Opening the door, you are greeted by a floral carpet so brazen that even Dorothy Draper would be left speechless. Add a massive rock-hewn fireplace and vivid Pepto Bismol pink walls and ceilings and you immediately realize that this room is like no other.
I know, I know, your mind is reeling, isn't it? It's so over-the-top and, well...completely lacking in restraint of any kind. Perhaps it's hard for you to reconcile the self-professed aesthetic nature of my blog with this unbridled paean to kitschdom.
Here's the deal. What makes this place such a standout for me is its unwavering commitment to eccentricity. Designed in 1958 by owners Alex and Phyllis Madonna with the aim of creating a hotel that "was different from all others," the Madonna Inn is a true labor of love. No expenses were spared in its construction -- skilled artisans from Europe worked painstakingly alongside local craftsmen to create the couple's idiosyncratic vision of Disneyland on LSD. According to Americana expert Charles Phoenix, the handbuilt quality of the Madonna Inn makes it a unique complex that could never be duplicated today. "No one could afford to pay for all this detail today," he said.
I love that all the furnishings were hand-selected by Phyllis Madonna herself. If pressed, I'd describe her style as Tony Duquette meets "The Sopranos."
When Luca walked into the bathroom and saw the walk-in rock waterfall shower, he was done. Done. Within seconds, he was indulging in a lengthy sybaritic cleanse that did his Roman roots proud. We could barely get him out for dinner.
The sink is carved from a 200-ton boulder of native stone. Turn the knobs and you hear a tiny trickle up top. Within moments, a stream of water circles around and around the carving until it finally shoots out the gold faucet at the bottom.
Next time you're in California, do yourself a wonderful favor and stay here for a night. It's not too far from the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, so you can treat yourself to a classic double header of design decadence.