Want to spend a week whipping up soufflés in Julia Child’s cottage in Provence or playing bocce at Sting’s lavish 16th century villa in Tuscany?
These and other exclusive experiences at the homes of famous people will cost a pretty penny, but deliver priceless travel memories.
Known informally as La Peetch, in spring 2017 the cottage will begin hosting week-long cooking classes for six students at a time. In addition to “courageous cooking classes” in Child’s barely-changed kitchen, the all-inclusive sessions include meals, wine, daily yoga classes and local excursions. Price: $3,250 per person.
At Il Palagio, the 16th-century Tuscan villa owned by the rock star Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, “guests can spend days touring the fields and the wine cellar, and nights drinking [the estate-made] 'Message in a Bottle' Sangiovese over a meal prepared by the villa’s chef,” says Bruce Wallin of the Robb Report.
“And, of course, this being Sting’s place, after dinner you can open up the onsite recording studio and cut a track.”
While there is no weekly-stay requirement, the 9-bedroom, 10-bathroom villa must be booked in its entirety and, as it is “one of the most exclusive and luxurious villas in all of Italy,” according to booking site TuscanDream.com, “is priced accordingly.” How much? You’ll have to call.
In London, groups of up to 16 people can book private tours of the Tower of London that are followed by a private viewing of the Crown Jewels with the Chief Exhibitor and dinner in the Queen’s House. Organized by IfOnly, a site that creates unusual and extravagant experiences, the tour and dinner costs $11,565 per person and benefits the Save the Children charity.
Too rich for your budget? Here are less-expensive ways to stay and play at the homes of other famous folks.
At George Washington’s Mount Vernon, just south of Washington, D.C., visitors and their dogs can join the “All the President’s Pups” tour for a walk around areas of the property usually off limits to guests. (Price: $7 in addition to admission, which is $20/$17 when purchased online; pups: free). Foodies might enjoy the Dinner for the Washingtons walking tour, which visits the mansion’s gardens, food storage cellar and greenhouse. (Price: $7 in addition to admission.)
Garden tasting tours (vegetable tasting included) and archaeology walking tours are some of the extra options offered at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia (day pass and house tour: $25), while a locally-sourced Summer Farm Dinner series ($85 to $125 per person) is offered at Taliesin, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and 800-acre architectural campus in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
At Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale, Arizona and now the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, there’s a garden walk tour, a private collections tour, a tour for photographers, a family-friendly junior architect tour and an evening tour during which a fire-breathing dragon makes an appearance.
Of course, there’s always Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion and sprawling estate in Memphis, which draws over half a million visitors each year.
The basic mansion tour at Graceland ($38.75) satisfies some fans, but the Platinum ($42.50) and Entourage VIP ($75) tours offer a plethora of extras, including admission to Elvis’ automobile museum and an ‘archives experience’ that allows visitors to see some artifacts not seen on the traditional tour. For those who want to get even closer to the King of Rock and Roll, the 450-room Guest House at Graceland is opening this fall with a four-day, star-studded celebration that will include live concerts and celebrity appearances from October 27-30.