At Your Service

The new wave in rentals

Hampton Retreats When you want to spend a weekend in the Hamptons but don't own a house, options are few (there are no good hotels in this string of chic Long Island beach towns). Which is why Hampton Retreats, a new rental service, is such a smart idea. It has 30 houses, from one to 11 bedrooms, for upwards of $7,000 a week in summer. It also offers what it calls "the services of a luxury hotel," including 24-hour concierge, spa treatments, pre-arrival grocery shopping, a chef, car and driver, and a yogi. Yet for all the amenities, the service sometimes gets ahead of itself: Housekeeping didn't forget to put out Frette towels, but, during our stay, overlooked coffee filters and dishwashing soap. Still, the properties themselves are stunners, from a Greek Revival cottage to a sprawling farmhouse with stables, and the locations (Sagaponack, Georgica Pond) can't be beat. Our shingled bungalow had a flagstone pool, plasma TV, three fireplaces, and views of the ocean, ten minutes' walk away. It was traditionally decorated, with comfortable cotton upholstery and some good antique furniture. Of course, any trace of the real homeowners (some of the area's most notable residents) had been erased. Which only left us wondering, Whose house is this? 866-307-0999;
—Jeffries Blackerby

Time & Place Homes Though the concept of house rentals with hotel services may not suit everyone (some travelers may still prefer the security of a hotel), Time & Place's properties—particularly the Phillips Estate in Palm Springs—make it the chicest rental in the West. The former home of John (The Mamas & The Papas) Phillips is a 5,000-square-foot midcentury jewel, with five bedrooms, state-of-the-art everything, and a Jacuzzi. The house is one of 11 properties in the area, and there are 75 more residences—many the size of the Phillips house—in 22 locations, from Beaver Creek to Puerto Vallarta, with plans to double the number of properties in a year. It's an ambitious plan, considering the level of service Time & Place aims to provide. But so far it appears to be working. Property director Stephen Zapantis was on hand when we checked in and never more than a cell-phone call away if needed (we were confused by the house's heating system and had trouble with the water pressure). He also arranged restaurant reservations, an in-house massage, and a guided mountain hike. Staying with Time & Place isn't inexpensive; the Phillips house can run $11,500 a week. But for some this much privacy, not to mention a rock-and-roll provenance, doesn't have a price. 866-244-1800;
—Chris Rubin