SITTING on my sofa in my PJs on a Sunday night, watching royal drama Victoria, I would often think: “I wish I could live like that.”
So when I heard you can — just a couple of hours from London — I was on the first train.
Carlton Towers is a Grade I-listed Gothic stately home in the heart of rural Yorkshire that doubled as Windsor Castle in the ITV series.
The home of the Duke of Devonshire’s younger brother, Lord Gerald Fitzalan-Howard, has opened its doors to anyone who wants to live like a queen for a weekend.
Gerald and wife Emma took on Carlton Towers, near Selby, North Yorks, in 199.
It was a near-wreck and they have laboured to restore it to its former glory.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is a family friend and was reportedly inspired by Carlton Towers when creating his blockbuster series. As I walked into my room, the Glossop, I could see why he would be. Nestled in the Clock Tower, it was Victorian perfection — giant four-poster bed with dramatic drapes, imposing fireplace, huge bathroom with claw-foot bath.
The carved wardrobe was custom-made for the house in the 19th century and the two windows overlook parkland.
The Glossop is one of 15 rooms in which you can get the royal treatment. Each is individually styled by Lady Emma and for the ultimate princess-style stay, there is a two-storey Bridal Suite in the Baroness Tower.
In the Priest’s Room, glass panels on the floor reveal the secret hiding hole where Catholic clergy took shelter during the Reformation. It is complete with original books and notes on the wall.
Until now, only those who took over the entire home for weddings or conferences could stay in these beautiful rooms. But Superbreak’s new Victoria-themed stays have opened it up to all.
The luxury continued with made-to-order breakfasts in the drawing room, a feast of a buffet for lunch and a delicious four-course gala meal in the evening, where the wine flowed freely and Lord and Lady Fitzalan-Howard joined us in the Venetian drawing room.
The team have created a stellar programme to immerse guests in the country life.
They include a 4×4 off-road tour of the estate and clay pigeon shooting with Carlton Towers’ marksman Vernon Miles. For a slice of “below stairs” action, we had a lesson at Cooks, the Carlton School Of Food, using meat from animals reared on the estate’s grounds.
Cheesemonger Cryer & Stott, whose customers include the Queen herself, gave us a crash course in cheesemaking, also teaching us which wines went best with their artisan fare.
The estate’s former stables are now home to the Little Black Dog Beer Co — a small craft brewery, run by the Kot family, where you can learn how to make your own unique ale.
The Superbreak trip will also include a private tour of nearby locations used in the filming of Victoria, as well as the chance to explore the delights of historic York.
My few days spent discovering how the other half lived was an incredible escape from the hum-drum of normal life.
I could definitely get used to the royal treatment.