The Madonna Inn is a motel of flamboyant style in San Luis Obispo, California. Opened for business since 1958, the motel was the creation of Alex Madonna, who died in April 2004, and his wife Phyllis. The motel is a monument of unremitting kitsch, with a Swiss-Alp exterior and lavish pink common rooms. Each room in the Madonna Inn is uniquely designed and themed. Its rock waterfall urinal is a fixture along California's Central Coast and many tourists come to visit, to the embarrassment of males who genuinely need to use the facilities.
In 1966, the motel's original units were burned to the ground in a dramatic fire. It was reopened a year later and by the end of the decade all of the present rooms as they are known today had been rebuilt in all their luridness. There are 109 rooms.
In the 1970s, the Inn came to represent all the most grotesque aspects of development for the environmentalists.
Back in 1982, the Madonna Inn was already world-renowned and the New York Times interviewed Madonna about his eponymous creation. "Anybody can build one room and a thousand like it," he defended with pride. "I want people to come in with a smile and leave with a smile. It's fun. What fun do you think Paul Getty got out of his life."
The Inn featured in Umberto Eco's book Travels in Hyperreality (1991). According to Eco, "The poor words with which natural human speech is provided, cannot suffice to describe the Madonna Inn...Let's say that Albert Speer, while leafing through a book on Gaudi, swallowed an overgenerous dose of LSD and began to build a nuptial catacomb for Liza Minnelli."
Madonna made sure to cater to all ranges of tastes and included rooms with such unusual names as the Yahoo, Love Nest, the sets Ren, Dez, and Vous and Merry, Go, Round, Old Mill, Kona Rock, Irish Hills, Cloud Nine, Just Heaven, Hearts & Flowers, Rock Bottom, Austrian Suite, Cabin Still, Old World Suite, Caveman Room, Elegance, Daisy Mae, Safari Room, Highway Suite, Jungle Rock, American Home, Bridal Falls and the Carin.