I literally cannot even begin to describe how whimsical, fun, aesthetic, kitschy, and magical this vintage roadside motel is! This charming Swiss-style honeymoon cottage is nestled in the hills of San Luis Obispo overlooking rolling hills filled with swirling ocean mist and sunshine, and is full of over 100 themed rooms bedecked with every accessory, lighting feature, and detail you could possibly think of. The two main restaurants are beyond delicious; the pork chops at the steakhouse were the first and only pork chops I’ve ever enjoyed, the Pink Champagne cake from the bakery is the best dessert I’ve ever had, and even dining by the pool is insanely elevated!
The hotel itself was built in the 1960s and just oozes retro charm! We expected it to be much farther from the main highway than it is, but when we rounded the bend into San Luis Obispo, there it was nestled at the foot of a series of rolling, grassy hills (the hotel even has its own exit named after it, so bonus points for being easy to find!).
The iconic neon sign rose up to greet us, providing a clue of the kitschy-ness to come. We found parking pretty easily in the lot near the main buildings (I will say, staying during the week made our whole trip quieter and much less crowded than it started to get when we left on Thursday, so I’d definitely recommend if you like some tranquility!) and checked in at the tiny front office tucked to the right of the old drive-through gates.
Just a little background on the inn: the Madonna Inn has 110 themed guest rooms, each with unique decor to match its theme. Rooms range from smaller layouts for couples to accommodations for several and some even have features like spiral staircases and waterfalls inside the room!
The room we chose was called the Love Nest (Room 183), and I must admit that our decision to visit during the week was entirely made on getting our room of choice as you book specifically which room you’d like, but availability can be tricky! (The Love Nest seems to be one of the more popular rooms and I’ve seen it pop up on countless bloggers’ feeds; see the photos below for a glimpse as to why!)
The Love Nest is located on the topmost floor of the topmost building on the property, so it can be a bit of a far walk, though there is parking around the back of the building with a bridge accessing the fourth floor, so you don’t have to go too far by foot if you don’t want to! When we got to the door, it was clear that the room themes inside extend to the outside (the door was pink with a cute little heart painted with the room name, and the outside light fixture was decorated with enamel-painted birds!), and even the rooms near us had their own unique doors!
I was so excited to see the room’s interior that I ran inside before my husband even got there, and I was immediately obsessed with EVERYTHING! The purple carpets, the spiral staircase leading up to a rainbow-glass-walled turret, the bird-and-branch light fixtures, the floral wallpaper and pink trim, the lavishly decorated bathroom; I just went crazy! It was everything I had seen on social media and even better!
Another thing that struck me about the room (and the hotel in general) was how clean and well-maintained everything seemed, despite the age of the property. I’m a self-proclaimed clean freak when it comes to lodgings; the first thing I do is check for bed bugs and other less-than-cleanly findings (a little obsessive, I know…)! I felt like the carpets, bed, and bathroom all looked and felt pretty fresh, and given that I didn’t really know what to expect from an older themed hotel, this was a pleasant surprise!
The one thing I will say, though, is late on our first night in the room, we had a little plumbing issue that wasn’t able to be fixed by the on-call maintenance staff, so we had to pack up and change rooms. But, understanding our excitement at having our specific room, the front desk offered to upgrade our room for the night free of charge (we got to choose which one out of what was available, too!) and let us return to our original early the next day. We chose American Home (Room 204), which is one of their Luxury Suites, and it even has an entire stone wall with a fireplace in it!
Even though I was disappointed at not being able to stay in our chosen room for a night, it was quickly forgotten! It was actually a great experience to stay in two separate rooms, and we got to see a lot more of what this themed hotel had to offer outside of just the most popular parts. Plus, the fireplace and soaking tub in American Home were just what we needed after a long drive up the coast! (And we got some great photos in the room too!)
On our first full day at the Madonna Inn, we explored the grounds, which definitely captured the “honeymoon hideaway” vibe perfectly! There’s a little Secret Garden, pink and blue tennis courts, a terrace pool with a gazebo and waterfall, horseback riding corral, outdoor lounge spots, and every building is trimmed with the same lacey white gingerbread-style railings reminiscent of an old-fashioned wedding cake.
The hubby had never been horseback riding before, so we had booked our spots for a one hour ride when we booked the room. The experience was so magical; the horses were sweet and easygoing, the guides were friendly and knowledgeable, and the scenery as we rode through the coastal California hills was breathtaking! I hadn’t been horseback riding since I was a kid, and it was so much fun to do a couple-y kind of activity like this together with the hubs!
Our next stop was the pool terrace for lunch. A short walk up from our building, the pool has one of the best views on the whole property, overlooking the valley and rolling hills below. There’s a bar at the pool featuring drinks and light food options, like salads and wraps, which was welcome after the busy morning we had! We lounged in the sun, took a few photos by the gazebo, and spent some much-needed time chatting.
After some relaxing pool time, we got dressed and headed for the famous pink tennis courts for a few photos and a quick game or two! We checked out the complementary racquets and balls (both of which were also pink!) and drove over to the courts near the entrance to the property.
With two busy work schedules, the hubby and I don’t often get to spend a lot of time playing sports just the two of us, so our tennis time was really special! There’s a basketball court (that’s also pink and blue!) right next to the tennis court, so it’s something else to do if tennis isn’t your thing! (Or, if you’re like us, we made tennis-basketball a thing and tried to shoot baskets with our racquets!)
After a whirlwind day, we spent the evening enjoying each other’s company and took a walk by the horse corrals to watch the sunset.
Even though the drive from San Diego to San Luis Obispo is quite the stretch given LA traffic and windy roads, it was so worth it to experience a classic piece of California at the Madonna Inn. We got to spend some quality time together as a couple, and reconnect like we were carefree newlyweds again! I’d definitely recommend the Madonna Inn as a fun weekend getaway that’s highly Instagrammable! Check out my tips below to make your stay all the more special…
Tips + Know Before You Go
Leave a comment below or shoot me an email if you have any questions about our stay here!!