Advertisement

If You Think This Motel Looks Fancy From The Outside, Wait Until You See The Rooms

Alex Madonna had a technicolor dream: in the middle of sleepy San Luis Obispo, bordering up against Laguna Lake, he built a motor lodge for couples to get away for the mundane and retreat to a Candyland-like escape of fantastic colors and whimsical decor. The dream began with a sketch on a napkin and on Christmas Eve of 1958, the Madonna Inn opened its gilded doors.


A Beautiful Mess

But tragedy struck eight years later with a hotel fire that took 12 of the opulent rooms. Nobody was hurt but guests lost their belongings and the motor lodge lost $200,000 in damages. As the flames licked away at his dream, Madonna picked up a fire hose himself and waged a valiant effort against the flames. 


San Luis Obispo Tribune

But the quirky hotel picked itself back up and soon was back, flashing its neon-pink sign over Highway 101. In total, the Madonna Inn has 109 rooms, each decorated in a uniquely vibrant scheme. 


Madonna Inn

The inn bursts with color, but it's the trademark pink that runs cohesively throughout. Madonna loved the color for its ability to relax travelers and inspire a romantic spirit.


Madonna Inn

The Madonna Inn has four areas for dining and nightlife. But it was the Gold Rush Steak House that was the favorite of Alex Madonna. He'd eat at his favorite pink and gold gilded booth and wander around the restaurant, checking on customers, romantically lit from hundreds of cherubs, pink roses and fairy lights draped overhead.


Wedding Spot

Many of the rooms emphasize romance, like this, the Anniversary Room.


Madonna Inn

Advertisement

Honeymoons are the prevailing theme of the Madonna Inn.


Madonna Inn

Or this, the Tall & Short, an esoteric room for couples with a significant height difference.


Madonna Inn

Need a break from the pink? Try the Bridal Falls, a relaxing room in emerald tones.


Madonna Inn

Conversely, if there is never enough pink and gold in your life, the Merry Room adds a hearty sprinkling of glitter, set off with chandelier-like wall sconces.


Flickr

Other rooms have a heavier hand in their themes, like the the Old Mill room.


Madonna Inn

Or the American Home room which makes some rather odd predictions about the USA homes of the future. (Cave-like flagstone fireplaces and stripes never really caught on.)


Madonna Inn

Couples live the dream of falling asleep on a horse-drawn carriage under the starry sky in the Yahoo room.


Madonna Inn

Rock Bottom is a hilarious name for this dungeon-like rock-covered room lit by Gothic candelabras.


Madonna Inn

Advertisement

For couples longing to return to the good old days, there's the Fabulous Fifties room.


Madonna Inn

Or if the good old days are really, really old, there's the Caveman room.


Madonna Inn

Some of the larger suites span over three stories, like the  western-themed Pick & Shovel room.


Madonna Inn

Or the celestial Just Heaven room with a spiral staircase leading to a tower for a view of the actual stars.


Madonna Inn

When you have 109 unique rooms, you're bound to have a few odds and ends leftover. So naturally, you combine them into the What's Left room.


Madonna Inn

Alex Madonna passed away in 2004 at the age of 85, but the psychedelic California landmark he created lives on. 


Uniq Hotels

And, gentlemen, should you pay a visit to the Madonna Inn, the waterfall urinal in the hotel lobby is something of a local legend.


Ken Rockwell

Who’s ready for a classic California vacation?


Luxury Travel Almanac

Trending Today: