Highclere Castle—the Hampshire country home better known to fans of the PBS hit "Downton Abbey" as the opulent home of Lord and Lady Grantham—has been open for day tours for years, but soon, for the first time, those looking to take their experience to the next level will be able to book overnight stays on the castle's grounds. Beginning February 13, and continuing for select nights throughout the Easter public opening of Highclere Castle, interested parties will be able to stay overnight at the London Lodge, a smaller property on the estate about a mile from Highclere Castle.
The London Lodge grounds include the original formal entry into Highclere Park, a stone archway built in 1793 by the first Earl of Carnarvon. In the 1840s, two individual lodges were built behind the archway. The lodges were built primarily from brick, though they are dressed in Coade stone, a moulding used most commonly on neoclassical buildings constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Because of its strong exterior (Coade stone is practically weatherproof), the lodges have remained in fair condition through the years, though they recently underwent a two-and-a-half year restoration process to fix general wear, including water damage and natural overgrowth.
Both newly restored buildings are available for overnight stays. Each lodge can sleep two guests, and comes with a small kitchen, a living room, bedroom and dressing rooms. The current owners of Highclere—Lord and Lady Carnarvon—opted to create an intimate, cottage-like feel at the lodges, complete with pastel walls, charming nature prints and a wood-burning stove.
Rates for the lodges begin at around $550 a night, and they are booked through the spring, though the Countess of Carnarvon hopes to add additional dates for the summer and autumn months. Those who stay overnight will also have the opportunity to purchase special packages for tours of Highclere Castle.