It only gets better, better and best at Hotel Hale in Hot Springs. A true hidden gem in the heart of downtown Hot Springs, Hotel Hale encompasses everything that makes the town unique. I’ve walked down the street a million times without even realizing this beautiful place was there, but I definitely know about it now.
This cute and quaint boutique-style hotel is owned by Mayor Pat McCabe and his wife, Ellen. The couple, along with their spectacular staff, have truly created an unforgettable experience for anyone who comes in. “Ever sleep in a bathhouse? [This] repurposed bathhouse into a boutique hotel offers modern conveniences in a historic setting,” says Pat McCabe. “Through Hotel Hale, we returned a bathhouse to permanent use which had not occurred since 1978 and preserved its historic structure.”
The architecture of the hotel is breathtaking. The facade features the exquisite characteristics of its historic bathhouse roots. There are nine rooms, each decorated differently and with their own names for a unique experience every time you visit. I stayed in the largest suite at the hotel: the Hale suite. This room is a gorgeous studio apartment-type set up with brick walls, leather furniture and an expansive view of Central Avenue. There were pictures of horses and art that really played into the Hot Springs feel of Oaklawn. One of my favorite features was the freestanding bathtub. When you go to Hot Springs, you have to take a hot bath, and this bathtub was the perfect place. Each tub has thermal water plumbed directly from Hot Springs National Park, bringing the magic right to the hotel room.
Just walking down the halls with beautiful old hardwood floors was a sight. Each room has pretty doors with the name of the suite displayed. “Fordyce,” “Buckstaff,” and “Libby” to name just a few of the different rooms for you to fall in love with. Travel journals are left in the rooms for guests to write about their stay, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading what past visitors had to say. It really adds to the charming personality and intimate atmosphere of Hotel Hale.
One of Mayor McCabe’s favorite features in the hotel is also one of mine, and that is the live wall in the hotel’s restaurant, Eden. Eden is a spectacular space with a large skylight and a wall worthy of its name with live tropical plants. From the moment I stepped into the hidden restaurant tucked away into the back of the hotel, I knew it was going to be amazing. My waiter, Robert Bice, was infectious from the start. He made dinner fun and his knowledge of Hot Springs was astounding.
For my appetizer, I had the steamed mussels – which were amazing – and the Southern cheese dip. Now, this wasn’t an ordinary cheese dip, no. This was pimento cheese served with house-made pork rinds, and it is hands down one of the best dishes I have ever had. I go crazy for some good pimento cheese. I have a food show called the Bucket List, on KARK 4 News, and pimento cheese is always my go-to dish to try at restaurants. This “cheese dip” had just the right amount of heat in the pimento cheese and the crunch and flavor of those pork-rinds really paired well with it. Obviously a very healthy option, this fried pork rind paired with creamy cheese will definitely help you cut down on your carbs! This dish is my number one pick and something you need to try.
Dinner was just as amazing as the starters. I ordered the shrimp & grits (stone ground Arkansas grits with smoked gouda, bacon lardons, diced jalapenos and grilled shrimp) and the filet mignon & Shrimp (6 oz. filet mignon and grilled shrimp served with bordelaise sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and amaretto carrots). The portion size of the shrimp & grits was a massive portion of food that was so good and so affordable for the amount you get. The filet mignon was also on point. I obviously ordered it medium rare because that’s the only way to eat steak, and the flavor was insanely good.
My bartender, Aaron Watts, needs to go into a hall of fame for bartenders because this man can create some delicious drinks. Aaron is a true mixologist and makes all of the mixes at the bar from scratch. I tend to let the bartender tell me what to drink because they know what’s best, and Aaron was right on the money. He made a delicious Bloody Mary (his Bloody Mary mix can take days to make) and a Hale Hibiscus Margarita and that just might be one of the prettiest drinks I’ve ever had. This beautifully pigmented drink is a homemade hibiscus flavor with an intriguing twist on a margarita – an Eden favorite and now my favorite.
The breakfast I had at the hotel is hands down one of the best. I had the French toast (French toast made from challah bread topped with caramelized bananas, toasted pecans, crème anglaise and served with a side of bacon). First of all, this plate could have served a table of four; it was that big. They brought me a spicy syrup to pour over the French toast which added an insane variety of flavors that really worked well together. It was absolutely incredible. I was also brought a plate of chicken and waffles (waffles and a fried drumstick with a spicy sorghum sauce served with a sunny-side up egg). The breading on the drumstick was so crispy and magnificent with the spicy sorghum sauce they served with it. Truly a memorable meal.
I will be back over and over and over. The staff is incredible, the people are incredible and I will never get enough. This hotel has something for everybody. Don’t walk, run to Hotel Hale!
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