Hey y’all! Welcome back to another episode of The Curious Cowgirl Podcast. Today, we are talking about Splish Splash Bath Time in Hot Springs, Arkansas! What’s it like to “take the waters” and where’s the best spot for Bath Time in Hot Springs? Hint: it’s VERY fun! All the details are on the Podcast today!
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The Curious Cowgirl Podcast Episode #4
What You Will Learn
- The history of Bath House Row
- Where you can have a historic bath experience in Hot Springs
- What the Bath Experience is like
- Other points of interest in Hot Springs
Podcast Episode 4 Show Notes, Links and Resources
- A Detailed Review and Guide to Hot Springs, Arkansas: https://thecuriouscowgirl.com/united-states-travel/hot-springs-things-to-do/
- The Curious Cowgirl Curated Travel Guides: https://thecuriouscowgirl.com/city-travel-guides/
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Podcast Episode 4 Transcript
Hey all welcome to The Curious Cowgirl Podcast. In today’s episode, we’re taking a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Splish
Splash we’re taking a bath. Stay tuned. I’m going to tell you all about my unique experience.
Welcome to The Curious Cowgirl Podcast, where we’re talking about all things travel and maybe some other stuff that I find
interesting. Let’s jump into today’s episode!
Welcome to today’s episode, Y’all. I am so excited to share with you all the details of a recent trip that I took to Hot Springs,
Arkansas. And I’m sure you all, if you’ve been listening to my podcasts for awhile, know this about me. But I am definitely a person who
really is interested in seeing as much of American history preserved in buildings and hotels and historic sites as possible.
And so Hot Springs, Arkansas, has been on my list for a long time. It is well known for really interesting American history, which
we’ll get into in a minute. But I had an occasion to go to Hot Springs because of my needle point group.
And so you will have heard me talk a little bit about my interest in needlepoint and how needlepoint has actually played a really
big role in my travel experiences. So I have a group of friends that I needlepoint with. And one of the girls in my group invited us
all to spend a long weekend at her family’s lake house in Hot Springs. Her family is from Arkansas, and they have a beautiful lake house up there. And so, um, once we got the dates settled for our little two and 1/2 day needlepoint trip, I reached out to the Hot
Springs, Arkansas Convention and Visitor Bureau to see if they would help me out in experiencing Hot Springs.
Probably the biggest attraction in Hot Springs are the historic bathhouses. So let me spend a minute kind of talking about about
that, so that you have an idea of what to expect when you go to Hot Springs.
So Hot Springs has eight bath houses that have been preserved, and they all are on one, I guess probably about a mile long,
block right in the heart of Hot Springs along Central Avenue. They are on the East side of the street, and there’s probably like I
said, maybe it’s maybe it’s, a mile long. Maybe not quite a mile, but there are eight bathhouses all in a row.
Some of the bathhouses date back to, um, the very late 1800’s, but most of them were built in the early part of the 20th century, and they are each unique and they’re really,
really wonderful. I really didn’t even have a mind’s eye picture of what to expect, and I really was kind of blown away at how
beautifully preserved they are and how incredibly fascinating this aspect of American history is.
So if you’re not familiar with, kind of, the history of hot Springs. Here’s, you know, kind of my very watered down version of why
Hot Springs became so popular. So at the end of you know, the 1800’s, early 1900’s, you have to remember that there were not a lot of vacation spots or resorts in the United States like there are now. There were very few, and Hot Springs was one of them.
And the reason that people traveled to Hot Springs was because of the therapeutic qualities and benefits that people received
from getting in the hot springs. And so buildings were built and plumbing was created so that the hot springs could be brought into buildings and people could enjoy the therapeutic and medicinal aspects of the hot springs.
And of course, you know, now we know that the hot springs air not as medicinal as people thought they were, but you know, at the turn of the century in the early 20th century, there was a belief that there was a very high level of medicinal benefit for going and enjoying these thermal waters. So people who had money to travel would come to Hot Springs, and they would spend a period of time there. They might be there just to relax. But they might be there because they really did have some serious health conditions and so they might kind of be in Hot Springs for a period of time. And so that is why all of these different bath houses were built in
the first place.
Um, the bathhouses, you all, are part of a National Park. And the reason I say that is I think a lot of times when we say National
Park, we think about, you know, I don’t know, like Yosemite National Park. We think about, you know, big acreages of forests and mountains and all that. And remember that there are lots of locations around the country that are National Parks that are not necessarily, you know, acres and acres and acres of nature. Like for example, Ellis Island is a National Park, so Bath House Row is actually in the Hot Springs National Park.
And so the Park Service operates and owns these bathhouses now, and I and I love that. That is how our tax dollars are being
used to preserve history like that and to be able to restore important buildings across America in the context of a National Park. I
think it’s fabulous.
So the Fordyce Bath House is actually the welcome center and the visitor center, and it is free to go in and you can visit all three
floors. And I really encourage you to do that first, because you will really get a sense, really how incredible, what an incredible experience. It was, to go to Hot Springs and and be there for, you know, wellness.
The men’s section of this bathhouse has the most gorgeous stained glass ceiling you’ve ever seen. The women’s, um, section has beautiful stained glass windows. There’s locker rooms that have been beautifully restored. You can see the original men’s
gymnasium that has original equipment in it, and then again, because a lot of people who came to Hot Springs had other medical issues going on, there’s lots of rooms that have been preserved. I would call them examination rooms, I guess, for lack of a better word. But there are many rooms, um, that you can see, you know, kind of early medical equipment and examination tables, and
that kind of thing that people took advantage of while they were also getting these hot bath treatment. So it’s really, really
fascinating and beautifully preserved. And I highly recommend that you start there.
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You can also take a hot bath in two of the bathhouses, the Buckstaff Bath House and the Quapaw Bath House. Both are still operational, and you can go make an appointment and have a bath treatment. And I’m gonna talk in a minute about my own experience, so that you really know what to expect. But you cannot go online and make an appointment ahead of time. I, of course, did that when I knew I was going to Hot Springs. I immediately went online to see if I could make an appointment or schedule a bath. And you can’t. You have to just show up and
make an appointment. So you might want to go to either the Buckstaff or the Quapaw first, get your time slot, and then you can always go back and get your bath. You may have some time to go do other things, but you can still do that, which I think is awesome.
All right, so let me share with you all my experience in having a bath. And my experience actually happened at the Arlington
Resort Hotel and Spa. Will and I were graciously hosted for a night in the hotel, which I’ll tell you all about in a minute. But on the second day that we were there, in the morning, we were treated to a bath and a massage, and I I really had no idea what to expect. I actually had not visited Bathhouse Row at
that point. And so I really didn’t have a mind’s eye picture of what was gonna happen. So it was all a very new experience to me
and I think worth sharing with you all, so that you know what, you kind of know to experience, or what you’re gonna experience is.
Well, so when I checked in, and Will had almost the same experience. The men’s area is totally separated from the women’s. And in the Arlington Hotel, they have their own bathhouse. So just like the individual bathhouses on Bath House Row, the Arlington Hotel has their own bath house facility. So when I went into the women’s side, I went into dressing room and took off all my clothes and put on a little towel wrap, and I was met by my own bath attendant. She has worked at the
Arlington Bath for a really long time. She was super nice, really knowledgeable, really kind, and she led me to my personal
So let me stop here and say that when you take a bath you are literally getting in a bathtub. These are original porcelain bathtubs that are in, what I would call, a stall. Each bathtub has it has its own little stall and, so you go in your stall. And my attendant
walked in with me, and I took off my towel wrap. So I had I had no clothes on, took off my towel wrap, and I got into the bathtub
that she had already prepared for me.
And the water was real warm, and I would say bordering on hot. But I really like hot baths, so it felt great to me. But I got in the bath and sat down in the bathtub. Now remember that these are original porcelain bathtubs, and so way back in
the day ,they did not have whirlpool bathtubs. They didn’t have that technology. That wasn’t a thing. The bathtubs now, both at
the Arlington and at the bathhouses, have external kind of little whirlpool mechanisms that make the waters like a whirlpool in your bath. So I sat down. She turned on the machine and made the water feel like a whirlpool. She offered Epson Salt, which I said yes to. I love Epson Salt baths are great for relaxing your muscles. And then I just leaned back in the bathtub, and she checked on me
about halfway through. I was in the tub for about 20 minutes or so.
Will shared with me that he got out of his bath after about 10 minutes. He does not like super hot baths, but, I mean, I’m I’m like,
you know, there until I turn into a prune. Practically. So after about 20 minutes, my attendant came in and she asked me if I would like to have a scrub down. Now, this is a real traditional part of having a bath. And I said Yes, because I wanted to do all the things. So she put a little scrubbing mitt on her hand, and she scrubbed my arms. She scrubbed my legs, kind of like from my thighs
down to my ankles, and then she scrubbed my back. And again, obviously, I don’t have any clothes on. And the reason I keep
saying that is, I’m not a crazy modest person, necessarily. Um, but you do have to kind of get over that you are going to be naked in front of somebody that you don’t know, And I you know howI look at it. I bet she’s seen about nine million naked people, and she don’t care.
So, um, I just let her do her thing, ’cause I wanted to have the whole experience, but I do think that’s definitely worth saying out
So after the scrub down, she turned off the whirlpool. I stood up, she wrapped me in a sheet, and then we walked out of the stall
and into the main room. And there were like eight or nine beds in the middle of this room. And the beds are not, like with a mattress. It would remind you more of like an examination table in a doctor’s room would be the best way to explain it. Or maybe like a masseuse’s table. They’re more like that.
And so I lay down on the table ,and she wrapped me, my arms and my legs, in wet, warm sheets, and I lay down. She gave me a cup of cold water that I could sip on, and then she also gave me a cold wash rag that I chose to put on my neck. You could put it
on your head or whatever, and then she just let me lie there. And again. You know, it was all about the warm, and I was happy, as you know, like a little clam there.
She offered for me to go in the sauna if I wanted to, and I declined to do that. And then I went and had a massage, and my
massage was wonderful. It was absolutely every bit as professional as any massage I’ve ever had it any spot anywhere. It was
about 30 minutes long, felt great. That was kind of my whole treatment.
So one of the things that I do want to say about this experience is, if you are somebody who has spa treatments frequently,
whether on vacation or where you live, it’s important to point out, you all, that these are old historic buildings. These are not modern spas. And so, um, the facilities are old, and I don’t mean that they’re dirty or run down. Don’t hear me say
that at all. They’re just old. A lot of people have have gone in and out of those buildings for a really long time. And so don’t go with the expectation that you’re going to a modern spa facility. That’s not what this is. This is really, I think, a super unique and fun way to really have, what I would call. a historic experience.
And I mean, it felt great. I was like a big puddle of mush at the end of it, for sure. And you know, we did it in the morning, But it
would be super great to go in the afternoon and then, you know, go take a big, long nap. But just just know that that you are,
you’re in facilities that have been around a really long time and reflect that age, I guess, is probably a good way to say that.
And now it’s time for a follower shout out. You all, I cannot tell you how much it means to me when you all take the time to drop a positive comment on a blog post I have written or a review on one of my podcast episodes. I truly do appreciate it. And I want to share with you all a comment that
was left by someone I actually know on my podcast. Her name is Paige. She is a real estate agent, and this was her comment.
“Mary, this blog post is a great resource, and we have shared it with many of our clients.” Wow, Paige, that was really kind of you. And really, I think it’s a testament to what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to be a very good resource for travel information, whether it’s
in my own hometown in the United States or even in Europe. And the fact that you all found something that I wrote of such great
value that you share it with your clients, means the world to me! Thank you for taking the time to leave that really sweet comment.
Another way that you can experience the the thermal waters and hot springs, is again at the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa. Ah,
lot of the rooms have hot spring water that comes in directly into the bathtub, through the plumbing in the wall. All of the shower
heads throughout the hotel are modern chlorinated water like you’re used to. But some of the rooms, the plumbing that fills up the bathtub, is actual hot springs water. So that’s really fun. If you if you stay at the Arlington, then you might want to inquire about a
room where you can enjoy the hot springs in your own room as well. I think that’s a really cool aspect of staying in that historic
So once you have enjoyed the bathhouses, there’s a whole lot of other great history to enjoy in Hot Springs. So it was explained to me this way, and I think this is this is a great way to look at it. Back in the day, when you went to Hot Springs, you spent your day in the bath houses or in the spas. You’re taking care of your body and kind of doing all those
things. But then the evening rolls around and there’s got to be entertainment at night, right? So across the street from Bathhouse Row. The entire strip at one time was full of casinos, bars, private clubs, brothels. You know, all kinds of entertainment. And and
that was a really big part of what people did when they went to Hot Springs.
So today, if you want to catch a glimpse of that world, I encourage you to go to the Ohio Club. It’s the only remaining original club and bar in Hot Springs, and Will and I were really excited to get to spend some time with the owner of the Ohio Club. He actually
treated us to lunch. You can eat there, lunch and dinner. They have music every night of the week. And so, over lunch, he
explained to us that a lot of the clubs along that side of the street were named after a different states. There was a Tennessee
Club and a Texas Club, and then we, of course, were sitting in the Ohio Club, which explains the name of the club. But it’s a great piece of Hot Springs history. There’s really interesting photographs and all kinds of really great artifacts decorating the Ohio Club. And the bar back is beautiful. It’s a huge carved wooden bar back. That’s the, I believe, the largest bar back in America, and it’s
beautiful and worth seeing, so definitely stop by the Ohio Club when you’re in Hot Springs.
Another interesting bit of history related to Hot Springs is the connection with early American Gangsters. So when Will and I
stayed at the Arlington Hotel, we actually stayed in the Al Capone Suite. And Al Capone was a very frequent visitor in Hot Springs. He always stayed in the room where we stayed, and actually had
several rooms that were his rooms. And when he was there, he rented out the entire floor because he brought a huge entourage with them of, you know, people and bodyguards and all of that.
But Al Capone was not the only gangster who frequented Hot Springs. So again, thinking about the kind of person who came
there, you had to have money to go there. And certainly Gangsters were making money. And so and there were not many places
to vacation. Remember that we talked about that in the beginning, so they came to Hot Springs just like anybody else did. But the advantage for a lot of the Gangsters really kind of came about during Prohibition. So I’m sure you’re familiar that Arkansas is
known for producing their own brand of, um, product, known as moonshine. And so, in the Prohibition period, the Gangsters would come to Hot Springs to enjoy it as a
resort vacation spot. But they also saw, kind of, an economic opportunity there, and started shipping the Arkansas moonshine
back East. So that, of course, attracted more, you know, kind of more of that element to Hot Springs. So that’s kind of a cool aspect of visiting.
And you can go to the Gangster Museum, which is just a few doors down from the Ohio Club. It takes about an hour to get
through the whole experience, but you’ll learn a lot about many different Gangsters that you’ll recognize their names, and some
that you won’t. But why they came to Hot Springs, what they did, Some of them actually had a lot of contributions, positive
contributions, to the town. And just, kind of, that aspect of American history. So that’s pretty cool.
There’s a lot to do in Hot Springs that I haven’t even talked about in this podcast, and so I want to encourage you to read my full blog post on
everything there is to do in Hot Springs. I will link to it in the show notes. There’s a lot, a lot to interest all different kinds of people. But for me, the most interesting part of Hot Springs was certainly the history with the bathhouses, the gangster history, and being able to see the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa. Those were particularly meaningful to me and really, really entertaining and interesting. And very glad that I went, and
grateful that I was able to have the experience.
And I really encourage you. If you are a fan of history and of American history, and of, you know, beautifully preserved buildings
and places, Hot Springs should be at the top of your list. I encourage you to visit.
All right, that wraps up another episode of The Curious Cowgirl Podcast. I really appreciate y’all being here with me, and I look
forward to talking to you again soon. Bye.