Hot Springs National Park is America's FIRST such federally protected place and is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it has a century and a half of history that is quite astounding. Gangsters, movie stars, millionaires, robber barons, shady real estate deals, politicians, greedy businessmen, abused Native Americans: it's all here! (Or certainly was here.) What remains are the thrilling mountains and valleys and quartz mines and hot, hot, hot natural mineral waters.
THE B INN sits at the nexus of that history and at the very doorstep of the historic section of Hot Springs "touristy" strip on one side and the newly-emerging "Fountain District" on the other.
It's but a brief stroll past a throw-back of a doughnut shop with hilariously tilted (for no discernible reason) window signs and the awaiting-reopening Majestic Hotel and Baths to find yourself in the thick of turn-of-the-20th Century bathhouses where the famous and infamous of the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s gathered in mineral watery pleasure.
All around those lavishly appointed bathhouses are the restaurants, gift shops, adult libations stations (bars), and all the rest that helps entertain and sustain visitors. It's as delightful and interesting as it can be!
The B Inn is a bit of an odd duck, which is saying something when it comes to Hot Springs. The house-on-the-hill that "anchors" the property looks straight out of The Addams Family; a charmingly spooky three-story antique in desperate need of a full restoration. The house shall get that restoration ultimately at the hands of Joseph and Armando, who are planning to use the proceeds from renting out their nine "motel rooms" to finally open the house as a healing space and art gallery. It currently stands empty and forlorn, but still visually beautiful. It's a landmark of a place!
"Motel rooms"? Well, yes. Extending from the house on both sides is what appear to be flat-roofed wings of a 1950s motel. There is a complicated history of why the architecture should be this way and to the purpose it had for returning G.I.s who were seeking the healing benefits of the Hot Springs. Just accept the fact that your room will be one of the nine available in the "motel" section and be grateful for a couple of things: The rooms / suites are so clean you could operate in them and, two: the rates are ridiculously reasonable.
Oh, and did I mention that each of the rooms is furnished in a hodge-podge of real antique furniture and art, great literature (books!), and idiosyncrasies too numerous to mention? This ain't your "Motel 6" kind of joint, my friend. The B Inn represents an adventure that will ADD to your enjoyment of the entire Hot Springs experience.
We rented their largest room, the Literary Suite, which is actually a one-bedroom (two double beds, TV, etc.) APARTMENT. There is a full kitchen, comfy living room (another TV) with fold-out sofa, a rather large "computer office'/dining room," shelves full of books, and a small but efficient bathroom jammed with fresh towels. All that space for a mere $75 a night! (AND they allowed us to bring Athena, our well-behaved 100-lb. Otterhound at NO EXTRA CHARGE!)
Upon our departure, Joseph and Armando showed us another room that contained one of the most magnificent four-poster beds we've ever seen anywhere, giant ball-and-claw feet and all. While it wasn't a "suite," it was a large room and came with refrigerator, microwave, and other features for the grab-it-when-you-can low price of $60 a night.
At precisely 9:15 a.m., a basket overflowing with breakfast goodies is delivered to the rooms. I would have preferred an earlier delivery since I'm an early riser, but that seems a quibble. The basket contains a variety of juices, granola bars, little tubs of flavored yogurt, string cheeses, apples, tangerines, bananas, mini-muffins, doughnuts (from the aforementioned nearby shop), and all manner of tasty things. So much, in fact, that we snacked on it all day and at the end of our four-day stay, took the left-overs home. Free mini-muffins and orange juice on the five-hour drive back to Dallas was a nice "bonus."
The owners also offer a variety of brief free "tours" of the nearby area, including the old house at the center of their property. They are eager to promote the "Fountain District" and to help further preserve the unique area. In the best sense of the word, these guys are history missionaries.
José and I plan to go back to The B Inn as often as we can. That four-poster bed beckons! If you're laid-back enough to accept a room that doesn't look like every other motel room in the country, this is your kind of place, Mr. & Ms. Adventurous Heart. From the unique perspective of The B Inn, you can strike out to hike, bike or drive up mountains, eat some of the best bar-b-que in the world (at McClard's and Whole Hog), bathe and drink their justly famous mineral water, play the ponies at their DOWNTOWN horse-racing track, attend regional theatre starring major celebrities (Jerry Van Dyke and Tommy Smothers in "The Sunshine Boys" currently) and return "home" to a place that will amuse and delight you for your entire stay. Come, play along!
And get a massage at the nearby SPRINGS. Ask for Elvis and then Mark or "Iron Hands."... Follow that with a dinner at the beautiful Central Park restaurant, which is one of the most serious foodie places in the whole area. It also has a great wine list. Both are within a brief stroll from The B Inn.
(Before I forget, while in Hot Springs you can soak up some of the best BLUES music I've ever heard. It's hosted by The Ohio Club on the strip. A former owner changed the name of the place to "Capone's" for the tourist appeal, but since it was originally named the Ohio Club BY Al Capone, the new owners changed it back (It was a favorite hang-out of the one and only Mae West!) Check out the LIVE blues every Wednesday night. The hamburgers are great, too!)
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- Also Known As:
- The b Hotel Hot Springs