Great estate escapes

Tired of "luxury hotels" that all blur together? The owners of these unique estates, from Mexico to Italy, are now welcoming guests. So you can (temporarily) call these luxurious spots your own.

3. St. Clerans
3. St. Clerans
If the answer was "St. Clerans," the question would be "What is a regal manor house where you arrive and feel you should right away take off for a hunt, Irish whiskey in hand?" jokes Tony Griffin, son of the late talk-show host (and "Jeopardy" creator). Merv purchased the 12-bedroom, 45-acre estate in 1997--after he came to interview its previous owner, another celebrated American of Irish descent, filmmaker John Huston.

Griffin père turned the home into a family compound and a destination for visitors wanting to golf, ride horseback, shoot clay pigeons, fly-fish, or simply enjoy a single-malt-fueled nap. Merv wanted the place to reflect his style and bonhomie, as well as his heritage. To that end, he decorated each room personally, selecting everything from the linens to the carpet to the curtains.

Tony recalls, "He'd take me to huge stores in Dublin to pick fabrics. I'd get totally worn out, but he'd keep going." Personal touches abound. The beds are heated with water bottles come sundown, nightstands offer a bottomless decanter of port, and at Yuletide every room has its own Christmas tree. Says Tony: "When other people are staying here, they always come up to me and say, 'I really feel like this is my home,' and I say, 'Well, treat it like it is! Just don't spill any wine.'"

Craughwell, County Galway, Ireland
12 rooms, from $390 to $670 a night


Son Net

St. Clerans

Dunton Hot Springs

Villa Machiavelli
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