As we traveled from San Francisco on our way to Los Angeles, we passed by San Simeon to get to Hearst Castle.

The Hearst family’s outdoor swimming pool.

After a couple of wrong turns from the GPS, we finally arrived at the town of Cambria. One of the things I looked forward to when I heard we were going to America was that we were visiting the Hearst Castle. We settled on the first-timer’s experience tour (there are five in all) and proceeded to tour the grand 127 acre estate, which is in reality not a castle but a vacation house!

Lots and lots of orange trees.

Purposely built to face the sunset, Casa del Sol.

This tour centered on the guest houses for visitors. From the official site, there are actually 167 rooms in the entire estate but we only got to see four or five of them (which were already so grand).

Fascinated by how much detail you can put in ceiling panels.

Welcome Madam, this is your room.

A sort of study in the guest house with a portrait of some Hearst family member, I think.

The whole property is 250,000 acres but a small part of it was given to the government for tourism, and throughout the era land was sold and bought, sold and bought.

William Randolph Hearst’s big dreams and imagination, influenced from early travels to Europe with his mother, birthed this estate on top of The Enchanted Hill together with the hands and smarts of his architect Julia Morgan. The collaboration brought about a grand “castle” which is famous as one of the great showplaces in the world. In other words, products of the crazy extravagant rich that’s open to the public.

Hearst loved architecture and art.

From one of the guest houses, we proceeded to walk around the gardens leading to the main house or the “Casa Grande”. This is included in the third tour I think. So coming back next time is a definite go-go for me!

There’s something about the old style era architecture that really fascinates me! I love looking at these intricate patterns and complex designs. There’s always an age-old feel, as if I could feel the rich history suddenly coming to life before my very eyes. I always get to wonder about the people and thoughts that lived in places like these.

This is a sort of assembly/living room where Mr. Hearst would greet his visitors coming out from one of the hidden doors.

The dining hall where the relatives or visitors would be seated. Mr. Hearst would ask everyone how their day was at the castle and always made sure they had the most pleasant stay.
There were a lot of activities you could do in Hearst Castle–swim, play tennis or pool, watch movies, stroll around the gardens and the fields with the free roaming animals (like zebras!), ride horses or visit the private zoo. At one point, he owned polar bears! The guy really loved animals and people.

A small billiards area which lead to the room with a big old organ.

Mr. Hearst eventually had a very close-knit “companionship” with a beautiful show girl and actress, Marion Davies.
Her movies were shown here a lot in the theatre room.

Can anyone say indoor swimming pool? With real gold embedded in the floor tiles.
You can actually buy the scrapings at the gift shop.

See the small balcony-like thing in the second photo? That’s the pool’s diving platform. After the tour, we all rode the bus down the hill and watched a short documentary on Mr. Hearst’s life and the history of the castle. After that, I had to buy the DVD (so sue me)! It was really inspiring and well filmed. The man himself was quite the character. If you find yourself now a fan of the castle, maybe you’d want to watch [this] short promotional video.

And if you’re wondering about the Hearst family at this very age, a lot of them are still alive. Their corporation owns major publications and media channels in the US, a few popular magazines would be Cosmopolitan, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire and one very popular sports channel, ESPN.