A visit back in time…
…to when opulence and luxury knew no bounds! On a balmy day in Asheville, we visited the Biltmore Estate. George W. Vanderbilt began to have the 250-room French chateau built by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in 1889. The original estate took up 125,000 acres; today, it still resides on 8,000 acres, which also houses the Antler Hill Village, with hotels, restaurants, and a winery. The estate is still owned by the family–George Vanderbilt’s great grandson, Bill Cecil Jr, is current owner and CEO of Biltmore Company. It is the largest private residence in America. (Historical facts from https://www.romanticasheville.com/biltmorececil.htm, 2018.)
It takes a lot of money to keep up the residence and the estate evidently—a hefty $65/person! But that did include a free tasting at the winery. This includes only a self-guided tour through the home and the Gardens. Much of the home is open for viewing, and it is really amazing, with woodworking, tapestries, and an extensive library. We overheard someone who had the audio tour note that some of the damask wallpaper in some rooms was woven with pure silver thread! That said, we should have spent the extra $10 or so for the audio tour, since no facts were given along the way via placards, so it really was more of a visual spectacle than fully understanding the historical contexts.
The home boasts two indoor bowling lanes, a tiled indoor pool, with dressing rooms off to the side, and two viewable rooms dedicated to laundry. Servants’ quarters as well as many guest rooms were also viewable.
Perhaps the best part, though, was a walk around the expansive Gardens! There were a lot of roses, which are probably amazing when in bloom—we were too early for that, though. Still, it was beautiful, with many different trees, bushes, and other flowers. Be sure to visit the Conservatory on the Garden grounds, too—many orchids and other exotic flowers and plants!
Be ready for a good deal of walking, though—up and down several flights of stairs, and the Gardens are on a pretty significant slope, so getting back to the house, and then the parking area, is a bit of a walk!
You then drive to Antler Hill Village (this is where the builders of the house originally lived), where some of the old dairy operations building are still in use for the winery. The wine is pretty good, too! All in all, a very worthwhile thing to see if you’re in the Asheville area!