Hearst Castle Tour review
Big Sur, California, USA
Official site: http://hearstcastle.org/
Hearst Castle is a American National Historical Landmark and also a California Historical Landmark
It was built in 1920 and named after its owner, William Hearst – a newspaper magnate
The castle has hosted everyone from Churchill and Roosevelt to Charlie Chaplin and other Hollywood celebrities
Hearst castle is located almost midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles
The castle complex is spread over a gargantuan land area of more than 90000 sq ft.
We drove from Monterey (on the scenic pacific highway, it was a beautiful drive) and started our tour in the afternoon. We did the Grand Room Tour. There are about 4 – 5 types of tours, including an evening one in which the entire staff dresses in 1930’s attire. Our tour was recommended for first time visitors, so we decided to go for that option over others. The Grand Room Tour was roughly 1 hour in duration and included visits to the Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, Neptune Pool and Roman Pool. The cost of each ticket was $25 (or ₹1500), and it included a short 5 minute bus ride from the Visitor Center/ticketing area to the castle, which is up the hill from the ticket area (and also a bus ride back down the hill). The Visitor Center has small stalls selling snacks. The tour also includes a short movie which everyone views in a small theatre. The movie gives basic introductory information about Hearst Castle.
The tour itself was quite informative and, in a way, it makes you experience the opulence in which Mr. Hearst and his guests lived. There are interesting collections of things (everything from tapestry to wall tiles) from all around the world at the castle. The tour has a guide, who leads the tour participants around the castle. The guide is quite good at giving out information about every room/place, sometimes even sharing interesting stories about celebrities who visited the castle. There is so much history steeped in this place that you will like getting fed with all the information. Another thing to look out for is the architectural design of various parts of the castle. You will realize that something truly amazing can be created when you combine huge amount of wealth with a love for fine arts.
There was quite a bit of walking/standing involved during the tour, and you also have to climb steps in some places, so the tour may not be recommended for people with major arthritis or other knee/joint problems. Instead, people with those ailments can opt for an accessibility-friendly option of the tour.
One the way back to the visitor center, one can see animals grazing and walking on the grasslands. With the sun setting, and the pacific ocean in the background, it indeed was a picturesque and perfect ending to a memorable experience. The pictures below were taken while on tour.