Just before Christmas in 1958, twelve couples driving through California received an unusual Christmas gift. Independently of each other, they all spotted what seemed to be a new motel – the Madonna – and stopped to stay there for the night.

The next morning when they went to check out, their gift was revealed. There was no charge at all. Zero. That’s because they were the very first guests to stay in the Madonna Inn, just opened by husband and wife team, Alex and Phyllis Madonna. The inn quickly grew. Here’s what Alex had to say:

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.

With this in mind, the guest rooms are all decorated with different themes in mind. Public rooms are, let’s say, lively and a great deal of inspiration is taken from the rock formations of the nearby scenery.

The language on their website is as kitschy as the decor. Here’s an example:

Carin is a Swiss Expression for “endearment.” This enchanting room has been touched by angels in soft shades of pink to capture your heart. Follow your dreams to the top of a winding staircase to the entrance of this private 4th-floor room. Two private outdoor balconies welcome your arrival with soft breezes and heavenly views. Gold cherubs embrace the king bed and lovebirds adorn the bath with tile shower. Wrapped in affection, Carin is a perfect gift for all occasions.

All the rooms are individual and no two are remotely alike and just about all the colours of the rainbow are used – extensively – although you might notice a preponderance of pink.

There are loads of activities in and around the hotel and it has all the amenities you’d expect.

You can see more kitsch weirdness at the inn’s website and read reviews here.


The Madonna Inn

100 Madonna Rd,
San Luis Obispo,
CA 93405,




JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.

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