1886 Crescent Hotel Arkansas Review: Historic, Haunted and Family Friendly in Eureka Springs

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Aerial view of the Crescent Hotel Arkansas
Photo credit: 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa

The historic Crescent Hotel Arkansas is located in the heart of Eureka Springs, a charming northwestern Arkansas town in the Ozark Mountains. From the rooms to the pools to the spa to its amazing outdoor space and haunted history, the Crescent Hotel and Spa is a rare discovery for a family getaway.

The unique history of the Crescent Hotel & Spa as one of America’s most haunted hotels lured my family and me to book a weekend getaway to explore things to do in Eureka Springs – and take a ghost tour.

Set on 27 acres on the north end of West Mountain, the hotel is surrounded by beautiful wooded scenery. There is an abundance of on-site activities in addition to the historic downtown’s variety of shops, restaurants and attractions.

The first indication that this stay will be memorable is the drive through the charming downtown of Eureka Springs and then up the narrow and winding streets, with its odd angled intersections.

Pros of the Crescent Hotel Arkansas

  •  A variety of room types, including standard rooms, suites and, for larger families, cottages
  • Complimentary self-parking at hotel
  •  Hot tub (reserve through the spa) and outdoor swimming pool with amazing views
  • LOTS of outdoor space including gardens, playground and lawn games
  • Kid-friendly menu options including pizza
  • On-site amenities include a spa, a restaurant and a bar
  • Free wifi
  •  An array of activities for families, such as woodland trails, ghost tours and hiking
  • Pet-friendly rooms and located just above the Eureka Springs Bark Park
  • Resident-friendly cat usually found in the reception area
  • Free shuttle to and from downtown Eureka Springs (7am-11pm) via the front desk concierge
  • Proximity to the Eureka Springs Historic District, which offers a wide range of restaurants and shops, and attractions such as ziplining, hiking and biking in the Ozarks
  • A short drive from a number of Arkansas state parks and hiking trails
View from a cottage balcony at Crescent Hotel Arkansas
Treetop view from the balcony of the cottage we stayed in at the Crescent Hotel Arkansas. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Cons of the Crescent Hotel

  • Limited wheelchair accessibility with only a few accessible rooms
  • For those (like me) allergic to cats, the resident cat might be an issue, although I can report that even on the main floor near the cat, my allergies didn’t bother me.
  • The Crescent Hotel has a reputation for being haunted. Some guests have reported seeing ghosts or hearing strange noises. If you are sensitive to this type of thing, then you may want to consider staying at another hotel.
Cottage bedroom at Crescent Hotel Arkansas
This Grandma was lucky to share this cottage room, one of two bedrooms, at the Crescent Hotel with her 7 year-old granddaughter. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Guest Rooms at the Crescent Hotel Arkansas

Our multigenerational family of five snagged accommodations in Crescent’s Treetop Cottage. Most importantly for us, the family-friendly “treetop” cottage featured two bedrooms on either side of the living room with a sleeper sofa in the living room and large kitchen with dining table, offering us all space of our own.

Our cottage was nestled among the wooded area of Crescent Park with a large private deck with treetop view, two bathrooms, a large living space and kitchen.

My daughter and her husband took the master bedroom with a bath, and my granddaughter and I called dibs on the other bedroom with access to the deck. The grandson crashed in the living room on the pull-out sofa.

Walking up to the Crescent Hotel Arkansas
The walk from the cottages to the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

The living room was the focal point, and our family gathered there in the afternoon and again in the evening after dinner and our ghost tour.

The cottage’s location was secluded, yet just a short walk to the entrance and amenities of the Crescent Hotel.

It was also easy access to the Harmon Park Trail. This trail leads to the Eureka Springs city park about a quarter mile from the trailhead, with skate park, playground, more trails and picnic options. And for families bringing their pet, the city’s Bark Park is also nearby.

Shelves of unburied jars at the Crescent Hotel Arkansas
The jars found buried in the backyard of the Crescent Hotel. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Ghost Tours & Hauntings

I first discovered The Crescent Hotel while watching the popular SYFY series, Ghost Hunters, revealing the hotel’s hauntings. Instead of attempting to deflect this, the owners embraced the spooky stories, offering nightly guided ghost tours ranging from family-friendly to late night haunting.

My family of 5 (including my 7-year-old granddaughter) signed up for the ghost tour, which started on the 4th floor, with check-in outside the Skybar.

As America’s Most Haunted Hotel, the walking tour explores the hotel’s nooks and crannies (including its morgue) and retells the stories of past guests who have “never checked out.”

Crescent Hotel Arkansas morgue on the ghost tour
The spooky morgue on the ghost tour at America’s Most Haunted Hotel, The Crescent. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Our tour included the history of the hotel, interesting to me but not so much the grandkids. The resident ghost stories included two who died falling from the roof (a young Victorian-era woman and a stonemason named Michael) and Room 3500’s Lady in Victorian Lingerie.

Most intriguing is Norman Baker, who purchased the hotel to remodel into the shady Baker Cancer Clinic, and the room with the glass jars found buried in the backyard and filled with various “things.”  

I didn’t get close enough to see what “things” as it creeped me out, but my 16 year-old grandson and I did step into the morgue – and that was definitely scary and claustrophobic.

Bottom line is that it is a fun (and spooky) activity that we all enjoyed.

Chalkboard of guest activities at the Crescent Hotel Arkansas
Check the chalkboard sign at the entrance of the Crescent Hotel to see which guest activities are available each day. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

More Crescent Hotel Guest Activities

Although exploring historic downtown Eureka Springs is a must, the hotel offers plenty of guest activities to keep your family busy.  

To following is a short list of the things to do at the Crescent Hotel:

Lawn Games like Chess and Connect Four at the Crescent Hotel Arkansas
The lawn games at the Crescent Hotel’s Frisco Sporting Club. Photo credit: Diana Rowe
  • Frisco Sporting Club Open Thurs-Mon 5-9pm to hotel guests and the public, the Frisco Sporting Club offers an outdoor bar (with snow cones), s’mores, yard games, hatchet throwing (extra charge), playground, live music and more.
  • Multiple parks and trails for hiking or biking.
  • Outdoor swimming pool and hot tub.
  • Free shuttle to / from downtown Eureka Springs 7am-11pm. This is a particularly important amenity – parking is hard to find in town, and it’s smart when the adults want to enjoy a beer or cocktail.
  • Guest activities change frequently based upon weather and availability. Be sure to check the chalkboard sign at the entrance to the hotel each day.
Pizza at the Skybar in the Crescent Hotel Arkansas
Yummy pizza at the Skybar, a restaurant at the Crescent Hotel. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Crescent Hotel Restaurants

The 1886 Crescent Hotel features three dining options:

Breakfast at the Crystal Dining Room

Open for breakfast daily, 8-11am, the Ozark Mountain Breakfast includes traditional breakfast choices ranging from French toast to omelets on the menu. There’s also an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

We dined on Sunday brunch at the Crystal dining room. In addition to all-you-can-eat brunch selected by the “boys,” an a la carte menu is available – including Eggs Benedict, a favorite of both my daughter and me.

Skybar Gourmet Pizza

Open 11am-11pm on the fourth floor, Skybar features a full bar, indoor and outdoor seating with a deck view overlooking the wooded trails, Frisco Sporting Club below and Eureka Springs beyond. The family favorite was the gourmet pizzas at the Skybar, although we did eye the  “almost world-famous” Crescent Calzone. Other menu items include wings and salads.

“La Cena” Dinner at the Crystal Dining Room

The Italian family tradition of dinner (La Cena) is hosted Thursday through Monday, 5-9pm in the hotel’s dining room. Although we dined at the Skybar on Saturday, the delightful smells of Italian wafted through the reception area. The menu includes appetizers, salads and yummy Italian classics: spaghetti, lasagna, Alfredo, Italian pot roast and more – plus an excellent wine list.

Entrance to the New Moon Spa and hotel hot tub at Crescent Hotel Arkansas
Entrance to the New Moon Spa and hotel hot tub from the grounds at Crescent Hotel. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

New Moon Spa

While I didn’t have the opportunity to try out the New Moon Spa & Salon, I did check it out when exploring the property and passed by the treatment rooms during my ghost tour. The hotel spa is located on the basement level with access to the grounds.

What I love about spas is the serenity and relaxing scents and this one was no different. Spa treatments range from infrared sauna to facials to massages. The hotel’s hot tub is also located outside the door of the grounds entrance and spa lawn.

The hotel spa is also the location of the fitness room with Peloton bikes and treadmills.

View from the Skybar balcony onto the grounds and outdoor swimming pool at Crescent Hotel Arkansas
View from the Skybar balcony onto the grounds, Frisco Sporting Club and outdoor swimming pool at Crescent Hotel & Spa. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

History of the Crescent Hotel & Spa

A member of Historic Hotels of America since 2000, the “Grand Ol’ Lady of the Ozarks” is the epitome of historic preservation, perched above the Eureka Springs Historic District on Prospect Ave. Once a popular destination for the wealthy, including President Warren G. Harding and silent film star Charlie Chaplin, the hotel is now said to be haunted by the ghosts of its former guests and employees.

The Crescent was known as “finest hotel west of the Mississippi” in 1886. Time took its toll and the hotel fell into disrepair. In 1908, it was reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. This institution closed in 1924. It opened again in 1930 as a junior college. After the college closed in 1934, the Crescent was leased as a summer hotel.

Then, in 1937, Norman G Baker, a millionaire and radio personality, became the new owner of Crescent Hotel Arkansas. Baker called himself a “doctor” (without a license) and claimed that he had discovered Eureka Springs’ natural spring water would cure various illnesses, including cancer.

He proclaimed the Crescent to be a health resort and his shady practice went on for years. Rumors of unnatural deaths of his cancer patients abounded, but nothing was ever proven. He was charged with mail fraud in 1940 and sent to prison, leaving the hotel ownerless.

In 1946, a group of men purchased the hotel and ran it until a 1967 fire nearly burned it to the ground.

In May 1997, preservationists Marty and Elise Roenigk purchased the hotel and oversaw a six-year restoration of the property and renovation of the hotel rooms. The Roenigks also own the Basin Park Hotel in downtown Eureka Springs. Today, Elise remains the owner after her husband passed away in 2009.

Crescent Hotel Details

The resort is located at 75 Prospect Avenue in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, near the border of Missouri. It is 45 miles from Fayetteville and 4 hours from Little Rock.

The resort offers free parking, and a free shuttle to and from downtown Eureka Springs, booked through the concierge. Park your car and enjoy your Arkansas vacation.

For more than 20 years, Denver-based freelance writer Diana Rowe has specialized in travel, family, and multigenerational family travel — and rightly so, with 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. She writes for multiple publications including SheBuysTravel.com and PrimeWomen.com, and her own blogs: TravelingInHeels.com & WineLoversVillage.com.
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