Ever wonder how it would feel to live like a Hollywood star? Now you can find out. Just email the British actress Jane Seymour at StCath.com. Rather than let St. Catherine’s Court, her magnificent 700-year-old, 11-bedroom manor house near Bath, England, sit empty for several weeks a year, the former Bond girl and star of Wedding Crashers chooses to rent it out to strangers. The home comes complete with private chapel and croquet lawn, as well as a star-studded history. Radiohead recorded their groundbreaking album OK Computer here. Johnny Cash, Goldie Hawn, even Henry VIII and his mistress all stayed here. And now you can too.
Seymour’s palatial residence is just the beginning of what’s available to people who want to sleep in the same bed and eat in the same kitchen as their favorite star once did. Mick Jagger, for instance, rents out his sprawling yet secluded Villa Mustique in the West Indies complete with family pets and personal belongings. “He’s a little picky,” says Alfredo Merat, president of Overseas Connections, which lists Jagger’s six-bedroom villa. “Clients must apply by fax to rent the villa with a detailed description of the party, number of people, names and occupations. Jagger himself looks over the application and must give approval.”
Would you prefer a place with a more literary heritage? Then you may want to check out the nine-bedroom Goldeneye retreat in Oracabessa, Jamaica, once owned by Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. Fleming, who wrote 14 Bond novels, was no doubt helped by the lush grounds and meditative atmosphere of his oceanfront estate. More recently, Sting wrote his hit song Every Breath You Take while staying at Goldeneye.
As you might expect, such surroundings aren’t cheap. Seymour, for instance, charges $23,000 (U.S.) a week for her English estate, while Jagger’s villa ticks in at $13,000 (U.S.) and Fleming’s retreat goes for a coma-inducing $40,000 (U.S.) for seven days. But when you consider that these homes can comfortably accommodate 10 or more people, the economics fall into line for families that are searching for a special place to hold a reunion, a small wedding or a special event. “We just had a family rent a celebrity home to celebrate their 82-year-old grandfather’s birthday,” says home broker Merat. “Sure, it was $30,000 (U.S.) a week, but split amongst 20 people, it’s affordable.”
For large groups, the per-person cost of renting a celebrity’s home works out to about the same as staying at a Four Seasons or Fairmont hotel about $1,500 (U.S.) per person per week, sometimes even less. And celebrity homes offer tighter security and more privacy than even high-end resorts. “With a villa rental, you don’t have to put up with someone else’s music around the pool,” says John Greer, owner of Unusual Villa and Island Rentals in Richmond, Va. “You can have your banana bread by the pool and you don’t have tons of people walking around you all the time like you do in a hotel.”
Begin your search by deciding what part of the world you would like to vacation in. Then check out websites that specialize in celebrity home and villa rentals such as VillasOfTheWorld.com, VillasOfDistinction.com and UnusualVillaRentals.com. Many of the villas come with extras such as flat screen TVs, pools, saunas, personal chefs and tennis courts. You can often customize the experience in intriguing and luxurious ways. The listing for Jagger’s villa in Mustique notes that the staff will be happy to prepare you a luxurious picnic, served on adjacent Macaroni Beach, complete with flatware, crystal, cut flowers, Champagne and lobster. “We can do anything you request,” says Robert Eastman, owner of Villas of Distinction. “Just make sure to let us know in advance.”
If over-the-top luxury doesn’t do anything for you but dead rockers do, you have at least one interesting alternative. For the past year Cheri Woods of West Hollywood, Calif., has been renting out a furnished 70-sq-m apartment in a building near Sunset Strip for $4,000 (U.S.) a month. The apartment’s claim to fame? It was the last known U.S. residence of Jim Morrison, the front man for the Doors. “Jim spent a year living here from 1970 to 1971 and never gave it up,” says Woods. “He left in March of ’71 and died four months later.” Fans have come from all over the world to spend some quality time in the same space as their idol. “It’s a spiritual feeling,” she says. “Most of them come here, put on Doors albums, sit at the kitchen table and pretend they’re partying and having a drink with Jim. They like to feel that he’s here with them.” And why not? When you get right down to it, that’s what renting a celebrity’s home is all about.
Gimme Shelter: find out where you can find and rent a home owned by a celebrity for your next vacation.