We recently traveled to London with a group of our friends and had the most amazing experience. We were able to stay at Blenheim Palace, in the English countryside, for a few days during our trip and since that is not something available to the public we felt pretty special. Blenheim Palace is the home of the Duke & Duchess of Marlborough and is their private residence, so while there are areas open to public tours during the day, the private apartments are normally, well, “private”. But we got to stay for four nights and it was quite the experience.
We got to the Palace after dark unfortunately so the first night we missed the grand entrance and didn’t really get to see the massive scope of the building until morning. Once we got all our luggage unloaded and rooms assigned, we had a bit of time to change before dinner and meet the staff. We had the most amazing service from several attentive housekeepers, a head butler and an under butler as well as various other service people. Our rooms overlooked the topiary garden and it was an extraordinary view.
Every night we dressed for dinner as the Palace keeps to formal tradition. Cocktails in the drawing room, a full formal dinner service, and then retreat to the parlor for an apertif. One evening we stayed up quite late playing billiards. The staff catered to any and all requests and remembered our preferences. Breakfast was laid out buffet style each morning for us before we left for the days activities in the field. After a few hours outdoors in the cold we would retreat to one of the many outdoor pavilions on the property for a break, called “Elevens'” which consisted of a hearty soup broth served with a shot of either brandy or vodka. Then a glass of champagne, recommended to be served with gin. And some light snacks. Another hour or so of field activities and back to the Palace for lunch. We felt like we never stopped eating and drinking.
It was quite surreal to sign the guest book just a couple of pages away from Donald and Melania Trump. That was a weird feeling. And to walk the halls of a place where Winston Churchill was born and spent much of his childhood and where Princess Diana spent much of hers… very surreal. We were able to get the full tour of the palace and even see some of the servants areas that the show Downton Abbey was modeled on.
We had a fantastic visit to Blenheim Palace, I was completely captivated by the beautiful gardens and estate grounds. The English countryside is so magical and the people are so genuinely kind and warm. We felt so welcome and had such a lovely experience.