Friday, February 10, 2012


           Most residents of California are familiar with one of our most treasured landmarks on the Central Coast of California.  I am not referring to the Hearst Castle, (although it is in close proximity) but rather to the unique and magnificent Madonna Inn.
            The Madonna Inn is a lavish resort that opened in San Luis Obispo, California in 1958.  The Inn was the brainstorm of successful construction magnate and entrepreneur, Alex Madonna and his wife, Phyllis.
            Located on the west side of US Route 101, the property is adorned with pseudo-Swiss-Alps exterior and lavish common rooms accented by pink roses, Western murals, and hammered copper.  Each of the 109 guest rooms and suites is uniquely designed and themed aimed to appeal to a variety of tastes. A few of the rooms have names such as: the Yahoo, Love Nest, Old Mill, Kona Rock, Irish Hills, Cloud Nine, Just Heaven, Hearts & Flowers, Rock Bottom, Austrian Suite, Cabin Still, Old World Suite, Caveman Room, Elegance, Daisy Mae, Safari Room, Highway Suite, Jungle Rock, American Home, Bridal Falls and the Carin.
            The inn opened with just twelve rooms in 1958 but expanded, due to popular demand, to forty during 1959. In 1966, the Inn's original units were burned to the ground in a dramatic fire. It reopened a year later, and by the end of the decade, all of the rooms had been rebuilt in the over the top manner they are known for today.
            I stayed at the Madonna Inn for the first time while on my honeymoon (Cupid Room) and was struck by how it seemed to be caught in somewhat of a time limbo. My husband and I ate in a mid century style dining room and danced to a big band. This feeling was reinforced when we returned many years later as a family. My son came to the room with a slice of cake he had purchased from the bakery: a gigantic, pink-frosted, June Cleaver type affair.  (He was also very impressed by the waterfall urinal located in the men's washroom, a feature designed by Hollywood set designer Harvey Allen Warren.)
            Reservations are sometimes hard to get and rooms book up quickly so whether you’d like to make this part of a planned trip along the coast or a weekend getaway, call way in advance.
            Alex’s son Jack was once quoted as saying, "Anybody can build one room and a thousand like it. It's more economical. Most places try to give you as little as possible. I try to give people a decent place to stay where they receive more than they are entitled to for what they're paying. I want people to come in with a smile and leave with a smile. It's fun."

Have a great weekend and thank you for traveling this week along Rhodes Less Traveled,


1 comment:

  1. Austin and I will be taking our third annual valentines day trip to the Madonna Inn next weekend, staying in the starlite room. We too have danced and dined there and enjoyed every minute (pink cake and restrooms are highlights, as is the pool) Love this post!