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Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River and heralded as the birthplace of the blues, Memphis will forever be associated with Elvis Presley. Today, the King’s Graceland mansion remains a pilgrimage site for music lovers from all over the world; and in the city center, blues bars vie for space on iconic Beale Street. Come to pay your respects to Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in the spot where the National Civil Rights Museum now stands; or to experience authentic Southern cooking in one of a myriad down-home restaurants. Wherever your adventures take you, make sure to stay in one of Memphis’ best hotels.
Best Overall: The Peabody Memphis
Downtown icon The Peabody Memphis is often referred to as the South’s Grand Hotel. Dating back to 1869, it is famous for having hosted Elvis Presley’s senior prom; and for the twice-daily March of the Peabody Ducks. A tradition started in 1933, the march sees a family of five ducks make their way from the hotel rooftop to the fountain in the lobby. It is one of the city’s best-loved attractions. Choose from 464 rooms and suites, all with high-speed Wi-Fi, a 42” TV and Egyptian cotton sheets.
As well as Feathers Spa, there’s an athletic club with a fitness center and a heated indoor pool. In the evening, dine on classic French cuisine amidst marble columns and chandeliers at Chez Philippe or treat yourself to fine steaks at Capriccio Grill. The hotel’s Lobby Bar is perhaps one of the most notable meeting places in the city; while its rooftop summer parties are legendary. Order a cocktail, listen to live music and admire breathtaking Mississippi River views.
Best Budget: Comfort Inn Downtown
Located close to the Memphis Redbirds’ home stadium, Comfort Inn Downtown puts you within easy walking distance of many top Memphis attractions. The interior is clean and bright, with a welcoming lobby and a choice of spacious rooms. Enjoy air-conditioning, a cable TV and a coffee maker. You'll save money with free high-speed Internet and basic kitchen facilities such as a microwave and a refrigerator give you an alternative to expensive meals out. Rooms have space for up to five guests and cater to families and friends traveling together.
A free hot breakfast makes this hotel an especially good value pick. When you’re not out sightseeing, make the most of a slew of on-site amenities, including a fitness center and a rooftop swimming pool with beautiful views of the city. There’s a meeting room and business center for corporate travelers on a budget, while the underground garage is one of the most affordable parking options in the area.
Best Boutique: River Inn of Harbor Town
Part of an upscale neighborhood on the Mud Island peninsula, boutique River Inn of Harbor Town exudes the charm of the Old South. Think decorative wrought iron, gas-lit lanterns and a magnificent lobby complete with antique paintings and an open fireplace. The service is impeccable, from the complimentary glass of champagne or wine at check-in, to the chocolate truffles at turndown. There are 28 rooms and suites, all with fine wood furniture, flowering window boxes, a 32” TV and a four-poster bed.
Start your day with coffee in the library-style seating areas located on each floor or with a complimentary breakfast at Paulette’s Restaurant. The latter serves gourmet cuisine throughout the day, while the rooftop Terrace is not to be missed. Here, you can pair cocktails and small plates with fabulous Mississippi panoramas. Other notable amenities include a fitness room, a 24-hour concierge and valet parking.
Best for Families: Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis - Beale Street
The Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis - Beale Street offers an affordable option for families and is located a few steps from the city’s beating heart. Major attractions such as the Gibson Guitar Factory and FedEx Forum are within easy walking distance - even for little legs. Kids will love the hotel’s indoor pool, while items such as cribs and highchairs are available for you to use. Choose a one-bedroom suite with a pull-out sofa bed and a kitchenette perfect for self-catering.
Free Wi-Fi throughout is a blessing for social media-obsessed teens. Get your day off to a good start at the free hot breakfast buffet or re-charge between adventures with complimentary tea and coffee in the cozy lobby lounge. The hotel also has a fitness center, and while there’s no restaurant, there are plenty of family-friendly options nearby.
Best for Romance: The James Lee House
Removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown Memphis (yet still within easy walking distance of Beale Street), The James Lee House is a National Historic Landmark built in 1848. The three-story home is also an intimate bed and breakfast that's custom made for romantic weekends away. Inside, you can admire marble mantels, polished wooden floors and a beautiful lobby complete with an antique piano.
Reconnect with your loved one in one of five uniquely decorated suites, three of which spoil with King-sized beds and luxury soaking tubs. No matter which one you choose, a complimentary breakfast allows you to spend leisurely mornings savoring gourmet eggs and pastries. Although there is no restaurant on-site, there are a slew of top-rated dining and drinking options in the immediate area.
Best Luxury: Big Cypress Lodge
A five-star hotel within the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid in central Memphis, Big Cypress Lodge is a feat of engineering. It boasts 28 stories connected by America’s tallest free-standing elevator, as well as a swamp complete with 100-foot cypress trees and live alligators. The rooms are designed like duck hunting camps or tree houses, and feature fireplaces, screened porches and decadent beds.
For absolute luxury, choose the Governor’s Suite with its full kitchen and wraparound balcony. During the day, there’s much to explore, including an ocean-themed bowling alley, a spa and a shooting range. Head to Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl for laid-back burgers or ride to the top of the pyramid for 360º views from The Lookout restaurant. Steam-punk decor and an aquarium add to the sense of surreality.
Best for Nightlife: Madison Hotel
Located in lively downtown Memphis, the Madison Hotel has become the top pick for discerning partygoers. The decor is contemporary, sexy and influenced by the city’s musical heritage (there are playable guitars and a Baby Grand piano in the lobby). Start your evening with sharing plates at global restaurant eighty3, then head upstairs to the Twilight Sky Terrace. Loved by visitors and locals for its craft cocktails and enviable sunset views, the bar features regular live DJ sets from May to October. After a late night, rooms and suites invite you to unwind with Egyptian cotton sheets, a spa-inspired shower and high-tech media systems. You can arrange in-room yoga or massages, while the gym stays open 24/7.
Best Business: Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel
From Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel, you can walk to the Memphis Cook Convention Center in four minutes. The hotel also has 19 on-site meeting rooms, the largest of which has space for over 400 delegates. All rooms are equipped with a spacious desk and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, while Starbucks coffees and a flat screen TV aid post-meeting relaxation. Upgrade to a Club Room for access to the Club Lounge - a great place to meet with colleagues while enjoying a range of complimentary refreshments. Other handy amenities include a Southern-inspired restaurant, a fitness center and a heated indoor pool.
Best in Center City: The Westin Memphis Beale Street
Those who want to be in the heart of the action should choose The Westin Memphis Beale Street, which is located next door to top attractions such as the Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum, FedEx Forum and the Gibson Guitar Factory. Contemporary guestrooms and suites offer views of these landmarks, as well as a selection of amenities ranging from flat-screen TVs to iPod docking stations and pillow-topped beds. Although the hotel’s main draw is its location, it does offer a complimentary fitness studio and a choice of meeting rooms. Bleu Restaurant & Lounge specializes in seafood, while the Lobby Bar serves tasty cocktails.