Madonna Inn

I really only have two things to say about the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo: 1) the pictures don’t do it justice, and 2) I can’t wait for an excuse to go back.

Almost exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, where Routes 1 and 101 cross, it is the perfect stop on any trip between the two cities. While perhaps expensive for the area, you can find good deals by poking around the rates on their website. Regardless, you will get great value for your money.

When I first heard about this place—that it was kitschy, with every room having a different theme—I pictured a slightly seedy roadside inn, whose only value was the concept. What I found instead was an incredibly designed, completely modern hotel, with a friendly staff, excellent food, and fabulous rooms. Yes, it is completely kitschy, but in a good way. The closest I may get to a modern fairytale castle. If you want to get an idea of the variety of rooms, take a look at Caveman, Crazy Dazy, Vous, Wilhelm Tell, and, my personal favorite, San Francisco. There are over 100 different choices. And, while you can’t reserve a specific design, you can submit a request for any room that falls under the rate you have reserved. I submitted three choices within my rate block and got my top choice, Traveler’s Yacht.

I love nautical themes and immediately loved the room, which was quite large, with an extremely plush carpet that was a joy to walk on barefoot. The amount of detail and thought that must have gone into the room is truly incredible.

What really got me was the bathroom. I would kill for a bathroom like this, especially the tile, which was inset with anchors on the floor, and starfish and seahorses in the shower stall. Even the fixtures looked like little ship’s wheels.

I can’t wait to see what they have done with some of the other themes.

The restaurants are designed with similar elaborate care, especially the steakhouse. By the way, those banquettes you see in that picture are not red, they’re pink, the Madonna Inn’s signature color. Since I was there after they had begun putting up Christmas decorations, it was even more extravagant than usual. More importantly, although not a big steak eater, I must say that my rib-eye was delicious (the cocktails could be improved however).

Finally, don’t miss the men’s room urinal in the restaurant complex, complete with waterfall. Go ahead ladies, knock and take a peek. Everyone does.


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