Thursday, December 29, 2016

Biltmore Estate

I'm back! Back to work, back to my daily responsibilities, back to my ultimate reality! Christmas was wonderful! It really was an exceptional trip, with quality time spent with dear friends and family, and the beginning of plans that promise a really lovely 2017. As many of you know, I spent Christmas in Florida this year, but on the way there, I stopped to spend some time at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

I have wanted to see the estate ever since I saw the movie "Richie Rich" in 1994. I was 12! So 22-years of build up, and I finally got to see this incredible estate nestled in the magical Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. Now, when you see pictures of Biltmore Estate online, (or if you got to see the movie) you see these wonderful professional images of the full width of the house with no obstructions or distractions. Something like this: 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Marvelous Right? But in reality, when you get there, it's impossible to view the house like this. There are ropes and tour vans, and people galore! So, fair warning, most of the photos that I captured were of anything I could grab above head height. I suppose it's silly to say that this was a disappointment, for how else do you control tours? But from the photography aspect, I was sad that I didn't get a chance to capture a photo like this for myself. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

This is what my view of Biltmore looked like. Beyond the bus to the left was a valet parking tent, and on the right, another set of tents, and tram buses. I got there relatively early too, 9:00am. So I can't imagine that it gets any easier to get a good photo of the house the longer you're there. But I could be wrong. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Entering the mansion, you walk through a closed portico, and then into the grand foyer with the three story winding stone staircase on your left, and the atrium to your right. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

It's absolutely incredible. Decked out in red poinsettias for the holiday season, and garlands strung between the French lanterns. They were taking photos in the far hallway, a way to commemorate your experience I suppose, which you could then buy in the portico that led you out to the stables. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Check out the ceiling! This extends around the entire perimeter of the atrium. And speaking of ceilings, the atrium ceiling is pretty spectacular, too! 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Once I realized that the line I was in was for photos, I quickly dashed back around to the long foyer hall, and into the tapestry room.

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Four, stunning floor to ceiling tapestries hang between two fireplaces in a room decked out for the holidays with four Christmas trees. This long hall, made into a beautiful and comfortable entertaining space by the three separate seating arrangements leads you to the library. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Another incredible room. There really aren't any rooms that are less than incredible. Stunning woodwork and a collection of more than a million books, this library had all of my favorite things! French fauteuils, blue and white porcelain, books, and brass! 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Back through the tapestry room, and into the dining room where the traffic jams began. At this point it became difficult to see and appreciate most of the rooms, as the open house style tour means few opportunities to really digest a room without being pushed, or squeezed into a corner.

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

Before you wrapped back around to the main dining room, you were greeted by another seating area, parlor in style, with more beautiful French furniture. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

There were a lot of really stunning ceiling treatments and architectural ceilings throughout the mansion, this tenting in tapestry being one of them. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

A small family dining room was the next stop, beautiful of course, but then you enter into the main dining hall and sort of forget all about this space! 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

I really wish that I had been able to capture better pictures of this space. But unfortunately, one too many elbows to the stomach, and I was out of there! Here's one of the space without the traffic jam found online: 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

From here, I headed back into the stairwell to make my way up to the second floor. There are obviously several other rooms on the first floor available for touring if you buy special tour group tickets. I wish I had done that, but their website didn't have that as an option when I purchased my tickets. If you plan on going to Biltmore, I HIGHLY recommend that you spend the extra money for these more in depth tours. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, staircase

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, staircase, staircase tassels

On the second floor are the master bedrooms, his and hers, separated by a drawing room. His bedroom has a lovely curtained canopy bed done in heavy red tapestry: 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, canopy bed, master bedroom, red canopy bed

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, canopy bed, red bed, red canopy bed

I'm sorry that these photos aren't better. I believe that they keep the curtains and shades drawn in this room so that you can appreciate the Christmas trees better this time of year, but it doesn't make for the best pictures, that's for sure. Again, there were so many people that I couldn't grab pictures of the bedroom for the lady of the manse, but I did get a couple of the drawing room they share:

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, christmas, christmas tree

Leaving these two rooms, you head up to the third floor where you are greeted with guest suites and more living areas. There were so many people in the house by this time, that I put my phone away, and decided that my best course of action would be to record the things I really loved in my head. Once outside of the house though, I did get a chance to take some lovely photos of the side of the house from the statuary garden, along with the scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

the biltmore, biltmore, biltmore estate, biltmore estate asheville, biltmore estate tours, biltmore estate north carolina, blue ridge mountains, vanderbilt biltmore, estate, biltmore photos, biltmore pictures, mansion, gilded age mansion, stone mansion, exterior photos, garden, mansion garden, french chateau, french design, french architecture

It's really quite a stunning property, and I wish that I had more time there to explore all of the house and it's many design elements. Unfortunately, the open format tour I chose, along with my limited time in Asheville allowed for me to only skim the surface of this powerful and beautiful place. I just purchased this book:


Published in 1994 by Rizzoli, the book will allow me the chance to see the rooms I toured without all the elbows and heads pushing and shoving their way through them, along with other rooms of the 255-room estate that were not on the tour I took. The book is meticulously researched and chronicles the estate from inception to it's grand opening in 1895. I'm really looking forward to reading it! 

My tips on if you visit ... 

biltmore estate, biltmore house, vanderbilts

  1. Schedule a Biltmore House Tour, like the premium one above, which seems to be the most in depth. Do not do the self-guided visit - unless you enjoy crowds, not being able to take good photos, and having no way to ask questions. (p.s., I'm not getting paid for this, I spent $75 on the self-guided visit, and would {and probably will} go back and spend the $150 to do this over another $75 tour any day.
  2. Plan to spend the day. Going to Biltmore Estate is like going to Disney World, (sorta). It's really not possible to experience it quickly. 
  3. Take a look at books, like the one above, prior to going to Biltmore to familiarize yourself with the family, the house, and the rooms you'd like to really spend the most time viewing and asking questions about! 
Of course, I'm very curious if any of you have been to Biltmore Estate, and what your tips are for my second visit. Just leave them in the comments below! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you're all looking forward to a wonderful and Happy New Year. 

8 comments:

  1. It is truly breathtaking! I remember parking my car & rounding the corner to get my first sight of the iconic American landmark. I think my mouth dropped open. It is an all-day experience for a history buff and a lesson in opulence to all the rest. An amazing accomplishment in one of our most beautiful states. It should be on everyone's MUST SEE LIST. Happy New Year !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you Marsha, I will definitely be going back in the summer! Happy New Year to you, too! Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  2. Artie-
    So glad you finally made it- Biltmore is built more!
    Have been twice and loved it- one can get a sense of how the Vanderbilt's lived in it- did you get to see the basement level with the gymnasium? I could "see" the young men, like apparitions, working out on those archaic machines!
    Dean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No sir! I totally missed out, really should have researched more, and asked more questions. I didn't leave myself much time, and the tour I was on didn't allow viewing of much of the house. I hope to go back in the summer for one of their 2-hour private tours.

      Delete
  3. We have been to Biltmore many times, one year at Christmas but I don't remember having to buy a ticket! If we did it sure wasn't $150.00!!!! It is an amazing place, in the Spring/Summer the grounds and gardens are magnificent!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. never been! thanks for this!!! glad you are back!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. We have been several times at different times of the year, and it is always beautiful. Christmas was special, and we have always had a guide, but there was a good sized group. I do not remember how much the tickets were, but I don't think they were that much. There was the opportunity to ask questions and I did buy a book -- I'll have to look for it. You might have missed quite a bit. I loved seeing the kitchen, and there was an indoor pool, a bowling alley, and all sorts of things that were quite innovative for the time in which they were built.

    I do hope you get to go back and see it at a more leisurely pace. The gardens are breathtaking in the spring and early summer.

    ReplyDelete

I love your comments, so thank you for leaving them!