How to Live Like Royalty::Biltmore Castle

One of the saddest days of my life (at least as it relates to the world of Television), was the final episode of Downton Abbey. And I know I’m not alone. For weeks, PBS aired commercials promoting a “celebration of the final season.” Although I’m not sure we could consider it a celebration, but rather a period of mourning for some of the most beloved characters in the history of television. Every week over an entire season we immersed ourselves in the idyllic life of the Crawley’s set at Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey. In fact, most of us watched as much for the riveting storyline as we did for an opportunity to spend time inside this expansive Edwardian country house.

I miss the Castle & the Crawleys but fortunately, I can get a taste of life beyond Downton Abbey, and it’s just a short distance from my home. A lavish estate called Biltmore which provides a similar window into a rarified world of opulence, wealth & privilege. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore Estate is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, considered the largest undertaking in residential architecture surrounded by acres of breath-taking formal and informal gardens.

In all honesty, I could spend a few days at America’s “Downton Abbey,” and last week I did (with my daughter & sister in tow). On display was “Fashionable Romance,” exploring years of wedding fashions and costumes from award-winning movies including “Sense & Sensibility,” “Pride & Prejudice,” and “Out of Africa” all paired with stunning floral designs.

The beauty of Biltmore, beyond its elegance and massive charm, lies in the fact that it’s a design and architectural marvel. Artistic masterpieces by Pierre August Renoir & John Singer Sargent hang from hand-carved paneling while original tapestries, layers of rich textures, colors & furniture styles punctuate the interior. The Castle transcends time, each of my visits revealing new unseen treasures from fabrics to architectural details.

So when I miss Downton Abbey, all I have to do is make a four-hour road trip, and for a day, I can live the Crawley’s. But, for now, I’m sharing a taste of life as American Royalty with just a dash of Hollywood romance…with just a dash of Hollywood romance…

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

The grand staircase….

Photo/ Biltmore

The Banquet Hall with its seven-story high ceilings. The massive chandeliers were draped with ribbon & flowers…

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Designer/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

Stunning florals were on display celebrating the exhibit under a domed glass atrium or “Winter Garden.”

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Photo/ Biltmore

One of the many 225 rooms, which could easily grace the cover of Architectural Digest or Elle Decor, but it was decorated almost 100 years ag0…timeless.

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

The bedroom of George Vanderbilt. I love the canopy bed with the Starburst roof panel, and the trimmed out drapery & bedcover. Stunning & timeless.

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

A library fit for a Vanderbilt…the ceiling was painted in 1720s by an Italian artist, the mural came from Pisani Palace in Venice (where I will be in 2 weeks!).

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Photo/ Biltmore

For obvious reasons this 90′ room is called “The Tapestry Gallery,” featuring Flemish tapestries from the 1500’s. This room is one of my favorites…

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Photo/ Biltmore

One of the guest bedrooms, and notice the trim detail on the door…

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

The Banquet Hall with its seven-story ceilings…

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

The wedding dress from the movie Hamlet.

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Photo/ Biltmore

The gown worn by Geraldine Somerville in the Aristocrats, 1999.

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

The music room, with its incredible ceiling detail, and wedding gown from the movie “The Deceivers.”

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Photo/ Biltmore

A Costume from “Howard’s End” on display in The Salon in Biltmore House for ““Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film.

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Photo/ Biltmore

A wedding gown from the movie Bertie and Elizabeth, 2002.

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Photo/ Biltmore

From one of the most beloved movies of all time, and my personal favorites, Out of Africa (1985), starring Meryl Streep & Robert Redford.

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

From the movie Emma, 1996 starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Photo/ Vicki Gladle Bolick

The gowns from Howard’s End, 1992

If you haven’t been to Biltmore, you can find out more about their upcoming exhibits & more about the castle by visiting www. biltmore.com

Until next time,

Live a life well curated…

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