two or more hours to your arrival time. Much of the public transport in the lake area does not run after 7.30pm. The only way to avoid extra charges is to book earlier flights or an extra night's accommodation.
There is almost a three-hour window in which to arrive within our normal timings. If you call your appointed meet and greet person at least 30 minutes before your estimated arrival time, we can normally arrange for them to be at the property in time to meet you. Unlike a hotel, there is no one on duty throughout the day to admit you to the property if you show up without an appointment, therefore, the more notice you can give us the more time you will save waiting around for one of our personnel to become available to admit you to the property. Planning ahead avoids both your time and ours being wasted.
One of our local English-speaking colleagues will personally greet you at the property, familiarize you with the home, provide you with the keys and answer any questions you might have. Coordinating a smooth arrival is one of the most important aspects of a comfortable stay for our guests. We don't mail the keys to you, leave them in a box on the wall or leave them at a nearby restaurant or shop for you to pick up. At the end of your stay one of our colleagues will arrange to meet you on the morning of your departure to obtain the keys and check you out. Special arrangements can be made in the case of a very early morning departure. During your stay your meet and greet person will be available by phone or email to address any property-related questions or issues that you may have. For Varenna properties please check the arrival and departure arrangements in our T&Cs.
In most cases the final cleaning, which takes place after you check out, is included in the cost of your holiday. If we require you to pay separately on arrival this will be detailed in the property description along with the amount.
Typically one set of sheets per bed and one set of towels per guest are included. Tourist taxes and utilities are included if stated in the property description, though heating charges are usually extra so please check the description or send us an email enquiry as costs vary between properties. If you would like additional linens please ask if this is available so that we can advise you of the fee and make arrangements in advance of your stay. Extra services such as pool towels, cots and Internet dongles can be provided at a surcharge and a full list can be found in the 'Concierge Services' section.
Since April 2012 it has been compulsory by law to tax tourists in Italy and as the booking agency we must register the lead person with the local tourist office, much the same as hotels do. The cost of the tax varies by location and in most cases is already included in the total cost of your holiday.
We prefer to represent non-smoking and no-pets properties for the comfort of our guests but we can't guarantee that our properties are allergen free. There are a wide array of factors out of our control that can be allergen or asthma triggers: laundry soap, fragrances, cooking smells, nearby pets, mildew in ancient buildings, or a neighbour who smokes for which we cannot be held responsible. In the case of smoking, it's still very popular in Italy, so even if the apartment or villa itself is designated non-smoking it is possible that you will find yourself at a cafe, in a building lobby or on the street with smokers near you.
There is usually enough toilet paper to last a day, maybe salt & pepper and that's about it. Since Italy holiday rentals presume a fair degree of independence, you will need to plan a shopping excursion fairly quickly to purchase essentials such as toiletries (including toilet roll and soap), laundry detergent, food and condiments. Where possible, we try to provide a small hospitality pack with enough in it to at least make a cuppa on your arrival.
This is becoming increasingly requested as holidays become more than just about relaxation but this service is still not available in a lot of Italian properties, particularly those in historic or ancient buildings. See the individual property description for more information and if you require a dongle/USB key please give us as much notice as possible (fees apply). If you have a Blackberry-type device, iPhone or other Smart phone with international phone service, your phone will work abroad and WiFi is readily available in cafes and bars around the lake.
The website property description indicates what personal electronics are available. For marketing purposes DVD players are programmed for certain geographic zones and therefore an Italian DVD player will play DVDs purchased or rented in Europe but will not necessarily play DVDs from North America.
If the property description indicates satellite TV, it will usually receive at least some English language channels. Depending on the subscription this may or may not include CNN, BBC, MSNBC and Sky News. This does not mean you will necessarily get English language entertainment such as ESPN, Disney, Cartoon Network, VH1 or MTV since these are premium channels not normally included with basic Italian satellite services.
Since we personally inspect each property, we can advise you on those properties best suited for guests with issues of mobility or special needs. This includes information on interior/exterior steps, elevator sizes, beds, as well as access to transportation in the general area.
All of our meet and greet colleagues speak English and there will be a brochure inside the property indicating what to do in an emergency, suggestions of where to go and things to do and see whilst you are here.
In most cases, renting a property in Italy presumes a fair degree of independence on your part. Some services such as airport pick up and extra cleaning can be arranged in advance. Our complimentary concierge service can arrange restaurant bookings etc. during your stay.
Your accommodation voucher provides the name of a local English-speaking contact, normally your meet and greet person, for you to contact in the event of a problem or a needed repair.
We always recommend car hire to all our guests' as there is so much to see and do on the lake and surrounding areas. Your own transport frees you up from the hassles of working around public transport timetables, which stop fairly early in the evening around the lake. Taxi transfers are expensive and you can usually book a hire car online for a week for less than a return taxi journey to the airport. Check out the online car hire deals when you book your flights, as they are usually the most cost-effective option. We do have properties that are ideally situated so that you do not need a car and this will be mentioned in the property description, but you can always leave the car at the property when you do not want to use it.
We work with, and welcome bookings from travel agents. Regretfully our margins in this competitive business do not permit us to pay commission or fees to agents. Travel agents are valuable, experienced resources to travellers and should be compensated for their efforts by their clients. Agents are therefore welcome to add their service fee on top of the total rental price and the clients charged accordingly.

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