PLATES THAT BELONG TO A PLACE... are a bit of a relic, said with all due affection, of another era. There once was a day where you'd know the rail you were riding, or the resort at which you'd arrived, by the distinct monogram or filigree swirl or image seen in the middle of your salad plate or upon the side of your coffee cup. The Fred Harvey Company was known for its one-of-a-kind plateware, and historic lodges like The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park still set down plates with that Ahwahnee-only brown-and-black design. But is there another place in California, and, for that matter, the planet, that has a more famous, made-for-guest-use goblet than the Madonna Inn?
ROSY WONDER: The fluted, knobby-surfaced drinkware is about as well-known the hotel it is associated with, and that's saying a lot, since the San Luis Obispo property is about as colorful and quirky as a hotel can get. "Rose-colored glasses" may be a euphemism that describes an overly rosy outlook, but rose-covered glasses actually exist at the 101-close landmark, in the form of the Alex Madonna-designed goblet. The hotel's founder designed the glassware himself several decades back, to "go with the pink floral patterned carpet in Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steakhouse and 'My Favorite Things' Boutique." And guests can still drink out of them today, both the steakhouse and the hotel's Copper Café. More than that, guests and visitors and people online can purchase them, too.
HONEY LUSTER TO OCEAN BLUE MILK: The goblets are made in a host of hues, but the milk glass goblets, as well as the luster goblets, have a certain old-fashioned oomph that befits the place from which they hail. All are beautiful, and nicely heavy, and sipping milk or a fine port from one makes the sipper feel just a bit more special. But will it make you feel as though you've just emerged from The Cave Room, the Madonna Inn's most famous suite? That's up to you. Just sip away knowing that not all that many hotels nowadays go with the signature glassware look. It's a sweet traveler-nice tradition that deserves a re-think and a re-drink.