Fantasyland: Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA

Approximately a 4 minute read

San Luis Obispo (SLO) and the Madonna Inn, especially, are wonderful destinations for a three day weekend if you’re in California. Located in the Central Coast region, about halfway between LA and San Fransisco, it’s an easy drive. We left work on Friday at noon (sneaking out of the city before rush hour makes all the difference) and made it to the Madonna while it was still light out. There was a bit of traffic in Santa Barbara (which I hear is normal) but overall we made good time, especially considering that traffic on first night of a Memorial Day weekend can be quite demanding.

Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo
Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

Wow, 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! Ah, so this is why bloggers buy drones… #outofmybudget

Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo
Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

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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! Each room is decorated with a different theme. The themes go from golf, to caveman, to glitter (it’s a theme, trust me). I didn’t have a chance to use the pool or spa, but they looked very lovely. The pink and blue tennis courts are perfect blogger eye candy, and I’m sure useful if you know how to swing a racquet. The breakfast cafe was underwhelming (yet packed full of guests). 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, all while leaning heavily toward nostalgic kitsch. It’s truly a one of a kind place, absolutely worth visiting.

Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

Our friends got married at The Madonna a couple years ago, and that is when I had the opportunity to stay there with my husband and a bunch of people in our friend group, which made it extra exciting. One of the most fun and inspiring parts of the wedding weekend was the Friday night tour of rooms! Viewing the rooms on Madonna Inn website is fun, but being inside them is so much different and awesome.

Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

I am so glad that we were part of a large event because we got to see inside 10 or more rooms! Above, one of my favorites, the beautifully kitschy (unfortunately named) “Oriental Fantasy.” Many rooms had rough, dark rock walls and some even had rock showers! Below, the blue room is the famous circular “Vous” room, complete with round bed! As I mentioned, the tour of rooms was at night and the photos reflect that. Check out this fun post by A Beautiful Mess for more shots, and see each room on Madonna Inn’s website.

Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

We chose the most striking (in my opinion) out of the cheaper rooms, the Chestnut Foal. The paint was bright green and the room featured funny tan equestrian wallpaper. The light fixture was a show stopper! Oh yeah, and the bed was very comfy. An important factor in any hotel choice, but here it pretty much just becomes “a plus.”

Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

I am so 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. Otherwise, I would never have visited Madonna Inn, and I’m so glad I had the chance!

Book your stay at Madonna Inn now! (affiliate)

The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo
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100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

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All photos by Staci Jackson. This post originally appeared on My Friend Staci.


Staci blogs about travel at


2 Responses

  1. OKAY! So I went through all of the rooms on the Madonna website… THERE ARE SO MANY!! I thought I would most want to stay in one of the rock rooms but I surprised myself. I can’t decide between Merry (all pink glitter walls) or Starlite (all baby blue velvet everything).

    • Glitter forever. Our friends stayed in Barrel of Fun and we had so much fun getting ready for the wedding and taking selfies in front of the gold glitter wall.

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