Highclere Castle, the real-life film location for Downton Abbey, is inviting guests from The Ritz to dine in splendour in the State Dining Room and walk in the footsteps of Lord Grantham – an exclusive event that will make them the envy of the period drama’s fans around the world.
Downton Abbey devotees with a taste for the high life in real life can experience the ultimate in gracious living by joining fellow guests of The Ritz for a private visit to Highclere Castle, the setting for the phenomenal British television drama.
The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon will open their doors to the exclusive group of guests from The Ritz for a private tour of the castle, a three-course lunch with wine in the State Dining Room, and a chance to explore the grounds so familiar to millions of Downton Abbey viewers around the globe.
They will be able to walk in the footsteps of the fictional Lord Grantham, imagine that Lady Mary could sashay in at any moment, and think themselves lucky they’ve avoided a scolding from the epithetic Dowager Countess of Grantham.
Very few people have ever had a chance to peek inside the real-life Downton Abbey, and even fewer of those will have had the privilege of dining there in such splendour, so The Ritz is expecting places to be snapped up faster than you can say “Carson”.
The exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the real-life Downton Abbey is part of a special programme The Ritz is organising to celebrate its 110th anniversary.
The iconic hotel in London’s ever-fashionable Piccadilly will greet guests on Wednesday 13 April for a two-night stay including dinner and English Breakfast in what many regard as the world’s most elegant dining room.
Keen fans of Downton Abbey will be aware that key scenes in the finale of the multi-award-winning drama were filmed in the restaurant at The Ritz – at night, so as to avoid disturbing the hotel’s own paying guests – and the period features of the lavishly decorated dining room looked perfectly in keeping with the 1925 setting on camera.
The link between The Ritz and Highclere Castle is no mere fancy of Downton Abbey’s creator, Lord Fellowes, as the Carnarvon family have often stayed at the hotel, while the 6th Earl chose to live at The Ritz whenever he stayed in London from 1923 to 1980.
For a man accustomed to the splendour of Highclere Castle to feel so utterly at home at The Ritz and treat it as such for half a century speaks for itself, and gives just a hint of what the fortunate few on the Downton Abbey visit can expect to enjoy.
They will be taken from The Ritz to Highclere Castle by coach where they can relax and enjoy their visit without seeing it through an iPhone, as The Ritz will be providing a professional photographer to take pictures of their visit for them to take home.
Guests will have the chance to follow lunch with a visit to some of the state rooms plus an exclusive private tour of The Egyptian Exhibition at Highclere Castle which celebrates the finding and opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, considered in its day to be the greatest archaeological discovery of all time.
But, fictional or not, the cachet of visiting “Downton Abbey” will be the main attraction for fans of the period drama which stars Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Laura Carmichael and Joanne Froggatt.
Downton Abbey first featured The Ritz in Season Four, when young footman Alfred Nugent dreamed of working at The Ritz and eventually won a place at the Ritz Academy to become a chef.
The hotel had been in existence for 19 years at the time of the events in the Sixth Season finale and, without any help from scriptwriters, had already become a magnet in real life for the aristocracy, Royalty and celebrities who adored its Louis XVI style interiors.
The Downton Abbey package is a two-night stay and starts from £4,120 including VAT for an Executive Room, based on two people sharing.
Where and How
Booking is via the Reservations Department of The Ritz on +44 (0)20 7493 8181 or at [email protected]
About Jon McKnight
Images of the the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon (C) Highclere Castle