What Downton Abbey fan wouldn't want to stay with the wealthy Crawley family for a night or two? For Valentine's Day this year, that wish is coming true for lucky guests who will (finally!) be able to sleep over at the Highclere Castle estate made famous in the PBS show.
London Lodge was built by the first Earl of Carnarvon at Highclere Estate in 1793. Designed to be a grand entrance for visiting friends and family, it is now one of the newest (and poshest) properties in the United Kingdom. After two and a half years of renovations by the current Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, the individual lodges near Highclere Castle are open for modern day visitors who are willing to pay £350 ($540) a night for the bragging rights of living out their Downton Abbey dreams. The small built-for-two properties are filled with light and airy colors throughout the sitting room, bedroom, full kitchen, and modern bathroom -- and boast 21st century conveniences such as WiFi and mini-fridges that would surely make Mr. Carson cringe.
Also of note is Highclere Castle, the historical 1,000-acre property in Newbury, West Berkshire --about 70 miles from London -- where the fictional television series celebrating lavish Edwardian castle life is filmed. Open only 60-70 days a year, a visit typically requires some careful planning, but guests of London Lodge are guaranteed special packages to tour the castle with their stay.
The lodge officially opens to travelers on February 13. We hear from our friends at Smithsonian magazine that rooms are booked through the spring, but it doesn't hurt to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to check -- or keep an eye out for additional summer and fall openings.