Surrounded by virgin forest and the Ouachita Mountains, the city of Hot Springs, is true to its name – with spa baths and wild swimming spots galore. You might be here to visit the famous 19th-century bathhouses or plan a tour of its stunningly rugged National Park – either way, the city of Hot Springs makes for a gloriously slow-paced escape but with plenty to do.
You can hike through the mountains in the oldest national park in America, whoop it up at the Magic Springs water park, hold a baby alligator at Arkansas Alligator Farm, sweat out your worries at the bathhouses on Bathhouse Row or learn all about the area’s gangster history. Here are the top places to stay while you’re here – bookable on Culture Trip.
The Waters Hot Springs, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, for rooftop sundowners
Designed by the Arkansas State Capitol architect, this hotel’s imposingly columned building was fully restored to its early 20th-century glory when it reopened as a hotel in 2017. Now part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection – hotels curated for its style and independent spirit – it’s centrally located with great views down Central Avenue from its appropriately named Avenue restaurant. Even if you don’t decide to stay in one of its plush rooms, the Rooftop Bar is the place to see and be seen in Hot Springs.
Frequently voted among the most romantic B&Bs in the US, this early 20th-century manor house turned guest house has five acres of land and a grand rural ambiance. Wake up in your suite and start the day with a jacuzzi bath, breakfast in bed or on the wraparound porch – or wander out into the National Park in your – provided – bathrobe. Whatever you decide to do, the homespun charms of this delightful stay will have you wooed in no time.
In the early 20th-century, Hot Springs was more Vegas than Vegas – a Sin City known for its gambling and mobsters as much as its waters. Today, some of this edge survives at the local casino and racetrack, Oaklawn Racing, where you’ll find this fully equipped motel. Drown your losses in the outdoor pool, celebrate your wins in the bar and get pumped for your next foray into town in the gym. The dog park makes it a winner with dog owners, while bikers love its on-site motorcycle wash station, too.
Another solid choice among Hot Springs places to stay, this Wyndham is located slap bang between the bars, restaurants and sights of downtown Hot Springs and the natural beauty of Lake Hamilton. Apart from complimentary breakfast, parking and wifi, there are few notable amenities – but if you’re looking for a convenient, clean and cheerful budget base, this is the one.
There is a lot to love about this Hilton. The free shuttle, for one, will take guests anywhere in a 3mi (4.8km) radius – including both downtown and the National Park, the in-house spa with its nail, skin and body treatments and 40,000sqft (3,700sqm) of conferencing space if you’re here on business. As well as complimentary breakfast, the night’s stay includes a complimentary evening reception and use of the pool and gym. It’s a great package.
Located between downtown and the Ouachita River – conveniently off Central Avenue – this popular chain hotel is designed with long and short-stay guests in mind. Business facilities, including conferencing, are provided for if you need to work – while tourists can enjoy local treats, like the local adventure golf, sunbathing beaches and water sports. Everybody will enjoy the outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, lounge and complimentary hot breakfast daily to start the day off right.
Maybe it’s the fact Marilyn Monroe is fabled to have visited with beau Joe DiMaggio, but this gorgeous little motor court has a real air of romance. Its 22 bijou cottages date back to 1933 but have undergone a recent, year-long renovation by the current owners. They kept the “glamour and sophistication” of the Art Nouveau era while fulfilling the needs of present-day guests – in terms of plumbing, air-con and fiber-optic cable.
Located right on the shore of Hamilton Lake – 4mi (6.4km) from downtown – this place has a real sense of Zen. Rooms all have lake or city views, flat-screen TVs and kitchenettes, as well as free parking and wifi – plus, there’s a fishing jetty right outside so anglers can wake up, walk out and bait up. When you’re back with your catch, cook it up on a shared grill with views overlooking the lake. And relax.