A Stay at the Gorgeous West Baden Springs Hotel
After an hour on a two-lane state route winding through the country– accompanied by much anticipation– we rolled up to the magnificent West Baden Springs Hotel, nestled just outside a small town in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana.
In the hotel’s heyday in the 1910s and 20s, it offered a host of entertainment options including mineral springs baths, two golf courses, bowling, a theater, and a covered two-story bicycle track! Nowadays, with the springs sealed over and entertainment options rather more limited, the grandness of the hotel feels a bit out of place.
Restored after years of dilapidation and neglect, today the West Baden Springs hotel is part of a resort complex that includes a second historic hotel, casino and golf course, and is a mere hour’s drive from Louisville.
Clearly it would be unfair to imply that there is nothing to do in the vicinity of this historic gem; for us, the hotel was a destination in itself.
West Baden Springs hotel was opened to great fanfare in 1902, advertised as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and boasted the world’s largest free span dome (an achievement not overtaken until the 1960s by Houston’s Astrodome).
When the depression hit 27 years later, the hotel limped along for several years, until it was closed and then sold to a Jesuit seminary for just $1.
Rooms at West Baden Springs Hotel
The circular hotel offers rooms that overlook the domed atrium, as well as rooms with exterior views. We got a balcony room overlooking the atrium, which was well worth the splurge.
The view was gorgeous, and even with the cold winter weather outside, it was surprisingly warm and cozy out on the balcony.
And our lovely room! (continuing my grand tradition of never remembering to take hotel photos until I’ve messed up the bed).
I love having a separate water closet!
The Lobby and Amenities at West Baden Springs
If you can pull yourself away from your balcony, the large lobby is beautifully restored, with plenty of spaces for lounging.
Looking out into the atrium from inside the cozy hotel bar.
The indoor pool. There is a second pool out the doors just to the right…and it did look like it was heated, but we weren’t keen on venturing into the cold to try it out!
The hotel even has a small museum, with historical information and items like the original hotel china.
Above, the exterior entrance to the dining room. While the majority of the restoration of the restaurant was unremarkable, the ceiling was quite lovely, and I wish I’d thought to snap a photo with my dslr, but see my Instagram here.
The Hotel Grounds
The grounds are no doubt prettier and much more pleasant to explore in the summer (which, not coincidentally is the hotel’s high season), yet there’s something really wonderful about basking in the warmth and abundance of natural light in the atrium in the middle of the winter. Still, we took some time to explore the grounds before retreating back into the cozy atrium.
Above and below, two of the original springs houses. Sadly, the springs were sealed over by the Jesuit school that occupied the hotel for three decades, in part because they were prone to flooding.
The building and grounds in their original splendor, and then in disrepair in 1995 after enduring wear and dismantling at the hands of the school, followed by nearly a decade of abandonment.
And a couple more to illustrate the incredible amount of restoration work that had to be done!