38103 Travel Guide
On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Since that day, the hotel has found new life as the National Civil Rights Museum, an impressive collection of photographs, videos and written accounts chronicling the history of the civil rights movement.
As historic hotels go, they don't come much more important than this place. And now the museum is adding to its repertoire.
Though room 306 has always been open to visitors (everything, from the furniture, curtains, carpet, rotary telephone and current newspaper, has been recreated to make the room look exactly the way it did when Dr. King stayed there), that was as far as they could go. Which is still quite a profound experience, given how much time Dr. King spent in that particular room (he was no stranger to the motel—in fact, room 306 was nicknamed the King-Abernathy Suite in his honor, after so many repeat stays).
Turndown Service / Tennessee Hotels / Delta Hotels / Memphis Hotels / HotelChatter Reviews / Free WiFi / → All Tags
All this week, Julia Buckley will be taking us down the Blues trail in the Mississippi Delta and giving us the lowdown on the hotel scene. So kick off your blue suede shoes and get comfy.
Chocolate, schmocolate. Turndown service usually leaves us slightly cold – or rather, it did until our stay at the River Inn of Harbor Town in Memphis two weeks ago. Because there, turndown not only means a gussied up bed. It not only means posh, round, Ferrero Rocher-like truffles rather than a tasteless slab of sugar on the pillow. No, at the River Inn, turndown also means a little carafe of port.
Why mention Memphis in HotelChatter's official Mississippi Delta Week? Because if you’re traveling to the Delta, it’s most likely that you’ll start off (and end up) in Memphis. Not only is it the closest major airport to the Delta, but it’s a fitting place to top and tail your trip, seeing as Memphis was the town all the blues musicians wanted to get to.
We’ve been to Memphis a couple times now, but never had much luck with hotels, the Benchmark being the low point, and the surprisingly snazzy Motel 6 in Horn Lake the high – but it’s a 20 minute drive from town. And though we’ve hung out and watched the duck parade at the Peabody, it’s always been out of our budget or fully booked.
But this time was third time lucky in Memphis, and not just because of the port.
The assistant would help head Duckmaster Jason Sensat feed and care for the ducks. The new hire also would guide the four hens and one drake on their two daily walks from their penthouse suite to the marble fountain in the hotel lobby. The walk, a tradition for 78 years, draws hundreds of spectators every day.
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.
Cubicle Dreamin' is a feature in which we ask the hotel mavens to take some time out of their busy work day, surf the Internet, and tell us what hotel they wish they could beam themselves to right that very second--all on the slave driving companies dime, of course. Oh, like these people aren't surfing aimlessly anyway--at least now their purposeless clicking will be cobbled together into useful hotel stories--we hope. Have a destination hotel you are just dying to leave your cube for? Send the story our way.
In this episode, Hotel Maven Jennifer Merritt puts on her blue suede shoes and heads to Graceland. Enjoy.
I'm not much of an Elvis fan, but for some reason I've always wanted to go to Graceland. Because I'm not one of those jumpsuit-and-wig-wearing fanatics, I want to make sure my trip to Memphis isn't all Elvis, all the time. It appears that the River Inn of Harbor Town may be the solution to that conundrum.
For everyone with an oil portrait of Robert E. Lee hanging in the Billiard Room, you and your fellow Daughters of the American Revolution should venture from the plantation to enjoy a fantastic meal at Chez Phillipe, a Forbes Traveler story on the best hotel food reports.
The French-Asian establishment, located within The Peabody hotel in Memphis, is one of the highest rated restaurants below the Mason-Dixon.
Apparently, all the restaurant buzz proves the hotel now has more than marching ducks to offer its travelers. Since 1932, when a few drunken aristocrats left their duck decoys in the hotel fountain after a day of hunting, fowl have achieved royalty status at The Peabody. According to the hotel web site:
The ducks are housed in the "Duck Palace" on the hotel roof. Every day at 11 a.m., they are led by the Duckmaster down the elevator to the Italian travertine marble fountain in the Peabody Grand Lobby. A red carpet is unrolled and the ducks march through crowds of admiring spectators to the tune of John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March. The ceremony is reversed at 5 p.m., when the ducks retire for the evening to their palace on the roof of the hotel.
Somewhere, Scrooge McDuck seethes with jealousy.
For those of you so fascinated by this hotel video tour that you want to book a room immediately, Davie has this tip on getting a special internet rate:
Go to the Madison Hotel web site, click "make a reservation" and then "promotional rates" at the bottom---or pay $60 extra per night plus a few extra in taxes.
We put her tip to work and found a Bankers full room for $175 on Friday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 10 under the internet promotions rate. Otherwise, the hotel is offering the room for $235 both nights. Thanks Davie, now go and put your records on.
· Memphis Record Shopping Double-Up [Jaunted]
[Ed. Note: Hotel Maven Tim Leffel winds down his Memphis trip by stopping in at the Hunt Phelan. Enjoy.]
Plenty of hotels have heads-of-state pedigree built into their history, but how many have hosted four U.S. presidents in the 1800s?
Down in the hot south, they're not big fans of Trump-style hyperbole and boasting, so the brochure from the latest B&B to open in Memphis just says, "The Inn at Hunt Phelan is not your average 177-year-old mansion." That's certainly an understatement. For one, the estate was designed by architect Robert Mills, who also had a hand in the U.S. Treasury, the Washington Monument, and part of the White House. Three U.S. Presidents spent time there: Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, and Andrew Johnson. A president with an asterisk, Jefferson Davis, also used it as a temporary office.
More on the Inn at Hunt Phelan post-jump.
[Ed. Note: Hotel Maven Tim Leffel continues his summer jaunts by checking in on the hotel scene in Memphis. Enjoy.]
At the Madison Hotel in Memphis, jocks, rock stars, and us regular folk can all enjoy a dish of style with the blues and barbeque.
In the dark days of Memphis hotel history, there weren't a lot of choices for the discerning traveler. You either stayed at a faceless chain hotel or you stayed at the grand and historic Peabody. Since the Madison Hotel opened in a restored bank building at the end of 2002, however, Memphis visitors have been able to add some much-needed pizazz to their options. (And celebrities can stay somewhere that isn't designed for their grandmother's tastes.)
When you step into the lobby of The Madison, your senses get a welcome jolt: dark blue and red velvet sofas, colorful paintings, and a soundtrack that is a million miles from Muzak--real Memphis music with soul. The homage to the city's history continues with oversized photos of the blues greats, framed cymbals,and a hotel logo that's formed from two music notes. A "Smashed Brass" sculpture by the mezzanine stairway is composed of four saxophones, two trumpets, and two trombones--all run over by a truck and framed in their flattened state.
More on the hotel including its famous clientele after the jump
[Ed. Note: Bed bugs are still alive and kicking in Memphis, Tenn. This time they eat up a poor guest at the Comfort Inn.]
I just returned July 14th from a trip to Memphis, TN where I stayed at the Comfort Inn on Front St. in downtown Memphis. It was an executive suite, Room 100 (on the main floor), and it had bedbugs. I ended up with more than 20 bites on my arms and legs. I thought all my itching and scratching was from mosquite bites from a 2-hour cruise. After 5 days, however, the bite marks appeared and it was clear that the culprit was bedbugs. They gave me a different room for my final night's stay, and at check-out credited my account for only $50.00! Not only that, but they charged me the same rate for their "regular" room as they did for the executive suite. And they didn't even reimburse me for the Neosporin I purchased to rub on the bites. I had reserved 2 rooms, one for myself and one for my companion. His room was on the 15th floor (Room 1512) and he had no bedbug problems.
It's been a rough year for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
First, a waitress accused Hank Williams Jr. of sexually harassment and physical assault. Now, guests of the hotel have had their cars vandalized in the parking garage.
Last Thursday, when guests went to retrieve their cars they found tires slashed and convertible car roofs ripped open. About 30 vehicles has been hit, many of them belonging to judges and lawyer who were attending a statewide convention at the hotel.
Right now, the hotel has refused to comment on the situation only saying that they are reviewing security tapes. However, they will reimburse the guest for slashed tires so long as they file their own insurance claims.
All this should probably mean a boost in biz for the valet service as those cars were protected.
· Guests' Cars at Peabody Hotel Parking Garage Vandalized [WREG-TV]
· More Bad Hotel Behavior [HotelChatter]
· Peabody Memphis reviews [TripAdvisor]
One of our tipsters spoke with a hotel bellman, who said Allen Iverson recently stayed there and in true NBA form, was up until 3 a.m. partying with some ladies.
However, not all hotel guests get the star treatment. Some lowly guests were dining in the hotel restaurant when their waitress spotted some "top notch business men" walking in.
From that point on the service was terrible. It took 25 minutes to get our plates taken and another 20 minutes to get a desert menu...and another 45 minutes to get the menus picked up and to get my check. The food was okay but the service made me feel so "Little".
· Madison Hotel reviews [TripAdvisor]