You know how children get excited in a toy store? that is exactly how ‘yours truly’ behaves in home decor stores. I remember being obsessed with beautiful houses since childhood. I love the story every house has to share about the people who live there. It defines their choices, their memories, their journey, and who doesn’t enjoy stories! Luckily for me, my hubby shares my enthusiasm. He knows that the best way to blow away my blues is by a trip to some home goods store.
Living just a few hours from Asheville, it was a no brainer that both of us had to visit the largest private residence in the United States, ‘The Biltmore estate’!! We made a pit stop at Charlotte ‘The Queen city’ but a description of that beautiful city, as well as ‘Paris of the South’- city of Asheville, deserve their own space so let’s leave them for now.
A visit to Biltmore needs to be planned before hand as it is a popular tourist destination. Hence, it’s advisable to purchase tickets for tours prior to visiting. It may seem a little expensive for a house tour but trust me, the entire property is picturesque and worth your time, specially if you are intrigued by the French Châteauesque – styled mansions.
Photography is prohibited inside the mansion. Personally, I think this is a good thing as one would go crazy trying to capture all the grandeur and it would get very crowded with people taking selfies!
A little history about the Biltmore estate 
In the 1880s, at the height of the Gilded Age, George Washington Vanderbilt II, youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, began to make regular visits with his mother, Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt (1821–1896), to the Asheville, North Carolina, area. He loved the scenery and climate so much that he decided to create his own summer estate in the area, which he called his “little mountain escape” Vanderbilt named his estate Biltmore derived from “Bildt,” Vanderbilt’s ancestors’ place of origin in Holland, and “More”, Anglo-Saxon for open, rolling land.
Construction of the house began in 1889 and continued well into 1896. In order to facilitate such a large project, a woodworking factory and brick kiln, which produced 32,000 bricks a day, were built onsite, and a three-mile railroad spur was constructed to bring materials to the building site. Construction on the main house required the labor of well over 1,000 workers and 60 stonemasons.
Driven by the impact of the newly imposed income taxes, and the fact that the estate was getting harder to manage economically, Vanderbilt initiated the sale of 87,000 acres (352 km²) to the federal government. After Vanderbilt’s unexpected death in 1914 of complications from an emergency appendectomy, his widow completed the sale to carry out her husband’s wish that the land remain unaltered, and that property became the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest.
In an attempt to bolster the estate’s financial situation during the Great Depression, Cornelia and her husband opened Biltmore to the public in March 1930 at the request of the City of Asheville.
Biltmore has four acres of floor space and a total of 250 rooms in the house including 33 bedrooms for family and guests, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens and 19th-century novelties such as electric elevators, forced-air heating, centrally controlled clocks, fire alarms, and an intercom system!!!!
Vanderbilt’s idea was to replicate the working estates of Europe. He asked Hunt and Olmstead to design a village with architecturally compatible buildings and picturesque landscaping to house the estate employees and their families. The result was Biltmore Village.
The day tour includes tour of the Biltmore village, their winery and free wine tasting .
The creamery offers wonderful tasty delights to make your trip sweeter.
A fun fact for many people visiting Biltmore is related to the popular PBS television series ‘Downtown Abbey’. Many of the clothes worn by the stars are also exhibited in the mansion. Downtown Abbey fans can view a detailed description here.
We were famished by the end of our house tour and exhausted by walking through the beautiful gardens so we decided to rest and re-fuel at the stable cafe.
They served Southern favorites in this historic setting in what was originally the estate’s horse stable. We enjoyed the casual dining in converted stalls that now hold cozy booths.
The celebration of Christmas at Biltmore is exceptionally beautiful with people pouring in from all over the country to see this place at it’s best. We hope to visit again around Christmas to witness the holiday charm amidst such grand beauty.
This tour was like stepping into a history book. We were completely in awe of the visionaries and craftsmen of that era. A day well spent lost in their stories, we drove back by the evening, as you can see grinning all the way !