“It’s a castle! It’s a castle, we’re staying in a castle!” Those were the words echoing in the car as we drove up the cobblestone drive of the West Baden Springs Hotel. I have to agree with the kids, arriving here did feel special. Walking into the hotel, my family paused and starred up to the spectacular dome above. Our jaws dropped as we scanned the massive interior space of the hotel. The large domed interior, with a center feature which changes color during the late evening hours, is awe inspiring. With my kids jumping around, we walked right out into the middle of the room and took it all in. That’s when I thought to myself, “I nailed it.”
My family booked a three night stay at West Baden Springs Hotel in Southern Indiana, and I think it will be remembered for many years to come. The area is very rural, I think Louisville is the closest big city, and that’s about an hours drive. The hotel is actually 1 of 2 hotels located in French Lick. You have the West Baden Springs Hotel that is off the street and a little more secluded, then there’s the French Lick Resort that is right next to the town of French Lick. The resorts are owned by the same company, so you can enjoy the amenities that both offer. And transport between the two resorts was so much fun. They have a trolley (it’s a single railroad car) which connects the two resorts. The trolley travels about 10 mph and takes about 12 minutes to go door to door along the railroad. It’s a really cool trip through a wooded area of the property. They also have a shuttle (which looks like a San Francisco cable car) that will take you anywhere within the vicinity. If you’re going to golf, it can take you, shopping in French Lick, it can take you, etc.
The room types vary based on the view and size. The first option is a Deluxe Outside View Guest Room. Here, you’re located on the outer ring of the hotel and have views of the surrounding grounds. As the trees and foliage is fairly dense, you’ll see a great deal of green. The room size is about 310 sq ft and can be a king or 2 queens.
The next room class is the Premium Atrium View Guest Room, which is in the inner ring of the hotel and provides views of the dome. Here, you’ll have wonderful views of the changing colors during the evening hours, as well as be able to hear the evening music which plans from 5 to 9. The rooms are a little bigger at 348 sq ft, and again, can be king or 2 queens.
The next option, Superior Atrium Balcony Guest Room, is where we stayed. It has a balcony overlooking the domed interior, and was a huge hit with the family. It was so nice to open the French doors and sit/stand on the balcony. I felt comfortable with the safety of my kids on the balcony because the spacing for the wrought iron railing was so narrow. The room itself was very big, like really big. You could have comfortable fit 4 queen beds in that room (think Willy Wonka, where the grandparents are all in bed together, the old version.. the good version… you could do that, just with more space) I took a lot of pics just because I was impressed. The only drawback for these rooms was the noise at night. The music stops at 9, but voices tend to carry. So, if you are a light sleeper, that might be something to consider.
And people might think I'm crazy, but I loved how they had their own stamp for the toilet paper... it was cool!!
We ate on property the whole time that we were there. To start, I’ll cover West Baden. We ate breakfast at Café Sinclair’s the last day and it was great. The restaurant has a set menu, but a lot of a la carte options for mix and match from. It also has a kids menu.
For lunch, you can eat at Ballard's in the Atrium, which is located in the dome. Here you can grab a salad, pizza or a sandwich (like a burger or Reuben.)
For dinner, Sinclair’s is amazing. We had our best meal here. I did the 6 course tasting menu and was very pleased. I mean they got me to eat beets…. Beets! I’m still shaking my head over that. The kids enjoyed their meals but the strawberry au poivre served table side was the coolest ever. I guess this goes without saying, but anything that is set on fire right next to your table will be the only thing they will remember.
At the French Lick Resort, we went to the Colonnade restaurant for breakfast. It’s a buffet option, which included an omelet station. My favorite part of the meal was the smoothie bar. They have several healthy recipes posted, or they will make-to-order based on what you’re feeling like.
There’s a few options for lunch. If you want a quick option, you can grab a slice of pizza at Pluto’s Pizzeria next to the arcade at the French Lick Resort. The slices are huge! (think sbarro) We got a whole cheese pizza for $22, and it was enough for the whole family.
You can also eat at the Power Plant restaurant. It’s set in the old electric control room of the hotel, and still has all the original switches along one of the walls. It serves pub food in a relaxed atmosphere, and is open for dinner as well.
The 1875 Steakhouse is the fine dining option at the French Lick Resort. If you’re in the mood for a prime cut, this should be your choice.
Outside the hotels, there’s Hagen’s at the Donald Ross golf course, for another pub-style meal. I had the hot brown and was happy. There’s also The Mansion at the Pete Dye Course.
As far as the activities at the resort, there were a lot to choose from. If you’re looking to get a round of golf in, the West Baden Springs has four amazing golf courses to try out. The Pete Dye golf course provides amazing views of the surrounding area. The course has hosted several events over the years including the Senior PGA Championship in 2015. When you look out over the course from the first tee at the Donald Ross, you’ll be able to take in rolling nature of the course. It’s wide open and is well maintained. The 9 hole Valley Links course was specifically designed for children and beginners and is located next to the French Lick Resort. The resort has loaner clubs for those 12 and younger, and they will also play for free. If golf is not your sport, maybe you’d want to participate in a round of foot golf, which is a combination of soccer and golf. Foot golf is played on the Valley Links course.
The kids were absolutely thrilled with was the pool area. The indoor pool is incredible. It was enormous, and no one was around when we went swimming. What I really like, besides the large hot tub next to the indoor pool, was the outdoor pool was right next to the indoor. So my kids could run outside and take a dip in the outdoor pool, and then come back into the indoor. It was ideal. The spa is located right about the indoor pool, and while we did not enjoy any of the services offered there, just walking though, it was an impressive facility. Here you can enjoy services such as aromatherapy massages, a mineral spring bath, cleansing scrubs, as well as numerous others.
For the kids, their favorite area was the KidsFest recreation center that is in front of the French Lick Resort. It is a two room rec center that you can drop your kids off at (for a fee) or stay and play with them for free. We hung out and did several crafts at the resort such as creating bead bracelets, making slime and beaded designs you have to iron. Next to the craft room was a room with video games (3 consoles) and small games (like a homemade skee ball.) The staff was very friendly, and we had to pry the kids away. Also at KidsFest, you can rent a 3, 6 or 9 person bike. We rented a 6 person bike which was perfect. 4 people had to peddle, and though it was a workout (especially going up hill!), we had a blast. And only $30 for 1 hour, I thought that was a fair price. Near the KidsFest, you can head over to the arcade and bowling alley. We didn’t bowl during the stay, but we did have fun in the arcade. There are about 15 different games (most are $1), and I would say that 1/3 are games of chance (claw machine type games.)
If you’re looking to try something new, or you’re already comfortable with horseback riding, the resort has a stable on property. You can ride on trails around the property, or you can take a carriage ride. We did the latter. It was a wonderful treat for us after dinner (book in advance) to go on the 45 minute ride. I loved how this really drove home the “we staying in a castle” mentality my kids had. Our horse, Jimmy, was such a trooper as he pulled us up several hills as we went through the forest.
Those who want to test out their luck, can stop by the casino, which is connected to the French Lick Resort.
Besides these activities you can go on nature walks, or just walk around the grounds of the hotel. You can also head into French Lick for some shopping.
I hope you enjoyed this hotel highlight! If you do end up going, please let them know that I sent you, and don't forget to subscribe!
All photos courtesy of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts
well, some by me too...