It is not every day we get excited about a hotel opening in Little Rock. The new AC Hotel on Capitol Ave in the heart of downtown is absolutely worth the attention for what it does to promote the downtown revival and how it represents the city to our guests.
The AC is a Marriott owned boutique brand that originated in Spain and is one of their smaller hotel lines. The Little Rock one is the only AC Hotel in the state and one of only a handful in the region. It focuses on very clean, modern rooms that are designed to get people out of their room to enjoy the city around the hotel.
The Little Rock AC Hotel is significant because it has refurbished the historic Hall and Davidson buildings that sit at Capitol and Louisiana. These buildings have been a key fixture in the plans to spread the downtown development that has happened on Main Street. Every attempt to revive the buildings has failed previously so it is exciting to see a positive development open up.
Hotel rooms are not our focus, however. In the areas that we care most about, which are food and drinks, the AC represents Little Rock in the best ways possible and serves as a great introduction to our city that should have a lasting effect.
The food at night is a focus on tapas. It is a perfect accompaniment to the bar menu and really is designed to be a light snack before you head out. Think shareable like small meat and cheese boards, fried potatoes, meatballs, and mushrooms. All simple and executed well, that work as a snack before you head out to an area restaurant. They will also offer an extensive breakfast in the mornings along with coffee and espresso.
This general area has struggled to attract and keep great local restaurants, the philosophy of allowing guests to have good snacks and tapas before heading out for a full meal should spur development around the hotel. In fact, the space immediately beside the hotel is owned by some of the same local owners of the hotel. They hope to turn their attention to bringing in a quality restaurant or two.
While the food side is meant to get you out to explore, the drink side is meant to bring a taste of Little Rock to you. The AC has partnered heavily with Rock Town Distillery to build the bar menu that leverages their locally produced products. They developed a signature cocktail called the Blind Pig, which is a Manhattan-like cocktail using Rock Town Sour Mash Bourbon. Each afternoon they will offer up a sampling of the cocktail along with a little info about it being produced in the city, and retelling of a story about the Arkansas River being used for moonshine distribution during prohibition.
Rock Town plays heavily in a number of other drinks that utilize other bourbon products along with their gin, vodka, and rum offerings. They also get great shelf visibility to introduce people to our local distillery. On the beer side they will have a solid selection of Arkansas craft beer offerings from Lost Forty, Flyway, and Ozark Beer Co. They have a limited number of taps, so most of these will be in cans, I expect that list to grow as more can offerings become readily available.
The AC Hotel opens today beginning with the first check-in at 3pm. The bar along with both the tapas and breakfast offerings are open for non-guests as well.