I celebrated my 50th birthday with a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. For years, I’d wanted to tour the home of the Vanderbilts known as the largest home in America, with 150,000 square feet.
The estate features 250 rooms, 43 bathrooms, 34 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces.
The Biltmore was the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt and their daughter, Cornelia. George Vanderbilt opened the mansion in 1895 after taking at least six years to build it. The beautiful French Chateau-inspired home was designed by New York architect Richard Morris Hunt and originally was nestled among 125,000 acres surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The landscape designer for the estate was Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York’s Central Park. Walking the gardens of the estate proved to be an enchanting experience and one that I will not soon forget.
The Vanderbilts’ home was perfect for entertaining, and guests were treated to a bowling alley, gym and swimming pool. Although the home is massive, I was impressed with its manageable-sized rooms and the comfy feeling it projected.
One of my favorite spaces was the entryway and winter garden, a room within the entry that features a glass roof where light pours into the garden and highlights the fountain sculpture “Boy Stealing Geese” by Karl Bitter. The garden room is perfect for a brunch or small dinner party.
Other rooms on that level included a music room, billiard room, banquet hall complete with 40-foot table to seat 38 guests comfortably, and a tapestry gallery and library that housed half of George Vanderbilt’s 23,000-book library.
The Biltmore is spectacular and is one for the bucket list. It takes about two hours to tour the inside of the home, and I would recommend using the audio tour for a more complete experience.
If possible, take a tour of the gardens and the grounds if you’re a flower lover like me.
You’ll be impressed with the variety and beauty of the gardens.
My mother and I stayed on the property at the Biltmore Inn. The views from our room of the Blue Ridge and the sheer beauty of the inn made us feel as if we were Vanderbilts. The rooms were beautifully designed with granite, countertops in the bathrooms and stately bedding with the Vanderbilt “V” monogrammed on the pillows.
My favorite room at the inn was the library, where one could have afternoon tea or lunch.
Floor-to-ceiling wood paneling set the tone in that space, and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains made for a relaxing dining experience.
The overall theme of the Biltmore was one of comfort and style, something we can create in our own homes.
Now go out and create your own unique comfort zone!