The Madonna Inn opened as a motel inn on December 24 1958 upon the completion of its first twelve rooms. Demand was sufficient to expand to forty rooms in 1959, and the Inn facility was constructed in 1960.
In 1966, the Inn's original units were burned to the ground in a dramatic fire. It reopened a year later, and by the end of the decade, all of the rooms had been rebuilt in the unique and ornate style they are known for today. There are 110 rooms.
By 1982 the Madonna Inn was already well known, and Alex Madonna was quoted as saying, "Anybody can build one room and a thousand like it. It's more economical. Most places try to give you as little as possible. 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 Madonna Inn provided the backdrop for an episode of ABC's reality series The Bachelor. In the season 14 episode that aired on January 25, 2010, pilot Jake Pavelka and the nine remaining women take a road trip up the California coast, visit the Oceano Dunes, and stay overnight at the Madonna Inn.
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