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Inside The Madonna Inn, The Wildest Hotel In America

Updated October 13, 2018 11.3k views14 items

From the inns of Santa Barbara to The Fairmont in San Francisco, from the resorts of Calistoga to the Hotel del Coronado on the San Diego Bay, there is no shortage of unforgettable accommodations along the California coast. But arguably the wildest and most memorable place you could stay is the iconic Madonna Inn. Situated along the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo, the hotel offers outrageously one-of-a-kind lodgings – and unusual bathrooms – as you will soon discover on this list of fun facts about the Madonna Inn.

The brainchild of owners Alex and Phyllis Madonna (nope, the hotel is not an homage to the pop superstar) has been around since 1958. Most guests come to stay in the Madonna Inn's weirdest rooms, all outfitted in over-the-top design schemes. But the property also offers something rare in an age of cookie-cutter rooms and cold-cereal continental breakfasts: the Madonna Inn offers an experience. 

Read on for some interesting trivia and strange stories about the Madonna Inn.

  • Each Guestroom Has A Different Theme

    The Madonna Inn encompasses 110 guestrooms, and each one is decorated according to a different theme. The Madonnas spared no expense in the execution of their meticulously detailed rooms, and the themes serve as a wacky tribute to the kitsch of mid-century America.

    Among the most popular rooms are the Caveman, which looks like it's straight out of The Flintstones; the Jungle Rock, with vines growing from the ceiling; the Yahoo, offering a hearty dose of the Old West; the Old Mill, which includes a replica mill complete with moving figures; and rooms like the Love Nest and the Old-Fashioned Honeymoon, designed for romance.

  • The Public Men's Room Features A Rock Waterfall Urinal

    Photo: Rian Castillo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    You'll have to pay for a room to fully experience the kitsch at the Madonna Inn, but one of its biggest draws is open to the public: the men's room at the hotel's steakhouse, which has been nominated as one of the best restrooms in the US. Anyone can use the restroom, where the most notable feature is a rock waterfall urinal. The urinal is located at the base of a rock-covered wall. As you approach it, a sensor activates a waterfall that cascades down the wall while you go. It fits into a washroom that includes giant clamshell sinks.

    The public women's restroom, which has red leather stalls, pink marble sinks, and a chandelier, was nominated as well as one of America's best bathrooms too.

  • Pink Is The Inn's Signature Color

    Pink is everywhere at the Madonna Inn. Many of the guestrooms, public spaces, and onsite dining options are decked out in pink. The toilet paper in some of the bathrooms is pink, and even the tennis courts have a hot pink surface. For a long time famous pink champagne cake prepared in the kitchen was dyed pink. Unfortunately, changes to FDA regulations meant the inn had to stop using red dye.

    According to inn co-creator Phyllis Madonna, her husband Alex chose pink for the decor because he liked the red leather furnishings at fancy restaurants, but wanted to create something original, so he adopted crimson's lighter cousin.

  • The Dining Room Has A Balustrade From Hearst Castle

    Photo: Carol M. Highsmith / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    One of the first things guests notice about the Madonna Inn is the attention to detail. Everything, down to the smallest knickknack, is handcrafted. Take the balustrade in the hotel's Gold Rush Steakhouse, for example.

    This hand-carved specimen came from nearby Hearst Castle, the palatial estate once owned by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It's just one of countless items either harvested from the immediate vicinity or made by hand on the premises.