In this era of social distancing, we’ve become accustomed to spending holidays and special occasions within the confines of home. It’s been Fourth of July without the fireworks, Thanksgiving and Christmas via Zoom, and New Year’s Eve at a million parties for one. But what of Valentine’s Day, with its crimson hearts and red roses, velvet-ribbon-wrapped chocolate boxes, and fine dining by candlelight? Intimate haute cuisine and piano lounge nightcaps may be off the cards this year, but that doesn’t mean we cannot recreate a Valentine’s Day to remember at home. Of course, that task becomes considerably easier if the home in question looks like it’s from the pages of a fairy tale. And so, without further ado, Luxury Defined presents a collection of ultimately private, effortlessly romantic estates. Choose from a Caribbean “castle” high above a cerulean sea; an enchanting villa in the heart of Tuscany; a picturesque, Palladian manor on the Emerald Isle; or an elegant Rive Gauche penthouse in the City of Light and romance. Thereby, settle into romantic places, drink and dine in marble halls and gilded spaces. Walk through enchanting, moonlit gardens. And end the day by a flickering hearth. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tuscan Chianti Estate in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Italy
This magnificent Tuscan estate is surrounded by more than 12 acres of land overlooking the Chianti Classico hills. Majestic cypresses lead to the entrance gate of the main estate, which includes a Renaissance chapel built circa 1647 and classically inspired gardens. Dating from the 13th century, the estate was owned by Dutch artist Karel Appel, who lived and worked in the atelier from 1989 to 2000. One of his sculptures, The Horse, can still be admired in the lavender garden. There are three other formal gardens, the Rose Garden, Giardino Secreto, and Parco Romantico, as well as olive groves, vineyards, and a private forest. The luxurious accommodations are composed of two private villas, three apartments, and a historic dwelling with four apartments, all meticulously renovated by local artisans. These are complemented by three swimming pools surrounded by terraces which look out to the captivating views of the Chianti Classico hills.
Fairview Estate in Easton, Maryland
Fairview Estate is a magnificent 75-acre property sited at the end of a peninsula on the Miles River, a 12.9-mile-long tributary of Chesapeake Bay, on Maryland’s storied Eastern Shore. Fairview has a rich and fascinating history. In the 1600s, the estate formed part of a large tract owned by Andrew Skinner, one of Maryland’s original planters. It is said the land was granted to Skinner by Lord Baltimore, Proprietor of the Province of Maryland, and where a great Federal-style mansion, named Fairview, was built by Skinner’s descendants. Nearly four centuries later, the Federal-style manor house sits at the heart of one of the Chesapeake region’s greatest estates. Fairview is of great architectural importance on two counts: It is a grand Federal mansion, retaining some of the best features of that period, as well as being a great Greek Revival structure in a land where few remain. Over the past 32 years, the owners have carefully preserved, extended, and transformed Fairview into a grand and gracious estate. The white brick main house, with 14,300 square feet of living space, was designed in the Neoclassical tradition in keeping with Fairview’s colonial heritage. It abides at the far end of the property amid the splendid views of the Miles River and its spectacular sunsets. Adding to the allure of the estate are the exemplary 19th-century formal gardens, featuring a beautifully restored box garden, numerous outbuildings, a nine-hole golf course, tennis court, pool, and 2,100 feet of shoreline with a private beach and a tidal pond with pier.
Lake-View Villa in La Croix Sur Lutry, Vaud, Switzerland
This exceptional property in the village of La Croix Sur Lutry, near Lausanne, Switzerland, exudes romantic charm. The elegant three-story, white stucco villa is surrounded by nearly 0.75 acres of lawned gardens with panoramic views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. The home is in immaculate turnkey condition, with a collection of objets d’art and antique furniture globally sourced by the owners. The elegant living spaces are graced with parquet floors, high ceilings with crystal chandeliers, textile wall coverings, and gold leaf crown molding. Each of the three floors has a private kitchen and luxurious accommodations. Reminiscent of a five-star hotel, the amenities include a covered pool and spa, a catering kitchen, professional laundry facility, abundant guest parking, and a separate staff annex. Furthering the grandeur are lovely ornamental gardens graced with statuary and fountains, an arbor and an orchard, a stone terrace for alfresco dining, and a wrought-iron gazebo to contemplate the lake and Alpine views.
Seafield House in Donabate, County Dublin, Ireland
Ireland has a rich history of magnificent country houses, yet few are located as conveniently as Seafield House. Just nine miles from Dublin city center, this magnificent estate is an oasis of tranquility surrounded by 80 acres of forestry, parklands, and formal gardens with views across the estuary to Malahide and the mountains beyond. The Grade I-listed manor house is thought to be the creation of classical Irish architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. The main villa, with its stately, three-story Georgian facade, was built in 1730. The west wing, notable for its striking Italianate tower, was added in 1857, as was the coach house and stable yard with its charming clock tower. In 1996, Seafield underwent an extensive restoration and contemporary upgrade. The Georgian core has an elegant, yet comfortable formality. This extends from the great hall, graced with paintings from the school of William van der Hagen, to the two principal reception rooms, and the dining room with its original Adam fireplace. There are eight bedrooms, including a luxurious owner’s suite. The kitchen is the heart of the Victorian wing, which also includes a scullery, study, and a staircase to the Italianate tower. The lower ground floor is dedicated to the wine cellar, laundry room, and a large den. To the front and rear of Seafield House are beautiful formal gardens. The wider grounds include a gate lodge and courtyard apartment. The land to the rear is in tillage, with some 15 acres of forestry, which further the sense of privacy and seclusion.
Shining Hand Ranch in Ashland, Oregon
Ultimately private, Shining Hand Ranch is a 700-acre estate in the foothills of Oregon’s Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. The 8,880-square-foot main residence was built to honor the diverse topography of the land. Handcrafted accents of exotic wood and river rock echo the organic flow of nature. At the entrance, copper tree sculptures by local artist Russell Beebe flank the Brazilian mahogany front doors. Just across the threshold is a granite floor reminiscent of a riverbank; above it is a blue-stone tiled ceiling that reflects the color of the open sky. In the dining room, preserved manzanita trees appear to grow out of the room itself. In the living room, a wood-burning fireplace is inlaid with a glass mosaic of two dragons intertwined in the shape of a heart. Surrounding it are floor-to-ceiling glass walls framing the views of the mountains and the valley. The cedar ceiling in the primary suite gives the room the feeling of a treehouse, and the en suite bathroom includes a double shower, jetted tub, and steam shower with natural boulders for benches. The home’s architecture and amenities not only honor nature but work in concert with it: the floors are heated geothermally and the endless pool, housed in an adjacent glass building, is solar-heated.
The Castle in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
The Castle commands a secluded hilltop with 360-degree views of both the north and south coast of St. Croix and the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Inspired by the Moorish and oriental architecture of her homeland and travels, Contessa Nadia Farber of Bulgaria purchased the property to build her fairy-tale estate. The enchanting white-domed castle and the gatekeeper’s cottage offer nearly 10,000 square feet of lavishly appointed living space with seven bedrooms and six bathrooms. This estate’s lush, 102-acre grounds are on the former site of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s West Indies Marine Lab—a marine education and research center from 1972 to 1989. The amenities include a resort-worthy swimming pool; a sandy, palm-lined beach alongside the former marine lab’s pier; roads and infrastructure; and a sheltered lagoon just opposite Buck Island Reef National Monument, a protected nature reserve with one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean.
Penthouse at Place Vauban in Paris, France
The great, glistening golden dome of the Hôtel National des Invalides is the star of this contemporary penthouse in Paris’s fashionable Rive Gauche. The residence is the centerpiece of a grand 1930s building on Place Vauban, directly opposite Les Invalides, the military museum and tomb of Napoleon. Extending to nearly 1,500 square feet, this chic urban retreat blends Art Deco period details, such as high ceilings and Macassar ebony panelling with modernist interior decor by designer François Catroux. Airy and spacious, the elegant living areas include a grand reception room, a drawing room, formal dining space, and a principal suite with a sumptuous bathroom and dressing room. The apartment has two terraces, the largest of which overlooks the formal gardens of Les Invalides and the structure itself, while a second, south-facing terrace offers a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape. The contemporary updates include a designer kitchen and smart-home automation. The residence includes a ground-floor studio apartment and two cellar spaces.
Related: Tour 8 Penthouses with City Views
Royal Grand Regent in Pattaya, Thailand
Royal Grand Regent is one of Thailand’s most beautiful residences. The stunning majesty and beauty of Burmese, Laotian, and Lanna architecture have been brought together to create this unique, palatial residential complex just two hours’ drive from Bangkok. Completed in 2019, Royal Grand Regent is a 2.76-acre walled and gated complex. The 22,335 square feet of interior space were designed down to the smallest detail by Chiang Mai, the designer of the opulent Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi resort. This exclusive luxury estate consists of the private Grand Club House containing an art gallery, dance studio, fitness suite, massage, spa, sauna, kitchen and dining suite; the Royal Convention Hall constructed in palatial teakwood with its own dining and assembly hall on the ground floor; four elegant pool villas, and a multi-pool garden with its own ornate hexagonal gazebo. Each of these magnificent facilities is separated by natural ever-green grass lawns.