What Happens When 2 L.A. Babes Make a Break for the Legendary Madonna Inn
Located north of Los Angeles in San Luis Obispo, California, the Madonna Inn is a local landmark with a historic pedigree to match its iconic name. It was founded in 1958 by Alex Madonna, a big-dreaming entrepreneur who’d made his fortune in construction. The inn, technically a “motel” (though, trust, it’s like no motel you’ve ever seen), is visible from U.S. 101—and maybe from space. The New York Times once called it the “dizzying blend of a Swiss Alpine village, an ice cream pie, and Disneyland.” With turrets and whimsical fretwork backed up to a sun-bleached hill, the property is a fantasyland holding Barbie-pink tennis courts, a waterfall-backed pool, an entirely pink-washed (and very jazzy) cocktail lounge and restaurant, a cafe-slash-coffee-shop that serves water in “crystal” goblets, and 110 wildly themed rooms with kooky-fun features like waterfall showers and rainbow ceilings.
Naturally, it’s the kind of place where two besties on a weekender will have a blast and a half. Especially if you’re photographer-models like Alie Layus and Brook Power, who delight in over-the-top scenery and think in photo backdrops. The L.A.-based duo, who met through a mutual friend and clicked over their passion for travel and photography, hopped in a pal’s vintage Bronco and cruised north Madonna-bound, stoked for a few days to bond and bliss out on the quirky decor. Below they share some Madonna moments that blew their minds along with their tips on crafting the ultimate BFF getaway.
On Picking Your Travel Partner
“I only like to road trip with really good homies,” says Brook. Sage advice! “Alie and I like similar music, food and clothes—I feel like we even talk kind of similarly.” Alie agrees, “No planning [was] needed. We’re both pretty laid back and easygoing and just have a good time together.”
On Nailing Down a Destination
“I’ve been going to the inn for years, mostly just as a stop on the way to or from road tripping to San Francisco,” says Brook. “It was so nice that this time it was our destination and we could hang for a while, rather than just using it as a spot to crash and then keep driving.” Alie had passed through the inn as a child, but never been a guest. “I always wanted to stay there, though, and Brook was leaving for a trip to Italy for a few months so I wanted to get away and hang for a couple days before she left town!”
On their Road-Trip Tunes of Choice
“The soundtrack was just lots of talking and laughing and catching up with whatever local classic-rock radio station we could pick up playing in the background,” says Alie.
On those Wacky Madonna Rooms
Out of the 110 rooms, which run the gamut from Daisy Mae to Cayucos Queen, the girls’ first stop was the Hearts & Flowers room. (“Love’s touch is canvassed in red velvet flower patterned wall coverings and embraced in natural stone to inspire the imagination,” reads the inn’s website.) “It was huge—we could do cartwheels in there it was so big,” says Brook. “There was a lot of red going on and colorful flowers around the bathroom vanity, which was all rock. Our second room was Victorian Gardens and there was a lot of pink and gaudy florals and Renaissance-style art.” Alie agrees, “They were both really pretty rooms with floral wallpaper and gorgeous red carpets and velvet furniture.”
On Their Fave Meal
“They had the most insanely good BBQ chicken, oh my gosh,” says Brook. “I’m in Italy now, all sick of pizza and pasta, just dreaming about that chicken.”
On Getting the ’Gram
“The whole place is Instagrammable!” says Alie. “The restaurant is amazing though. It’s so beautiful and bizarre and looks nothing like any place I’ve ever been before—gorgeous lights and chandeliers all over, gold antlers, flowers, huge pink booths to sit at, pink-and-red rose-print carpets...it’s so fun!” Roadtrippers with less time on their hands can always pause for a pic in front of the inn’s iconic sign, at the very least.
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