The Downton Abbey television series has inspired a new group of fantasy travellers who yearn to holiday in stately mansions.
Across the UK, holidaymakers can pretend they are aristocrats by renting rooms in heritage-listed manor houses.
A range of new luxury hotels, trains and cruise ships have arrived to cater for tourists often referred to as uber-wealthy millennials.
The Downton Abbey saga was filmed 96km west of London at privately-owned Highclere Castle, near Newbury.
Up to 100,000 people a year experience the grandeur depicted in the show with guided tours.
No, you may not sleep in Lady Mary’s bedroom, but an eighth-century lodge on the estate has been renovated to be used as holiday accommodation.
Or you could opt for a staycation at one of England’s most gracious mansions, Kirtlington Park in Oxfordshire, for $50,000 a week.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton wanted to buy Kirtlington in the 60s and turn it into an acting school.
They were rebuffed.
It’s one of several mansions where you can live like a lord for $12,000 to $16,000 a night. Some mansions offer fly fishing, golf courses, top-tier chefs and vintage Grand Cru Burgundy and Bordeaux.
North Cadbury Court in Somerset, 190 km southwest of London, is an exclusive escape with a helipad.
The Main House sleeps 42 adults in 21 bedrooms. The East Wing can sleep seven more in four bedrooms.
And there are a number of coach house cottages for rent.
Gracious Carlton Towers Estate in North Yorkshire, 50 km east of Leeds, was built in 1614.
It offers 16 bedrooms that sleep 31.
Why do these very private upper-crust families throw their doors open to the public?
Often asset rich and cash poor, they need the dosh.
On television in the UK earlier this year, Carlton Towers owners Lord and Lady Gerald Fitzalan-Howard confided their annual gas and electricity bill was $230,000.
The Times recently reported that it may cost $210,000 a year to insure a Grade 1 listed property.
A splendid historic drawcard is The Hall at Bolton Abbey. It was built in the 14th century and is surrounded by ancient woodlands.
Bolton Abbey has been part of the Duke of Devonshire’s estate since 1748.
It costs around $46,000 for three nights for 18 guests – staff, meals and services included.
After the COVID-19 lockdowns that struck at the heart of tourism, wealthy travellers are making up for lost time.
The Orient Express is undergoing a multi-million-dollar refurbishment and is accepting bookings for 2025.
India has its own train that is equally grand.
It’s called The Palace on Wheels. The carriages are named after the forts and palaces of ancient Rajasthan.
It runs Jaipur, Ranthambore, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Bharapur.
The Times of India reports the train’s two restaurants, Maharaja and Maharani, serve up Michelin-star standard Indian cuisine in regal surroundings with ornate furnishings, intricate floral tapestries, and mahogany panelling.
Panoramic windows on both sides of the dining cars ensure stunning views.
Tickets are priced from around $1200 per person per night in the low season.
Airlines and cruise ships hit hard by the pandemic are also making a spectacular comeback.
Air New Zealand has spent $150 million upgrading its lounges and will be offering hot dishes including lamb with cauliflower gratin and trimmings.
The airline will scrap boarding passes after successfully trialling biometric facial recognition.
Emirates is completing a $3 billion retrofit of 120 aircraft.
And the classy United Arab Emirates airline has begun to upgrade its inflight service with “elevated meal choices”, a new vegan menu, a “cinema in the sky” experience in luxury new cabins.
Emirates first class passengers enjoy the best wines including Dom Pérignon 2003 Plénitude 2 on certain routes.
The Roar Africa travel company is promising “unparalleled wildlife encounters” on private safaris aboard an exclusive Emirates jet with sleeping cabins.
Roar whisks travellers to Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
The “greatest safari on earth” is also the most expensive on earth, with prices around $168,000.
If wild animals don’t appeal, you can always take a luxury cruise.
The upmarket hotel chain Ritz-Carlton has launched a “superyacht” collection for the wealthy traveller willing to pay thousands of dollars a day.
Hop aboard Ritz-Carlton’s Evrima to explore exclusive corners of the Caribbean, from Iles des Saintes to Jost Van Dyke and Saint-Barthélemy.
Cruising was a natural fit for the Ritz-Carlton, which has a vast database of wealthy customers to tap.
Luxury brands have shops on board.
A Times of London journalist on a familiarisation tour said a bag was going for $53,000.
At dinner, the wine list offered a bottle of vintage Château Mouton Rothschild for $15,500.
A seven-course degustation dinner prepared by a chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant was $450.