This Summer, Attend California’s Most Exclusive Pool Party

Hearst Castle is opening up its famous Neptune Pool for a few days only.

This Summer, Attend California’s Most Exclusive Pool Party

The Neptune Pool reopened in 2018 after a multi-year renovation.

Photo by AZP Worldwide/Shutterstock

As much as we love swimming at our local YMCA, it pales in comparison to practicing our backstroke in a historic pool frequented by everyone from business magnate Howard Hughes to actress Joan Crawford—and this summer, it’s actually a possibility.

Starting in July, the San Simeon–based Hearst Castle will open its Neptune Pool to the public, hosting four exclusive parties with no more than 40 attendees at each. Designed by architect Julia Morgan in three iterations between 1924 and 1936, the Neptune Pool today is 104 feet long, 58 feet wide, and 95 feet wide at the alcove; it holds 345,000 gallons of water. But it isn’t really about the numbers: Inspired by Italian villas, the pool is known for its exquisite design, with 20,000 marble tiles and poolside sculptures from Parisian artist Charles-Georges Cassou, commissioned by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst in 1930.

That the nearly 90-year-old pool is accessible to visitors at all is a big deal: In 2014, it was drained to fix cracks that caused the pool to leak around 5,000 gallons of water a day. (Lady Gaga controversially had the pool refilled for her “G.U.Y.” music video that same year but gave a large donation to the estate, according to the New York Times.) In 2018, the pool reopened after five years and $5.4 million in repairs.

Hearst Castle’s Roman Pool is also open for swimming twice this summer, albeit just for current members and auction-winners only. Modeled after ancient Roman bathhouses and also designed by Morgan, the pool is covered in top-to-bottom tile and surrounded by eight marble statues of ancient Greek and Roman gods.

The Roman Pool is also open for select dates this summer.

The Roman Pool is also open for select dates this summer.

Photo by gnohz/

To attend either swim, you’ve got to book online. Tickets for Hearst Castle members are $950 and will run you a cool $1,250 for nonmembers. Most dates are on sale July 1, with tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. Below, you can find the dates for each pool: Neptune Pool

Saturday, July 6: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 3: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 24: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 21: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Roman Pool

Saturday, July 20: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 19: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Can’t make it to California this summer? We’ve got you covered: Other pools on our summer swim list include the rooftop infinity pool at the remodeled TWA Hotel at JFK Airport (yes, really) and a splash-between-rooms retreat at Punta Caliza in Isla Holbox.

>>Next: Everything San Simeon, California, Has to Offer

Katherine LaGrave is a deputy editor at AFAR focused on features and essays.
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