Behind Biltmore’s Hidden Doors

Written By Joanne O'Sullivan

Posted 09/21/15

Updated 03/08/24

Estate History

Designed both for aesthetics and hospitality, Biltmore’s hidden doors were designed to create a seamless appearance but provide access for staff providing service and convenience for guests.

Discover a few of the often overlooked doors throughout America’s Largest Home.

Concealed servant's entrance in the Breakfast Room
Concealed servant’s entrance in the Breakfast Room

When you’re in the Breakfast Room, your attention is bound to be drawn to the two Renoir portraits “Young Algerian Girl” and “Child with an Orange.” If you look just below “Child with an Orange,” you’ll notice the doorknob to the concealed door, designed to create a seamless appearance on the wall but allow servants to enter with hot meals.

Biltmore House Library Hidden Door
Doors in the Library lead to a passageway connected to the Second Floor Living Hall.

Have you ever wondered what’s behind the hidden doors on the top floor of the Library? Here’s your peek. The doors located on both sides of the overmantel lead to a passageway connected to the Second Floor Living Hall.

Hidden closet door in Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom in Biltmore House
Concealed closet door in Mr. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

Every detail of the architecture at Biltmore was carefully considered. To avoid the break in symmetry that would be required by a door frame, closet doors were concealed in certain rooms, such as this one in Mr. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom.

Trap door in the floor of the Winter Garden
This hidden door in the floor of the Winter Garden in Biltmore House allowed plants to be brought back and forth from the Conservatory without disturbing guests.

Although early plans indicate that there was to be an elevator in the Winter Garden, one was never installed and instead, there’s a ladder. The door is covered in marble slabs and is rarely opened except to allow for ventilation in the employee break room below it in the summer.

This hidden door leads to the Smoking and Gun Rooms inside Biltmore House.

Be sure to look for these secret doors inside Biltmore House during your next visit, like this door designed for gentlemen to retire to the Smoking Room after a game of billiards.

White V

What was George Vanderbilt’s vision for Biltmore? How does the legacy live on today?