Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle Historic Monument

We had gotten several recommendations to visit Hearst Castle while we were at Pismo Beach so, even though it was kindof expensive, we decided to take the drive up the coast to check it out.

We got a late start due to school and work, so by the time we arrived at the Visitor Center almost all of the tours were sold out.  We were able to get 4 spots in the “Designing the Dream” Tour, which is longer than the other tours and includes one of the guest cottages, as well as the upper floors of the Casa Grande and the pools.

We had just enough time to watch the movie of W. R. Hearst’s life, and how he came to build this magnificent castle on the hill above San Simeon Bay.     View from the hill










After the movie, we boarded a bus to travel the 5-mile-long driveway up the “Enchanted Hill”.

Long, twisty driveway

Castle Towers

Departing the bus, we walked up the front steps to meet our tour guide on the patio.  The gardens surrounding the patio were beautiful, and in full bloom.



The Castle

In addition to the main house (Casa Grande), there are three Guest Cottages on the property.

Cottage Courtyard

Another Cottage


Construction on the castle started in the 1920s, and the cottages were decorated in the style of 1600s Europe.

Cottage Accomodations

Everything about them was elaborate . . . the rugs, the wall coverings, the furniture, and especially the ceilings,

Ceiling Tiles

Guest Cottage Door



and artwork.


After exploring the various rooms of the cottage, and imagining what it would have been like to be guests at this opulent estate, we crossed the patio – enjoying the view of the countryside -

The view from the patio



and entered the Casa Grande through a side door used by guests to access the private rooms on the upper floors.





The most prominent of guests were assigned to these rooms in the main house, in close proximity to W. R. Hearst’s own private quarters.


Sitting Room

Marble Bath

The rooms in the main house were built in the 1940s, and were a distinctly different style than the cottages.  Some features, like the floors, were more simple and utilitarian, whereas the bathrooms were considerably more modern and luxurious, with marble floors and walls.




This room on the top floor would have been a highly desirable accommodation for the most important guests.

Guest Room

Guests in this room had a great view, too!

View from the upstairs window

Hearst was an avid collector of antiques, and the furniture in the house and cottages was a major part of the collection.

Gossip Chairs

Fancy Lamp



He was also a collector of religious artwork and artifacts, with examples on display in every room.

Religious Artwork

Madonna & Child


This particular painting was selected by the U.S. Post Office as a Christmas stamp.





The ceilings in these rooms continued to be works of art on their own, and were one of our favorite features.



Another elaborate ceiling

Tile ceiling






















The last rooms we toured were Hearst’s private quarters.



W. R. Hearst's Bedroom

Marble Bath










The final portion of our tour took us to the pools – the Neptune Pool outside on the patio,

Pool and Patio

(It’s kindof difficult to imagine it as a pool without any water --  it’s currently undergoing repairs to fix some leaks)

Neptune Pool











and inside, under the tennis courts, is the Roman Pool.

Roman Pool

Roman Pool











This pool building was amazing!  The floors, walls and ceiling all covered with 1” tiles – mostly blue, but also in the shape of colorful sea creatures,


and mythical characters in tiles covered with 14K gold.

14karat gold floor tiles

This was the conclusion of our 1-1/2 hour tour, and we boarded a bus at the Roman Pool and rode back to the Visitor Center.

The Castle is an amazing property, and we were glad that we decided to visit.  The Hearst family still owns the property – raising cattle on the ranch,     DSC_0383









and utilizing the castle for birthdays, weddings and other family events – but they entered into a Conservancy Agreement with the state, which means that the property cannot be developed and that the state maintains it as a State Historic Site, and offers the tours of the castle.  It seems like a pretty good arrangement for everyone!


  1. Great tour and photos!! Can't imagine how beautiful it must be in person. Those were some cottages;o))

  2. amazing rooms and furnishings! that huge pool under the tennis courts is artwork all by itself, wonderful! Can you imagine the tradesmen and craftsmen that spent years building all of that? oh my!

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

    1. You're not kidding!! They showed some of that in the movie -- carting all the materials 5 miles UPhill to the job site! The craftsmanship was incredible!!


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