Without the dreamers, life would be so much more boring. We wouldn’t have Disney Land. We wouldn’t have smartphones. And we wouldn’t have the Madonna Inn, a central California hotel that doubles as a monument to all things kitsch.
The Inn began built in 1958 by contractor Alex Madonna, who designed it on the back of a cocktail napkin. Madonna’s approach was pretty much the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when building a hotel. “Anybody can build one room and a thousand like it. It’s more economical. Most places try to give you as little as possible,” Madonna said. “I try to give people a decent place to stay where they receive more than they are entitled to for what they’re paying. I want people to come in with a smile and leave with a smile. It’s fun.”
The New York Times had a bit saltier take when a reporter visited in 1982, calling the inn “Delightfully vulgar … so completely lacking in restraint … it looks like a wedding cake designed by someone who has just grasped the technique of making rosebuds and rosettes.”
Today, the Madonna Inn has 110 rooms, each one with a different theme. It’s become a popular roadside destination for tourists, but it also attracts plenty of overnight guests, too. Kitsch enthusiasts happily plunk down $189 for a one-night stay in a regular-sized room, or up to $599 for a suite. Some guests like to book a week at the inn and stay in a different room each night. And occasionally, a true kitsch fiend might stay in all 110 rooms–the first Madonna Inn completionist pulled off the feat in 1977, and it took her seven years to do it.
Below, you can check out some of the Madonna Inn’s kitschiest hotel rooms. Would you be able to stay overnight in, say, the Caveman Room? Or is it enough for you just to have a look?