Visit the Iconic Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo

Friday, June 21st, 2024

Madonna Inn

World-famous inn and steakhouse beckon visitors from near and far

Whether a first-time or repeat visitor to the iconic Madonna Inn, locals, and tourists are always in for a special treat. Located just off Highway 101 in beautiful San Luis Obispo, it’s the ideal place to stop for a meal, dessert, or to spend an enchanted night or two.

Nostalgia is the name of the game at Madonna Inn. From the first 12 rooms completed in 1958 by Alex and Phyllis Madonna, the unique style and ingenuity are reflected throughout the property.

“Over the years, guests share how much they enjoy experiencing that nostalgic feeling every time they come back,” says Madonna Inn marketing manager Amanda Rich. “It’s important for us to maintain the originality of this special place while also conducting continuous upgrades.”

This originality is evident throughout the entire 1500-acre property, whether stopping in for a slice of the Madonna’s world-famous Pink Champagne Cake, perusing the gift shops, or checking out the famous restrooms.

That’s correct – the main restrooms at Madonna Inn have a personality all their own. While the men’s features a waterfall urinal and clamshell sinks, the women’s exudes a feminine touch with pink sparkly wallpaper and leather interior. “It was an ongoing joke between the Madonnas, and he liked to remind her how famous that waterfall had become!” says Rich.

Family-run with unsurpassed hospitality

From the beginning of its “mom and pop” existence to now, the Madonna Inn has always been a family-run business. Their children – Cathie Twisselman, John Madonna, Karen Twisselman, and Connie Pearce – learned the importance of hard work from an early age. Pearce is currently the general manager. Her husband, Clint, manages the Madonna properties, and their daughter, Audrey, helps with marketing.

The family has been exceeding guest expectations when it comes to the hospitality factor for nearly seven decades. They welcome guests back year after year to their “home away from home” and help create special experiences and lasting memories.

Everyone is welcome to stop by and walk around, glimpse the European designs, ornate hand-carved woodwork, etched copper and brass adornments, and custom-made leaded glasswork and windows. The color pink, prevalent throughout the property, first took off with the design of the steakhouse booths.

“If you’re sitting in a pink booth, you can’t help but smile!” says Rich.

No two rooms are alike

Famous for its unique accommodations, the Madonna Inn boasts 110 themed guest rooms. Room requests tend to change depending on current events, according to Rich. For example, The Barbie Movie spurred an uptick in reservations for pink rooms including “Carin” with its pink, sparkly wallpaper, gold cherubs, and lovebirds adorning the bath.

The “Caveman” has been a favorite for decades, with animal prints, a rock ceiling and floor, and a waterfall shower. Rich favors the “Mini-Maxi” and its purple sparkly wallpaper, elaborate rock fireplace, cozy sitting area, and a rock shower. Mrs. Madonna’s favorite room is “Irish Hills”, a nod to her Irish heritage. This serene semi-suite is enchanting with a natural rock shower.

“As social media has evolved, people tend to want that crazy, colorful wallpaper,” says Rich. “Three of our rooms – ‘Merry, Go, and Round’ – fit those requests with their fun colorful designs and fun accents.”

dessert at Madonnal Inn

Exceptional dining, desserts, and dancing

The dining experiences at Madonna Inn keep locals and out-of-towners coming back for more. The friendly staff at the Copper Café serves up fresh comfort food daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Visit the Gold Rush Steak House in the evening for traditional steaks, seafood, chicken, and an extensive wine and dessert list.

The Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge is a cozy area for guests to enjoy cocktails, local wines and beers, and small bites. Desserts are made fresh daily at the Madonna Inn Bakery. Indulge in cookies, French and Danish pastries, pies, and the world-famous Pink Champagne Cake.

Five nights per week, enjoy live entertainment and dancing including Swing Night with big band music. A lineup of musicians, including the Frank Gary Band and Starlight Dream Band keep the dance floor and stage area hopping through the weekend.

Amenities, activities, and staycations

“Locals love the Madonna Inn for staycations because we have so much to offer right here on the property,” says Rich.

Open to the public, scenic mountainside horseback trail rides are offered daily, and hikers may enjoy views from the stunning hilltops and valleys. Take a stroll over to the tennis, basketball, or pickleball courts for practice or to challenge a partner.

Spa services, including massage and facials, are available by appointment. Hotel and day spa guests may enjoy the heated Terrace Pool, fitness room, and bar featuring small bites and signature cocktails. A Tesla charging station is situated at the front entrance, and the property is set to go fully solar by next year.

With three shops offering a selection of designer fashions, gourmet snacks, chocolates, local wine, souvenirs, and toys, the Madonna Inn is the perfect place to find that special gift. Be sure to add one of the famous custom-made, hand-poured Madonna Inn goblets to your basket.

Weddings and special events

When it comes to planning and carrying out unforgettable gatherings, the banquet and events team at Madonna Inn is unsurpassed. Whether it’s a wedding, meeting, retreat, or special event, the experienced and professional staff help with seamless planning to ensure unforgettable moments.

Venue spaces include the semi-private Balcony Room, the intimate Round Room, the elegant Garden Room, the charming Venetian Room, the enchanting outdoor Secret Garden, and an expansive dance floor. Madonna Meadows is ideal for larger events, vendor shows, beer festivals, and more, and the Expo Center is the largest indoor event facility on the Central Coast.

Visit today

“You don’t have to be staying overnight or having a meal here to enjoy our hospitality,” says Rich. “The kindness and heart of the Madonna family behind all of this makes it extra special. It’s a very unique place, and our goal is to take care of people and make them feel welcome.”

Stop by the iconic Madonna Inn, located just off Highway 101 at 100 Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo. For more information visit, call (805) 543-3000, or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

—Meagan Friberg

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