Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas has many attractions. But I am mostly looking forward to the main attraction: pampering. After completing a three-day float trip on the Buffalo National River, Stephen and I are planning two nights in Hot Springs, indulging in a spa treatment, restaurants, and an historic hotel with rooms that have four walls and comfortable beds. The Arlington is not a national park lodge but it is a grand old hotel located at the north end of Bathhouse Row. The Arlington Hotel originally opened in 1875, but burned in 1923. It was rebuilt across the street and reopened in 1924. The large rooms are all updated with modern amenities such as air-conditioning and private baths with showers. However, the AC is either “on” or “off”; there is no temperature control. The windows do open and this April weekend is gorgeous. Located on the fifth floor, our room overlooks Arlington Park and Bathhouse Row.
The Arlington has a beautiful, three-tiered pool area located on the seventh floor and nestled into the side of a mountain. The hot tub, on the top tier, calls our names and we quickly change into swimsuits. Relaxing in the hot tub, with gorgeous views of the gentle Zig Zag Mountains on the eastern edge of the Ouachita Mountains, Stephen and I rest and recuperate from three days of paddling. As the sun descends into the green hills and the air begins its evening chill, we relax our tired muscles and enjoy the sounds of a city in the midst of a national park. After we are sufficiently soothed, we wrap ourselves in the provided towels and go to our room to change.
The bar at the Arlington is an active social scene set right in the middle of the lobby. A dance band plays on a small stage and couples move and groove on the dance floor as well as the perimeter of the lobby. Stephen and I find a table on the platform area right in the middle of the action and order an Arlington Martini in honor of our visit. Not typically martini drinkers, we are delighted with the hotel namesake adult beverage: a concoction of acai berry, lemon, and vodka, with sugar on the rim of the glass. We sit back and sip our shared libation and enjoy an evening of good music and people watching.
On Saturday, we enjoy breakfast in the Arlington’s dining room. This morning the Venetian Dining Room is serving a buffet breakfast for about $10 a person. The basic breakfast items are all represented. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and breakfast potatoes compete with hot and cold cereals, yogurts, and granola. Stephen finds room on his plate for a little of everything and I choose a small portion of scrambled eggs and one piece of bacon. Our attentive and talkative waiter notices my almost empty plate and only puts one buffet on our bill. We linger at breakfast enjoying the ambience of the dining room and learning the history of the hotel and its connection to Al Capone from our waiter and the hostess. With full bellies, and sufficiently caffeinated, we begin our day in Hot Springs.