In 1891, the building that now houses the Red Rock River Resort opened in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Back then, folks came to the area for the healing powers of its mineral waters. The mineral water thermal springs are still a draw to this historic town. There’s more. Nestled in the Black Hills, Hot Springs is one to put on your worth-a-visit list. Boutique shops, good restaurants and a unique past are part of the allure.
Red Rock River – History in the Hills
I picked Red Rock River Resort for our overnight stay because Hot Springs’ history intrigued me. The hotel is a part of that history. It looks it. Red rocks are a prominent feature of the landscape and a main architectural feature of the town’s historic buildings. Red Rock River Resort is included in the mix. Part of the Minnekahta building block, this pink sandstone beauty was constructed from rocks mined from a nearby quarry.
Where Travelers and Locals Meet
Although updated, this hotel retains a vintage vibe. Step inside the lobby where The 1891 Steakhouse and Bistro is the first greeting. This restaurant and bar combo takes up the hotel’s first floor. The tables and chairs, a mix of two-person cafe style and tables for a larger group are at either side of the entrance. Pressed tile ceilings are original. So is the staircase leading to the 2nd floor. There is a podium style check-in stand but look to the bar for check-in help. The bartender serving up drinks is the manager who also doubles as the host. This is where travelers and locals meet.
When we arrived mid-afternoon, people were at the bar, and a few were in the dining room eating a leisurely lunch. Settle in at the bar to chat with locals or catch a game on the TV. The restaurant’s clientele is also a mix of locals and tourists. We chatted with a man who lives in the apartment building the next block over. He moved to Hot Springs for the VA hospital on top of hill in back of the hotel.
Check-in was simple. The manager handed me a slip of paper with our room number, door code and instructions on how to access Wi-Fi. He also mentioned the refrigerator in the common area on the 2nd floor.
About Red Rock River Rooms
While I walked up the stairs to the 2nd floor, my husband used the elevator. Our room was what I expected for an older vintage hotel. I like vintage and older. I often look for hotels in the historic parts of town for the sense of place and walkability of the downtown offerings. Our king room’s configuration placed the flat screen TV at one end of the long room and the bed at the other. A two-person couch with a coffee table stood at the foot of the bed. The classic American furniture of a carved wooden headboard, two small beside dressers and traditional shade lamps gave off a bedroom vibe.
The framed horse prints hinted at the west. If I were to update the decor, I’d look to the Hot Springs landscape–it’s seriously stunning. Framed photos or art prints would be splendid. There’s a large mural of a buffalo at one end of the street, for example. We didn’t use our room’s coffee maker but asked for coffee at the bar. This was free of charge. After dinner, I ordered a glass of wine and a beer which I took to our room.
Although our room was more old school, the bathroom was updated and modern. A rainfall walk-in shower is one of the well-done touches.
Red Rock River Common Areas and Spa
While I worked on getting in my steps, I looped around the 2nd floor hallway between the guest rooms, the spa, and two shared spaces. The spaces, a large living room of leather furniture, accent chairs and throw pillows, plus a dining area are inviting. The dining area includes the large guest use refrigerator where I stashed our cooler contents alongside other guests’ goods. There’s also a communal microwave.
The spa’s dry heat sauna made from Nordic white spruce paneling and the Korean-style heat room with its heated sand and granite floors are accessible to guests for an extra fee unless you book a Spa room and a Corner Spa Suite. Book ahead for spa services such as massages through the hotel. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check out the spa. Our main focus for our short Hot Springs stay was Wind Caves National Park and seeing as much as the town as possible.
What to See Up the Hill
Before we headed to Wind Cave National Park, we hoofed it up the flights of stairs to the top of the hill above the hotel. Totally worth it for the view and the Fall River Pioneer Museum. The museum, an impressive Richardsonian Romanesque style building was once the elementary school. Built out of sandstone and opened in 1893, the rooms today hold a trip back in time. Collections from buttons to handcrafted tools, furniture, medical equipment and more are displayed in groupings with interpretive signage. There’s a toy room, music room, pioneer market among the bounty. This is really a gem of a museum. If you’re in Hot Springs, don’t miss it.
Room rates at Red Rock River Resort are seasonal. We booked our room through Hotels.com for $181. Check out the hotel’s website for availability and package deals, particularly if you are interested in using the spa.
Post and photos by Jamie Rhein