The Story Behind The Madonna Inn’s Colorful Rose Goblets

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The Madonna Inn Sign on Highway 101 (Photo by kersy83/Creative Commons)
The Madonna Inn Sign on Highway 101 (Photo by kersy83/Creative Commons

The poor words with which natural human speech is provided cannot suffice to describe the Madonna Inn.  -Umberto Eco

If you are from California and have driven on Highway 101, through the Central Coast, odds are you have noticed the sign for the Madonna Inn.  Perhaps you have even ventured inside the restaurant or hotel…

The Swiss Chalet Architecture of the Madonna Inn (Photo by DSC03657/Creative Commons)
The Swiss Chalet Architecture of the Madonna Inn (Photo by DSC03657/Creative Commons)

The Madonna Inn is one of the iconic roadside attractions of California.  The Swiss chalet-style hotel was built by Alex Madonna with interiors decorated by his wife Phyllis.  The hotel features over 100 rooms and each one is styled with unique, themed decor.  From the ornate Austrian Room decorated with gilt furniture and a chandelier to the Caveman Room complete with an animal print bedspread and rock walls.

Pink Napkins and Colorful Goblets Adorn the Tables (Photo by cake-02/Creative Commons)
Unapologetically Pink Decor at the Madonna Inn (Photo by Tom Coates/Creative Commons)
Unapologetically Pink Decor at the Madonna Inn (Photo by Tom Coates/Creative Commons)

Venture inside the restaurant and you will find a really good cup of coffee and unapologetically pink, kitsch decor.  Pink napkins, shakers filled with pink sugar, and colorful water goblets sit on each table.

On my first visit to the Madonna Inn, I immediately fell in love with the water goblets.  Luckily the gift shop sells the goblets in every color of the rainbow!

Just a small part of my Madonna Inn water goblet collection from the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California.
Just a small part of my Madonna Inn goblet collection!

I don’t have many collections decorating my home, but I do have a collection of Madonna Inn goblets.  I love practical collections, especially ones that can add some crazy color to a dinner party!

My goblets have been collected slowly, as my mother or I find them secondhand at thrift shops and garage sales.  I have collected many of the colors but there are so many I have yet to find.

A rainbow of colorful water and wine goblets from the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA
A rainbow of colorful water and wine goblets from the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA

I love bringing the goblets out for a dinner party because most Californians I know recognize the glasses from their own trip to the Madonna Inn.  They end up being the best and most colorful conversation pieces!

When The Madonna Inn first opened its doors on Christmas Eve in 1958, the water and wine goblets were much more plain than the rose-patterned ones you see today.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Madonnas sought out a rose-patterned goblet to match the interiors of the dining area.

On the left, the original "Flat Rose" goblet pattern. On the right, the custom designed "Madonna Rose" goblet pattern.
On the left, the original “Flat Rose” goblet pattern. On the right, the custom designed “Madonna Rose” goblet pattern.
On the left, the leaf design of the original "Flat Rose" goblet pattern. On the right, the rose base of the custom designed "Madonna Rose" goblet pattern.
On the left, the leaf design of the original “Flat Rose” goblet pattern. On the right, the rose base of the custom designed “Madonna Rose” goblet pattern.

This first style of Madonna Inn goblet is known today as the “Flat Rose” design.  Early goblets were sourced from the LG Wright Glass Company and Fenton.  You can tell this early style of goblet because the design has much sharper ridges and the seams where the pieces of glass were joined go straight down the middle of each rose.

If you look at the base of one of these glasses, you will see that leaves encircle the bottom of the stem, instead of the roses that decorate the base of the newer goblets.

The brightly colored rose floral goblets of the Madonna Inn.
The brightly colored rose floral goblets of the Madonna Inn.

About a decade later, Alex Madonna decided to design a goblet to better match the rose carpet that had been designed by a former Disney artist.  He designed a glass that was thicker and more smooth than the original glasses.

The newer rose pattern is known as “Madonna Rose.”  The first goblets of this design were made by Fenton and the glasses are now manufactured by family-owned Mosser Glass in Ohio.

The goblets really are magical.  Drinking out of one will transport you to a psychedelic fantasy world where the wine tastes even better sipped from a rose-colored (or lime green-colored) glass.  If you need a really good cup of coffee…or a bright pink water goblet, stop by on your next trip on 101 and you’ll see what I mean!

Blue, Purple, and Yellow Madonna Inn Rose Goblets.
Blue, Purple, and Yellow Madonna Inn Rose Goblets.

If you can’t wait for your next visit to The Madonna Inn to buy some goblets, you can purchase all of the colors in their online shop or search on Etsy!

Madonna Inn Goblets offered by WeBGlass on Etsy
Madonna Inn Goblets offered by WeBGlass on Etsy
Instant Collection of Madonna Inn Goblets Offered by BestintheHouse on Etsy
Instant Collection of Madonna Inn Goblets Offered by BestintheHouse on Etsy

If you love vintage treasures as much as I do, be sure to read about other vintage gems here on Different Drum!

♥ All photos are owned by the shop to which they link.  Please click on the photo or caption and you will be magically transported to its home on the web. ♥

♥ Note: If you click on the affiliate links in this post, Etsy will pay me a commission from subsequent purchases at no additional cost to you or the seller.  This extra bit of money allows me to continue to provide free, helpful, and entertaining content to my readers. Your support is appreciated. ♥

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11 Comments

  1. Love your article on the Madonna Inn Goblets. I grew up in Riverside CA and years ago my husband and I decided to try and stay in as many rooms as we could at the Madonna Inn. I don’t remember exactly how many we ended up staying in but I remember about five different rooms. Anyway I wish I had know about the goblet then. I love dishes for some reason and would have collected the goblet
    Thank you again for a lovely story.

    • That’s so cool! I still haven’t had an opportunity to stay the night. There are so many rooms I want to experience that I’m sure we will have to spend a few nights there before I am satisfied 🙂

  2. Nikki, I came across you lovely article after purchasing a goblet the owner told me was a Madonna Inn goblet, however it doesn’t look like a Rose on it at all, it does have the leaves on the bottom. She said she thought it was the ‘Holly’ design. Do you know if there was any other design besides the rose? Thank you.

    • I’m sorry I missed your comment until now! Are you talking about the “flat rose” design I discussed in my post? I can see how some might think it looks like holly instead of a rose. The seam goes right down the middle of the rose.

    • I, also, have two of the Holly design goblet (red and dark blue). I will now look at the design again to see if it is actually the Flat Rose design. I live near the Madonna Inn so I always thought they just put them out at Christmas time.

      • This is very interesting. I’d love to see a picture of the pattern you are talking about! Perhaps I have to add some of those to my collection 🙂

  3. My grandma (RIP) stole a goblet from the Madonna inn when she was 8 because of how beautiful they were to her. When I was 8 she took me there and I stole one….(she paid for it in the gift shop before we left…but still.) It’s been 21 years since my grandma and I were there and I recently told my friend the story and him, myself, and. My 8 year old daughter stayed at the Madonna inn and we talked her into stealing a cup….that we paid for in the gift shop before leaving. Today, I have 9 Madonna inn goblets….. my grandmother’s, mine, and my daughter’s, and 6 that I have found in thrift shops over the years. It is fun reading and reminicing about random things that mean a lot to me and my family. Thank you

    • Thank you for sharing your story! The Madonna Inn definitely seems to be a place that generations bond over. What color goblet did your eight-year-old-self fall in love with?

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