If my budget allowed, I’d hire the designer who decorated The Reserve at Hot Springs. The décor is elegantly homey with gorgeous fabrics, plenty of comfortable seating areas and practical touches. I could have lounged on the front porch all day.
This 12-bedroom property, which is housed in a former private mansion, opened in 2021 across from the Oaklawn Park race track and has hosted one major film/TV star and other happy guests who give it a 5-start rating.
Our gourmet breakfast included Greek yogurt with carrot marmalade, crème brûlée French toast and braised short rib hash.
Where: The Reserve at Hot Springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Why You Should Visit: Luxury boutique hotel with gourmet breakfast
What Makes It Special: Elevated southern hospitality with location in resort town across from the racetrack.
Retirement didn’t really suit Rhonda and Mark McMurry. “We sold our pharmaceutical company and bought a house on the lake. After about six months, we looked at each other and said, ‘now what?’” Mark said.
“That’s when we decided to come look at the W.C. Brown House that was on the market. A few years and a few million dollars later, we opened The Reserve at Hot Springs,” he said.
The home, located on Central Avenue, was familiar to everyone in the area and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 16, 1986. It was built in the Queen Anne style in 1890, then updated with a Neoclassical style in 1919.
They bought the home from their friend Rick Williams, who purchased many of the antique reproductions in the home and is still involved in the project.
As with any renovation, the McMurrys faced a few surprises along the way, including how much work was needed to meet the fire code regulations for a commercial property.
The 12 guest rooms all have a unique décor, which includes wallpapered bathrooms with chandeliers and huge stand-alone tubs that just beg you to fill them with bubbles and jump in. Some rooms have amenities that include a fireplace and private patio. Glasses and a bottle of water are thoughtfully place on the nightstand, an amenity I appreciate.
Each room has a name that pays homage to the area, like Ouachita, named after the main mountain range and river that runs through Hot Springs, and The Buckstaff after one of the bath houses on Historic Bath House Row.
There is also a room named The Arlington, after the Arlington Resort & Spa, the grand dame hotel of the city where major social events have been held since 1875. The Arlington is still hosting guests and is about to embark on a long-awaited massive renovation.
Please see our related story: Things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas
In addition to the rooms in the main house, there are five bedrooms in the house next door. The home was not part of the original property, but when an older woman who lived in the home died, the McMurrys purchased it, renovated it and opened it as the Legacy House. I could just picture an amazing girls getaway or a trip with four other couples here.
A former potting shed, adjacent to the Conservatory, was redone as The Enclave Suite. The floor is original but the ambience had a major upgrade with pieces like the copper tub and crystal chandelier. This is an excellent choice for a romantic getaway.
The spacious living areas of the home still have the original wood-paneled walls. The dining room has a gorgeous hand-painted mural that took the artist Randy Groden four months to complete.
Guests at The Reserve are treated to a magnificent breakfast in the dining room. The morning I was there we had a three-course meal that started with a covered dish of Greek yogurt with granola, blueberries and mandarin oranges topped with carrot marmalade.
“Carrot marmalade sounds weird,” Rhonda said as she served us and I had to silently agree. “But it’s delicious.”
She was right. I hadn’t tasted anything quite like it and despite my resolve to pace myself to leave space for the remaining two courses, I ate every bite. That dish was followed by crème brûlée French toast and braised short rib hash. Truly delicious.
The food is prepared by Chef Joshua Garland, who lives in an apartment on the property, and studied at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
The Reserve has gardens, a fire pit and a spacious front porch for guests to relax outdoors. The Conservatory is a popular place for a wedding and can serve as a reception site after the ceremony in the garden.
Guests can also opt to add some of the experiences offered by The Reserve. These include Yoga in the Garden, Tapas in the Dining Room, and Sound Immersion Under the Stars, where guests are guided into deep relaxation with healing instruments in the Conservatory.
Now if you’re wondering about the movie/TV star guest, it was Kevin Costner who has been visiting Hot Springs as he plans to open a museum with memorabilia from his film and music career here.
Why Hot Springs you may ask? Seems that Kevin doesn’t really know himself. In an interview he said, “I don’t know why I chose Hot Springs, but I have. I went there and kind of really dug it, the history of it. It’s kind of like a little Switzerland.”
Apparently, he also dug The Reserve at Hot Springs. And you will too.
– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief