The motion picture Downton Abbey just opened and it's already won top box office for Thursday night previews, beating out Ad Astra and Rambo: Last Blood. Airbnb, which just announced plans for a 2020 IPO, is offering a special way to celebrate: Book a room in Highclere Castle, the real-life home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, which provided the setting for the popular television series and the movie. The room is only available one night, and only for one couple, so you'll need some luck--and some stellar Airbnb reviews--to get there.
If you're a Downton fan, it might be well worth the effort. You probably already know that the visually striking castle is at least as much a character in the story as any of the human actors. And the modern-day Earl and Countess appear to be living in it much the same way the fictional Crawleys would if they were around today.
"Highclere Castle covers 100,000 square feet and has a total of 300 rooms that are opulently decorated and furnished, with each detail providing a unique insight into its history. During your stay, you will enjoy an exclusive evening drinking cocktails in the Saloon followed by a traditional dinner with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon in the State Dining Room, being waited on by Highclere Castle's own butler. After dinner, coffee will be served in the Library before you retire to one of the Gallery bedrooms with an en-suite bathroom and views over 1,000 acres of rolling parkland."
That butler? His name is Louis and Lady Carnarvon explained to Parade that life in Highclere today is not as formal as it is shown in Downton Abbey--not at all. For example, Louis does not always call the Count and Countess "My Lord" and "M'Lady." He does if there are guests present, but when they're alone together, things are much more informal, and he might even call them "Lord C" or "Lady C." Admittedly, it would be beyond unthinkable for Downton Abbey's butler Carson to call the Earl of Grantham "Lord G." But this still isn't quite a full embrace of modern times and modern informality.
The price for this night in the lap of luxury that will look extremely familiar if you're a Downtown Abbey fan? It's 150 pounds, or $187 at today's exchange rate. That's surprisingly inexpensive, so competition may be fierce as Lady Carnarvon warns.
"Highclere Castle is only available to book for a one night stay taking place on November 26th. Reservation opportunities will go live on October 1 at 12PM BST [5 pm Eastern time]. This listing will be very popular, so to book you must have a verified Airbnb profile, positive reviews, and be passionate about Downton Abbey."
If you've got the passion but not the positive reviews, that gives you just 10 days to line some up.