Our friends got married at the Madonna, in San Luis Obispo, a month ago. Wow, The Madonna Inn is a hard place to photograph. I think it lends to its specialness… The whole inn is so sprawling, twisting, multi-tiered, that it’s impossible to get a photo of the whole thing at once, unless taken from the air!
We left work on Friday at noon and made our way up to San Luis Obispo. There was a bit of traffic in Santa Barbara (which I hear is normal) but overall we made good time, especially considering the first night of a three-day weekend. We checked in while it was still light out and met up with a few friends in town for dinner and then made our way back to the hotel. One of the most fun and inspiring parts of the wedding weekend was the Friday night tour of rooms! Viewing the rooms on the Madonna Inn website is fun, but being inside them is so much different and awesome.
I am so glad that we were part of a large event because we got to see inside probably 10 or more rooms! Above, one of my favorites, the beautifully kitschy “Oriental Fantasy.” Many rooms had rough, dark rock walls and some even had rock showers! Below, the blue room is the famous circular “Voux” room.
We chose, in my opinion, the most striking (out of the cheap rooms), the Chestnut Foal. The paint was certainly green, the wallpaper- funny, and the light fixture was a show stopper! Oh yeah, and the bed was very comfy. An important factor in hotel choice, but here it pretty much becomes “a plus.”
Overall, the Inn seemed like a strange alternative universe. Sort of like a grown-up Disneyland. The exterior and interior were adorned with gingerbread trim and carved wood– details upon details! I didn’t have a chance to visit the pool or spa, but the breakfast cafe was underwhelming (yet packed full of guests). It’s worth noting that the wedding dinner was very delicious, much better than the on-site breakfast. It seems like the hotel is straddling the line between tourist-chic, luxury-aspirational, and nostalgic kitsch. It’s truly a one of a kind place, absolutely worth visiting.
I am so happy and grateful that our friends decided to have their special day at such a fun and unique place. There are so many cool places in California, let alone the whole US, that sometimes it takes a special event to bring you somewhere you otherwise wouldn’t know about. I would never have visited The Madonna otherwise, and now I am so glad I had the chance to do so!
Need a recommendation for where to stay? Check out my Your Turn section.