I had this weekend blocked off in my planner with black and white washi tape for about a month. I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything more than hearing “block off a weekend” from Robert!
The best part of traveling somewhere, I believe, is the
anticipation of it.
Waiting to finally head to Asheville got me through some pretty hectic days! More than anything, this trip showed me how very important it is to plan travel and MOST importantly, time with the people who matter. After my busiest wedding season yet, Robert and I desperately needed to block off some time to spend more than just a few hours together. We needed to do something FUN. And so we did. 🙂
On Friday, I met Bert at Zion Crossroads, and away we went! It’s a about a 5.5 hour trip, and we entertained ourselves with Sia (our favorite), SNL sketches on YouTube (I watched, he listened), and road trip questions from Google. In case you missed my Weekender about this, I HIGHLY recommend playing “Questions” on road trips!
On Saturday, we got up early to head to The Biltmore for our 9:15 entry time! The house was only a few miles from our hotel, but it takes a good chunk of time to actually get there. The Vanderbilt family owns 8,000 acres, so the house is quite literally about 1.5 miles over the river and through the woods. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see the house come into view!
Despite all the photos I have seen — and I tried not to look at many so I could get even more excited — it still took my breath away!!
Once we turned the car over to the valet, we immediately peeked around the side to see the absolutely spell-binding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the hosts of the house said that this house would, not including the property, cost roughly 1 billion dollars to replicate. The views, however, are priceless.
After the wind blew us inside, we picked up audio tours and got in a line. We didn’t know what it was for, but we got to admire the indoor garden while we waited! On our audio tours, we listened to George Vanderbilt’s great-great-granddaughter, Diana, talk about the tour ahead of us. Diana still runs The Biltmore with her brother, and she is also the godmother of Robert’s cousin. She gave him and his family a behind the scenes tour a few years ago, so he was able to tell me what was behind some of the closed doors and long hallways. 🙂
I will never look at Christmas decorations the same!
GUYS. He built a two-story library. With a 70+ foot mural on the ceiling. And a spiral staircase and multiple entrances so that his guests could make themselves at home and borrow all the books they want. I never wanted to leave this room.
LOOK AT ALL THESE BOOKS.
This is Edith Vanderbilt’s oval bedroom. It was interesting to hear that affluent couples during this time usually had separate bedrooms to make it more convenient for the many, many times a day they changed clothes. Edith & George’s room were connected by a breakfast room that their only daughter, Cornelia, used as a big sleepover room the night before her wedding. Obviously I thought that was adorable!
You can look into the banquet hall from the stairs!
This is the room where Edith & Cornelia both chose to have their babies. They think it’s because it has so the best views to distract from . . . you know . . . labor.
Our audio tour said this was the earliest in-house bowling alley, but I’m like JAMES MADISON HAD ONE. Just for the record.
We also learned that the swimming pool leaks now, but it was once heated with the steam from the house boilers.
State-of-the-art gym. 🙂
Original pots and pans!!
The view from the kitchen. Not bad, eh?
I knew some of my blog readers would love these GINGER JARS! 😉
When I looked up these stairs, I just couldn’t even wrap my mind around the size of this place. 2.4 million cubic feet, we learned. I don’t even understand that.
This was the view from the servants’ entrance to the banquet hall.
I handed my camera to a stranger for this. Big deal.
I would get married here. I mean . . . shoot a wedding here. Or both.
This was my absolute favorite spot in the gardens: The Library Terrace. I don’t think my life will be complete until I shoot portraits here. 😉
We also found the Hot House full of fun plants. It was so nice and warm!!
Can you even IMAGINE living here? As we walked around the house, I kept thinking about what it would have been like for the Vanderbilts and for the servants. It’s American royalty, full of history and art and architectural brilliance. One of the hosts said that it would be nearly impossible to recreate the house because there simply aren’t any more craftsmen who could carve and do the stone work and all the small, intricate details all over the place. It’s a gem.
When you visit the Biltmore at Christmas, you have to buy separate Candlelight tickets to return at night. I didn’t want to miss the place lit up for Christmas!! I was not disappointed.
I thought this couple was cute. They were taking in the magnitude of the stairs and the four-story chandelier, I think.
I saved the infamous banquet hall tree photos for night time. It’s actually really difficult to take a photo that shows the HUGEness of the tree they bring in. You don’t get to walk very far into the room, which was kind of disappointing.
During the Candlelight tours, they had a group of carolers in the indoor garden. It was so beautiful to hear them singing and imagine what it was like when the Vanderbilts opened this house on Christmas Eve in 1985. Then, as we were standing in the banquet hall, the carolers started singing “O Christmas Tree” and I may have cried a little.
I wanted the library to be the last room we were in. It’s where I learned the most from listening to the host talk about the cost of the place and the time it took to build it and the 1,000 workers who made it happen. I love, love this room.
This is actually the largest fire place in the house. It’s six feet wide, six feet tall, and six feet deep. It is MAGNIFICENT.
And just as quickly as it began, it was over!