In his own lifetime, media mogul William Randolph Hearst typically referred to his California homestead as a ranch, but castle is an apt descriptor.
Construction began in 1919 and continued until 1947, a few years before Hearst’s death. In between, he regularly hosted celebrities and politicians – from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill – at the estate. Guests could roam the grounds during the day, taking a dip in one of the estate’s two gigantic pools or wandering through its private zoo, then the world’s largest. At night, they’d dine with Hearst in an ornately decorated dining hall, where he’d ply them with wine (even during the Prohibition) that he typically kept locked tight inside a subterranean vault.
Today’s revelers can explore the beautifully preserved grounds, pools and dining room as well – though, alas, the animals have left the zoo and wine is no longer part of the experience.