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California Hotels: Almost Infamous


California hotels run the gamut from high-end to low-end, boutique to national chain. And while these might fit the bill for a fairly standard, California stay, there’s something to be said for this western state’s more unusual side. And a good way to get a glimpse of it is with a night or two in one of California’s infamously unusual accommodations.

One of our favorites is the Madonna Inn, a resort hotel in San Luis Obispo that is, shall we say, unforgettable. In addition to very unique themed-rooms (think Caveman, Jungle Rock and Lovebirds), waterfall showers and a waterfall urinal, there’s also a spa and expo center. And if you’re looking for a quirky honeymoon spot (best if you’re marrying a quirky person) it’s hard to find anything that better says, well, special.

More in the mood for a night of “Cowboys and Native Americans”? Try rather the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino. We’re not sure whether or not this one is totally correct, politically speaking, but it definitely gets full stars for funky. And yes, the rooms are mock wigwams.

Yet to sight any celebrities? Ditch Hollywood. Head for Vision Quest Ranch near Monterey. Here, the big stars are wild animals, ethically trained and regularly appearing on a silver screen near you. We’re talking big cats, primates, elephants, giraffes and the like - there’s even an elephant “bedtime package”. The associated Safari bed & breakfast is about as close as you’ll get to an overnight African safari without a passport.

If you like the idea of wild but want something slightly more au natural, consider spending a night in the “human nest” at Treebones Resort in Big Sur. When the nest is full, the yurts with sky domes offer a fine alternative, with an outdoor sushi bar and superb views of the coast to sweeten the deal.

There are many more California hotels that just might appeal to your quirky side, but we’d be remiss to finish without at least mention of The Victorian Mansion at Los Alamos. This small wine country bed & breakfast has six themed rooms that pave the way for a flight of fancy from ancient Rome to Egypt via the 1950’s and pirates. Sweet dreams.

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