Our US road trip was certainly a trip of extremes. From the starkly varying landscapes as we swept through the west coast to the hugely divergent experiences in each city we visited and each hotel, tipi, cabin, wigwam or motel we stayed in, no two days were the same, if even remotely similar.
After leaving the cosy cabin-esque lodgings of Redwood Croft, we continued on our glorious route over the cliffs of route 1, looking out on the vast, blue pacific ocean. We stopped to stock up on fruit and veg for a picnic lunch at a little stand by the side of the road where apparently Marilyn Monroe is the artichoke spokeswoman!
About three quarters of the way to San Luis Obispo, where we were headed, we saw a sign for an elephant seal beach. Of course we pulled over (how could we not?) not realising at the time how lucky we were, as these amazing creatures only inhabit that little rookery at limited times of the year.
After stopping for an elephant seal photo opp, and watching them sand themselves (I have no idea what they were doing, but it looked awesome, they basically periodically dramatically threw sand all over themselves with their flippers), fighting, barking, splashing and (I think) cuddling, we drove on to our final destination for the day: The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo.
My cousin initially recommended The Madonna Inn to me when I was researching for this trip and wanted to find some vintage-inspired, OTT luxury lodgings. Contrary to my initial belief, The Madonna Inn is not named after the iconic pop star, but after its founder, Alex Madonna.
The minute we drove up, it looked very promising. I mean, look at it! I had booked the Fabulous Fifties room (of course) but the hotel is so much more than just themed rooms. No detail is spared, even the lampposts are painted pastel pink.
The Fabulous Fifties room is basically like the interior of my brain. Painted baby blue brick wall, pastel pink furnishings, vintage-style furnishings and some gloriously gaudy animal prints – let’s just say I was completely at home!
Even though we’re both vegetarians, we decided to visit the legendary steak house. Not because of the food, you understand, because of the spectacular décor. To be honest, it’s so cluttered it has the potential to be an interior design nightmare, but somehow it’s so bold and such a statement that it just works – the atmosphere is incredible. Twinkling fairy lights, gilded angel statues, well, gilded everything… we overlooked the fact that there wasn’t very much for us on the menu and just took it all in.
We didn’t visit the spa this time (hey, we’re not made of money… one day!) but we did get to sample delicious complementary cookies from the bakery as a welcome gift and the free toiletries were among the best I’ve used, complete with the trademark Madonna Inn branding – and I do love consistency.
While we were there, John and I took the opportunity to use the perfect colour palette of the room as a background for some quick press shots for Darling Lovely Life. Getting ready at a proper dressing table was just another excuse to linger there.
We left a lot later than we intended to, I wanted to take in every moment of the surroundings I loved so much. Eventually, and very reluctantly, I packed up my suitcase and we headed back on the road towards the mountainous Sequoia National Park.
On the next instalment, we leave luxury behind in favour of a remote cabin in the woods where we sleep among the bears (eek) and meet the biggest tree in the world! See you then!