Thursday, June 22, 2023


So, you’ve done the “Palace and Castle” tours of France, England and Italy and you can’t imagine anything more spectacular than those. Well, Friends, prepare to have your socks knocked off!

The Biltmore has always been one of the top places on my list of things I really, really have always wanted to see, and thanks to my BFF’s and travel buddies, Kay and Tom, my wish was fulfilled a few weeks ago. After several years of planning a road trip through the Smoky Mountains, we finally set a date and made our reservations. Flying into the Raleigh Airport in North Carolina, we joined up with our friend, Gayle, rented a car and headed for Asheville and my dream destination, the Biltmore!


Asheville is gorgeous. One of the top producers of American made furniture, it is easy to see why. The quaint town is in the midst of hundreds of miles of lush, green forests so thick it’s a wonder the first pioneers ever found their way through them. George Vanderbilt so loved this area that he decided to build a home here to take in the spectacular views. The result is one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some of the best.

There is so many positive things to say about the Biltmore that I could gush on and on for hours, however I will spare you that agony and encourage you to read the links I have provided at the end of this blog to give you more detailed information. I will say this: I could live there for the rest of my life and the next one. Happily. It would like being on a perpetual episode of Downton Abbey complete with all the upstairs, downstairs drama. I could easily imagine what it must have been like at the turn of the 20th century, filled with laughing and lighthearted guests and family coming and going after playing golf or riding the trails on horse back or just taking a stroll through 75 acres of exotic gardens…because this 250-room home was built by George Vanderbilt expressly for the pleasure of his family and guests.

The thrills begin at the main gatehouse just outside downtown Asheville. George Vanderbilt hired one of the best landscape architects in America, Frederick Olmsted, (who designed Central Park in New York) to transform hundreds of acres of worn-out farm land into a paradise of natural beauty. Olmsted designed a three-mile entry road that would leisurely take Vanderbilt’s guests up to the home. On the way the guests could admire the beauty of the carefully cultivated landscape thick with flowering rhododendron, azaleas, evergreens and countless natural plants. It was designed to hide the house from view by the vegetation until at the very end of the road where it is suddenly revealed…and the effect is stunning! Built in the style of a French chateau, it rises out of the landscape like the jewel it is. It literally took my breath away.

Our tour of the house was wonderfully managed. Only a few guests are allowed in at one time and I thankfully never felt rushed or overwhelmed by a crowd of visitors. We were given plenty of time to see everything and best of all, take a ton of pictures! (*Be sure to book your tickets well in advance!)

As we passed through the huge ornate doors of the main entrance, we were welcomed into a spacious light-filled entry hall, but our attention was immediately drawn to the Winter Garden on our right. If I lived here, I would never leave this space. Chocked full of tropical and flowering plants (all grown in the Estate’s gardens and greenhouses), it is softly lit by an immense skylight. Scattered around the tiled floor are comfortable seating areas, perfect for curling up with a good book.

The home is decorated with the finest antiques and furnishings which Vanderbilt spent months shopping for all over the world. Yet for all of its luxury, it feels like a comfortable home. First of all, it is built with large windows everywhere in order to take in the spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance and the carefully planned panoramas of the surrounding landscape. The rooms are spacious, each opening up to the other giving one the feel of a wonderful, light-filled space.

To the right of the Winter Garden is the jaw-dropping main dining room. Designed to be able to seat dozens of people or serve an intimate dinner in front of the fire, it is impressive for its size and appointments. At one end is a pipe organ whose workings take up an entire room in the basement.

Antique mantle and print in the music room.

Smaller dinning room with portraits by Singer Sargent.

A sitting area next to the Winter Garden and opening onto the loggia.

Spectacular view looking west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains from the loggia. The home is built to be able to take in the magnificent views from any room in the house.

The long room is designed to enjoy the west facing views and is a wonderful spot to take tea, read a book or just sit and talk. The antique tapestries that line the walls are vibrant and stunning. Every room is equipped with one or more fireplaces even though the house has central heating. It was built with all of the modern conveniences of the time, including telephones and electricity. Each bedroom had its own bathroom.

The library was George Vanderbilt's favorite place and is filled with thousands of hand picked volumes. There is a hidden entry to the library behind the fireplace so that it could be accessed from the second story bedrooms. The painted ceiling is reminiscent of Versailles.

The spiral staircase as seen from inside and outside of the home is an architectural gem.

George Vanderbilt thought of everything his guests could do no matter the weather. There is a heated indoor pool, a state-of-the-art exercise room, a billiards room, a two lane bowling alley, lawns for golfing, croquet, lakes, ponds and a river for fishing and boating, trails for horse back riding, and acres of gardens for just leisurely strolling. Of course, I loved the gardens...

My BFF, Kay. Celebrating our 60th Friendship Anniversary!
Looking good, Sister!

The greenhouse. All of the flowers and foliage used throughout the house are grown on the property.

Before we left, we had lunch in the converted stable next to the house. Even the horses lived in luxury! I had a pina colada milk shake from their dairy bar that was the best thing I ate on the trip! All of the dairy products are from the estates own dairies. The estate was always designed to be a self-sustaining enterprise. 

**You can click on any picture for a full sized slide show.

The attached links will tell you much, much more about this amazing house and its history. Enjoy!


  1. As always your blog captures the Biltmore and makes the memories even better. Well done GF.


  2. Great job Barb! You’ve captured the essence beautifully.

  3. What fantastic posts, photos, and information you provide on your website!