Boutique Hotels in Memphis, TN
"The Ritz we ain't," boasts the Shack Up Inn's motto. Instead, this unique conglomeration of rehabbed sharecroppers' shotgun shacks and the newly reconfigured Cotton Gin Inn makes for one of the most unique boutique hotels in the Mid-South. Located in the cradle of the blues, Clarksdale, Mississippi - birthplace to John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, and a wealth of others - the Shack Up Inn is part rural retreat, part historic getaway. Starting at $65 for the smaller shacks (or a "bin" in the former gin), rooms are a real bargain. Just be sure to make your reservation soon, as the Shack Up Inn stays booked throughout blues festival season and for most of the year.
The only place to stay if you're making your first pilgrimage to Graceland, Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel is a boutique hotel located just across the street from the King of Rock and Roll's onetime abode. Each and every one of the 128 rooms are anointed with photographs of Elvis at varying points of his career, feature reproductions of vintage '50s furnishings, and include a kitchenette. If that's not enough Presley for you, upgrade to one of the themed suites, which run the gamut from "Burning Love" (think circa-1970s red decor) to "Graceland," complete with a scaled-down "jungle room" modeled after the King's own den. With prices starting at $112 for weeknights, the Heartbreak Hotel is a real bargain.
Until recently, it was touch and go for Elvis' childhood home. The Lauderdale Courts public housing project - where the boy king grew from naïf to nascent performer - was nearly demolished before preservation efforts saved it from the wrecking ball. Today, Presleys' apartment, re-imagined as a one-unit boutique hotel, stands as the crown jewel of Uptown Square. The fee to stay here, $250 a night, is cheap, considering you're buying your way into the teenaged Elvis' psyche. Walking across the threshold is like stepping back through time. A vintage TV presides over the living room, while family photographs and Elvis' ROTC certificate adorn the walls. In Elvis' bedroom, there are pictures of Tony Curtis and Marlon Brando and a can of hair wax. Modern amenities, including wi-fi, a CD player, a new TV, and a microwave, are scattered unobtrusively throughout the apartment, the only place on earth where Elvis lived that you can stay, too.
Think of the Madison as the Peabody's rakish baby brother: Southern hospitality oozes from every corner of this sleek luxury hotel, named one of the best in the world by Travel + Leisure. Located in the former Tennessee Trust building just a block east of the mighty Mississippi, the Madison is an elegant, yet low-key 110-room hotel that often serves as a home away from home for movie stars filming in downtown Memphis. From the gourmet offerings prepared in Grill 83 to the Italian linens on every bed, this boutique hotel is well worth the price - particularly if you have a traveling companion to impress.
Since its opening in 1869, the Peabody has served as the epicenter for Memphis' coming-out parties and Cotton Carnival balls. In the ‘20s, its hotel rooms functioned as makeshift recording studios for talent scouts who recorded blues singers like Tommy Johnson, Frank Stokes, and Furry Lewis. Twenty years later, Sun Records founder Sam Phillips honed his craft via live broadcasts from the Skyway’s rooftop dance floor. And, since the early ‘30s, the Peabody has hosted a flock of live ducks that swim in the hotel fountain. Today, you might share the elevator with the likes of rock superstars performing at nearby FedEx Forum. The rooms are comfy, but nondescript - but then again, who stays at "the South's grand hotel" to while away their hours like a shut-in?