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Archive for the ‘The Empress of Little Rock’ Category

Halloween at The Empress of Little Rock!

October 31st, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Halloween is the best time of year to visit one of Little Rock’s real haunted houses! The Hornibrook Mansion (now known as The Empress of Little Rock) has always been the subject of much speculation. When it comes to whether or not it is haunted, visitors draw their own conclusions.

Mr. James H. Hornibrook, who was the original owner of the house, died of an apoplectic stroke outside the front gate at the age of 49. The house has also been the site of a boarding house for women during WWII, a nursing home, and a private residence for Colonel Asbury Fowler. You can read the complete history of the mansion and it’s hauntings here!

Each year, staff at The Empress hand out candy to neighborhood children trick-or-treating at the mansion. They also play host to Haunted Tours of Little Rock which brings a group through each Friday night in October.

Halloween isn’t the only time we celebrate at The Empress! Christmas and New Years Eve are always a favorite as well. Mark your calendars now to attend Christmas in the Quarter. Our annual Christmas Grand High Tea takes place Sunday, December 4 at 3 PM. The ‘Downton Abbey’ New Year’s Eve gala is a formal affair. Dine on a scrumptious four course meal paired with wines chosen by our exclusive Sommelier. Dance your way into 2017 while sipping champagne as live musicians play into the evening. Call 501-374-7966 for more details!


Top Places for Sunday Brunch in Little Rock?

October 7th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Here at The Empress, we’d like to think we are a bit of an authority on both beds AND breakfasts! So, it should come as no surprise that we have the scoop on the best restaurants for Sunday brunch in Little Rock. Of course, we’d love for you to stay with us, but when you leave, please check out these local faves and let us know what you think!

Biggest Brunch Menu in Little Rock

Chef Abernathy and the crew at Loca Luna have had a longstanding Sunday Brunch that has been  voted “Best Brunch” by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, At Home in Arkansas, and Sync Weekly. The “Champagne Brunch” boasts plenty of breakfast specialty items as well as their salads, sandwiches and brick oven pizzas!

Best New Brunch in Little Rock

Raduno is the new kid on the block of SOMA, but they’ve been doing brunch for a while now and not just pizzas! You can also get lemon ricotta pancakes, French Toast and Lox among other selections. The menu is limited, but perfect for this new Main Street staple. They’ve also just added a great patio for enjoying the fall weather!Sunday Brunch sandwich board outside on sidewalk of Raduno


Best Brunch in Little Rock You Didn’t Know About

B-Side cafe is the “alter ego” of Lilly’s Dim Sum. Only open Saturday and Sunday from 8-2PM, It is difficult to get a seat in this “secret” restaurant. Come inside the Lilly’s Dim Sum location in Market Street Shopping Center off Rodney Parham and you will find an eclectic mix of folks from after church diners, to just got out of bed teenagers. The Menu is just large enough with selections like Farmer’s Hash (add the two poached eggs!), Biscuit Mountain (get the bacon bridge), and Bacon Wrapped French Toast Kebabs.


 Local Favorite

Just down the street from The Empress is The Root Cafe. For local foodies, it doesn’t get much better than this. Sustainable practices, local food and community serving are all things that describe this tiny Main Street start up. Since 2009 The Root has continued to make good on the promise of sourcing from local farmers and list what ingredients they buy right on their website. With grants they have received from HLN TV and Chase bank, they may be opening soon for dinner. Right now it’s breakfast that is the standout. The Biscuits and Gravy are much talked about and it’s the only place in town to get a Tofu Scramble.


‘Sunday Best’ Brunch

Looking to do brunch in more posh setting? Cache restaurant in the Rivermarket has you covered. Chic and modern decor and open air kitchen are both featured in this busy downtown eatery. Cache has been serving brunch for over a year now, but it is still considered one of the areas best kept secrets. There is no menu posted on their website, however, a quick glance at their facebook page shows rave reviews for their Sunday brunch. Classic items like omelettes and Eggs Benedict are served alongside French-press coffee. Cache oozes atmosphere which makes it a MUST on our list.




2016 Arkansas State Fair Coming Soon to Little Rock

September 29th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

State fair ride as seen at night
One of the biggest crowd producing events of the year is only 15 days away! The Arkansas State Fair begins October 14 with competitive events, live entertainment, livestock and everyone’s favorite- the food!

The current Arkansas State Fair has been a tradition since 1938. Several incarnations, both before and after, were held on both sides of the river and in many different locations. In 1945 The Arkansas Livestock Show Association accepted an offer of several acres from the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. This land on Roosevelt Road would be the permanent home. Today the State Fairgrounds Complex consists of 135 acres North, East and South of Roosevelt. Read more about the history here.1948 black and white Arkansas State Fair advertisement

This year boasts a stellar entertainment line-up including 80’s pop sensation Rick Springfield and Country music legend Clint Black. The much anticipated bull riding competition on Saturday, culminates with the crowning of the Arkansas State Fair Rodeo Queen.

Want to know what crazy food will be featured this year? Usually, Arkansas State Fair fare consists of anything and everything deep fried and on a stick. The official food guide hasn’t been revealed yet, but take a peak at last year’s roundup courtesy of our friend Kat Robinson of Tie Dye Travels.

Stay with us!

There is still time to reserve a room at The Empress of Little Rock, where you can relax in luxury in between those funnel cakes and foot-longs.  Book a third night in one of our spa suites for just $99 so you can play all weekend long! We are only five minutes away from the fairgrounds and the rest that Little Rock has to offer.

The Empress Takes Part in Arkansas Halloween Events

September 22nd, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Arkansas Halloween festivities will be taking place all over town throughout the month of October. Grab your ghouls and goblins and check out some of these spooktacular events!

school children play in front of the military-museum

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Coming to Little Rock on October 8th is the 6th annual Arkansas Paranormal Expo. Vendors and speakers on all subjects of the supernatural including UFOs and “Bigfoot”, will be showcased at The MacArthur Museum of Military History on East Ninth Street in Little Rock. The mission of the organizers is to help preserve this building as it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the birthplace of General Douglas MacArthur. This has grown to be a popular community event and is just $10 for a weekend pass.

Little Rock history comes alive October 11 for Tales of the Crypt at Mount Holly Cemetery. Each year Parkview High School students dress in period clothing and recite monologues from the gravesides of famous Arkansans buried in the “Westminster Abbey of Little Rock”. If you aren’t familiar with the cemetery and its historical relevance, you can visit the grounds any day and see the burial sites of  15 state Supreme Court justices, four Confederate generals, seven United States senators and 22 Little Rock mayors. There are two Pulitzer Prize recipients, as well as military heroes, including David O. Dodd, a 17-year-old boy executed for being a “Confederate spy,” and often referred to as the “Boy Martyr of the Confederacy.” Read more about events at Mount Holly here! Watch a sneak peak of Tales of The Crypt on vimeo.

The Empress Bed and Breakfast at dusk

The Empress

More Haunting History

An Arkansas Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a haunted house! Each year, local author and tour guide Linda Howell gives guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few of Arkansas’ most famous haunts. The Empress of Little Rock  luxury hotel and B&B will be featured on the tour. Visit the website to reserve your spot! The first tour of the season takes place Friday, October 14th.

Empress Claims Spot on “100 Things to Do in Little Rock…”

September 7th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

picture of book cover of 100 things to do in Little Rock before you Die

Anderson is a former basketball player for the Lady Razorbacks and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

If you live or work in Little Rock, you might already know the 100 things to do in Little Rock and you already know what a progressive city we are. With the Clinton Library, the headquarters for Heifer International, and a host of boutiques, museums, unique restaurants and nightlife, it’s no wonder Little Rock was named one of the top cities for economic growth in 2016. Local author Celia Anderson has written a book called “100 Things to Do in Little Rock Before You Die” which is a compilation list that highlights all of the amazing sights and eclectic history this town has to offer.

100 Things to Do in Little Rock… was written in the hopes that people from around the world who visit the city could benefit from a sort of “field guide”.  Anderson works as a National Sales Director for the Little rock Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

guests for Wounded Warrior project embibled in one of the 100 things to do in little and sit at tea with table layed with lighted Candelabra, crystal, silver, china

Grand High Tea for the Wounded Warrior Project

Number 50 on this vast list is “Sip Tea at The Empress”. The Empress of Little Rock is the only place in town that still holds a traditional Grand High Tea. Teas are held on Sundays at 3 PM by reservation at just $40 per person. Grand High Tea includes specialty hot tea, house made scones and finger sandwiches served in our formal dining room with a distinctly Victorian ambiance of music and candlelight.  Of course, The Empress also offers a Tea and Tour package which provides guests with a historical view of The Empress. Read more about our teas and get our scone recipe here! The Empress also offers two special holiday teas each year for Mother’s Day and Christmas. Reserve your spot early as seating is limited!

Period Pieces Bring Joy to Guests of The Empress

August 22nd, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Empress of Little Rock is a magnificent structure on its own. James Hornibrook spared no cost building what was to be the finest residence at the time in Arkansas. Much care has gone into selecting period pieces to complete the opulence of the house, from the Renaissance Revival half tester bed in our  Hornibrook Suite, to our square Steinway that resides in the Lady’s Parlor.

Guests enjoy the Steinway at The Empress

The Empress of Little Rock – weekend guest playing our piano

Our Steinway, numbered 30143, was built in 1874. It has an African Mahogany veneer and although it’s never been fully restored, it plays amazingly well. We tune the piano regularly and welcome our guests to play.

Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway, is an American and German piano company, founded in 1853 in Manhattan, New York City, by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later known as Henry E. Steinway). The company has a factory in Queens, New York City which supplies the Americas and a factory in Hamburg, Germany which builds pianos for the rest of the world. The company is not only known for making pianos of high quality, but for inventions within the area of piano development. Steinway has been granted 126 patents in piano making; the first in 1857.

In 1853, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg founded Steinway & Sons in the Manhattan district of New York City. The first piano made was given the number 483 because Steinweg had built 482 pianos in Germany. Number 483 was sold to a New York family for $500, and is now on display at a German museum in the town in which he began his career.

During World War II, the Steinway factory in Queens received orders from the Allied Armies. Steinway built 2,436 special models called the Victory Vertical or G.I. Piano. It was a small piano that four men could lift, painted olive drab, gray, or blue, designed to be carried aboard ships or dropped by parachute from an airplane to bring music to the soldiers.

The factory in Hamburg sold very few pianos during World War II. No more than a hundred pianos per year left the factory. In the later years of the war, the company was ordered to give up all the prepared and dried wood their lumber yard held for war production. In an air raid over Hamburg, several Allied bombs hit the factory and nearly destroyed it. After the war, Steinway restored the Hamburg factory. Eventually, the post-war cultural revival boosted demand for entertainment and piano production was increased at the Hamburg and Queens factories, going from 2,000 in 1947 to 4,000 pianos a year by the 1960s.

In 1988, the company made its 500,000th piano. The piano was designed by artist Wendell Castle. The names of the 832 pianists and 90 ensembles on the Steinway Artist roster of 1987 are written on the piano.

Steinway also maintains a worldwide “piano bank” from which performing pianists, especially Steinway Artists, can select a piano for use in a certain concert, recording, or tour. The bank is a way to provide performing artists with a Steinway preference, a pool of pianos with various characteristics to choose from. Performing artists choose a piano for use at a certain venue after trying some of the pianos of the “piano bank”.

The “piano bank” consists of approximately 300 pianos valued collectively at $15 million in 2002.

The Empress piano is worth about 20K but would be worth around 40K if fully restored.


Big Dam Bridge 100 brings more bikers to Arkansas!

August 12th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

It was just last week that 40,000 Motorcyclists rolled in to The Natural State for the 39th National Bikers Round Up. The event started in 1977 and is held in a different state each year. Bikers from all over the United States travel for food, music and camaraderie. Next month another type of cyclist will ride into Little Rock; bicyclists participating in the Big Dam Bridge 100.

The Big Dam Bridge 100 is an annual cycling tour that attracts bicyclists from around our state, but also the world. The Tour has different route options from 10 to 100 miles long. The “Big Dam Bridge” stretches 4226 feet across the Big Dam BridgeArkansas River between Little Rock and North Little Rock. It is the longest bridge built for pedestrian and bicycle traffic in North America which makes this event so popular. Last year nearly 3,000 cyclists participated in the event. There will be a finish line block party in the Argenta District of downtown North Little Rock.main street food

If you aren’t pushing pedals, you can stroll down to the 6th annual Main Street Food Truck Festival. This event gets bigger and better each year! Last year there were over 40 food trucks and 25,000 people in attendance. Besides the amazing and innovative food you’ll taste at the festival, there are multiple beer gardens, street performers and this year, some special guests: the Budweiser Clydesdales! Admission is free but proceeds from sales benefit the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.

With all of these great reasons to visit Little Rock, why stay anywhere else but The Empress? We are conveniently located just blocks from all the fun.  If you are participating in the BDB100, end the day with a relaxing soak in one of our Spa Suites. Let us put together a package just for you today!

Restaurant Month Deals Come to Little Rock

August 4th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Restaurant Month at Lost 40 Brewery

Little Rock Restaurant Month kicked off August 1st, but there is still plenty of time to sample all of the culinary delights that Little Rock has to offer.


This year, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau is trying something a little different. Each week of Restaurant Month will focus on a portion of the city and its districts. The participating restaurants within those districts will be featured that week. For example: August 1-7 is the Downtown week and will feature restaurants from the River Market, Main Street Creative Corridor, East Village,  and SoMa districts. Download the offers for the rest of this week here! Read about all of the participating restaurants and events here.

Now is a great time to visit The Empress and take advantage of end of Summer savings! Book a third night at 50% off, in one of our luxurious Spa Suites  from now until September 15th.


Experience the ultimate in LUXURY in the Hemingway Spa Suite


Relax in the two person Jacuzzi tub in our Victorian Garden Suite!

While you’re here, check out all the ways to explore Arkansas on the long Labor Day weekend. Or, if you are already day-dreaming about the cooler fall temperatures and gorgeous foliage, reserve your Leaf Peeping Package before the first leaf hits the ground!

Pokemon Go in Little Rock at The Empress

July 25th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

If you have spotted people wandering around on their phones in downtown Little Rock, they might be hunting pokemon-go-vector-logopokemonPokemon Go is the newest mobile app that has taken the country by storm. If you aren’t familiar with the game,  it is an augmented reality game in which real life players walk around their environments searching for pokemon to capture. Once a pokemon has been spotted within reach on their screen, they can ‘capture’ it by performing a series of moves.

pokemon go

Battle this guy at The Empress and “catch ’em all”!


What are Pokemon?

Pokemon are mostly cute creatures that evolve over time or by passing through various levels. The idea is to collect as many as possible and train them to defeat other players’ pokemon by invoking their various abilities. Your pocket monsters can be trained in gyms that are positioned all over the area. Downtown Little Rock has a high concentration of these “gyms”  and nearby SOMA neighborhood is filled with “poke stops” which are areas that players can pick up needed items to advance in the game. In fact, almost every sculpture in Bernice Garden is a poke stop with valuable things like potions, and eggs to hatch.

Pokemon Go at The Empress

The Empress of Little Rock has its own claim to Pokemon Go fame. It is a Gym. Also, several of the houses on the street are poke stops. Throughout the month of July and August, The Empress is offering 25% off tours of the mansion to pokemon hunters. Rumor has it that pikachu likes to hang out in the secret card room  in the attic!  Tours last about an hour with plenty of time for hunting pokemon. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram when you find one!


Fun things to do on Labor Day in Arkansas

July 13th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The ‘Dog Days of Summer’ are here, but there are plenty of cool ways to spend the Arkansas Labor Day weekend.

How do you stay cool on Labor Day? It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that electric fans first began appearing in homes. Before that, many inefficient methods were used: from the Romans who used their own aqueduct systems to circulate cool water through the walls, to an Emperor who imported snow from the mountains and built a pile outside of his bluff drive

In 1888, James H. Hornibrook would have packed up his family and headed to the mountains and you can too! Labor Day weekend is approaching soon. It has been named Legacy Week for all Arkansas State Parks. Arkansas is home to 52 state parks and three national forests! Spend the weekend exploring Petit Jean -Arkansas’ first State Park since 1923. You could also take the short drive to Hot Springs National Park  to experience the 20th Annual Hot Springs Blues Festival and end the day at Lake Catherine Marina with a Full Moon Kayak tour.

The Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park in Scott will be hosting activities to honor the founders of this unique site that was the cultural center of the Plum Bayou tribes. Stop in the neighboring community of Keo and sample a piece of pie at the (almost) famous Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets.


Coconut Creme from Charlotte’s is the perfect treat on a HOT Labor Day weekend!

If the outdoors isn’t appealing to you, take advantage of one of our many packages at The Empress. Relax and unwind in one of our spa suites while enjoying award winning service and cuisine. Book early and take advantage of a third night for just $99!*

Take advantage of all the fun activities in Arkansas before Summer is gone!


*Guest must book through and mention the deal in the notes