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.
After the movie, we boarded a bus to travel the 5-mile-long driveway up the “Enchanted Hill”.
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.
In addition to the main house (Casa Grande), there are three Guest Cottages on the property.
Construction on the castle started in the 1920s, and the cottages were decorated in the style of 1600s Europe.
Everything about them was elaborate . . . the rugs, the wall coverings, the furniture, and especially the ceilings,
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 -
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.
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.
Guests in this room had a great view, too!
Hearst was an avid collector of antiques, and the furniture in the house and cottages was a major part of the collection.
He was also a collector of religious artwork and artifacts, with examples on display in every room.
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.
The last rooms we toured were Hearst’s private quarters.
The final portion of our tour took us to the pools – the Neptune Pool outside on the patio,
(It’s kindof difficult to imagine it as a pool without any water -- it’s currently undergoing repairs to fix some leaks)
and inside, under the tennis courts, is the 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.
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.
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!