3 Memphis getaways: rock star, rustic or refined

July 5th, 2017

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MEMPHIS, Tenn. A truly relaxing getaway is one where you can check into a hotel and never get behind the wheel again until it’s time to head home.

Visitors to Memphis, just a four-hour drive down Interstate 55, will find two new resort hotels and one established classic that offer plenty to keep guests entertained. And more adventures off-site are just a short walk or Uber ride away.

You may never want to leave your room at these hotels, but you really should. One-of-a-kind experiences await.

Rock-star luxury: The Guest House at Graceland

Think of the Guest House at Graceland as an Elvis Presley-inspired hotel, rather than as an Elvis Presley-themed hotel. You certainly don’t need to be his No. 1 fan to stay here — it’s pretty cool on its own.

The Guest House opened in October on property adjacent to the Graceland mansion, where Presley lived from 1957 until his death in 1977.

With suites designed by the rock ’n’ roll legend’s former wife, Priscilla Presley, the 450-room resort is excessively stylish. In the glitzy lobby — where we spotted a bouffant and thick sideburns waiting in line at the check-in counter, along with several contenders for No. 1 fan — high-back chairs evoke the stand-up collars of Elvis Presley’s jumpsuits. Splashes of color liven up midcentury-style furnishings. Stylized close-up photos in guest rooms and common areas highlight details from Presley’s life: sunglasses, microphones, his iconic TCB (“Taking Care of Business”) jewelry.

Above a grand staircase at one end of the hotel, a replica of Graceland’s foyer stairs, is a chandelier originally purchased by Presley for his own mansion.

“Elvis never threw anything away,” explains Anna Hamilton, the hotel’s night manager. She graduated from Humes High School 12 years after Presley. “When he discovered that the chandelier was too big, he went out and bought a smaller one.”

Hamilton — a veteran of Memphis’ restaurant and hospitality industry who previously was a manager at the now-shuttered Heartbreak Hotel across the street — delights in showing off the Guest House. “I think it’s probably one of the most beautiful properties I’ve ever been on.”

Each of the well-appointed guest rooms is filled with luscious textures, silky-soft bedding, mirrored surfaces and basics such as a refrigerator, Keurig coffee machine and plenty of places to plug in USB devices. (The Gideons Bible in the nightstand is gold, naturally.)

A King's Suite at the Guest House at Graceland, an Elvis Presley-inspired hotel that opened in October near the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tenn. Handout photo

Themed suites such as the King’s Suites were inspired by Presley’s own master bedroom, with canopy beds and TVs on the ceiling. Living Room Suites use bold combinations of deep yellow and navy blue. TCB Suites have a living room and dining area.

“The furniture, to me, is extraordinary,” Hamilton says. “Every piece is something that Elvis would have loved.”

Guests can grab a drink at the lobby bar — we tried the crisp whiskey-ginger TCB and the tequila-based Blue Suede — and enjoy it out on the back lawn. That’s where there’s a pool, hot tub and heart-shaped fire pit, all set against a serene wooded backdrop.

A state-of-the-art fitness center also has great views of the courtyard — or you can focus on the TVs built into each machine.

Dining options at the Guest House include Delta’s Kitchen, a fine-dining spot named for Presley’s aunt, and the more casual EP’s Bar & Grill, which serves up comfort food with a contemporary twist. There’s also a Shake, Rattle & Gocoffee shop serving Starbucks Coffee.

At the lively EP’s, we tried the mac-and-cheese bites, which our server recommended without hesitation. They arrived within minutes, piping hot and ooey-gooey. Also delicious was the Memphis Burger, a mess of cheese, onions, tomatoes both regular and fried green, bacon and housemade pickles, served with fries in a guitar-shaped basket.

In addition to conference and banquet rooms, the Guest House has a 464-seat theater, which on our visit was hosting a student jazz competition.

“We’re welcoming all aspects of the music world,” Hamilton says. “We want everyone to feel welcome — not just the Elvis fans.”

Read the full article here.

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