The Biltmore Estate® is the largest privately-owned house in the United States with over 175,000 sq ft of floor space. Located in Asheville, North Carolina, the home is one of the most impressive examples of the Gilded Age mansions which were constructed in the late 1800s. The home is surrounded and provides spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains which include the tallest peaks in the United States East of the Mississippi River.
The Biltmore House has a total of 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. Included in the house are many state-of-the-art features rarely seen in 19th-century homes including electricity, forced air heating, a bowling alley, a heated swimming pool, and an electric elevator.
The home was built for George Washington Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. His father, William Henry Vanderbilt, and grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt, were subsequently the richest living Americans during the mid to late 19th century.
Vanderbilt first visited the Asheville area in 1888 while accompanying his mother. She was recovering from malaria and sought fresh mountain air as a remedy. Inspired by the luxurious summer homes of his brothers and sisters, he began to look for a place to build his country estate.
He loved the weather and scenery of western North Carolina so much that he decided to build his estate there the following year. After deciding on a location of rolling hills near the French Broad River, Vanderbilt purchased hundreds of parcels of land that totaled more than 125,000 acres and began construction.
The Biltmore House was constructed over a period of 6 years, beginning in 1889 and completed in 1895. The home was designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt in the Châteauesque style. Châteauesque is a Revivalist architectural style that borrows from the French Renaissance period. Common features include elaborate ornamentation, including gargoyles, tall towers, steep roofs, and dramatic spires.
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, recognized as the father of American landscape architecture, played a pivotal role in shaping the breathtaking grounds surrounding the Biltmore Estate. Olmsted's vision and expertise transformed the estate's 8,000 acres into a harmonious blend of natural beauty and carefully planned landscapes. He utilized his signature style of curving paths, rolling lawns, and picturesque vistas to create a captivating experience for visitors.
Olmsted's designs for the Biltmore Estate incorporate the principles of his "naturalistic" approach, seamlessly integrating the estate into the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
From the manicured gardens and serene water features to the expansive forests and meadows, every element of the landscape reflects Olmsted's commitment to creating a harmonious and immersive environment.
Together, the architecture of the Biltmore House and Olmsted's landscape designs come together to create an awe-inspiring estate that continues to captivate visitors with its beauty and timeless elegance.
The grand opening was held on Christmas Eve and was host to many guests that were delighted to attend the celebration. Biltmore still continues this holiday tradition every year with Christmas at Biltmore, in which the home is elaborately decorated with holiday decor.
Biltmore Banquet Hall
The largest and arguably most magnificent room in the house is the Banquet Hall, which measures 72 feet long by 42 feet wide with a 70-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling. This standout space is home to a colossal triple fireplace and a 1916 Skinner pipe organ. The dinner table seats over 38 guests with plenty of room for additional small tables, and the massive Flemish tapestries date back to the 1500s. As one of the first stops along the house tour, it's the perfect introduction to the grandeur and hospitality that the Vanderbilts embodied while living at the estate.
The Banquet Hall is perhaps most famous for the 35-foot-tall Fraser fir which graces the hall at Christmas and has for the last 125+ years. Holding the title of the tallest tree inside Biltmore House, this Christmas tree is always adorned with hundreds of lights and ornaments and stands as a beloved symbol of the holiday season. Draped in evergreen garland, twinkling lights, and vibrant red holly berries, the Banquet Hall at Christmas beautifully hearkens back to the first Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day celebration at Biltmore in 1895 and makes you feel as if you've been transported back in time.
Biltmore First Opens to the Public
After Vanderbilt’s death in 1914, the home was inhabited by his wife Edith and his daughter Cornelia. Cornelia married John Cecil in 1924, and the two lived at Biltmore. They first opened the home to the public during the Great Depression in 1930, but it was later closed during World War II. The Cecils divorced in 1934, but John continued to live at the estate after Cornelia departed, never to return.
John Cecil remained at Biltmore until his death in 1954, after which his oldest son, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil, lived in the house until 1956. It was after 1956 that the home ceased to be a family residence and was transformed into the historic house museum it is today by younger son, William A. V. Cecil, Sr.
Biltmore Tours & Tastings
There are a number of ways to tour the Biltmore House and Grounds. Stroll at your own pace with a self-guided tour, or enjoy exclusive, behind-the-scenes tours with expert guides to explore sides of the Biltmore that many have yet to discover.
We've outlined all of the tour options below to help you choose how to experience this historic estate:
- Audio Guide to Biltmore House and Kids’ Audio Guide to Biltmore House
- Expert-Guided Small Group Tour
- Biltmore House Backstairs Tour
- Rooftop Tour
- Self-Guided Visit to Gardens
- Behind-the-Scenes Winery Tour & Tasting
- Farm-to-Table Tour & Taste
After your tour, indulge your senses with Afternoon Tea, Complimentary Wine Tasting, or Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting (for an additional price). Afternoon Tea is inspired by the Vanderbilt tradition of sharing afternoon tea with guests. This elegant experience is hosted in the Dining Room and features Newby Teas served with fresh-baked scones topped with clotted cream, honey, and preserves, savory canapés, and finely cut tea sandwiches. Biltmore's Complimentary Wine Tastings are easily one of the most enjoyed visitor experiences.
During the tasting, you'll sample Biltmore Winery’s most popular and award-winning vintages, all of which are available for purchase if you want to take a bottle home with you or give them away as gifts, and learn more about Biltmore's vineyards and wine-making-processes. Discover why chocolate and red wine are a match made in heaven at Biltmore's Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting. Featuring locally-produced artisan chocolates from French Broad Chocolate, this tasting provides information about wine production at Biltmore and its effects on the delicious end product.
Antler Hill Village
Access to Antler Hill Village is included with admission and is the perfect way to extend your experience at the Biltmore Estate after touring the Biltmore House and strolling its gorgeous gardens. Antler Hill Village offers a variety of activities, including shopping, dining, and special exhibitions. You'll also find Biltmore's Winery, the Farmyard, and an Outdoor Adventure Center here. Experience craft demonstrations, farm-friendly animals, an old-fashioned mercantile shop, a Smokehouse, and a children’s play area—there's something for guests of all ages.
Visit the Biltmore Estate
Greybeard Rentals offers a discount code that is available to guests staying in one of our rental homes. Give us a call or mention to one of our rental agents that you plan to visit the Biltmore House during your vacation We also offer a wide variety of Asheville vacation rentals including rentals near the Biltmore House that are located within 15 miles of the estate. You can find out more about Biltmore ticket pricing and hours of operation as well as make tour reservations on their website.