The Biltmore estate is truly one of the most impressive buildings in North Carolina, if not the entire South, and as such it's a must-see. You can't help but be gobsmacked by its ambition, its swagger, and at times gauche mismatching of styles (Hearst Castle it ain't). The Vanderbilts are obviously hugely revered in the area, and every docent in the place seemed primed to give me the sanitised and hagiographic version of its creator, George Vanderbilt III, which left me with a rather unpleasantly feudal taste in my mouth. But if you can hold your nose and pay the extortionate entrance fee, it offers a fascinating insight into the workings of a grand house, and there are some Sargents and Whistler portraits that can literally bring you to a standstill. For better or worse, it's an unforgettable experience.