Madonna Inn

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Madonna Inn
Madonna Inn logo.png
Madonna Inn is located in California
Madonna Inn
Location in California
Madonna Inn is located in the United States
Madonna Inn
Madonna Inn (the United States)
General information
LocationUnited States
Address100 Madonna Road
San Luis Obispo, California
Coordinates35°16′03″N 120°40′29″W / 35.2675°N 120.67472°W / 35.2675; -120.67472Coordinates: 35°16′03″N 120°40′29″W / 35.2675°N 120.67472°W / 35.2675; -120.67472
OpeningDecember 1958
OwnerAlex Madonna and Phyllis Madonna
ManagementAlex Madonna and Phyllis Madonna
Technical details
Floor count1 x 2-story building
2 x 1-story buildings
Design and construction
DeveloperAlex Madonna and Phyllis Madonna
Other information
Number of rooms110
Number of suites28
Number of restaurantsMadonna Inn Bakery & Pastry Shop
Copper Café & Coffee Bar
Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steak House
Silver Bar Cocktail & Lounge

The Madonna Inn is a motel in San Luis Obispo, California. Opened for business in 1958, it quickly became a landmark on the Central Coast of California. It is noted for its unique decor, pink dining room, and themed rooms.[1] It was created by Alex Madonna, a successful construction magnate and entrepreneur (d. April 2004), and his wife Phyllis.[2] The inn includes a restaurant and bakery, and is located on the west side of US Route 101 and situated on the lower eastern portion of Cerro San Luis Obispo.


The property is adorned with a pseudo-Swiss-Alps exterior and lavish common rooms accented by pink roses, Western murals, and hammered copper. The predominant exterior color is pink, which extends to the lamp posts and trash cans.[3] Each of the 110 guest rooms and suites is uniquely designed and themed, though some tourists stop just to peek at the famous rock waterfall urinal located in the men's restroom,[1][4] a feature designed by Hollywood set designer Harvey Allen Warren.[citation needed]

The boulders used for the Inn weigh up to 209 short tons (190 t) for the exterior and 15 short tons (14 t) for the interior.[5] A 45 short tons (41 t) boulder is shared as a fireplace for the adjoining Madonna (#141) and Old World (#192) suites.[4]

In 1973, there were five buildings on the 1,500-acre (610 ha) site:

Buildings at Madonna Inn[6]
Name Image Guest rooms Features
Gas station Madonna 0070 (2838686284).jpg
Main complex Madonna inn (5642290062).jpg Lobby, registration, restaurants, and meeting spaces
Unit 1 14[a] Completed 1961. Rooms 101-115.
Unit 2 Madonna Inn (44464363211).jpg 14 Completed 1962. Rooms 116-129.
Hilltop MadonnaInnExt.jpg 82[b] Completed 1969. Rooms 130-218. Ranges in height from two to four storeys.
  1. ^ There is no room #113.
  2. ^ Room numbers 153, 154, 159, 170, 190, 199, 213 not used.

Aiming to cater to a range of tastes, rooms were given unusual names, amenities, and themes[7] such as "Yahoo" (#132), "Love Nest" (#183), "Old Mill" (#206), "Kona Rock" (#131), "Irish Hills" (#156), "Cloud Nine" (#161), "Just Heaven" (#184), "Hearts & Flowers" (#155), "Rock Bottom" (#143), "Austrian Suite" (#160), "Cabin Still" (#133), "Old World Suite" (#192), "Caveman Room" (#137), "Elegance" (#201), "Daisy Mae" (#138), "Safari Room" (#193), "Highway Suite" (#145), "Jungle Rock" (#139), "American Home" (#204), "Bridal Falls" (#140), and "the Carin" (#218). Some rooms are grouped in themes. For example, the rooms "Ren" (#167), "Dez" (#168), and "Vous" (#169) are a play on the French word rendezvous, and "Merry" (#164), "Go" (#165), and "Round" (#166), for an amusement park carousel. Most of the themes were conceived by Alex and Phyllis Madonna,[8] and some rooms were designed by Disney artist Alice Turney Williams.[9]


The Madonna Inn opened as a motel inn on December 24, 1958 upon the completion of its first twelve rooms.[2] The Madonnas were so excited to have their first guest, they refunded his $7 room rental.[4] Demand was sufficient to expand to forty rooms in 1959, and the Inn facility was constructed in 1960.[10] Reportedly, when the architect Richard Neutra stayed at the Inn, he asked Alex Madonna about the design: "Alex, you didn't have an architect here, did you? It's just as well you didn't because you couldn't have captured all the details if you had to draw them out. I don't know how you would draw these things and then accomplish them."[5]

While in San Luis Obispo, the Petruccis did a bit of splurging by staying at the Madonna Inn, which is one of the new tourist attractions in that coastal area. According to Mrs. Petrucci, "fabulous” is the word for it.

 — Penner Ewart, Dec 1963 article in Madera Tribune[11]

In May 1966, the Inn's original units were burned to the ground in a fire.[12][13] It reopened a year later, and by the end of the decade, all of the rooms had been rebuilt in manner for which they are known today. There are 110 rooms.

In 1975, critic Paul Goldberger wrote an article about the Madonna Inn for The New York Times, bringing it to national prominence.[8] By 1982, the Madonna Inn was already well-known, and Alex Madonna was 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."[14]

Hanna-Barbera Productions sued the Madonna Inn in 1983, alleging copyright infringement over the Inn's "Flintstone Room" (#139)[5] and its decorations, which included images of Fred and Wilma Flintstone and the exclamation "Yabba Dabba Doo".[15] Room #139 is now the "Jungle Rock" junior suite.[7] According to a 2013 interview with Clint Pearce, president of Madonna Enterprises, the "Caveman Room" (#137) was originally the "Flintstone Room".[16]

In popular culture[edit]


  • The "Rigoletto" segment of the movie Aria (1987) was shot around the hotel.[17]


  • A 1994 episode of The Simpsons entitled "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" features a hotel based on the Madonna Inn, which, among other similarities, also contains a Caveman Room.
  • In the season 14 episode of ABC's reality series The Bachelor that aired on January 25, 2010, pilot Jake Pavelka and the nine remaining women take a road trip up the California coast, visit the Oceano Dunes, and stay overnight at the Madonna Inn.[18]
  • In the season 5 episode of The Girls Next Door, "Happy Birthday, Anastasia", the girls take a road trip to the Madonna Inn. Featured in the episode are the Madonna Suite and the Old Mill room, as well as Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steakhouse.


Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Crowe, J.D. (May 5, 1996). "Our Night at Madonna's: No, not that Madonna. The Madonna Inn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Koppel, Lily (April 26, 2004). "Alex Madonna, 85, Creator of a Memorable and Colorful Inn". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  3. ^ Martinez, Carol (November 30, 1986). "Madonna Inn, the 'Poconos of the west,' is worth a look (or a". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Hilton, Spud (June 16, 2002). "Subtlety out the door at Madonna Inn / Over-the-top icon a perennial draw for honeymooners, fun-seekers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c as Telethon; Adler, Billy; Margolies, John (November 1973). "Roadside Mecca" (PDF). Progressive Architecture. LIV (11): 123–28.
  6. ^ "Madonna Inn Property and Room Map" (PDF). Madonna Inn. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Guestrooms and Suites". Madonna Inn. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Goldberger, Paul (August 21, 1975). "Madonna Inn — An Architectural Fantasy in Southern California". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2019. Alternate link to republished article
  9. ^ Hite, Rosemary (November 27, 1977). "Alice Turney Williams: Courage in Wonderland". San Bernardino Sun. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  10. ^ "History of the Madonna Inn". Madonna Inn. Archived from the original on September 25, 2010. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  11. ^ Ewart, Penner (December 6, 1963). "Howard Happenings". Madera Tribune. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  12. ^ "San Luis Obispo". Santa Cruz Sentinel. AP. May 27, 1966. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  13. ^ "Fire damages Inn". Santa Cruz Sentinel. AP. May 29, 1966. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  14. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (January 3, 1982). "California's Oddball Hotel". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  15. ^ "Flintstones go to court". UPI Archives. July 4, 1983. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  16. ^ Clint Pearce (August 5, 2013). "The Insane Theme Hotel". (Interview). Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  17. ^ Scott, Vernon (April 16, 1988). "10 top directors tackle opera". UPI Archives. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  18. ^ Strickland, Tonya (January 19, 2010). "Oceano Dunes, Madonna Inn featured in next week's episode of 'The Bachelor'". The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Retrieved August 25, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]