On a recent trip to Los Angeles, the Madonna Inn was top of my list of California landmarks to visit. The phrases, “themed rooms”, “everything is pink”, “champagne cake” and “top 10 bathroom in the world to visit” kept cropping up and I knew I had to see the Madonna Inn for myself. (….also that Katy Perry has dinner there.) Notably, earlier this year the L.A times voted the Madonna Inn one of 10 places to see in 2013.
The Madonna Inn opened in the late 1950’s with 12 rooms, and that distinctive Swiss Alps exterior, quickly became a great success and those themed rooms kept coming. If you’re wondering about the name, the inn was built by Alex and Phyllis Madonna, a husband and wife dreamteam. Over the years the inn has grown to 101 rooms – each with their own theme, and names like, “Barrel of Fun”, “Caveman”, “Irish Hills”, “Whispering Hills”. The beauty of it is you can book your room to have certain features, if you want to have a fireplace or balcony for example, but you really don’t know which room you’ll end up staying in. Though perhaps allowances are made for celebrity guests such as Dolly Parton and Katy Perry (who totally match the interior by the way). The old-school celebrity guest list is huge, everyone from John Wayne, Betty White and Lucille Ball have basked in the pink glow of the Madonna Inn.
Let’s get to that interior decoration shall we? Imagine if you will, a restaurant decked out in roomy pink leather booths, with gold trimming, why not. Giant glinting cherubs and a sky of twinkling fairy lights keep you gazing upwards, agog at all the details. Huge iridescent glass goblets adorn the tables (which you can also buy as souvenirs). Yes, that is pink sugar for your coffee, and even going to the bathroom is an experience. The men’s bathroom has a notable feature which gets it on a lot of “top 10” lists…let’s just say it’s a fountain of joy – it helps if you have a friend who’s willing to cover for you so you can take a peek (thanks Dominic).
Not only inside, but out too, there are pink accents everywhere: pink golf carts, pink lampposts, pink blooms adorning pathways.
My amazing room was “American Home”, a rustic pad with two huge beds, a couch which made even my tall self feel small, and just gorgeous details everywhere, I wanted to pack up the bathroom sink and take it home with me. I could click the fireplace on and off with a switch, and one whole wall of my room was a gigantic cavelike slab of stone.
Aside from the glorious kitschiness, at the Madonna Inn they’ll keep you well fed and watered, and never bored too. You can go for a horseback trail ride, hit the gym, and the hillside pool has an amazing view with winding paths leading the way, the scent of fragrant herb gardens wafting by. It’s easy to forget that you’re just off Route 101.
And don’t miss having the pink champagne cake. A few days after my stay at the Madonna, I was now in San Francisco and taking the scenic route back to Los Angeles by car. As we approached L.A after a slightly hellish 12 hour trip (the views along Route 1 were amazing: elephant seals, Point Lobos – the aggressive drivers on the winding roads were not) I proclaimed that we must save the day by having dinner at the Madonna Inn. I will never forget the smiles all round as we tucked in to a shared plate of pink champagne cake, everything was going to be just fine.
I took the train from L.A to San Luis Obispo to get to the Madonna, and the luck of the draw, sitting beside me was a very charming lady named Grace, who it turned out had spent her honeymoon at the Madonna Inn in the ‘70’s, and has celebrated her wedding anniversary every year there since. It’s the kind of place that people keep coming back to to celebrate important times in their lives, and is a great spot to spoil yourself for a night while travelling, or stopping by to break up a long journey on the road as we did. Or checking out the men’s bathroom…
*guest post by Elizabeth Rushe