Welcome to a “Rich Life Travels” post!
I am thrilled to finally tell you about our “Bill Turns 50 Trip” we took last month! It a two-week vacation and celebration – my husband’s birthday present – that began mid-June, just a few days before his actual birthday.
What my husband wanted most for his milestone birthday was to spend an extended amount of time either at the beach or by a fabulous pool – and relax! We decided to stay at a few places we’ve never been to before here in California that fit that bill.
We left for our trip a few days after his surprise birthday party. Driving rather than flying, we packed up his truck with plenty of sandals, shorts and swimsuits and headed south. Our first stop was Madonna Inn, about a five-hour drive from where we live in Sonoma Valley.
I first learned of Madonna Inn, located on the 101 in San Luis Obispo, when I moved to Northern California in the mid-1980s from Las Vegas to attend college in San Francisco.
I was instantly intrigued with its noticeable ornate pink and white façade. I knew that someday I would stay at this sprawling and showy iconic inn, I just didn’t know it would take 30 years to do it!
Madonna Inn has been a Central California landmark since it opened in 1958. Alex Madonna and his wife, Phyllis, designed and built a motor inn that would appeal to a variety of guests’ tastes. Each and every room is different and has its own whimsical theme. I could spend an entire day just looking at all 110 rooms!
With a restaurant and bakery that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, a steak house, bar, dance floor, wedding facilities and banquet rooms, shops, a pool and a spa, you won’t need to leave the inn’s property for any reason, except to sightsee around the Central Coast. Since we were only there for a short time, we decided to stay put and just enjoy Madonna Inn.
We arrived in the early evening and checked in at registration. The friendly woman helping us gave us a list of available room numbers and a binder full of photos to peruse. We took a seat and started paging through the book to pick out the room we wanted. It was not an easy decision! With each room being different, it took some time to decide on the right one for us.
We finally decided to stay in Cloud Nine, mostly because it looked like a large room with a high ceiling.
I loved our room. It was so fabulous with just the right amount of glitzy showiness I expected to find at Madonna Inn. Leopard-patterned chairs, glistening pale pink wallpaper with rhinestones, gold cherubs holding candelabras dangling from the ceiling and a bathroom that included a toilet with a variety of washing and drying options and a heated padded seat.
After we explored our room, we changed our clothes and headed down to the main area of the inn, past expansive fenced fields, for dinner and drinks.
What a kitschy place! I was instantly in love. Having grown up in Las Vegas in the 1970s and 80s, the Madonna Inn, in all its gaudy and fantastical glory, made me feel like a little girl again and brought back memories of having dinner in the casinos on the Vegas Strip with my parents.
We stopped at the bar to have a drink before dinner. We ordered a couple of martinis, which were the perfect choice in a place like the Madonna Inn, and boy, were they big!
Soon we were ready to eat and decided to try the Madonna Inn’s steak house, Gold Rush Steak House. What a thrill! We sat in a hot pink banquet seat and huge faux flowers and golden cherubs dotting the ceiling above us.
I wondered how Bill was taking all this pink girly-ness. Then I remembered he would soon be eating a steak and potato dinner and probably didn’t care!
Our meal was fantastic! Bill, who loves steak, said it was one of the best steaks he’s ever had. And I have to agree!
Although we had heard the cakes at Madonna Inn are not to be missed, we skipped dessert. We’re not really cake people and chose to go back to our room instead for a nice quiet night of sleep. The cakes sure are pretty to look at, though!
The next morning, we went for a brisk walk around the property to get a lay of the land and a little exercise. Once the thin layer of fog burned off, we changed into our suits and headed up the hill to the pool where we would spend most of the day.
The pool at Madonna Inn is an infinity style. It’s set at my ideal temperature: somewhere between warm bathwater and refreshingly cool.
They have a bar and pool café where you can purchase drinks and food to enjoy poolside.
They also have a spa, fitness center and boutique, in case you forgot to bring your swimsuit or yoga pants or just want to shop like I did.
There is a cute gazebo near the pool and a 45-foot waterfall that flows into a manmade lagoon below.
We had a wonderful day hanging out poolside. It was great to see my husband relax for a change!
When we selected our room the night we arrived, we considered choosing one of their famous cave rooms but none were available. We thought we’d check again the following day and, much to our delight, one was free! The staff was happy to switch us to our new room, Daisy Mae, named for a character from Lil’ Abner.
There was even a stained glass window depiction of Daisy Mae and little lights strung about with metal daisies.
Our cave room was wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor rock. Even the shower and sink were made of rock and not all of them were smooth, flat rocks either. We are talking caves here so the rocks jut out just as they would in nature.
I had Bill take a photo of me pretending to rock climb in my new yoga pants that I bought at the pool’s shop. I know it looks like I am climbing high on a wall, but the floor was maybe a foot below. Oh, the silly stuff you do while on vacation with no responsibilities!
Madonna Inn is not far from downtown San Luis Obispo. In fact you can walk or ride a bike from the property. We chose to stay put and will save visiting SLO for another time. Madonna Inn also offers horseback riding tours, which we may enjoy during our next visit.
I have to mention that Madonna Inn has a fantastic clothing boutique where I shopped more than once. I found some unique and reasonably priced pieces to bring home with me including the Double D Ranch vest I wore in this post and a few other things I will show you in a future post.
I love how ornate and colorful the Madonna Inn is. It makes me happy! And I have to add that it is an incredibly clean property. With all the decorations and knick-knacks, as well as the age of the place, I expected it to be a bit dusty but it was pristine!
I have already picked out the room I want to stay in next time we go to Madonna Inn, which very well may be this fall for my birthday!
Have you stayed at Madonna Inn? If so, which room did you stay in?
A quick reminder to put on your straw hat and take a photo for August’s How I Wear My: Straw Hat!
The deadline is August 3rd. Get all the details on the How I Wear My page.
Bill and I are off to a Dance Gala later today, part of the 10-day art, music, food and wine event, Festival del Sole in Napa Valley! This evening, after the performance, we will be attending a Festival del Sole after party at one of my very favorite wineries, Merryvale in St. Helena. Follow along on Instagram, if you’d like!
Make it a rich day!
Our stay at Madonna Inn was NOT a sponsored visit. I just love it so much I had to tell you all about it!