A Little Rock “Staycation” Anniversary Part 1

July 31st, 2013 by Lisa

This past weekend was my 3 year anniversary (yay us!) and I had big “go out of town” plans.  Unfortunately, these coincided with vacation plans of Bob and Sharon (the Empress and her consort).  So I would be spending my vacation at The Empress.  After a brief moment of disappointment, I realized that this was a blessing in disguise.  There was no way I was ever going to find a hotel or B&B nicer than The Empress (in my humble opinion), so I set out to plan an amazing “staycation” anniversary right here in Little Rock.

 

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To start the weekend off with a bang, we stayed in The Hemingway Suite, which I personally believe is the best room in town.  Check out this luxurious room:

 

 

 

 

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Thanks to a restaurant.com suggestion, we had dinner at Lulav Italian Kitchen.  I must add that this restaurant was also recommended by guests from the week before who said that I absolutely must try to Portobello Mushroom appetizer.  And I did.  And it was every bit as delicious as they claimed.  I had a filet mignon that was heavenly and my husband had Shrimp and Lobster Newberg…I was tempted to lick his plate!  Check out their menu.

 

 

 

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After a night in a super soft feather bed (and a whirl in the Jacuzzi tub) we were ready for a busy day.  We got up early and had breakfast at The Root Café.  Only blocks from the Empress on Main Street, this local favorite is a must-do for vacationers.  My eggs banh mi were amazing as was Travis’s omelet and it was all filling, but not so heavy that we couldn’t participate in our next activity:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pinnacle mountain sunset

 

Hiking up Pinnacle Mountain.  I was so excited about this as it is always one of my favorite activities.  Unfortunately this is not one of the times where everything went smoothly.  I somehow lost the path and decided to blaze the mountain with no trail.  Horrible idea.  30 minutes later I was sitting on a rock whining about the pain.  Those trails are marked for a reason people!  Follow them!

 

 

Check out our next blog for lunch, dinner, massage and ICE CREAM!  And the rivertrail!!!

 

The Empress of Little Rock “Only in Arkansas”

July 31st, 2013 by Lisa

sign and flowers

KARK 4 reporter Josh Berry came out last week and met with “The Empress” herself, Sharon Welch-Blair.  The two discussed the historical significance of The Hornibrook Mansion and the beauty of it’s architecture.  So why is this amazing structure so uniquely Arkansan?  In the words of Innkeeper Jessica Ledbetter (that’s me!)” You’re sitting on a foundation of Little Rock blue granite.  All the bricks were construction bricks baked right here on site. Even the wood was milled here in Arkansas.”

Watch the segment on The Empress of Little Rock!

Art Exhibits, Fashion Exhibits, Little Rock has a bit of it all Exhibits!

July 16th, 2013 by Lisa

little rock skyline for blog

If you are thinking that there isn’t enough to-do in Little Rock for a weekend getaway…think again!  Here are just a few of the exhibits that will be in town this month:

1) “How People Make Things” at the Museum of Discovery”-this exhibit was inspired by the factory tour segments from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and offers hands on activities using real factory tools and machines to create objects with four manufacturing processes: molding, cutting, deforming and assembly.  Dress up in coveralls, lab coats, aprons, safety glasses, boots and hardhats to become a factory technician, worker or supervisor.  You can also use a die cutter, operate a mill to carve a block of wax, assemble golf cart parts, mold pourable wax or play a matching came where audio clues and stories help you match a person to the object they make.  This exhibit runs through September 22.

2) “Oscar de la Renta: American Icon”- This is an original exhibit curated especially for the Clinton Center.  Trace the fashion evolution and inspiration of Oscar de la Renta from the Dominican Republic, Spain, France and the United States.  The exhibit will feature more than 30 of de la Renta’s iconic creations worn by style leader ranging from First Ladies to Hollywood stars.  Runs through December 1.

3)”Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London”- this special exhibition showcases 48 masterpieces from the collection known as the Iveagh Bequest.  These paintings reside at Kenwood House, a neoclassical villa in London.  This exhibit is a unique opportunity to view these paintings, many of which have never before traveled to the United States and are rarely seen outside of Kenwood House.  Can be seen at The Arkansas Arts Center through September 8.

4) “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!”- an exhibit featuring the state’s ties to Hollywood, through both movies and television.  There are artifacts related to films shot on location in the state, actors born in Arkansas and literary figures whose works were the basis for films shot in Arkansas.  Five galleries exhibit costumes, scripts, film footage, awards, photographs, theatre posters and props.  The cast of the exhibition includes Mary Steenburgen, Harry Thomason, Julie Adams, Lisa Blount, Johnny Cash, Gail Davis, Levon Helm, James Bridges, Jeff Nichols and Joey Lauren Adams among others.  Runs through March of 2015 at the Old State House Museum.

And don’t forget the Empress, an exhibit of Victorian living at its finest!  There are daily tours at 11:30 and 3:30, high teas and of course: overnight stays in all of our luxurious bed and breakfast rooms!

 

Great Time Had by all at Independence Day Celebration!

July 10th, 2013 by Lisa

We love having friends, family, neighbors and guests to entertain, so nothing is better than having them all together!  Our 4th of July celebration (which we combined with the Hornibrook Mansion’s 125th birthday celebration) was so much fun!  All of our nearest and dearest gathered in our gardens to eat, drink and be merry.  Friendships were renewed and new friendships made and potluck dishes were shared by all.  We adore this yearly tradition and cannot wait for next year to do it again!

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Independence Day Brunch at The Empress

July 2nd, 2013 by Lisa

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Guest, Friends, Family and Neighbors, don’t forget the Picnic Lunch on The Empress grounds this Thursday for the 4th of July.  Bring a dish to share and we will enjoy good times and friendly conversations.  Brunch starts at 9 am.  Coffee, juice boxes for the kids and mimosas will be provided by The Empress and the DNA!  We can’t wait to see you.  Afterwards, treat yourself to a free day at the Clinton Presidential Museum and then listen to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra serenade you as fireworks explode at POPS at the River!

 

Happy Independence Day!!!

125th Birthday Brings Celebration and Discounts to The Empress!

June 18th, 2013 by Lisa

empress-mobileWe have donned our party hats and blown out the candles for 125th birthday of the Hornibrook Mansion, also known as The Empress of Little Rock.  We want to invite everyone to join in this momentous celebration, so we are offering a summer birthday special!  Between now and Labor day if you stay two or more days, we will take 25% off of your room price!

The Empress of Little Rock was originally built in 1888  by Saloon Keeper James H. Hornibrook and is known regionally as the finest example of Gothic Queen Anne architecture. Totally restored into Little Rock’s most award-winning bed and breakfast in 1995, entering the Empress of Little Rock is like taking a step back in time. With an authentic peek into Victorian opulence; Whether you are lounging in our gentleman’s parlor or soaking in an antique claw foot tub (original to the house!) you are sure to feel as if you should don your petticoats or top hat and ride off in a horse and carriage. But don’t mistake historic as dated, as The Empress offers the finest of modern day conveniences including featherbeds, museum quality antiques, state of the art hydro massage spa showers, steam and aromatherapy and first class business amenities including wi-fi and on site conference center. Located at 2120 Louisiana Street, The Empress is open to the public for tours Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Groups by pre-arrangement.

The Empress of Little Rock is the subject of numerous magazine articles including Delta Sky Magazine, Southern Women, Southern Living, Arkansas Times, National Geographic Traveler, Country Inns, Victorian Decorating Lifestyles, Victorian Homes, and programs on HGTV. For further information, please call (501) 374-7966.

Have You Tried any of Our Add-on Packages???

June 11th, 2013 by Lisa

If not, now is the time!  Up the romance of your next visit by having breakfast delivered to your Suite by our bow-tied butler (or an aproned maid).  Have an icy bottle of champagne waiting in your room in a silver server upon arrival.  How about chocolate truffles, or strawberries stuffed with sweetened cream cheese and then dipped in chocolate and rolled in hazelnuts!?!  If you want a more substantial meal waiting for you, try our Bridal Supper, with crusty bread, pate, gourmet cheeses and condiments, fresh fruit and a decadent dessert.

We can also arrange for you to go sailing on Lake Maumelle, take a carriage ride through the Quapaw Quarter Historic District, visit a romantic waterfall or have a couples massage in the privacy of your own suite.

Ask us about any of our charming add-ons and we will be happy to make your romantic dreams come true!  Call The Empress at 501-374-7966.

 

 

Beautiful Spring Weddings!

May 30th, 2013 by Lisa

We have had several weddings at The Empress over the last couple of months and would like to say congratulations to all of our beautiful brides and grooms!  Whether in our Victorian Parlors surrounded by amazing antiques or in our Secret Garden filled with the sight and scent of hundreds of flowers, our weddings have been gorgeous!  We hope that all of our summer wedding couples are just as happy with their big day!

the-empress-little-rock-wedding-2 justin and juliana brooke and pj aisle boal wedding cake

April Showers brought May Flowers!!!!!

May 7th, 2013 by Lisa

They are here, they are here, they are finally here!  A stroll through the Empress gardens is now a must do event, as Spring flowers are in full bloom.  Every corner you turn brings a new assault of beauty to your eyes (and often your nose) as flowers bloom on bushes, in planters, in beds, around swings and climbing up columns.  The exciting thing is, there are many more to come.  Our fig tree is just now putting out leaves and will soon provide fresh fruit for breakfast.  I am impatiently awaiting the hydrangeas, as they are my absolute favorites!  But in the meantime, there is so much to see that my daily stroll through the gardens is the very best part of the work day.

fountain and flowerssign and flowerspink flowers and steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring is finally Springing!!!

March 28th, 2013 by Lisa

Great Outdoor Adventure at the Big Dam Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas

a beautiful sunset on The Big Dam Bridge

Whew! I thought Spring would never get here…now I know not to trust that groundhog ever again!  With warm weather finally coming to Arkansas, some of our packages that include outdoor elements are becoming VERY popular.

Our Great Outdoors Package includes biking, hiking, picnicing and massages (sounds like a perfect weekend to me).  We include bike rental for the RiverTrail, an amazing  trail that is crowned by the Big Dam Bridge, the U.S.’s longest pedestrian only bridge.  Then we direct you to Pinnacle Mountain for a lazy hike by the Little Maumelle River on the Kingfisher Trail, or a more strenuous climb up the mountain on the East Summit Trail.  We provide you with a champagne picnic for one of your excursions, and granola and bottled water for the other.  Relax afterwards with a massage in the privacy of your room…a perfect weekend!!!riverfest logo

Memorial Day and Riverfest are also coming up very quickly!!!  If you haven’t already made plans to come into Little Rock for Riverfest, do it now!  There is no better place in Arkansas to be that weekend than at it’s largest outdoor music and food festival.

The Empress offers a special package to those coming to town to enjoy the music, the fun and the fireworks (the Osborne Family Fireworks are always an amazing show).

Package includes:

  • Three nights in the room of your choice (Rates vary by room)
  • Three gourmet two course breakfasts by candlelight
  • Three Day Pass to Riverfest
  • Registration to the Rock-N-Stroll 5K  (registration required by Friday, May 27th for T Shirt)
  • Fireworks and Symphony Preformance on the Grounds Sunday, May 29th
  • All the rest and relaxation after the Events you need in the gardens or the porch swing at The Empress