Hotels

7 Kitschy Themed Motels and Hotels in California

Getting away for the weekend in California is a great way to enjoy the great weather, escape the hubbub of the cities, and spend time with friends and family. And sure, you could just hit the beach and stay at the nearest Hilton or Hyatt, but where’s the fun in that?

Make your next getaway even more memorable by staying somewhere with a whole lot more personality. Have you ever wanted to stay in a spaceship in Joshua Tree? Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of waking up in an Airstream in Santa Barbara. Nope? Just me? Weird. Just kidding, I know it’s not just me, you guys are looking forward to these things too.

Fear not, because California is full of all kinds of fun places to stay that you won’t soon forget. So let’s take a look at the best kitsch hotels and motels in the state.

California’s Best Kitschy Motels and Hotels

Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast – Idyllwild

Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast

Expedia

A little off the beaten path in the mountains of Idyllwild is one of the best kitsch hotels in California: Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast. Made up of a number of small A-shaped cabins around the property, this option has all sorts of themes that appeal to people of all interests. This, of course, includes a 420 compatible A-frame that allows you to smoke indoors.

Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast


One of the coolest things about this hotel is that it’s a perfect example of something that’s hugely popular among those who know it, but far less than you might think. This is largely due to its strict photo/video policy which prohibits all shooting for personal promotion or branding purposes. In other words, this property is being touted as an “anti-influencer”, which probably doesn’t help them get more business, but it’s great for those of us who go there to enjoy it!

Madonna Inn – San Luis Obispo

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn

Undoubtedly the most famous place to stay on this list, next is the famous Madonna Inn located in San Luis Obispo. Open for over half a century now, the Madonna Inn is well known for its bright pink dining room and themed rooms with all sorts of decor, amenities, names and more.


I could write an entire article about the Madonna Inn that goes into detail about each room, so it’s certainly not exhaustive. But just to give you an idea, some of my personal favorite tracks include “Cloud Nine”, “Love Nest”, “Caveman Room”, “Safari Room”, “Jungle Rock”, “Just Heaven”, and more.

The Gingerbread Mansion – Ferndale

The Gingerbread Mansion

The Gingerbread Mansion

The Gingerbread Mansion

This one might not be as available as some of the other options on this list, but I couldn’t write about quirky California vacations without mentioning the gingerbread mansion located in Ferndale. Designed to provide a romantic getaway in the heart of the city, this property will help you and that special someone get a glimpse of the Victorian era.


The 11 luxury suites have private bathrooms with enclosed showers so you have all the privacy you want and plenty of amenities so you never feel like you’re missing out. Plus, it’s the only 4-diamond property in the county, and arguably the most beautiful location (in terms of luxury) on this list!

The Whale House – Santa Barbara

The Whale House

The Whale House

paradiseretreats.com

One of my personal favorites on this list is located in Santa Barbara and is part of the Paradise Retreats portfolio of luxury vacation rentals. Built to look pretty much like its namesake animal on the outside, The Whale House is a four-story house designed by architect Michael Carmichael, who was also the property’s first owner in 1978.


The general idea behind the house is that a massive whale swallowed a passenger ship, and this was the result. Each level of the house has something special and unique, including features such as a 75-foot indoor pool, over 250 stained glass windows, spiral staircases, and more. You could spend a day on each floor and feel like you’re staying somewhere new every night!

Area 55 Futuro House – Joshua Tree

Area 55 Futuro House

Area 55 Futuro House

airbnb.com

Just because I’m a big space nerd and love everything about it, my favorite place on this list is the Area 55 Futuro House in Joshua Tree. According to the Airbnb host who listed this property, it’s the only adobe similar to this in the world that you can stay in, and it looks like such a fun place that I’m tempted to book it myself at the moment where I write this.


This property is entirely off the grid, so don’t head here if you plan on staying inside and catching up on your emails. But if you want a quiet, secluded place to relax, hang out with that special someone, or just take in the desert views, this is the place for you.

The Victorian Mansion – Los Alamos

The Victorian Mansion

The Victorian Mansion

The Victorian Mansion

If you are looking for a place like no other where you can return again and again while having a different experience each time, then The Victorian Mansion at Los Alamos is for you. There are currently six themed suites to choose from: 50s, Gypsy, Roman, Egyptian, French and Pirates.


So at the very least, you can have a different experience at least six times. But since each suite is so different from the next, you won’t even feel like you’re staying in the same place. What’s the same in every suite, however, is the incredible service and unparalleled amenities that put The Vick at the top of any kitschy hotel list.

Santa Barbara Auto Camp – Russian River

AutoCamp

AutoCamp

autocamp.com/

Rounding out our list, another fun stay located in the Russian River. But instead of staying in the massive Whale House, we’re downsizing a bit and suggesting you stay in an Airstream. But these aren’t just any old Airstreams.


The Russian River Auto Camp is filled with luxurious Airstreams that will make you feel like you’re still traveling even when you’re relaxing. In short, these motorhomes have all the comforts and conveniences of a luxury apartment while giving you the feeling of being outdoors, camping in the great outdoors.