Everyone's dreamed of a private paradise, but the rich and powerful can actually create their hilltop Edens. William Randolph Hearst, early 20th-century media mogul, built his "castle" above a mellow stretch of Central California coast, equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Today a state park, Hearst's mountaintop estate draws droves of visitors from both metropolises and beyond. The surrounding coast, a marine preserve, provides seaside lodgings for every budget and scale of dream.
From the North: A Cliff-Top Inn in Southern Big Sur
From Northern Callfornia, many visitors arrive via Highway 1, two lanes hugging Big Sur's iconic cliffs. Ragged Point Inn overlooks sheer bluffs 15 miles north of Hearst Castle. High above crashing surf, lodge rooms and more private suites surround a spectacular, park-like setting. Paths and nooks nestle above sheer drops. While closer to San Simeon and Cambria than most Big Sur lodgings, Ragged Point also has a secluded, self-contained atmosphere, including gourmet restaurant, artisan shops and a trail to a private beach.
Near the Castle: An Affordable Option in San Simeon
Three miles south of Hearst Castle State Park, the lodging village at San Simeon exists to serve overnight visitors. Surrounded by the beaches and preserves of San Simeon State Park, lodgings and eateries hug frontage roads on both sides of Highway 1. Many offer massive weekday discounts, such as Silver Surf Motel. On the east side of the highway, comfortable rooms array around a hot tub and picnic-grounds setting of cypress and coastal pines. Restaurants are within an easy walk. Employees at the front desk can arrange tickets for you to visit Hearst's Castle.
Ocean-Side Lodgings in San Simeon
Just across the highway, Cavalier Resort offers more luxurious rooms with oceanfront rooms available "20 feet from where the land ends," according to the hotel's home page. Balconies overlook a wide lawn edging the surf. Family-oriented rooms surround the pool, and five rooms are fully handicapped accessible. Dine at the Cavalier Restaurant, walk to adjacent eateries or drive into nearby Cambria for multiple dining options.
From the South: Beachside Inns in Cambria
Southern California visitors approach the Hearst Castle area from Cambria, a coastal town famed for its walkable, art-colony vibe and many restaurants. Among many options, the three Cambria Inns hug the town's Moonstone Beach, close to town and a short drive to Hearst Castle. Dolphin Inn stands out as a romantic favorite; its intimate ocean-view suites overlook pounding surf. Family-friendly Sand Pebbles Inn, right on the beach boardwalk, offers rooms with partial or full ocean views, games and DVDs. Moonstone Cottages each offer sea views from a secluded cypress grove.
- Lonely Planet: California and Nevada
- Indoor Pool at Hearst Castle image by Sloguy from Fotolia.com