Lou Reed sang in his song “A Small Town” that he wanted nothing to do with the one he grew up in and had to ‘get outta there’ as fast as he could. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to take the straight and easygoing drive of three hours on one side road (which changed names many times, as is typical here in Texas) to Mineral Wells. This small, cozy town lies about an hour west of Ft. Worth, and many visitors from the metroplex getaway for weekends here.

Entering the town and still a few miles out, I noticed a formidable brick building that reminded me of a similar structure in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Arlington Hotel, where I stayed over a decade ago. In the 1920s, the Texas hotel magnate T.B. Baker was so inspired by the look of the Spanish Revival style hotel in Hot Springs that he asked his Fort Worth architect to create a similar design for the resort in Mineral Wells.

Yet I wasn’t headed there. My destination was the Crazy Water Hotel. I stepped inside the spacious, high-ceiling lobby, which reminded me of a grand train station built in the 1930s. I heard the tales of craziness flow as naturally as the legendary water.

In 1884, a pioneering physician of Mineral Wells was with a patient grappling with mental disorders. The remedy? Sitting by one of the original wells, sipping the water. Soon enough, the locals dubbed her “the crazy woman,” and her liquid sanctuary became the infamous “crazy well.” As her health improved, so did the allure of the natural elixir, forever known as “Crazy Water.” And the twist? The water from these wells contains a dash of lithium, adding a hint of legitimacy to this charming legend.

Fast forward to today, where the Crazy Water Hotel stands tall. It’s a collaborative effort comprised of 88 townspeople, who each invested to renovate and reopen the hotel.

I spoke with Rebecca Eivens, the Director of Spa and Wellness, to get updated on the hotel’s history and area and learn more about the spa.

“The modern comforts seamlessly blend with old-timey charm in this seven-story hotel. We have over 60 rooms available for booking, ranging from $119 for a weeknight retreat to $423 for a hospitality suite; the Crazy Water Hotel invites you to immerse yourself in its quirky allure. The cherry on top is that all but two rooms boast full kitchens, giving guests the perfect excuse to channel their inner chefs.

“The hotel features the Rickhouse Brewing brewpub, retail shopping, a small museum of curios, and The Crazy Coffee and Water Bar, nestled in the original 1927 bar.” Rebecca walked me over for a tasting before showing me the rest of the hotel.

“This charming spot lets you sip on three types of Crazy Water: Crazy No. 2 is drawn from a well 250 ft deep. Crazy No. 3 is medium-content mineral water drawn from 350 ft. deep, and Crazy No. 4, my favorite, is full-bodied, removed from 120 ft deep with the highest mineral content. You can also indulge in a menu of exotic Joe at this bar.

“Onto the rooftop area where Larry Hagman’s mother Mary used to teach dance in the then ballroom years ago. Now, we use it for weddings, events, live concerts, etc. Going outside gives you a gorgeous view of the small hills and the Baker Hotel across the way.” We headed for the last stop on the tour, in the basement. Still one year away from completion, Rebecca’s pet project oversees the construction of a modern spa with mineral baths replete with contemporary spa services. The original 1920s entrance doors will be renovated, and the spa will be made to look like a Roman bath. My room was large enough for a family of four with a coffee machine, microwave, stove/oven, fridge, table to seat four, living area, shower in the bathroom, and one queen bed. I noticed some of the white tiles on the bathroom floor needed scrubbing. They were darker, it seemed, from mold. The shower did not have any shelving to hold shampoo or soap.

The hotel’s restaurant, Second Bar & Kitchen, is run by Executive Chef and James Beard nominee David Bull. Bull and his family moved to Mineral Wells after twenty-plus years of owning and operating many leading restaurants in Texas. In 1999, he shaped the Driskill Grill in the Driskill Hotel into one of Austin’s best restaurants and competed on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” The restaurant is part of La Corsha Restaurant Partners, responsible for managing the Stoneleigh Hotel, its Bolla restaurant in Dallas, and the St. Anthony hotel in San Antonio, where Bull was executive chef.

I started the evening meal with a Passionfruit Paloma made with the fruit, lime, grapefruit soda, and rosemary agave, switching the Mescal to vodka. Sitting next to me was a friendly newlywed couple from Oklahoma who gave me all sorts of sightseeing tips for Mineral Wells. This was the wife’s second trip to this town, and she recommended the mineral baths at the Bath House and Spa down the road. Alas, they were booked solid and due to close the following day because of the incremental freezing weather. It was 27 degrees when I arrived.

I usually don’t keep red meat at home, so I splurged on a NY Striploin, served on a wooden cutting board. Made to medium perfection, the 14 ounces were gone in no time. My server recommended Troublemaker, a red mix of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. The smoothness and full-bodied flavor blew me away. I never heard about this wine; now it’s on my “to buy” list.

The chef made me crispy rounds of hashbrowns, reminding me of my grandmother’s potato latkes on the inside, crunchy and stringy with just the right amount of chew. For the side, I had the farm-to-market veggies: cooked butternut squash and broccolini and a dash of fresh arugula mixed with a dijonnaise sauce. That worked surprisingly well for warm vegetables.

For dessert, I had chocolate cherry cheesecake. It tasted like billowy mousse chocolate with bits of dark chocolate. The real cherries on top were glazed in gelatin sweet enough not to interfere with the cake’s richness. The restaurant is open Thursdays through Sundays.

If you find yourself captivated by the tales of yesteryear and the quirky allure of Crazy Water, make your way to Mineral Wells. Book a room, savor the Second Bar & Kitchen restaurant and the local brews, and let the town’s eccentric spirit cast its spell on you.



By Elise Krentzel

Elise Krentzel is the author of the bestselling memoir Under My Skin - Drama, Trauma & Rock 'n' Roll, a ghostwriter, book coach to professionals who want to write their memoir, how-to or management book or fiction, and contributing author to several travel books and series. Elise has written about art, food, culture, music, and travel in magazines and blogs worldwide for most of her life, and was formerly the Tokyo Bureau Chief of Billboard Magazine. For 25 years, she lived overseas in five countries and now calls Austin, TX, her home. Find her at https://elisekrentzel.com, FB: @OfficiallyElise, Instagram: @elisekrentzel, LI: linkedin.com/in/elisekrentzel.