Here's How To Get the Elusive Ticket Inside the Real 'Downton Abbey'
PHOTO: A walk through Bampton village, one of the popular filming locations for "Downton Abbey." (photo by James Ruggia)
The Cotswolds have always been one of England’s most beautiful locations and among its most popular with British travelers, but it took "Downton Abbey" to make the region hot with American tourists.
The Cotswolds are a region of stone walls and hedgerows as well as sheep and stately manors. Tours visit filming hotspots such as Bampton, Cogges, Witney, The Swan Inn at Swinbrook and The Old Forge at Shilton, as well as local landmarks such as Blenheim Palace. Oxfordshire’s "Downton Abbey" site is a treasury of Downton travel information for the area.
It’s getting ever more difficult to get into the home of the Crawleys these days even now that the show's fifth season has come and gone. Certain tour operators are offering an insider’s way to get in despite the fact that pre-booked tickets to Highclere are sold out for 2015.
Keytours’ four-night “London-Downton Abbey” vacation package guarantees travelers entry to the castle. There will be two departures of the package highlighting Highclere Castle, July 16 and Aug. 20 only. The package includes airport transfer from Heathrow upon arrival from the U.S., three all-day excursions, first-class accommodations at the first-class superior Grange St. Paul Hotel, and daily breakfast.
The package spends a full day in the public rooms at Highclere Castle, as well as Oxford, and Bampton, the setting for many of “Downton Abbey’s” village scenes. Another full-day visits Stonehenge and Bath, including a guided city tour and visit to the Roman Baths. A Panoramic London guided tour includes the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and a Thames River boat trip.
The package is priced from $1,395 per person double, land only and $2,839 with air fare from New York including taxes and fees. Air-inclusive price from Boston begins at $2,959, Washington, D.C. $2,999, Chicago $3,069, Los Angeles $3,039 and San Francisco $3,259.
Add-on airfare is available from more cities nationwide.
This year, Wayfarers Walking Vacations will include the six-night Downton Abbey Walk, which takes a peek inside Highclere Castle and now features The Bell, a 300-year-old coaching inn in Ramsbury, one of Wiltshire’s most picturesque villages as well as the villages of Combe and Lacock and the Stone Circles at Avebury and Bowgod House and gardens. Price per person with Wayfarers is all-inclusive. That means all transfers, accommodation, full board plus twice daily snacks, wine with dinner, tips, entrance tickets, maps and postcards are included. The tour has two departures, July 12 and Sept. 6.
If you’re more devoted to Peter Cotton Tail than Maggie Smith, consider the Coast to Coast Adventure Walk that explores the Lake District and stops at Lindeth Howe, an elegant house bought by Beatrix Potter for her mother to live in. Inspired by the surroundings she drew the illustrations for some of her children’s books while staying there.
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