Outrageous enough to be not only over the top, but halfway down the other side, the Madonna Inn is an iconic tribute to excess, pink flocking, and wonderfully bad taste. It has held court in San Luis Obispo since Christmas Eve, 1958, and has hosted more highly-floral pink themed weddings than anyplace I can name this side of Vegas. And probably a Drag Queen Funeral or two.
The history is amusing. Alex Madonna built the highway in this part of the state. One expects this was rather lucrative. It also allowed one to purchase land for a roadside motel with a fair degree of confidence that the highway would end up being located nearby.
The design theme is what one might call "Storybook Modern", although some contend that the word "Nightmare" should be inserted as well. Supposedly it was intended as a tax shelter, so he spent way too much money on woodcarvers, chandeliers, rock walls, and waterfall urinals. Imagine Black Forest Woodcarvers on acid. With a checkbook. And best of all, it's in remarkably original condition and painstakingly preserved.
Each room has its own theme, specific decor, and a name. Luck of the draw placed me in "Everything Nice". It featured think pink carpeting, pink sparkling flocked ceiling, floral Victorian settees and a rock wall. The bathroom featured pink marble and purple tile. A hand stenciled pink sink and built in wall mounted scale finished it off. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nice.
My travelling companion stayed in the Buffalo suite, reportedly with an authentic bison head on the wall. I must make clear that I did not visit that myself. On Saturday night, we dined in the shocking pink lava rock and giant faux floral steakhouse. It looked as it it had been designed by Anna Nicole Smith. Post Mortem. We watched straight couples dancing to big band sounds and imagined we were on a cruise ship- the S. S. Pepto Bismol.
An astonishing sight and one not to be missed. Weary travellers, meet the Madonna Inn:
More photos here: