Ballinacurra, Ireland: Rathcoursey House

A well-kept secret among those who know its charms

Secluded on 35 acres of private grounds in County Cork, with stunning views of Cobh Harbor and Great Island beyond, Rathcoursey House is a well-kept secret among those who know its charms. A favorite of the American ambassador to Ireland, the house sleeps eight—a few more in a pinch. The bedrooms are spacious, each decorated differently, but all in the 18th-century style of the manor. The best of them, opposite the Victorian staircase, has a bathroom almost as big as the room itself, with a fireplace, sofa, and freestanding tub. The rooms don't have telephones or televisions (however, there is Internet access if you get desperate). All nine fireplaces in the house are lit every day in colder weather.

Owner Beth Hallinan is a local who once worked as a chef in London; the food, consequently, is superb. The Hallinans shoot their own pheasant and woodcock and keep ducks and geese for the eggs. Hallinan's grandfather used to own the whiskey distillery in nearby Midleton, and Hallinan serves Irish whiskey with porridge at breakfast (it's not compulsory). There's a lot of property in Ireland that falls into the "gentlemen's residence" category—Rathcoursey House is the best. $122. Midleton, County Cork, Ireland; 353-214-613-418;