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California's Most Famous Restroom

We don't even need to tell you where it is, right? Hint: Think SLO.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    JUST DIRECTIONS: We can say, with some confidence, that "restroom" is a word heard often in public, but only in particular contexts. People rarely rhapsodize about their favorite washrooms, the design and wallpaper and ease-of-use, in the way they might talk about other places they frequent. So when one does hear "restroom" said in public, it is very often delivered in a low voice and it is very often spoken to elicit directions. "Which way to the nearest restroom?" is the question, or some variation. The speaker does not elaborate, nor does he need to: He has one thing on his mind.

    THE EXCEPTION: There is a spot -- nay, a fabled landmark -- on the Central Coast where the word is said loudly and proudly several times a day, and, nope, people aren't always asking for directions. Because the Madonna Inn's men's restroom is famous, so famous that it is constantly written about in magazines and visited by travel shows and guests at the San Luis Obispo stay-over discuss it, in normal voice levels, throughout the property. Seen it? Then you know there is a strategically placed waterfall over the urinal, which is quite dramatic, and rock walls exist throughout. Call it Caveman Chic (a phrase that's often pulled out about certain parts of the Madonna Inn) or call it a highly whimsical way to respond to nature's call.

    THE BACKSTORY: The vintage roadside hotel, which opened in 1958 and is known the world over for its colorful themed rooms, gave a few details in a recent post as to how the spectacular men's bathroom came about. Alex Madonna, the founder of the Madonna Inn, got competitive with Mrs. Madonna when it came time to build the bathrooms, which are located under the bar and steakhouse. Spousal competitiveness often has rather spectacular results, as many people can attest to, and the wonderful men's restroom -- and wonderful women's restroom -- are tributes to that fun spirit. Want to read more? Catch up on the history-loving hotel blog.

    OTHER THINGS TO LOVE... We do like the hotel's hue-happy glass goblets, the pink-and-glitter decor of the steakhouse, the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Madonna by the bar, and the eggs benedict. And yes, we are sweet on the women's restroom, too, which is very red and very Victorian. And red. Did we mention red already? Our very favorite thing about the property has to be the near constant sight of groups of people laughing outside the men's bathroom, a strange and funny phenomenon specific to the hotel.

    Madonna Inn? You do charm, endlessly.