Chickasaw Escape – The Artesian Hotel

Artesian Hotel in central Oklahoma at sunset (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The modern Artesian Hotel in Sulphur, Oklahoma at sunset (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

“Have you been to the Artesian yet? It’s really nice!”

I kept hearing some version of this from friends of mine in Oklahoma, so when I needed an overnight stop on the way to Oklahoma City, it seemed like a good time to slap down the credit card and make a reservation at this historic hotel in Sulphur, OK.

There wasn’t time for a return visit to the excellent Chickasaw Cultural Center nearby, but I was content to simply relax for a night.

Originally built in 1906, the hotel tragically burned in 1962.

The 1906 version of the Artesian Hotel Sulphur OK

The 1906 version of the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

Rebuilt after the fire as a not-terribly-attractive “motor inn,” the property was purchased by Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Nation in the mid-1970s. It was their first business venture, well before the casino empire that they now control.

After tearing down the motor inn, the Artesian re-opened in 2013 in its current form; a beautiful building patterned after the 1906 original, but all new.

There is a casino attached to the hotel, but I never even went into it, similar to my stay at the Chickasaw’s Riverwind Hotel and Casino south of Oklahoma City. If you’re not interested in casino activities, that’s not a problem.

My room at the Artesian was exactly the kind of comfy hideaway that I was looking for….

My room at the Artesian Hotel Sulphur OK (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

My room at the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur, OK (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

After a long day of driving, I was ready to walk around and explore downtown Sulphur, but it was late and most places were closed.

Fortunately, the hotel restaurant was still open, and I totally fell for their delicious chicken pot pie, the perfect comfort food.

Chicken pot pie at Springs at the Artesian dining room at the Artesian Hotel restaurant (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Chicken pot pie at Springs at the Artesian dining room (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The next morning, I was back out to see the sights, and was surprised to discover that the Platt Historic District section of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area was only a half-block away from the hotel.

It had walking paths leading back into all sorts of tempting-looking greenery.

Part of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area Sulphur OK near the Artesian Hotel (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

A walk in the woods – part of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur OK, near the Artesian Hotel (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

On the drive into town the day before, I’d seen a fountain shooting water straight up into the air. To find it, I picked a path that looked like it went in the right direction.

It didn’t take long to see the fountain in the distance, pouring water into this stream….

Waters flow through Platt Historic District Chickasaw National Recreation Area downtown Sulphur OK near the Artesian Hotel (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Waters flow through the Platt Historic District section of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in downtown Sulphur, Oklahoma near the Artesian Hotel (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

I walked up closer to the fountain, called the Vendome Well.

Mineral water fountain Vendome Well Sulphur Oklahoma (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Mineral water fountain at the Vendome Well in downtown Sulphur, Oklahoma. To the right are two streams; one at a lower level for dogs, and another higher up, for people. (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

It’s hard to miss the slight rotten egg smell from hydrogen sulfide gas coming off of the mineral-rich water.

The town IS named “Sulphur.”

I took a sample drink from the smaller continuously-running water fountain stream you see in the right side of the photo. It did have a distinctive flavor, but wasn’t unpleasant.

It’s just hard to tell your nose to ignore rotten eggs.

After packing up and regretfully checking out, I made one more stop….the hotel’s cute diner-style Bedré Cafe for an excellent sandwich and rich chocolate shake.

Sandwich and shake at the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur OK Bedré Cafe (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Sandwich and shake at the Bedré Cafe at the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur OK (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Bedré Chocolates is an Oklahoma-based company, owned by the Chickasaw since 2000. You can visit their manufacturing facility on Interstate 35. It’s attached to a Chickasaw Welcome Center rest stop in Davis, OK; one of many things to do and see along I-35 in central Oklahoma.

The Artesian was a perfect getaway; I could do as much or as little as I wanted. There is a hotel spa, nearby art galleries, shops, and more trails to wander.

Finishing the visit with chocolate didn’t hurt, either.

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