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Madonna Inn Review -- The Madonna Inn, A Romantic California Getaway

Updated on May 4, 2012

Blame It On The Girls Next Door

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I first got the idea for staying at the Madonna Inn while watching a rerun of The Girls Next Door, that reality show about Hugh Hefner's ex-girlfriends, Holly, Bridget and Kendra. The three took an all-girls' vacation with some of their Playboy friends and ended up staying at the Madonna Inn, this crazy resort hotel that has over 100 different theme rooms. I was intrigued -- especially by Kendra's room, which was called the Jungle Rock. It looked like the inside of a cave, complete with a rock wall. And there was also a rock wall waterfall shower! I just HAD to visit this place.

So when my husband and I planned a trip to California a few months ago, I suggested that we drive through the Central Coast and spend our second-to-last night in San Luis Obispo at the Madonna Inn. He was game. Usually, we stay at budget hotels, especially when we're on a road trip (in this case, we drove from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park and then back to L.A.), but we decided that it would be nice to have at least one romantic California getaway. After checking out all of the theme rooms on the Madonna Inn Web site, we chose the Misty Rock -- because it had that all-important waterfall shower and also, because one of our deceased cats was named Misty.

Madonna Inn Tour

Madonna Inn Jungle Rocks Room

They'll Be Coming Round The Mountains

After enjoying a week relaxing in Los Angeles and hiking around Yosemite, Sequoia and King's Canyon, we were all set to unwind at the Madonna Inn. However, it took us much longer to get there from Sequoia National Park than we'd anticipated. We began driving in the afternoon, figuring that we'd hit San Luis Obispo around dinner time. It ended up taking several hours simply to get out of the park, though -- mainly because we had to drive down a long, extremely steep mountain road -- and then later we stopped for dinner along the way. Once we finally got going, we discovered that the main road going toward the Madonna Inn went right through the mountains. Granted, the path wasn't anything like that road in Sequoia, but the highway was still winding and dark ... and then to top it off, there was a huge thunderstorm hovering above us. I wasn't sure that we'd make it to the Inn even in time to sleep, but my husband pressed on and kept driving through those mountains.

Finally, we came upon a more built-up area and right by the side of the highway, we saw the Madonna Inn. Actually, it was impossible to miss as the resort has a HUGE neon sign illuminating the sky like a light house. We happily pulled into the parking lot of the massive Victorian-looking hotel and eagerly went to check out the Misty Rock room.

Turns out, it was even better than it had looked in its photo! The entire back wall was adorned with a (fake) rock formation. The king-sized bed was covered with a thick, red, velvet blanket and the red, velvet lamp shades were adorned with beads and crystals. It kind of looked like a whore house from the Flinstones, but we liked it! Of course, I had to check out the waterfall shower, whichy also had  a rock facade. It was awesome! There was a regular jet on the shower so you could take a normal kind, but then there was a switch to turn on the waterfall ... it was definitely the BEST shower I have ever taken. 

The Madonna Suite

Exploring The Madonna Inn

The next morning, we finally got to see what San Luis Obispo actually looks like. We could now see those mountains that we'd driven over, and they were beautiful -- golden and rippling under a clear, blue sky.

After enjoying a soup and salad lunch at the Madonna Inn Copper Cafe, we walked along the hotel grounds. The place was gorgeous, with a spa and a huge pool that overlooks the mountains. Unfortunately, I didn't get  spa treatment this time around, but I will the next! I can't think of a more relaxing place to get a massage.

What we really wanted to see, though, were some more of the theme rooms. Because the place was fairly empty that day, one of the staffers was kind enough to show us a few, including the Krazy Dazy room, which looks like something out of the 1960s with big daisies painted on the walls; the Jungle Rock, which resembled ours (only ours was prettier, in my opinion); the Austrian Suite, which had a high ceiling and ornate furniture and the What's Left Room, which had a mishmash of colors, patterns and fabrics. All were nice, but if we stay there again, we'll definitely pick another rock room. Waterfall shower!

Madonna Inn Waterfall Urinal

Flushed With Excitement

That evening, we dined at the Gold Rush Steak House. Beware if you hate the color pink because the steak house is pink, pink, PINK everywhere. I thought it was pretty funny how there was all of this pink in a type of restaurant that's stereotypically thought of as "manly."

The menu declares that the steaks are "the best in the world" and they were indeed good. I enjoyed my lamb chops and my husband liked his pork tenderloin. However, what we really wanted to see that evening was the famed Madonna Inn urinal in the men's room. So after eating, we went to check this thing out. It was pretty cool -- it looked a lot like our rock shower, and I think that it's the only men's room I've ever been in that has a waterfall urinal. Still, I felt a little silly being in a men's room -- even if it did have a famous urinal in it.

Romantic Madonna Inn

We had a great time at the Madonna Inn and are glad that we splurged, though with rooms ranging from about $200-$400 a night, it's not that expensive as far as resorts go. Also, it was so much fun! I loved the beautiful grounds and the way that each room had its own personality. Staying in a place that has wonderful restaurants and lovely scenery is romantic enough, but with the theme rooms, guests can act out their fantasies. I mean, if you're into the whole Tarzan and Jane thing, why not go all out and stay in the Jungle Rock or Caveman rooms?!

What I really liked about the place was that it had so much personality. When I first saw those theme rooms featured on the Girls Next Door, I figured that it would be a fun, but tacky kind of place. Still, as kitschy as some of the rooms are, there is an elegance about the Madonna Inn, especially since the restaurants serve such upscale cuisine and the grounds are so well-kept. It's a fun and quirky place, but you don't feel as if you're staying in a cheap motel, either.

Even if you don't spend the night at the Madonna Inn, it's worth going to the steak house and worth seeing some rooms and that restroom. Hey, that waterfall urinal is famous!


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    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Delightful! I had my first honeymoon in a tree house - this cave thing sounds very memorable. Love the steak house idea. Thank yoU!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      I was there when the "girls" visited. They caused a 'stir" when they got on the dance floor! The rock are real. They were given to Alex Madonna to clear the land. Alex (dead) built freeways and hi-ways and was a General Contractor. He chose "pink" because that is the color his wife likes. She still comes in. Her daughter sang a few weeks back... I dance there most Thursdays and Fridays.. Great dance floor, and great band. Cal Poly students Sundays and Mondays show their stuff. They are outstanding dancers!


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