These days, many villa rental agencies double as personal concierges, organizing private tours of museums, hands-on cooking classes, and more. These experts have you covered.
London Perfect: Most of Sarah Conway's 32 apartments and houses are exclusive, and they're located in some of the city's best neighborhoods (Kensington, Notting Hill, Chelsea, and Mayfair, among others). The company's regularly updated blog shares the team's latest finds.
Standout: The sleek, white-and-beige Hornton House is situated on a bustling Kensington street (three bedrooms; $3,692 a week). 888/520-2087.
Loyd & Townsend Rose: All 62 Victorian manses, castles, and cozy cottages in England, Scotland, and Ireland are fully staffed. Agents are more than happy to help you arrange, say, a private tour of Althorp, the childhood home of Princess Diana.
Standout: Just 15 minutes north of Perth, the Scottish Tower of Lethendy, which dates back to 1570, is surrounded by 50 acres of gardens. The price includes all meals and a full bar for up to 16 people (eight bedrooms; $39,967 a week). 44-1835/824-642.
Suzanne B. Cohen & Associates: The founder has personally inspected each of the company's 342 manor houses, cottages, and apartments, which are scattered throughout the British countryside. The company also has a strong portfolio in Italy.
Standout: In England's Cotswolds, the 17th-century, three-story Broadwell Farm sits on 280 working acres (five bedrooms; $2,779 a week). 207/622-0743.
Adams & Butler: Siobhan Byrne-Learat's team of 10 manages a private portfolio of 150 castles and houses owned by aristocracy throughout Ireland and has a knack for arranging excursions based on themes such as gardens or antiques. The company also has listings in Scotland, England, and Kenya.
Standout: The 1780 Shanagarry House has a large kitchen and is located next to the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School, in County Cork (six bedrooms; $4,550 a week). 800/894-5712.
El Sol Villas: Andalusia, Catalonia, the Basque Country, the Costa Brava, and Ibiza--Mary Vaira has scoured each destination to handpick this collection of haciendas, apartments, and castles (she also has several Italy listings). Coming soon: Butler at the Door, a service that will fully staff your villa upon request.
Standout: Masía Antonio manor, just a half-hour from Barcelona in Sitges, dates back 250 years and has a 1,700-square-foot swimming pool flanked by wooden lounge chairs (10 bedrooms; $9,000 a week). 800/474-5765.
Spain Select: More than 300 properties--chic apartments in Madrid; Mediterranean-facing villas in Ibiza--are hidden away in the country's most beautiful corners. Airport transfers and pre-arrival grocery shopping are standard, and each villa is attended by a property manager who lives nearby.
Standout: The classic Andalusian-style Carmen de los Moriscos, in Granada, looks directly on the Alhambra palace (three bedrooms; $2,520 a week).
U.S. & Canada
Beautiful Places: The Sonoma-based agency specializes in northern California's wine country, with 35 handpicked properties that range from vineyard cottages to hilltop estates. It also has a robust portfolio in the Caribbean and Italy and a small collection in New York's Hamptons.
Standout: Located between Napa and Sonoma, Villa nel Bosco has a working vineyard with Syrah grapes (four bedrooms; $9,400 a week).
Hawaii Hideaways: About half of the 250 properties on Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island are located on the beach. A small but dedicated staff based in each destination can arrange activities that include private yacht charters and excursions with chefs to local farms.
Standout: Every room at the Sea Glass, in Kapalua, has a view of the mountains or the ocean (four bedrooms; $20,750 a week). 866/962-5642.
Tropical Villa Vacations: Most of the Maui-based company's villas and homes--there are 43 in all--are within walking distance of the ocean. Owner Irene Anne Aroner personally draws up each day's housekeeping schedule, while a former head concierge of the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea is always on call.
Standout: Azure Azul at Wailea Beach Villas has direct access to the resort's two pools and eponymous beach (three bedrooms; $9,065 a week). 888/875-2818.
Entrée Destinations: This Vancouver-based operator has an outstanding portfolio of villas at British Columbia's Whistler Resort that range from small châteaux to opulent ski chalets. Some properties have ski-in, ski-out access, while activities such as hikes with a helicopter drop-off can be arranged.
Standout: Massive cedar trees and fireplaces with log mantels give Whistler Private Home a secluded, mountain-home feel. Other amenities: a theater room and a spa with its own waterfall (four bedrooms; $28,400 a week). 888/999-6556.
Earth, Sea & Sky Vacations: Each of the 100 villas in Cabo comes with airport transfers, rental-car delivery to your door, and welcome cocktails. Hoping to book a restaurant reservation or a snorkeling excursion? Your local caretaker can arrange it all.
Standout: Villa Turquesa is on a cliff above Pedregal Beach and has a 730-square-foot infinity pool and a patio (nine bedrooms; $35,000 a week).
Journey Mexico: This collection of more than 700 Spanish-colonial mansions, traditional haciendas, and modern beachfront retreats is spread across Mexico, with the most offerings in the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos.
Standout: Set within Tulum's lush Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, the light-filled Casa Nalum is within swimming distance of a pretty barrier reef (three bedrooms; $22,848 a week).
A Note on Pricing: Rates given are for high season; they often drop dramatically in low season.
--Travel + Leisure Staff