Hearst Castle 3: Upstairs Tour

To catch you up to speed, check out:
Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens + Pools
Hearst Castle 2: Casa Grande

The next tour we took was the Upstairs Tour. This was where we heard some real dirt on William Hearst. Up until now everything we heard and saw (in a film about his life in the visitors center) left out big chunks of information. Like where he got his money (from his parents) and why he waited so long to build the house (because he had to wait until his mother died because she didn’t want him wasting her money)? Also, he’s married and has a mistress yet he doesn’t allow his guests to co-mingle at his home. There was a lot of glossed over topics in the presentation of the facts. In the upstairs tour, some of these topics were unavoidable and our tour guide give us the dirt we were looking for. It was excellent, and my favorite tour of the three.

The upstairs tour explored the guest rooms, Willam’s bedroom, his office, and more private quarters.

I really believe this house was built to show off Williams extensive ceiling collection. It’s just amazing how these came all the way from Europe in those days, came out to California and up this crazy hill (on horse-back?) and then were reassembled here. What a journey. Most humans don’t make a trek like that in their lifetime.

They had sample clothes laying out on the beds in the guest room to give you a feel of what a guest would have worn to dinner at the castle. In fall docents volunteer and dress in these clothes and walk around the castle playing the role as guests. This would be fun to see. My sister brought up the idea of a fundraising event for the castle: Murder Mystery Night. Genius.

William owned rare books. Very rare books.

Williams office. This is where he read the newspaper every day and redlined it.

I loved the windows on the upstairs level. I had fun taking photos of the shadows.

Up next, Hearst Castle 4: Guest Houses + Kitchen

Hearst Castle 2: Casa Grande

Catch-up to speed by readingĀ Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens and Pools.

The first tour we did was of the Casa Grande (aka, the big main house). Since these tours are pricy and people often just do one tour, this is the most popular tour they choose. Our group easily had 25 people in it. This tour was nice, but it left out the quirky William Hearst details that this house is screaming of. Thankfully, the upstairs tour and guest house tour filled in a lot of gaps for us.

It looks like a college campus or cathedral more so than a house.

How many people do you know who collect ceilings and walls from Europe?

Every room is covered with architectural details/artwork from Europe what an unusual collection. William ate dinner here with all of his guests. All guests were required to attend dinner at the same time here. Your seats were assigned based on how long you’ve stayed at the castle. New people sat in the center and guests who overstayed their welcome were pushed to the ends of the table. William would often select someone and say “entertain me”, and that guest was required to put on a one-person-show for William Hearst. It’s like people were his puppets. So strange.

Church right? Nope, dining room wall. Yeah, my dining room looks like this too.

The billiards room.

The above photo is a decorative ornamental column in the theater. This is where guests were required to watch a film every night at 11pm. You were not allowed to skip this. So unusual.

Next up, Hearst Castle 3: The Upstairs Tour.

Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens and Pools

A few weeks ago my parents came to visit, we packed up the car and road-tripped up north. First stop: Hearst Castle. Their entire visit is going to be broken down into a series of posts, because this is an excellent itinerary for anyone who has parents coming to visit so I have to share it.

If you’ve ever been to Hearst Castle, you know it’s a giant disneyland for photographers. Everywhere you turn, it’s another photo-taking opportunity. You start at the visitor’s center at the bottom of the hill. Once you get tour tickets (they offer 3 types of tours) you can take the bus up to the mansion. It’s a 10 minute ride narrated by Alex Trebeck. Once up there, you immediately take your tour and when that finishes you are free to explore the grounds. If you take an early morning tour, you can spend the rest of the day laying out by the pool.

Such beautiful architecture.

High on the mountain overlooking the ocean, this site is where William Hearst once camped as a boy.

Beautiful gardens, so well manicured, around every corner.

Above is the Neptune pool. How gorgeous is that? They have lounge seats all around the pool that they let visitors layout on. It’s the only chance to really feel what it would have been like to stay at the mansion in its heyday. While laying there, you can picture Clark Gable playing Marco-Polo with Charlie Chaplin.

Above is the Casa Grande exterior. This building is the largest, with 3 other guest houses on the property.

This is the Roman Pool. I remember seeing images of this as a kid and was awed getting to see it in person. It’s really something special.

When you’re ready to leave, you can catch one of the many buses on a constant loop to the castle. The ride down is full of great views. This is where William had his zoo. Occationally you can still catch a glimpse of animals. We got to see zebra!

Next up, Hearst Castle: The Casa Grande Tour.