Questionable it is, as to whether 8,000 private acres is simply enough for one’s opulent summer estate. Adorned with 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, winery, and romantic Romanesque gardens fit for Aphrodite herself, The Biltmore Estate is a late 1800’s chateau fit for the French countryside, yet rooted within the heart of the western North Carolina mountains.
Perhaps the most luxurious, sumptuous, and stately home in America, Biltmore has and continues to open its doors to celebrated Embarkistes and Embarkers from around the globe, including authors Henry James and Edith Wharton, as well as presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
Biltmore’s owner George Vanderbilt of the renowned Vanderbilt fortune, explored all of France and England in search of inspiration for his family’s future “little mountain escape” to be nestled within the hills of Asheville, North Carolina, chosen by Vanderbilt for it’s choice scenery and climate. Though built in the Victorian era, Biltmore sources itself with Renaissance architecture, amorous floral carvings, guarding gargoyles, and 16 chimney’s upon it’s steeply pitched roof.
The estate prides itself with music rooms, tea salons, observatories, and a Beauty and the Beast-esque library which houses over 23,000 books. Each element of this house was personified and articulated over Biltmore’s 8 year building period, from the limestone columns carved to reflect the sunlight in aesthetically pleasing and varied ways per Vanderbilt’s wish, to the rare Flemish tapestries hanging beneath the barrel vaulted ceilings and surrounding the grand dining table that could seat up to 64 Glamazons.
Biltmore houses many gems and treasures such a paintings from Renoir and Raphael, candlesticks belonging to Marie Antoinette’s mother, and Napoleon’s very own chess set. Guests of the estate could enjoy outdoor activities ranging from lawn games and fox hunts, to indoor pleasures such as a dip in the heated pool or a cigar in the billiard room.
Equally as stunning as the house itself, Biltmore’s grounds and gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who is most known for his work landscaping New York’s dreamy Central Park. Olmsted envisioned the rustic three-mile approach leading to the main house, weaving in and out through lush forests and building up to the sphinx-topped stone pillars on the front lawn.
From rolling bowling greens and outdoor tea rooms, to a zigzagging esplanade and Italian formal gardens, Biltmore’s surroundings captures The Embarkiste’s heart and has her envying George’s daughter, Cornelia, who was lucky enough to parade around Biltmore as a young lady in the roaring twenties.
Lucky still, The Embarkiste is able to parade Biltmore herself today and encourages others to come and soak up Biltmore Estate’s delicious demeanor.