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Lowering the Benchmark at The Benchmark Hotel in Memphis

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  Site Where: 164 Union Ave [map], Memphis, TN, United States, 38103
April 16, 2009 at 11:06 AM | by | Comments (0)

Last week, we found ourselves on an unplanned Easter road trip and ended up in Memphis on Good Friday. Having paid our Graceland dues, we decided to shack up for the night, and soon realized that the town was pretty full for the weekend.

Our options? The Peabody had a double room for $200, but the Benchmark had one going for $130. The lobby looked a little worn but the staff were nice, we were tired, and we hadn't seen the warnings on TripAdvisor so we gave it a go.

Room reaction
So the peeling paint in the darkened corridor probably should have warned us. It looked old, it smelled old. And our room was no different. Sure, it was spacious, but it was dark (just one small window in a big room doesn't cut it), had an ominously dirty carpet, and smelled like it hadn't been aired out since Elvis died.

The heater was so noisy that we turned it off halfway through the night and layered up the PJ's. Not that there was anything wrong with that — it was the kind of place you'd want to layer up. That's not to say it wasn't clean: the sheets were fresh, and the bathroom had obviously been cleaned before we arrived (let's be grateful for small mercies), but it wasn't clean. The sink was cracked and stained, the ceiling appeared to be disintegrating and we felt a bit icky working on the desk. We kept our shoes firmly on throughout our stay. (Apologies for the messy photo by the way. When we first arrived, we just wanted to get out. We only thought about photographing it the morning after.)

What we liked
It's in a great location right next to the Redbirds stadium and a couple of blocks off Beale Street. It's also right opposite the Peabody, so we might have been able to see the duck ceremony through our window if it hadn't had its glass tinted by years of grime. The staff on the front desk and in charge of the car parking ($17) were also very nice.

What we didn't like
Er, most of the room. Also, the water in the shower kept alternating between tepid and scalding at random. Also, there's a Denny's attached to the hotel — but it took about 40 minutes to get our breakfast. Not so good.

Bottom line
We agree with cowancrew on TripAdvisor: if you just want somewhere relatively well-priced and central, it'll do. If you're after a hotel romp, though, please don’t stay here. Unless you can romp through three layers of clothes.

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