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“Tacky but fun”
Review of Madonna Inn

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Madonna Inn
Ranked #6 of 32 Hotels in San Luis Obispo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 2, 2008

My wife and I stayed here for one night recently on our honeymoon, while travelling up the California coast. We had researched the Madonna Inn online and picked out a few rooms we'd like to stay in. Calling the Inn directly was helpful since some of the rooms were already booked and it helped us narrow the options down quickly.

If you are thinking of staying here for just a night or two, embrace the tackiness. If you are not easily amused and like to take yourself seriously, or you want a real luxury experience, go somewhere else.

We stayed in the Swiss Rock room. The floor was all rock, and a little cold, but the room had its own heating/cooling unit. The bed was big and comfortable and the rock shower was a neat oddity. We had dinner in the Madonna's restuarant, the Steak House. The experience was equally as tacky, but the staff was great. Very friendly and accomodating, and they are clearly experienced with honeymooners and birthday parties. The food was good, but not excellent.

The highlights would have to be the pool area (on the side of the hill complete with rocky waterfall) and the inn's breakfast. The food at the Copper Cafe was excellent, though not provided with the room. All-in-all: tacky and cute, expensive for 3 stars, but worth a night or two.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank capu235
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,385 - 1,391 of 1,702 reviews

Reviewed October 23, 2008

I'd seen the rooms of the Madonna Inn on the Travel Channel so when my husband had a conference there I was excited. We had the What's Left room which is up on the third floor thru a back staircase. The room was spotless and the tile work is unbelievable since there were at least a dozen different patterns all meshed together. The carpet, drapes and wallpaper are all a hodgepodge of different colors while the painted walls were a bright cotton candy pink. We were assigned this room but when we go back I’d request a different themed room.

Outside of the hillside rooms are a patio with several tables and chairs to enjoy the weather, the pool is gorgeous with a rock waterfall and the outside architecture is whimsical.

They had a live band every night we were there playing everything from classics to country. Most of the dancers were in the 60+ range but it was wonderful to watch and wish I could dance like that. The bartenders are a bit reserved but the bar with pink and red vinyls and the gold cherubs are just hilarious. We enjoyed both restaurants and the cakes are to die for. If you look past the gilding the wood carving and masonry is just spectacular. She shows her age in places but the Madonna Inn has great bones.

If you are expecting the Ritz you will be disappointed, but if you want to embrace a kind of wacky-tackiness it is a very fun place to stay.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled on business
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2  Thank dawnid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2008

My husband and I booked a night in the "Cloud Nine" room for our anniversary trip up the coast. This is the first time either of us has stayed at this hotel. I heard mixed reviews from friends, ranging from it's tacky don't waste your money to you have to stay there at least once. We were a little skeptical, but ended up loving our stay! We loved the room, especially the heated toilet seat!! We ate in the Gold Rush Steak House and I swear it was the best tasting Filet Mignon we had! The next morning we got a couples massage and then had lunch in the cafe. We would definitely stay there again.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JKSBlove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2008

We landed in San Luis Obispo, tired after a delayed flight, called the motel asking if they had any rooms and they whizzed to the airport to pick us up! We were given a great choice of rooms, they're all so amazing it was difficult to decide. The front desk were very helpful and friendly, the room was fantastic but our favourite bit was lounging in the pool and hot tub in the sun.
We can highly recommend The Madonna Inn, it's absurd and brash but glorious with it! There is nothing dull about this motel! If you want a plain, straightforward room, don't stay here. If you want fun and colour, this is definitely the motel for you! Well worth splashing out.
Incidentally, San Luis Obispo is a great, fun stop off on the drive up or down the west coast, a buzzing college town, particularly on a Thursday night when they have a great farmer's market.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Beatentracks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2008

We didn't book ahead as I was worried that it might be a bit dingy. We just pitched up and fell in love with the Madonna Inn! We were offered a choice of 3 rooms and stayed in a lovely pink room with a green shag pile carpet and fabulous bathroom (the Tall & the Short). We loved it - especially the heated toilet seat!

We also encountered the frosty barman who was pretty rude when asked for a cocktail reccommendation - I thought he would be old school and would love nothing better than to flex his expertise but noooooo! However the staff were very attentive in the steak house and we realy enjoyed our meal - it was amazing. Also loved the pink honeymoon balloon and the complimentary dessert that we got when the waitress found out we were honeymooners! For us, the Madonna Inn was the perfect stay at the end of a gorgeous drive down the Big Sur and we had great time.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank BellaZaki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2008

Very disappointing. We had been recommended to try Madonna Inn by two different sources. The welcome at reception was cold; not helped by the "Photo ID and credit card No exceptions" sign in our faces at the desk. Little in the way of warmth from Norman Bates. This experience was repeated at the Bar a little later. The barman had a chip or some issue or perhaps simply did not like foreigners. This was our second last night in USA and everywhere up till then had been friendly so perhaps the suddent contrast gave it more edge. That said no-one seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Many looked as if they were out for what should be a treat but were wondering when the fun was going to start. I know the bizarrely decorated World Famous Steak House is intentionally over the top, but its faded glory gives it a creepy feeling - we were reminded of a funeral parlour. We were shown to a dark booth. The seat was so filthy with debris of bread and other food, it clearly had not been cleaned for some time. My girlfriend forbade me making a fuss about the filth but agreed we should ask to be moved to another table, pretending we wanted a view of the band. We ordered two ribeye steaks. They looked like good cuts of meat but were frankly ruined by the saturation of oak smoke or whatever smoked effect had been done to them. Again after having had some great food on holiday we found we could not eat these steaks and ended up leaving our plates scarcely touched and retreating to our room hungry. Our room was, however, clean and comfortable and huge. The view of three lane highways seemed, according to the hotel information, to be a highlight of the area. Never again.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Bilbo2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2008

The Madonna Inn is somewhere everyone should experience. We stayed twice in the space of a week during a trip driving up and down Highway 1 from Los Angeles.

On our first visit we stayed in the Highway Suite. My one piece of advice is simply do not book this room, especially not at the weekend. We stayed in the Highway suite, and here one uses the term suite loosely (it had a sofa, does this a suite make?), on Saturday 6 September. The main problem is the room has absolutely no sound proofing; we could hear every footstep outside the room and on the floor above. It was amazing that a room that contained so much rock seemed to have otherwise been constructed out of papier-mâché. I complained to security twice about the level of noise coming from the room above with little result. Finally, about forty five minutes later, security knocked on our door saying they had received a complaint about the noise! The carpet in the room felt most bizarre under foot, as though it had not been cleaned in too long, and the room had a dank, unclean smell to it. The bathroom was adequate but the heated toilet seat was somewhat unnecessary – even in such fantastical surroundings. To make matters worse the view directly down from our room was a skip.

It is of note that even following our complaints no apology was made or compensation offered. Even at such low prices courtesy goes a long way.

Our second visit saw us stay in the Madonna Suite. This represented a vast improvement over the Highway Suite. For a start it actually resembled a suite with a separate seating area and dining table. The sound proofing was also much better than in the Highway Suite – I was concerned as we were again staying at the weekend. Unfortunately the dank odour persisted; the lack of windows in the room, coupled with the rock walls, does not allow for much fresh air to flow. The room itself has to be seen to be believed, not necessarily in a good way but it is intriguing nonetheless. The carpet, bathroom and furniture are so outlandish that one can not help but be amused.

The Gold Rush Steak House, located on site, provides hearty fare at low prices. Fine dining it is not but good cuts of meat are well turned out and portions are incredibly generous. Service is informal and of a reasonably high standard. The ‘Filet Mignon and Australian Lobster’ is the Gold Rush at its best – good ingredients, simply turned out and allowed to speak for themselves. The wine list is poor given the locale, however, it is rescued by a half decent bottle of Wild Horse Pinot Noir. Again, the décor has to be witnessed, if only once, for it is beyond description.

To conclude, I can not help but recommend a visit to the Madonna Inn, I am sure there is nowhere else like it on earth, but I cannot recommend it as a hotel. Visit it with low expectations and a sense of humour and you will come away pleased. Visit it after a stay in top quality surroundings hoping for more of the same (we had just left the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles) and you will come back down to earth with a bump. However, for the price, around $300 a night for the Madonna Suite and much less for other rooms, it represents good value. When I next pass through San Louis Obispo I will be sure to visit – if only to prove to myself that I didn’t dream the entire experience.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BuryFoodLover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Madonna Inn

Address: 100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405-5489
Location: United States > California > San Luis Obispo County > San Luis Obispo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#5 Romantic Hotel in San Luis Obispo
#6 Family Hotel in San Luis Obispo
Price Range: $200 - $314 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Madonna Inn 3.5*
Number of rooms: 110
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Also Known As:
Madonna Hotel San Luis Obispo
Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo
Madonna San Luis Obispo

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