I’ve wanted to visit Hearst Castle in California ever since Rhiannon of Liebemarlene Vintage did a series of lovely posts about her visits there. She posted first about her visit in 2010, then again recently in November, and on both counts she’s painted such a splendid portrait of the place as a paradise for Old Hollywood-philes that I’ve always hoped it would segue into a travel itinerary one day.
Conveniently, we’re on something of a family road trip through California right now, and Mother made sure we dropped into Hearst Castle on our way from LA to San Francisco. My dream has now been fulfilled, as we took the Grand Rooms tour this afternoon as we passed by, and what a splendid tour it was.
Before we even made it inside the fabulous Spanish villa built in the 20s, the natural beauty of the place was enough of an attraction. Hearst Castle is nestled atop a mountain and has sweeping views of the surrounding ranch that spans 86,000 acres, as well as of the Californian coastline. It’s pretty intense. I can see why William Randolf wanted to build his extravagant home here.
The house itself is a strange, claustrophobic piece of work, though no less lavish. With the architecture working around Hearst’s obscenely large collection of exotic objects and furniture, it felt like a weirdly homely museum. If I were one of the Old Hollywood film stars who partied there in the 20s and 30s, I imagine I’d have been a little afraid I’d spill my sherry and ruin a 17th century tapestry. Nevertheless, it seems they all had a pretty raucous time; the rooms were certainly well-appointed.
We saw the grand downstairs suites, but my favourite room was the theatre. I’ve always felt quite drawn to the opulence of old movie theatres, and this one was a rather magnificent specimen. A little show reel was shown with clips of guests spending time there back in the day, which was wonderfully interesting. Alas, I wish it were longer, but we did get some good glimpses of Charlie Chaplin, Marion Davies and co. Sigh!
After the tour we were allowed to roam around the grounds for awhile. They sort of resemble a Mediterranean village, what with the coastline in the distance, but according to the guide this was intentional.
You may notice I’m wearing an odd sort of pom-pom shawl. It’s something I managed to purchase in Morro Bay in the morning and decided to wear despite temperatures soaring into the 20s (California does a weird winter). The shawl is somewhat ridiculous, but I got a pleasant 1950s cape vibe from it. Father’s been calling me “Dracula”, and occasionally “Buffy”, because I suppose it is a little vampiric. Father had me pose in front of a sarcophagus for emphasis.
And here’s the outfit, sans cape:
I’m currently staying in Doris Day’s dog-friendly hotel in Carmel – more on this later. Until then, farewell!