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U.S. Tourists Search for 'Downton Abbey'

Highclere is not a hotel, and visitors will mostly likely want to book a room in Newbury about nine miles from the castle for the most convenient access. A bit farther away, though, and they can relish a stay in a castle just as grand as Downton at Tylney Hall Hotel. A grand arrival comes along a promenade where, just past a lane of majestic oaks, the main mansion comes into view with its gabled roofline and sprawling lawns, living up to even the grandest of expectations. While not as imposing in stature as towering Highclere Castle, Tylney Hall dazzles with its regal wood-paneled reception and staircase illuminated by leaded windows and peering gaze of a 19th century portrait.

Nearby another, more modern hotel palace holds court under the moniker of Four Seasons Hampshire. Part of the renowned Four Season hotels brand, this restored Georgian replaces the sometimes cutesy and cheerful eccentricities of country living with modern grandeur that satisfies even the pickiest of urbanites. A modest gatehouse leads to a long drive and countryside resort estate that remains unmatched within the international chain. White plaster cornices and a coffer ceiling surround a serene lobby of contemporary wingback chairs for London weekenders wearing their designer best for clay pigeon shooting and lavish equestrian outings.

But for those that simply can't pull themselves away from Downton and Highclere Castle, there's always the option of subletting one of the cottages on the estate. Rental options include an array of two- to four-bedroom homes on Highclere Estate and the surrounding area available for longer "Assured Shorthold Tenancies" based strictly on availability. Most recently that included the owners' Maple Farmhouse, a single-family farmhouse with a charming two-story brick facade and modern amenities including heating and deep soaking tubs fit for a Downton countess in the making -- even if just for pretend.

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