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Live Like Lady Mary Crawley With a One-Night Stay at Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, as the real Downton is called, has been listed on Airbnb

For one night, the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, is opening its doors to overnight guests (ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
smithsonian.com

It has been nearly four years since "Downton Abbey" graced our screens, regaling us with the ceaseless dramas of Bates and Anna, the machinations of Thomas and O’Brien, the withering put-downs of the Dowager Countess. This "Downton"-less famine will, thankfully, come to an end on September 20, when the Downton Abbey: The Movie premieres. For those who just can’t get enough of the Granthams and Co., Airbnb is getting in on the action by offering a unique opportunity to stay where the show was filmed at Highclere Castle.

As Frances Perraudin of the Guardian reports, the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, who currently own Highclere, are opening up their 300-room home for just one night in honor of the new movie. Come November 26, guests will be able to enjoy an exclusive, immersive experience, starting with evening cocktails in the saloon and a “traditional dinner” with the Earl and Countess themselves. In the name of Carson, Highclere’s butler will wait on the diners before they head to the library for coffee. Then it’s off to sleep in a bedroom with “views over 1,000 acres of rolling parkland.”

The following morning, the guests will enjoy a “delicious breakfast” and a private tour of the Highclere grounds. The property boasts a rich history dating all the way back to 749 A.D., when the estate was granted to the Bishops of Winchester and a medieval palace was built there. A manor house was constructed at Highclere in the 17th century and underwent substantial renovations in the mid-19th century, when the famed architect Charles Barry transformed the building into an Italianate castle, not unlike the U.K. Houses of Parliament in style.

But if "Downton" is your primary interest, there will be plenty of opportunity to waltz through the castle while pretending to be the character of your choice. (Frosty Mary? Nebbish Edith? Blustery Mrs. Patmore?) Spaces that will be familiar to viewers from the show—like the drawing room and the library—will be open to explore.

The experience costs £150 (around $187.50) and booking will open October 1 at 12PM BST. Those interested would be wise to act fast, because the property is sure to get scooped up quickly. The listing stipulates that potential guests are required to have “a verified Airbnb profile, positive reviews, and be passionate about 'Downton Abbey'”—a passion they must demonstrate in their message to the host, according to Perraudin.

If you don’t manage to snag the booking, there’s no need to fret. Highclere is open for events and tours on select dates throughout the year.

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including NYmag.com, Flavorwire and Tina Brown Media's Women in the World.

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