Bathhouse Row and the natural geothermally heated water is perhaps what makes Hot Springs such an acclaimed city, and Mayor Patrick McCabe and his wife, Ellen McCabe, have recently reinvented one of the bathhouses on the famous street.
Hale Bathhouse, the oldest structure on Bathhouse Row, is now a mid-century modern hotel that incorporates the history of the original bathhouse to provide guests with a lavish overnight stay.
After strolling through the downtown area of Hot Springs with a friend, Ellen recalls sparking up a conversation with her husband about how they should open a shop in downtown Hot Springs. What started as a simple idea to open another shop soon grew into the modern take on history that Hotel Hale is now.
“Hotel Hale is the only hotel in the Hot Springs National Park, and as such, we also have available to us the Hot Springs National Park thermal water, so each of our overnight room accommodations have a soaking tub with the Hot Springs National Park thermal water plumbed directly to it,” explains Patrick. “For our overnight guests, that is a huge amenity that we’re able to provide that others are not able to provide.”
Not only do guests have access to the natural thermal water in their room, but the thermal water is also chilled and served throughout the hotel. When the guests arrive after their travels, they’re greeted with valet service, a cold glass of thermal water and homemade cookies.
Hotel Hale truly strives to offer an environment of complete relaxation and ease for its guests. With only nine rooms, each room is individually decorated with authentic mid-century pieces mixed with modern pieces and immense attention to detail
“The rooms are exposed brick and arched windows on one side and on the other side, the exposed brick and Juliet balconies onto North Mountain,” explains Ellen. “Also, I collected through the years local artist’s work, so a lot of the local artists are featured in the rooms.”
The hotel also features two dining areas, which is another unique way the hotel ensures that the guests’ stay is an amicable experience. The front dining area, ‘Zest’, is for breakfast and lunch.
“That dining area is in the historic area of the building and it faces Central Avenue, so they can people-watch while they have breakfast or lunch,” says Ellen.
The dining area in the back, also known as ‘Eden,’ is described as fine dining in an upscale casual atmosphere.
“We have a large plant wall underneath the skylight…it’s really gorgeous,” Patrick says. “We’ve had a number of people say there’s probably not a better place to dine in Hot Springs given the ambiance of the ‘Eden’ dining area.”
Besides the stunning sunroom, the ‘Eden’ dining area also incorporates another piece of history into its atmosphere. Back in the late 1800’s, a thermal cave was carved out of the mountainside and used as a steam room. That is still on display.
Another key aspect that makes Hotel Hale stand out from other hotels is the room service, which provides guests with a fresh pot of coffee each morning. Hotel Hale also customizes its room service specifically for each guest.
“In the cost of the room, the hotel guests get a custom menu for them at breakfast, so the chef comes in and cooks breakfast just for them,” says Ellen.
By combining the natural thermal water that made Hot Springs famous with renowned dining and expert customer service, Hotel Hale has raised the bar for luxurious hotels everywhere.
As for the future of Bathhouse Row and Hot Springs, Mayor McCabe is hopeful for the economy to continue advancing with new expansions and restorations.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a real great uptick in the number of new businesses, individuals acquiring leases or properties and bringing in fresh ideas, and to walk downtown Hot Springs today, is very different than walking downtown Hot Springs from 10 to 15 years ago,” says Patrick. “We’ll continue to thrive, and there’s a lot of interest in business downtown and the availability of space is very limited, but there’s always space for somebody with a great idea.”