Hotel Review: The historic Capital Hotel in Little Rock
Little Rock’s historic Capital Hotel, considered “the front porch” of the city, has been an integral part of the capital since 1872. It has been used as “unofficial political headquarters” for many politicians over the years, including one of its most famous, President Bill Clinton.
Originally constructed to be a private residence for a Supreme Court justice, who died while the building was still under construction, his heirs became instrumental in finalizing the project.
The Capital Hotel opened its doors to the public in January of 1877.
One of the first places to harness electricity, the oversized electric elevator was built to fit a famous horse. It is said that President Grant, who did not trust leaving his equine outside for fear it would be stolen, could use the elevator to get the animal up to his room.
Through decades of ownership changing hands, several renovations—the final one taking place in early 2000’s, it regained the recognition and awards from the likes of Forbes Travel Guide, and included in the Southern Living Hotel Collection.
“Beyond surviving the wrecking ball, the quality of the work performed over such a long period at the Capital is astonishing,” says Chuck Magill, Director of Marketing. “Had this been a major city, it would have been far more likely to have built a grand hotel but to have undergone so many significant restorations and to have retained the grandeur of the original still fascinates me.”
Magill also notes, “At no time was Little Rock even remotely regarded as a prominent city. As we often joke, it has taken a periodic series of Capital Ideas to have saved the Capital.”
To say The Capital Hotel is stunning from the moment one steps inside its doors is an understatement. Original tile floors anchor the extensive lounge areas inside the grand lobby, all haloed by light cascading through an ornate stained glass ceiling accent. A movie-set looking staircase splits elegantly at the elevated landing– its location at the top of the stairs known as the “Sweet Spot” and the position of choice for important political announcements.
Rooms are equally impressive. My junior suite on the fourth floor was huge with high ceilings, decorated in muted yellows and creams. It boasted a mahogany king-sized poster bed, sitting area with sofa and comfy lounge chairs, and flat panel television.
Updated bathrooms in blonde marble are elegant. Most have double sinks and large soaking tubs.
Other amenities offered are Molton Brown products, signature slippers hanging in little bags with plush bathrobes in the closet, morning newspaper of choice, and turndown service complete with Little Rock’s gourmet confectioner, Lambrecht Toffees, left on guest pillows each night.
The talk of the town is One Eleven at the Capital, downstairs off the main lobby. Opened August 8, 2014 with Chef Joël Antunes at the helm, this iconic space was formally Ashley’s—a formal restaurant where a tony crowd used to eat.
One Eleven changed up the space into a chic gastro-hub with a modern take on epicurean. Also added is the Zinc Bar at the entrance, where guests can dine without a reservation, and order handmade cocktails.
Signature dishes include an appetizer plate of edamame bean hummus with soda-cracker, Caponata—a marinated Sicilian eggplant dish with capers, fresh grilled lobster halved and served simply with sweet butter (sensational), and seared scallops.
The Capital Bar across the lobby serves up salads, sandwiches, artisan cheeses, and their famed hamburger made with 7 ounces of all-natural Creekstone Beef, served with parmesan fries.
Its bar scene comes alive at happy hour, and on Sundays, when most establishments don’t serve alcohol, it’s the place to be.
111 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201