Downton Abbey without the crowds

Downton Abbey without the crowds (c) 2016 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

On a normal day, Highclere Castle admits 1,200 visitors. The actual site of the PBS television show Downton Abbey, the castle is about 90 minutes west of London. Contending with crowds is precisely the downside of visiting popular tourist attractions. Read, for instance, two trip reports posted on TripAdvisor.

One visitor was disappointed at the crowded conditions.
Although we booked our tickets last February, with a timed slot, I was disappointed at the amount of people trying to view the house at the same time.... The bedroom corridor was narrow and there was nobody in control to monitor the amount of people trying to look at the bedrooms or the pictures. Lots of mumbling complaints about the number of people stuck in a queue to view the rooms.
Another describes the "achingly slow" progress one makes through the house.
As soon as we were through the door, it was single file, step by achingly slow step around the house. It wasn't a pleasant experience, people behind were trying to get ahead, those in front wanted to stand and discuss. Children were becoming bored, all adding to the frustration of the visit.
But there are alternatives... 

Totally private visits outside of opening hours... The cost for such an experience is about 10,000£, but this offers a most exclusive experience for a small group, each of whom will have bragging rights for a lifetime.

Limited admission days... While Highclere Castle is closed to general admission on those select days, it will offer admission to just 60 guests at a time. You'll have a three hour private tour during your choice of a 10:30 am - 1:30 pm or a 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. time slot. Each group of 60 is is further split into more manageable sets of 20 visitors. I recently arranged this for a client. With one "semi-private" admission ticket and round-trip private transfer from her hotel in London, her cost was around 1400£.

Tickets do sell out, even at 1400£, as this is an unforgettable experience for all lovers of Downton Abbey. It's critically important to plan well in advance. Even three months out, most of these few limited-admission dates had no availability.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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