Holiday Time, Over-the-Top: Madonna Inn

Splashy Christmas meals, shopping haps, and an ice rink round out the SLO scene.

WHIMSICAL WORM HOLE: Any first-time visitor to Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steakhouse at the Madonna Inn can be forgiven if they truly believe, for an instant, that they've whooshed through some whimsical worm hole, the type of time-space portal that delivers people from wherever they were to a very over-the-top, pink-and-gold, dressy-dressy, dolly-cute dining room, a space that speaks of the most merry holiday cheer. A first-timer might believe that they in fact landed in the Madonna Room's booth-y dining room at the holidays, but they'd probably need to check their phone's calendar to confirm that, because Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steakhouse, and much of the hotel it calls home, always looks a little bit like the holidays, thanks to the 101-adjacent landmark's love of ornate ornamentation, color, kitsch, and humor. So when December does trot into view -- we used "trot" there, as the Madonna family was famed for its horses -- it can astound and delight how much more merry the Madonna Inn gets, in both its decoration and its yuletide events. And things are looking very merry, and very busy, 'round about the San Luis Obispo hotel, right about now, what with...

NEW YEAR'S EVE... on the way, and Christmas, too. Both dates'll bring with them big Madonna Inn to-dos, including "festive cocktails" and "seasonal entrees" (on Dec. 25) and a music-filled partay on the last day of the year. Before that, though, there's a shopping happening, on Dec. 11 and 12, and the opening of the Winter Wonderslo Jiffy Lube Ice Skating Rink on Dec. 19 (that's only on through Jan. 5, so get there in a dash if you want to twirl by one of the pinkest properties on the Golden State). As for the already decked-out dining room? It's even more decked-out in baubles and twirly touches, if you can believe it. And you can believe it, if you know the M.I., a place that has a knack for upping its visual game.

NOW... which Madonna Inn room would you say is the Christmasiest of all the Madonna Inn rooms? Hearts & Flowers is pretty red, and Irish Hills is very green. But there is a room called Currier & Ives, and just the sound of it sounds like the season itself.

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