Fans of the show Downton Abbey are already familiar with Highclere Castle, which is where the program is filmed, but, beginning in February — just in time for Valentine’s Day — visitors can now stay on the estate overnight.
The estate was built in 1793 and the current residents, the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, have been allowing tours of the castle for years now, but the possibility of staying on the property as a guest has never been afforded to the public, until now. The tours, conducted with a Downton Abbey theme, take visitors on extensive walks throughout the building’s 300 rooms, 30 “wash closets,” and parts of the 1,000 acres of land on which the estate sits, according to CN Traveler.
During a recent insurance audit conducted on the Downton Abbey site, 5,650 rare books with some of them dating back to the 16th century, help to bring Highclere Castle’s value up to the $400 million mark. Period paintings from artists like Anthony van Dyck, as well as recovered antiquities from ancient Egypt also help to drive up that appraisal.
The hotel, deceptively named London Lodge (the estate is actually in Newbury, West Berkshire, about 60 miles from London), is actually a smaller property adjacent to Highclere Castle and has been renovated and updated, along with portions of the castle itself. The remodeling took almost three years, which included making structural repairs as well as providing the building with a new roof. While maintaining the period charm, as depicted in Downton Abbey was of the utmost importance, the lodgings were updated with the expected conveniences of modern living: TVs, Wi-Fi, mini-fridges, and tea kettles.
Originally, London Lodge served as the entrance to Highclere Castle and, as such, was accompanied by an overbearing stone archway and heavy, wrought iron gates. This addition, which consisted of two shorter buildings, was added in 1840 along with a stone path that still leads from what is now known as London Lodge to the main building, Highclere Castle.
A romantic Valentine’s Day setting like this doesn’t come cheap, however. Rooms start at $540 per night and go up from there, states People.
Season five of Downton Abbey, which has already aired in the U.K., will begin in the United States on January 4 on PBS. The cast of Downton Abbey was recently nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award under the category of best ensemble.
For those unable to pay the $540 room rate to stay on the Downton Abbey site, here are some other ideas to make a special Valentine’s Day.