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Arkansas's bathhouse row was vacation getaway for mob boss Al Capone

Room 443 of the Arlington Hotel was used by the Capone himself and comes complete with a closet that led to a secret gateway, which is now boarded up.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Hot Springs is so beautiful, isn't it? If you've lived your entire life in Arkansas, you may be convinced this place has transformative powers. 

It changes people; maybe just for a day, a month, or in some cases, a lifetime. One of the prime examples can be found in Room 443 of the Arlington Hotel.

"This is it. This is the fourth floor," said Alan Sims, general manager of the Arlington Hotel. He became our tour guide in the process of showing us the hotel's most famous room.

We walked around the corner and there it was -- Al Capone's Suite.

"This is probably the most photographed place in the hotel," Sims said.

Credit: KTHV

The Al Capone Suite was used by the famous gangster himself, but upgraded and refurbished with one exception.

"The bathroom floor and the bathtub have never changed," Sims explained.

"So, when you're walking on the tile floor in the bathroom, you're walking where Capone trod?" Craig asked.

"Right... or if you were seated in greatness," Sims added with a laugh.

The room comes complete with a closet that led to a secret getaway, which is now boarded up.

It also comes with a great view of Capone's nighttime entertainment, the Southern Club across the street, where lookouts would signal him when to make his grand entrance in his bullet proof Cadillac.

Credit: The Gangster Museum of America

But it wasn't just Room 443, Capone would rent out the entire fourth floor.

"And one of the primary reasons he wanted the fourth floor was the access to the bathhouse," Sims explained.

It's hard to believe we're talking about the same Al Capone; the gangster so feared he was on the cover of Time.

"He just liked it here. He could kinda be Al Capone without cops bothering him, politicians bothering him. He could just play and have a good time," Robert Raines said.

Robert Raines has done extensive research on Al Capone's days in Hot Springs. It's his business to know. He owns the Gangster Museum.

"Capone first came here kinda as a kid, I'd say late teens in the early 20's," Raines explained. "He loved it so much, when he finally took over the crime outfit in Chicago, he just continued to come down here."

But did he come here to get away with murder? No.

"I really think it was the bathhouses, the free-flowing whiskey during the prohibition, spring training baseball. He could watch the White Sox and the Cubs and the Yankees," Raines said.

And not just Al, but his entire Chicago gang and even his Chicago rival.

"This was like Switzerland. The gangsters could come here and nobody got whacked," Sims said.

"They were perfect gentlemen. They spent a lot of money and Hot Springs loved for them to be here," Raines added.

Only in Hot Springs could the number one public enemy become the number one public tourist.

"If Capone was here today, the governor would issue him an Arkansas Traveler Award," Raines said.

Robert Raines' research indicates Capone came to Hot Springs every year for over a decade.

And there was never any trouble.

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