Madonna Inn, California

This is Why You Should Stay at The Madonna Inn in California

The Madonna Inn in California is special and different, and definitely worth a visit. Here is our full review of our stay.

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On our trip to Southern California we decided to stay the night at The Madonna Inn near the Central Coast. We had stopped at the Madonna Inn many times on our previous road trips for restroom breaks and always thought that it would be fun to stay there someday.

From all the hotels we have stayed at, Madonna Inn is one of the most memorable one. There is just something different about it that makes it so fun. All of its kitschy, over the top and pink decor is what makes it so special.

We also found it to be very family friendly, and our kids had a great time there.

The Madonna Inn is located in San Louis Obispo right off the Highway 101. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Los Angeles and almost four from San Francisco. If you are driving up north, you can hop on the famous Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) over here. The closest beach town is called Pismo Beach.

Why is Madonna Inn Famous?

The Madonna Inn has been featured in many TV Shows and magazines as one the most unique hotels in California and even in the world. It is mostly famous for its pink, quirky decor and unique restrooms.

When it was first opened in 1958 by Alex Madonna, and his wife Phyllis, the goal was to offer people more than just a room. They wanted make the guests smile.

The motel became a success immediately. Already a year later they added more rooms to it, and the main building was finished in 1960.

Unfortunately, about six years later a fire burned down all the original rooms of the motel. Alex Madonna quickly rebuilt and gave each room a different theme. The goal was to offer people more than just a room: to make them smile.

Madonna Inn pink road side sign
Madonna Inn's decorative main door says; Welcome to Madonna Inn.
Madonna Inn main entrance has a decorative wooden door.
Madonna Inn building from outside is white and western style.

Many people stop at the Madonna Inn for a restroom break, since they have heard of their quite interesting restrooms. In the mens room they have a water fall urinal which has gotten a lot of publicity. It is located by the pink dining room of the steak house.

Don’t be surprised if you see some ladies coming out from the men’s room since they want to see it as well. I also sneaked in to get a photo for the blog. Psst! If you are a woman and want to see it, just make sure you ask someone coming out that there is no one else inside before you enter.

The ladies’ room is also worth checking out. It is completely pink with big chandeliers. The ladies’ room in the Copper Cafe is also unique.

Waterfall urinal at Madonna Inn famous men's room.
Ladies room at Madonna Inn is pink with big chandeliers.

I think it’s pretty rare for me to say to people: “Don’t forget to visit the restrooms when you go there!”, but when I hear someone stopping at the Madonna Inn, I definitely do that.

The Madonna Inn has been on TV shows like The Bachelor, The Simpsons and The Girls Next Door. Many music videos have also been filmed there including some for Roxette and Lady Antebellum

Alex Madonna died in 2004 but the family still owns the business, and it has only been growing. Different kinds of services have been added to the premises making Madonna Inn more of a resort than just a motel.

Rooms AT the MADONNA INN and our Experience

The Madonna Inn has 110 rooms in three separate buildings. They are all unique and they come with some cool themes like; Caveman, Romance, Old Fashioned Honeymoon, Antique Cars, Italy, San Francisco, Desert Sands, Golfer’s Room, Fabulous 50s, Hearts and Flowers, and Indian.

All the rooms have custom designer furniture that goes with the theme of the room. They also have bath-ropes and extra large pool towels. Some of the rooms also have cool waterfall showers.

We stayed in a room called China Flower and it had Asian decor all over. It had beautiful jade coloured wallpaper and lots of gold. Often times when something is kitschy it also looks cheap, but walking into this room was definitely “a wow moment” for us. We loved it!

Our room had two separate rooms with a king bed and a double bed, so it was perfect for a family. Also the bathroom was beautifully decorated with a double vanity. We especially loved the little soap cake at the bathroom with a reminder not to eat it. It was super cute!

China Flower room at Madonna Inn had a lot of gold and decorative details.
Blogger Paula in our room's bed at Madonna Inn in California.
Madonn Inn soap cake in bathroom of our room.
Madonna Inn pink key cards and the pink room directory folder in the room.

The room was very clean and spacious. The beds were comfortable and we had a great night sleep in this room. While traveling with kids we often carry some snacks with us so having a refrigerator in the room is a big plus. The only thing we really missed at our Madonna Inn room was a coffee maker.

In overall, we thought that the room was very nice and our stay at Madonna Inn was great. We could definitely see ourselves returning back someday if we are in the area.

Things to do at Madonna Inn and close by

The Madonna Inn offers a lot to do for its guests, it is not just a regular motel. First, you should walk around the premises and see what is there. Everything is very decorative and usually pink! Even the staff drives around in pink golf carts.

Pink golf carts for the staff at Madonna Inn in California.

They have two restaurants, a bar, a bakery and some shops. I think the most popular of the shops is their souvenir shop which sells almost anything you can think of with a Madonna Inn logo.

They also have a gourmet snack shop with wine and a fashion store.

We ate both dinner and breakfast at the Copper Cafe, but Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House is really worth seeing too. The steak house decor is so over the top and kitschy, but at the same time it’s kind of cool. They also have live music every day.

We really wanted to try it out for dinner, but the menu at the Copper Cafe seemed more suitable for families with kids.

Food portion at the Copper Cafe at Madonna Inn.
Copper Cafe
Blogger Paula sitting at the pink bar in Madonna Inn in California.
Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge
Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House with pink leather seats
Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House

The latest improvement for the resort is their Spa section which includes everything from a pool to a gym, and massage services. And what would be a better way to relax on a warm day than by the pool!

A decorative, white gate at Madonna Inn in California.
Pool area at Madonna Inn in California.

Make sure you also check out the Secret Garden where you can enjoy flowers, play outdoor games or just relax. Down from the garden lies two pink tennis courts and some basket ball hoops.

A horse ranch next to the Madonna Inn offers trail rides or if you are into hiking there are some nice trails just two minutes away from the hotel. Here are our tips to hiking with kids.

Guests can also borrow some pink bicycles to go for a ride. There is so much to do at Madonna Inn!

And if that wasn’t enough, just note that while staying in the Madonna Inn you are actually quite close to the wineries in Paso Robles and the beautiful scenery of Pacific Coast Highway. You can drive to Pismo Beach in 15 minutes and to Morro Bay in half an hour. Hearst Castle is amazing and it is only an hour drive away.

There are also many guided tours in the area that you can find from here:

And if you are heading to Los Angeles Area from the Madonna Inn there is another fun place to stay at right by the Route66. The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino offers rooms that are shaped like tee-pees. We stayed in a wigwam motel in Arizona and our kids loved it!

Very close to the Wigwam Motel is also the First Original McDonald’s Museum which is interesting to visit. And if you loved the kitschy side of Madonna Inn, you will probably also love driving through a donut hole in La Puente.


What do you think? Would like to stay at the Madonna Inn or would you stop along the way to see it?

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If you want to see more of what the Madonna Inn looks like, check out my Instagram profile @paulagaston.  You can find some videos from our stay under the Highlights.

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  1. Madonna Inn looks quite a fun and quirky place to stay with its interesting interiors. It’s nice to know how the family grew its business through out the years since 1958. And the best part is how each room has a different theme and the restrooms are uniquely built on genders with chandelier and waterfall.

  2. Somehow Madonna Inn reminded me of motels along Route 66, or from that era. I think it’s because of the color choices and the interior. I’m not sure if I want to spend a night there, but I would like to use the restroom and sneak into the men’s restroom. Lunch at the Copper Cafe sounds good, too.

    1. I don’t think the motels at Route 66 are this nice. What I have seen they are pretty ran down but Madonna Inn is actually a great hotel.

  3. I was not sure what to expect when I saw the name “Madonna Inn” – was it religiously themed or a tribute to the singer? It sure looks like a quirky spot. Great that the family has continued to add onto the business with new services. It looks like there is something for the whole family. Although I might get tired of the colour pink by the time I left.

    1. I think it was perfect for families but it could also be a great place for a trip with friends. Especially since they have the spa and other activities, it would make a great girls trip for example.

  4. I would love to stay at the Madonna Inn. I love that the rooms are personalised and you can pick a theme. Your room was huuuge, definitely plenty of space for a family to sleep there. I am intrigued by the Asian decor, and I don’t really know what to think about it. But it’s all part of the fun I guess. It’s great that the motel has a spa as well, with an outdoors pool where you can relax after a day of visiting. Those bathroom are definitely a good reason to stop here for a toilet break. How unique!

  5. I really like unique hotels like this one. Each room with a different theme? I like that! The decor at Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House might be kitschy but I love it! It’s so cool. Its location is perfect and I can understand why you say it’s more of a resort than a motel. I love how Golden & Floral your China room looks. I like how their website shows the interiors of each room and you can book a specific room! That’s awesome.

    1. Yes, you can choose which room to stay at and see them all at their website. We booked ours very late so we couldn’t really choose as most bigger rooms were taken already.

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