Arkansas: Soaking in the bathhouse


Today I had my first experience with a traditional European-style bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park.

This national park is different than any other we’ve visited in that it’s right in the middle of a town. The centerpiece is Bathhouse Row- several ornate Victorian style bathhouses that date back 100 years ago or more along Central Avenue.


 There are more than 40 natural hot springs in the area that spit out odorless water at 140 degrees Farenheit. They were first enjoyed by American Indians and later Europeans. By the 1800s, some of them saw the springs as a way to make money.

I paid $71 to have the traditional bathing package at Buckstaff Baths seen above. I was taken to the ladies’ section where I stripped in a dressing room and stored my things, then was wrapped in a sheet “Roman style.” I was led to a private hot tub where an attendant scrubbed my legs and feet and then let me relax alone for 15-20 minutes. Heaven!

Next I was taken to a cot where I laid down on steaming hot packs to relax the muscles and my face was covered in a cold towel. It was a little too hot for me so I skipped the leg hot packs. After that I sat in a strange metal sauna box were I breathed in steam and then went to another chamber where I sat in some steaming water to relax my hips. I finished up with a “needle shower” a shower with water coming at you from your neck to your knees rather than just from a spout at the top, and then a magnificent Swedish massage.

It was odd to get naked in front of strangers but it was an extremely relaxing experience in luxurious surroundings. I would do it again.

Once my spa experience was done, I took the boys out for a lovely stroll on the Grand Promenade behind Bathhouse Row while Lee took his turn getting a manicure and pedicure. The promenade was a wonderful brick walkway lined by trees and surrounded by rolling hills.  

  I really wish we could stay here longer. I could get used to this. 

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