Sunday, August 5, 2012

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn, a motel located in San Luis Obispo, California, is a fun, romantic, quirky place worth exploring. 

My first visit to this marvelous inn was over 35 years ago. My husband was a graduate student in Los Angeles and on weekends we would drive around to see the sights in California. We were only daytime visitors back then but all these years I remembered the glitz of Madonna Inn.

When we had a recent trip to California, I was delighted when my husband agreed to make reservations for us to stay as guests for two nights. I studied Madonna Inn's web site and marveled over the room features grid.  This spreadsheet gives the price, bed type and amenities of  each of their 110 uniquely decorated rooms. Some of the rooms boast of rock rooms, waterfall  showersbalconies, European fixtures and rock fireplaces. I had my eye on some pretty spectacular offerings but we chose to settle into the Swiss Chalet for our two night visit. Alex Madonna, the creator of the Madonna Inn, had the dream of creating a hotel modeled after a Swiss Chalet so we were in a great room. I was thrilled with our experience. Below is a picture of the outside of our beautiful corner room.

Upon entering the room, we found a bottle of champagne with a huge helium balloon welcoming us and wishing us a Happy Anniversary. When we made our reservations we were asked if it was a special occasion. It was our 37th wedding anniversary celebration. We didn't realize they would be honoring our celebration throughout our stay. 

Madonna Inn first opened in December, 1958. It was created by Alex Madonna and his wife, Phyllis. Since pink is Phyllis Madonna's favorite color, it dominates much of the decor and furnishings at the Inn. In our room we found pink bath robes in the closet. A pink bow decorated our bottle of champagne and the ice bucket was, of course, pink. We had yet to see the pinkest part of Madonna Inn. 

For dinner we celebrated at the Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steak House. It was so very pink and sparkly my camera had a hard time focusing on the glitz.

At dinner our anniversary was once again acknowledged with a Happy Anniversary balloon at our table. For dinner we received a complimentary piece of their signature cream filled pink champagne cake.

Besides the balloon decorating our table, we had amethyst luster water goblets (for sale on their on-line order page), copper salt and pepper shakers, and a gilded candlestick holder. The antipasto plate was a delightful surprise. Every part of the meal experience was geared to pleasing us.  

The pastries are baked daily in their pastry shop which is next to the Copper Cafe. The signature cream filled pink champagne cake looks as impressive as it tastes.

We had breakfast in the Copper Cafe. It has elaborate woodcarvings and all the table tops are copper.  Pink sugar fills the shakers on every table.

For many tourists a must see at the Madonna Inn is the public men's restroom located in the basement of the main building. It's the famous rock waterfall urinal. I hear the water runs only upon it's use. I would have peeked in there myself but there was a constant line of men going in  because of a private party in the area. Instead I handed my camera to my husband and insisted on a picture. 

Even the sinks are impressive.

Since we're on bathrooms at the Madonna Inn here are a few more of the unusual ones they have.
This is the ladies room with a rock wall.

And a very pink bathroom in the lounge area.

This is our bathroom in the Swiss Chalet room.

Madonna Inn has lots of places to enjoy. Downstairs in the main building you can visit the Classic Gourmet and Wine Shop. Up a few stairs from the main floor is My Favorite Things Boutique. It is the ladies shop with designer styles in clothing and jewelry. The Madonna Inn Gift Store is full of unique gifts and souvenirs. One thing I found most intriguing was a book by Phyllis Madonna Madonna Inn, My Point of View. The price tag was a little steep for my budget so I didn't get to bring it home.  The Brass Tower Men's Clothing Store assures that the men aren't forgotten. They also have a spa, pool and fitness area, banquet facilities and the largest expo center on California's central coast. 

Everywhere you venture around the main building you will find large print carpet, woodworking, lights and lots of razzle dazzle in the decor. Above is my husband, Rex, on his way down to the wine cellar. Below is the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge, with lots of pink

At night the lighting accentuates the entire Madonna Inn, turning it into a beautiful evening resort.

Above is the registration building. Inside they have racks of post cards of every room. Each guest gets a free postcard of the room they are staying in.

The doors leading into the Copper Cafe are beautifully crafted with stain glass windows.

The water fountain outside the Copper Cafe and the night lighting make the area magical.

Additional rooms are located in these dazzling buildings.

The grounds outdoors are meticulously kept and add to the beauty of the Madonna Inn experience. Be sure to plan a stop on your next trip down Highway 101. It will most likely put a smile on your face. 


  1. Hi Rita,

    I am writing an article about the history of property tax and would like to use your photo of the Madonna Inn sign. The hotel was the subject of a property tax case in the 1970s and I want to use the photo to jazz up the article a bit. May I have permission to use it?


    Tim Wilmath
    Tampa, Florida

    1. Hi Tim,
      Thank you for reading my blog and asking permission for the use of the photo. Of course, I love to share with other writers so feel free to use any photos in this post. Please give photo credit to Rita Pilger.