i had high expectations for the grandeur and beauty of hearst castle. and…my expectations were exceeded. i was blown away. the interior and the grounds were truly spectacular. william randolph hearst called his estate “la cuesta encantada,” and an enchanted hill it most certainly is. i really couldn’t believe it. we were in awe pretty much the whole afternoon.
we had to ride a shuttle bus to get from the visitor’s center at the base of the hill to the castle perched atop the ocean. in the 1920s and 30s, the hillside was occupied by all kinds of exotic animals (zebras! giraffes! even polar bears!) that hearst shipped in for the delight of his guests. as a boy, hearst camped atop this hill with his family. after collecting his fortune, he declared, “i would like to build something upon the hill at san simeon. i get tired of going up there and camping in tents. i'm getting a little too old for that. i'd like to get something that would be a little more comfortable.”
a little more comfortable, indeed! the estate was designed by architect julia morgan and grew to include over 100 rooms, a few guest “cottages,” tennis courts, an indoor and an outdoor pool, and lots of absolutely stunning gardens. hearst collected art and furniture from all over the world to decorate.
as we explored la cuesta encantada, kelsey remarked that she felt positively “drunk on beauty.” i agreed. and both of us took way too many pictures…
we took the “upstairs suite” tour and only saw a little slice of the grandeur – but it filled us right up! after the tour we wandered around the grounds and marveled in the sun.
we saw some of the bedrooms where hearst put up his guests (he could easily accommodate over 100 at at time). some of his friends included old movie actors and other high-profile names.
the library was fantastic. our tour guide told us that often hearst would clear out this room for parties, and lay out costumes for guests to put on as they arrived so they could all put on a play together.
the decor (including many of the ceilings and doors, etc.) is from all over the world. hearst had very eclectic style. i especially loved these lamps made of old gregorian chant music.
looking up was the best part. every room and even every connecting hallway had some spectacular ceiling.
we got to peek out on a couple of balconies. the views weren’t bad.
our favourite room was the gothic study.
i loved the little cottages even more than i loved the “casa grande.” they are just so pretty!
spring flowers were exploding everywhere and the citrus trees were heavy with fruit.
the “neptune pool” was definitely a highlight. it got so hot in the afternoon sun. so tempting to dive in!
and the last thing to see before hopping on the shuttle back down the hill is the indoor pool.
all that gold is 24 carat!
what a remarkable place! worth the drive a million fold. i can’t wait to go back!