If you’re planning a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas you definitely cannot miss checking out the famous Hot Springs Arkansas Bath Houses.
Hot Springs Arkansas is most commonly known for Bathhouse Row, a collection of bathhouses that were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s also one of 63 U.S. National Parks.
All of the bathhouses on Hot Springs Bathhouse Row were built over naturally occurring hot springs. The thermal water is siphoned into the bathhouses where you can enjoy soaking in the mineral water.
This might sound great to you, but once you do some research you will find it is quite hard to understand what the bathing experience at these hot spring Arkansas bathhouses will be like.
When we visited Hot Springs, Arkansas we took some time to learn about each bathhouse and what it was used for in the past as well as what it is used for now.
We absolutely loved our experience visiting Hot Springs Arkansas National Park so we put this article together to give you all the information you need to know about the different bathhouses you will find on Hot Springs Arkansas Bathhouse Row.
Must-Do Experiences in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Besides visiting the National Park and checking out the historical bathhouses Hot Springs Arkansas has to offer, there are a couple of must-do activities that we recommend if you are looking to enhance your time in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Staying at the Hale is definitely the coolest experience you can have at Hot Springs National Park. Hotel Hale is the oldest building on Bathhouse Row and has been renovated into a boutique hotel.
The rooms are absolutely gorgeous and every room has a soaking tub where the hot spring mineral water is pumped directly into the room. So if you’re looking for Hot Springs Arkansas hotels with mineral baths, Hotel Hale is your #1 choice.
Click here to check availability at Hotel Hale. Make sure to book in advance, there are only 9 rooms at this boutique hotel and they get booked up fast!
Staying at the Arlington Hotel is another great option if The Hale isn’t within your budget.
The Arlington Hotel is just down the street from Bathhouse Row and has just as much history within its walls. Al Capone, Babe Ruth & Franklin Roosevelt have all enjoyed staying here in the past.
This zipline course is a blast and such a fun thing to do during your Hot Springs visit. This is a great way to get out in nature and see the gorgeous old-growth forest that surrounds the city.
About the Hot Springs Arkansas Bath Houses
You might be here wondering, “What is a bathhouse?” Bathhouses were used in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a place to relax and to cure ailments.
Back in the early 1900s, every bathhouse that you see on the Hot Springs Bath Row used to be an operational bathhouse. The bathhouse row became a thing when settlers in the late 1800s discovered the abundance of hot springs in the area.
Although, Native Americans had been coming to Hot Springs for some time before that, and viewed the area as a sacred, neutral area.
Nowadays, there are only 2 hot springs bathhouses still functioning where you can soak in the thermal mineral waters- the Quapaw and the Buckstaff Bath House.
Because the entire town gets its water from the springs, there are some hotels where if you stay for the night, you can take advantage of soaking in the thermal mineral water if you aren’t up for the idea of the bathhouses.
Once people started realizing how special the springs were, the town grew enormously in a short time. The government took notice and quickly made the town into a protected area so people would not destroy the natural state of the springs.
Not long after Bathhouse Row reached completion, Hot Springs was designated as a National Park- and is now known as the oldest established area in the National Park system.
The 8 Hot Springs Arkansas Bathhouses
Below are the 8 bathhouses Hot Springs has and they are all located next to each other on Bathhouse Row. When visiting Hot Springs, we suggest taking a look inside each of the bathhouses to get a feel for what they were like back when the town was extremely famous.
Each bathhouse is different and attracts different people, so it’s fun to look at the differences and decide which one would have been your favorite back in the day.
1. The Buckstaff Bathhouse
The Buckstaff Hot Springs Bathhouse is the only bathhouse that has been in full operation since it opened its doors in 1912. Which for us makes it one of the coolest bath houses Hot Springs Arkansas has to offer!
The Buckstaff offers a traditional bathing experience and is the same thing you would have gotten if you had come here in the early 1900s. All of the bathtubs and equipment are original, making for a super interesting historical experience!
If you’re curious about what the bathing experience is like at the Buckstaff, click here to jump to that section of the article.
2. The Fordyce Bathhouse
The Fordyce Bathhouse is now the Hot Springs Arkansas Visitor Center. Out of all the bathhouses in Hot Springs Arkansas, the Fordyce was the most elaborate and most expensive bathhouse on the bathhouse row.
The Fordyce closed its doors in 1962 when bathhouses started becoming less popular.
Now serving as the Bathhouse Row Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center and as a museum, you can tour the entire bathhouse and see precisely how it looked in the past.
3. The Hale Bathhouse
The Hale was built in 1892 and is the oldest structure you can see on Bathrow. The Hale was also the first of the bathhouses in Hot Springs AR to offer more modern conveniences to visitors, making it an exciting and glamorous bathhouse in its day.
During operation, the Hale was also the only bathhouse to have a thermal cave carved out of the mountainside and attached to the back of the bathhouse. The cave is no longer in use, but back in the day, the cave made the Hale the best bath house in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The Hale has recently been renovated into a boutique hotel with a restaurant on the first floor. The rooms are completely updated and each has unique historical touches.
Each room also comes with a soaking tub where you can take advantage of soaking in the thermal waters in the privacy of your room.
If you’re interested in spending the night at this historical bathhouse and taking advantage of one of the best Hot Springs, Arkansas hotels with mineral baths, you can make a reservation online here.
4. The Lamar Bathhouse
The Lamar Bathhouse was a unique bathhouse back in the day because it offered tubs with a variety of lengths so people of different heights could enjoy the tubs.
Now, the Lamar Bathhouse is used as the park’s gift shop. It’s a great place to stop in for the silly photo op featured above.
5. The Maurice Bathhouse
In the early 1900s, the Maurice Bathhouse was the first and only Hot Springs bathhouse to provide specialized treatment for people who had polio and other severe muscle and joint issues.
The Maurice was the only bathhouse that employed a registered physical therapist and had a therapeutic pool to treat patients with. The Maurice was also known to provide special services, elegance to its’ customers, and luxurious decor.
We found out while touring around the Hot Springs Arkansas spas/bathhouses that after all the bathhouses being shut down in the ’80s, they were only recently restored and the town has only started to become a tourist attraction in the past 10 years or so!
Because of this, the Maurice is actually the last one of the Hot Springs, Arkansas bathhouses still waiting to be restored and turned into something special for the years to come.
6. The Ozark Bathhouse
The Ozark bath house in Hot Springs Arkansas was built to have a more impressive outside than inside. Back in the day, this bathhouse catered more towards the middle class looking to bathe in the healing Hot Springs Arkansas mineral baths without all the thrills.
The Ozark Bathhouse is now being used as the town’s cultural center and houses park events and programs. When we were there, there was a nice art gallery on display that we enjoyed walking through.
7. The Quapaw Bathhouse
If you’re looking for where to soak in Hot Springs Arkansas, the Quapaw Bathhouse is the place. The Quapaw bathhouse is one of the two bathhouses where the public can soak in the hot springs water today.
Back when the Quapaw was built, it was a moderately priced bathhouse. The Quapaw was named after a local Native American tribe who briefly owned the surrounding area after the Louisiana Purchase.
The Quapaw became quite famous back in the day for the natural hot spring in the basement that you could see (a lot of the springs are underneath the ground or hidden out of public view.)
If you decide to pay and use the steam cave at the Quapaw Bathhouse Hot Springs Arkansas you will have a chance to see the spring through a glass window!
8. The Superior Bathhouse
The Superior Bathhouse was our favorite of all the bathhouses because it is now a brewery! We loved this brewery as it’s one of the most unique we’ve ever been to.
Back in the day, the “Superior” was a paradox as it was the smallest of the bathhouses on the Hot Springs bathhouse row. People who came to the Superior came for just the healing waters rather than all the frills associated with the bathhouses back in the day.
This Hot Springs Arkansas Brewery is the only brewery in the United States that is located inside a National Park.
Fun Fact: All the beer brewed at the Hot Springs brewery is made with natural spring water- which comes straight out of the springs at a temperature of 144 degrees Fahrenheit!
Bonus: The Arlington Hotel
The Arlington Hotel, in our opinion, is the best bathhouse hotel Hot Springs Arkansas has to offer. Even though it isn’t on Bathrow, it is just as iconic a building as the bathhouses.
Located on the corner of Fountain and Central, right across the street from Bathhouse Row, the hotel that is still there today is the third version of its kind and was built in 1924.
If you are visiting Hot Springs, we would highly suggest getting a room at the Arlington as the prices are comparable or even cheaper than hotels such as the Holiday Inn.
That way you can experience an interesting stay at a historic hotel that has a history of luxury and class as many famous people have stayed such as Babe Ruth, Barbra Streisand, and U.S. presidents like Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and George H.W. Bush.
Our favorite part of the hotel is the bar, where you can grab a drink and imagine what it would have been like drinking here many years ago.
Inside Tip: If you can, try and request to stay in room 443. This room was a favorite of Al Capone and the whole floor was often rented out for his staff and bodyguards.
Best Bathhouses in Hot Springs Arkansas
Wondering which is the best bathhouse in Hot Springs? Honestly, there really is no better bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park, as one is not better than the other, they are just different.
There are only two functioning bathhouses left in Hot Springs Arkansas and each comes with a totally different experience.
Keep reading to learn about our experience at the Buckstaff vs the Quapaw so you can decide which bathhouse you’d like to visit!
The Buckstaff vs. Quapaw
Below, we will explain what each bathhouse experience is like, and hopefully, we’ll help you decide which one is best for you, or if time allows, maybe you’ll decide to try out both!
Our Experience at the Buckstaff Bathhouse
The Buckstaff Bathhouse is the only bathhouse that has been in full operation since it opened its doors.
If you would like to experience what bathing at a traditional bathhouse was like back in the late 1800s- early 1900s then we would highly suggest visiting the Buckstaff.
The Buckstaff offers modern-day services such as manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. Although, if you’re looking for the best bath house in Hot Springs experience, you have to do the Traditional Bathing Package.
What to Expect with the Traditional Bathing Package:
Upon arriving, men and women are separated and taken to a locker room where you undress and wrap yourself in a towel. You will then meet your bath attendant who will take you to your first treatment in the Whirlpool tub.
Since the Buckstaff Hot Springs Arkansas Bathhouse is completely original, the bathing experience will be like it was in the early 1900s.
There are many whirlpool tubs in a room (each is separated with a curtain so you will have some privacy while undressing and soaking.) The tubs are the original cast iron tubs and each has a thermostat so you can see the temperature of the thermal water coming out.
FYI– the photos below are photos from the museum as photos aren’t allowed in the actual bathhouse since people are, ya know, naked.
After soaking in the whirlpool tub for about 20 minutes your bath attendant will come to rub your skin with a loofa to increase circulation. You will then be taken to have a hot towel treatment. Your attendant will place and wrap your body in hot towels and place a cool towel on your forehead.
Next, you will be taken to a sitz bath, a small tub where you sit just the lower part of your body (your butt and lower back) and let your upper half and legs hang out. It is meant to relax your back and hip area. You will hang out here for around 10 minutes and then go to the steam box.
The steam cabinets are metal boxes that you sit in and just your head sticks out. Your bath attendant will wrap towels around your neck so the steam can’t escape. The steam box will make you sweat like crazy and after about 5 minutes you will be taken to the last treatment of the bathing experience.
The last treatment is a “needle shower” where there are shower heads that engulf you and spit out water.
Don’t worry, it sounds intense but the pressure of the water is more relaxing than needle-like. After you are rinsed off you will be taken to a cooling room where you can hang out for 10-20 minutes and bring down your body temperature.
Everything experienced at the Buckstaff is how they did it back in the day, so if you’re looking for the best bathhouse in Hot Springs for a traditional bathing experience, you can’t beat the Buckstaff!
Our Experience at The Quapaw Bathhouse
The Quapaw Bathhouse in Hot Springs Arkansas is more of a modern-day spa rather than a bathhouse. If you want to soak in the thermal waters you can either make an appointment for a private bath or you can spend some time at the public pools.
The public pools are a great way to experience soaking in the mineral-rich waters without spending a lot of money. It costs $25 per person (plus tax) to spend the day at the pools. There are 4 different thermal water pools set at different temperatures.
The staff explained to us that you’re supposed to spend about 10-15 minutes in one of the hot pools and then 10-15 minutes in a cooler pool and go back and forth. The changing of temperatures helps with circulation in the body.
There is also a cafe inside the public bath area where you can grab a bite to eat or get a smoothie.
Besides the public baths, the Quapaw offers a lot of different spa services such as massages, manicures/pedicures, facials, body treatments, blowouts, and waxing.
They also have a wide variety of spa packages making it very easy to spend a relaxing day at this historic bathhouse.
The Quapaw also has a stream cave that you can add to any spa treatment or public or private bath session. The steam cave was built over a spring and allows the radiant heat from the spring to fill the cave with mineral-rich steam.
The steam cave is $15 per person for 15-20 minutes and reservations are required.
What to Expect at the Public Pools:
You are required to wear a swimsuit as the pools are co-ed. Once we were checked in at the front desk and paid we were escorted to the locker rooms and given a key for a locker with a wristband to keep on your wrist while in the pools.
You must shower before entering the pools and rinse off all deodorants, lotions, and makeup to make sure to not disturb the natural balance of the mineral pool water. Once showered you may enter the public pool area.
A bath attended brought us a glass of mineral water to drink and then we chose to soak in the pools. After a while, we grabbed something to eat and lounged on the lounge chairs.
The Buckstaff vs. The Quapaw Pros & Cons:
Buckstaff Pros: At the Buckstaff you will get a chance to step back in time and experience what it would have been like to bathe at a bathhouse back in the early 1900s. There are no other places to have an experience like this so it’s definitely a must while visiting!
Buckstaff Cons: If you are shy at all, the Buckstaff might be a bit of a weird experience. You are required to be nude throughout the Traditional bath experience and are just given a towel to wrap around yourself. All of the bathing stations are in one big room so it can get crowded and uncomfortable if you are modest.
The equipment at the Buckstaff is also all original, so the tubs and showers are not sparkling white like you would imagine at a modern-day spa.
If you are a germ-a-phobe at all, this experience might not be for you as there is a lot of rust and mineral build-up from years of use. Do note though, that everything is sanitized and completely clean- it just might not look like it.
Quapaw Pros: The Quapaw is in a historical building but has been turned into a modern-day spa so it is the best of both worlds. The Quapaw is definitely the best place to combine the hot springs with a spa and get a hot springs massage. The Quapaw is also the only place in Hot Springs where you can enjoy the thermal mineral waters without paying a high price.
Quapaw Cons: Because the Quapaw has been turned into a modern-day spa, you will not get a traditional experience there like you would at the Buckstaff. We enjoyed soaking in the pools but don’t feel like it is something we ever need to do again. The Quapaw has also been remodeled so the bathhouse looks nothing like it did in the early 1900s.
Hot Springs Arkansas Bath House Prices
The Buckstaff Bathhouse Prices:
The Buckstaff prices vary by what type of service you would like done and for how long.
- Swedish Massage: $45
- Whirlpool Mineral Bath (Traditional Bathing Experience): $40
- Traditional Bathing Package (Traditional Bathing Experience + Massage): $89
- Deluxe Bathing Package (Traditional Bathing Experience + Massage + Paraffin Wax): $100
The Quapaw Spa Hot Springs Bathhouse Prices:
There are many different kinds of spa services and hot springs bath house packages that you can choose from at the Quapaw.
The cost varies depending on the length of time you choose and what kind of service you want.
- Massages: $85-$135
- Facials: $90-$155
- Public Thermal Pools: $25 plus tax per person
- Private Baths: $35-$60
- Steam Cave: $15 pp
- Blow Out: $50-$80
The Best Hot Springs Arkansas Spas
If you are looking for the best spa in Hot Springs Arkansas or a modern-day Hot Springs Arkansas spa, the town actually has quite a few Hot Springs day spas where you can get a massage.
Hot Springs AR definitely isn’t known for having modern-day spas, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a nice relaxing day.
Here are some spas in Hot Springs Arkansas that we think are noteworthy:
- Thai-Me Spa: This Hot Springs spa is in downtown Hot Springs right on the strip by the historical bathhouses. Their spa services are affordable and people rave about their massages. This spa is connected to an Argentinian cafe/restaurant (hello Empanadas!) and also an oxygen bar. You could spend an entire day here if you want!
- Spa Botanica: A little off the beaten path, but still close to downtown, this spa has some great reviews on their massages. They offer all kinds of typical spa services and different packages.
- Hot Springs Garden Home Spa & Massage: This spa is located in a cute little house just off the main street where all the action is. They have raving reviews and an adorable atmosphere.
- Ablution Day Spa & Salon: Ablution is located about 20 minutes from the downtown area but is totally worth the drive. The spa is in a cute little boutique shop and offers services ranging from typical spa services to haircuts and styles!
Are there any natural hot springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas?
Many people wonder- are there hot springs in Hot Springs Arkansas? The town of Hot Springs Arkansas is definitely known for having lots of hot springs, but if you are looking to soak in natural outdoor hot springs in Arkansas, unfortunately, you won’t find one here.
This is because the temperatures of the natural hot springs in Hot Springs Arkansas are simply too hot for people to soak in.
Many natural hot springs you find in nature have some sort of river running next to the springs mixing cold and hot water, making it possible to enjoy the thermal waters without burning yourself.
Even though there aren’t any natural springs in Hot Springs Arkansas, Hot Springs is a National Park and there are lots of other ways to enjoy nature while visiting.
We suggest besides visiting the Hot Springs National Park bathhouses, to take a hike on one of the many trails through the park!
Best Time To Visit Hot Springs Arkansas
The best time to visit Hot Springs Arkansas baths and town is when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold.
We would recommend going from February to May or in the fall from September to November. It will still probably be pretty hot in September but some years it is already starting to cool off by then.
The busiest months to visit Hot Springs are July, February, and May. So if you’re looking to avoid crowds we would suggest visiting another time.
Best Places to Stay in Hot Springs Arkansas
- The Lofts at Vault is on the same block as the bathhouses, restaurants, and all the shops. The building was built in the 1890’s so there is a lot of historical charm, but the loft has been completely updated and is absolutely gorgeous!
- The Hideaway – you absolutely cannot beat the location of this cute little house. Located right on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs Arkansas this is the perfect spot for your trip to Hot Springs. This is where we stayed when we visited Hot Springs and we really appreciated being so close to the best hot springs in Arkansas.
- The Arlington Hotel & Spa – What list of places to stay in Hot Springs would be complete without mentioning The Arlington Hotel and Spa? If you’re looking for a Hot Springs Arkansas bath house hotel- we definitely recommend The Arlington- it’s a must-see stop for any visitor to Hot Springs.
LOOKING FOR MORE PLACES TO STAY?
Check out the Best Bed and Breakfasts in Hot Springs Arkansas
We hope this article about the Hot Springs Arkansas Bathhouses helps you plan your trip! We would love to connect with you! You can learn more about us here or read more of our recent blog posts here. Also, follow us on Instagram (@UnearthTheVoyage) and Facebook to see what we are up to next!