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The Madonna Inn hotel in San Lois Obispo, CA is one of the most iconic themed hotels in all of America – and perhaps even the world. The Inn’s kitsch aesthetic and multifaceted architectural style is designed with a Swiss Chalet influence, but this singular description undermines the Inn’s overwhelming visual splendor that pulsates throughout each uniquely decorated room, the Valentine’s Day inspired steak house, and the pepto-bismol pink tennis court.
While there’s a consistent undertone of gaudy flagrancy that vacillates among every inch of the resort, it falls short feeling tawdry or garish. Its interiors feature a patchworked assortment of clashing architectural and thematic elements ranging from Western motifs to Baroque era ornate accents, intrusive floral arrangements plunging from the ceilings, and an unapologetically pink and crimson color palette. The antithesis of mid-century minimalism, the unexpected blend of juxtaposed decor elements creates a multi-sensory ambiance that evokes romance, fantasy, and kind of makes you feel like you’re like you’re at a sultry spin-off of Disneyland – without the rides and for adults only.
While there may not be any other hotel that rivals the enchantment of The Madonna Inn, there are plenty of lesser known “dupes” across California that come pretty close. But if you’re looking for a novel lodging experience that’s a little lesser known (or perhaps more affordable), we’ve rounded up five themed hotels in California that exude the same flavor as the iconic Central Coast resort.
1. The Vick Hotel (Los Alamos, CA)
The Victorian Mansion Hotel (nicknamed ‘The Vick’ for shirt) is a quaint Victorian style bed and breakfast in Los Alamos, CA. The Inn offers six different “luxury themed” room options, including a 1950s themed room complete with a 1956 Cadillac convertible and retro formica table. Each room features a “hidden bathroom,” a two-person hot tub, original hand painted murals, and a range of movies and games that correspond to the suit. Another perk? You also receive a free in-room breakfast for each morning of your stay.
2. Hicksville Pines Buds & Breakfast (Idyllwild, CA)
Writer and director Morgan Higby Night opened this “bud and breakfast” in 2017, consulting with some of his favorite icons including Dita Von Tease and Dolly Parton to help him design each of the themed rooms. In addition to The Dita room pictured below, Hickville Pines also offers a room for fans of the series Twin Peaks, featuring chevron patterned floors and bedding reminiscent of The Black Lodge, as well as luxe red velvet curtaining flanking the flat screen TV. Hence the name, this novel lodging option is 420 friendly and allows guests to smoke marijuana in the outdoor common areas 24.7.
3. The Gingerbread Mansion Inn (Ferndale, CA)
One of Northern California’s most popular B&B’s, The Gingerbread Mansion Inn features a 19th century Victorian theme throughout with opulent, over the top decor in each room, plenty of antique furnishings, and ethereal murals from floor to ceiling. Many of the rooms feature claw foot bath tubs and cozy fireplaces, and wine, pasties, coffee and tea are served daily for guests to enjoy in the lobby or outdoors in the Inn’s English garden. The Veneto room pictured below includes
4. Oasis of Eden (Yucca Valley, CA)
A hidden gem in California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Oasis of Eden is an affordable themed hotel owned by the hotel chain America’s Best Value Inn. However, this hotel is nothing like the drab and outdated motels of the branch you’ve seen scattered across America. Oasis of Eden offers 13 different themed suits including a The Cave Room complete with stone framed hot tub and leopard-printed circle bed. Other notable rooms include the The Roman which offers an oversized (it takes up nearly half the room) tub designed with hot pink tiles detail and ornate wallpaper and Swimmer’s Paradise featuring cloud murals on the ceiling and – like all of the suits – a ridiculously large hot tub designed for two.
5. Castlewood Cottages (Big Bear Lake, CA)
This kitsch Big Bear “hotel” offers 12 different themed cottages designed for couples looking for a romantic way to “live your fairy tale.” Perhaps their most elaborate cottage is the two-story Castle Dream pictured below. Some notable amenities offered in this cabin include a moat with a waterfall, a seven foot long dining table for romantic dinners, a spiral staircase, a private gazebo, and a “love swing.”