Just outside the hip Town of Asheville is the Biltmore
— a majestic European-inspired estate that holds the title of the largest privately-owned castles in America. Built by the filthy rich George Washington Vanderbilt II in the late 1800s, this massive yet elegant estate once served as home to the Vanderbilt’s, the closest thing America has to a royal family. Today, the Biltmore is still family-owned but operates as an enchanting tourist destination.
Set on 8,000 acres amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore boasts 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. Remember, this sprawling castle was built over 100 years ago — indoor plumbing (let alone for 43 bathrooms) was quite the extravagance! Even the most indulgent celebrities couldn’t match the luxuries added by Vanderbilt.
On the first floor, there is an octagonal Winter Garden, filled with plants and greenery and featuring a soaring ceiling of multifaceted glass. The Banquet Hall is the largest room in the house and seats 64 guests (now that’s one wild party). And for us bibliophiles, the two-story library contains over 10,000 books!
And as you move from floor to floor, you’ll feel like true royalty ascending the Grand Staircase, which features 107 spiraling steps and a four-story, wrought iron chandelier with over 70 light bulbs. Sometimes, bigger is better!
In the basement, there is a 70,000-gallon swimming pool that’s heated and has underwater lighting (again, almost unheard of during this time). Also in the basement is one of the nation’s first bowling alleys built inside a private home. Vanderbilt did it first!
Stepping outside the castle, you’re surrounded by lush gardens and landscaping, perfect for a leisurely stroll on a gorgeous North Carolina day. Further out on the 8,000-acre estate, you’ll find Biltmore’s own vineyard and America’s most visited winery. The estate also boasts six restaurants, plenty of shopping, historical guided tours, and outdoor adventures such as fly fishing and horseback riding.