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Summer Travel to Hearst Castle


The drive along the central California coast, winding in and out of fog leads to a fabulous destination in San Simeon: Hearst Castle.  This is a wonderful adventure young and old whether one’s interest lie in grand architecture, historical interiors, beautiful gardens, old Hollywood tidbits from the glamorous era.  For me, it is a great study in interior design principles and decoration, plus the tilework is fantastic.  Enjoy the details. The famous Neptune Pool with glorious tilework and marble antiquities.  Like the color?  It is all about the water depth against a white marble base.  Who knew?Details from one of the bell towers.

Yes I know the often “forgotten white ceiling” is one of my design pet peeves, like fingernails on a chalkboard.   Just try to imagine any of these rooms with a plain white ceiling.  They understood the importance of treating the ceiling equally as a wall.How about fabric covered walls?

Open shelving is nothing new, it was very efficient in a big kitchen.  I love the handpainted wall detail.Interesting tidbit: the set designers for the Harry Potter movies studied the dining hall in Hearst Castle for the great hall in Hogwarts.William Randolph Hearst was a designer’s dream as he worked year after year with his architect/designer Julia Morgan on the designs and furnishings of  what he called “La Cuesta Encantada” – The Enchanted Hill.  He made some of his own drawings, proposed changes and shopped the all-to-happy European homes and castles eager to get cash in exchange for historical artifacts and interiors.

Real gold with blue glass and ceramic tiles makes for quite a vision.

For all this opulence Mr. Hearst was a man who treated everyone equal.  His guests often waited after dinner to view a new movie in the theater because is would not start until the help was finished in the kitchen and they could enjoy the production as well.  (Not a characteristic of today’s nouveau riche.)

Currently there are three separate tours covering different areas of the house.  Thanks to California budget cuts (which I understand) the tours are shorter and cover less than they did when I visited a few years ago.  Of course I wanted a behind the scenes tour, which they used to offer but not any more.  I’d pay, just let me see the whole thing!  Regardless, Hearst Castle is a very enjoyable travel destination for the whole family.

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