Memphis' Best Hotels Offer Southern Charm, Big City Options and Luxury Bargains

Photo courtesy of Peabody Hotel
By Sally Walker Davies, Memphis Local Expert

Some of Tennessee's best hotels are right in Memphis, where the combination Southern charm and big-city amenities make for a pleasant stay, no matter what type of hotel you're looking for.

Most of the city's landmark hotels are centrally located in downtown Memphis, within easy walking distance to some of the city's best attractions, including Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum and Mud Island. Additionally, it's an easy cab ride to the best dining districts outside of downtown - Midtown's Cooper-Young area and east Memphis. East Memphis is home to some of the city's major corporate and financial players, so there's a wide variety of hotels available throughout the area. In this part of the city, however - even at the hotels - cabs are more difficult to come by, and we'd suggest a rental car.

For a real slice of Memphis history, The Peabody offers a grand lobby, a bevy of celebrity ducks which parade to and from their daytime home, the fountain in the lobby bar, and red-coated porters to help you with your bags. Those looking for a quiet getaway with a central location for touring should try Harbor Town's River Inn, while anyone with business on the city's east side and in Germantown will find the Hilton Memphis convenient and comfortable.

10. Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis-Shady Grove
Photo courtesy of Hampton Inn Shady Grove

With an east Memphis location and proximity to International Paper, financial service firms and a quick drive to FedEx, the Hampton Inn offers the budget-minded business traveler the perfect combination of convenience and comfort. The hotel features wireless access throughout, and includes wired option in-room; there are two meeting rooms available with a total square footage of just under 1500 for group presentations and banquets. A free shuttle provides transportation to and from Memphis International Airport, as well as to locations within five miles of the hotel. The suite-style rooms allow for business travelers to work in one area and relax in another - a nice perk when you're on the road.

9. DoubleTree by Hilton Memphis Downtown
Photo courtesy of (c) 2013 DoubleTree

The DoubleTree offers excellent proximity to Beale Street and AutoZone Park, home of the minor league Memphis Redbirds (an excellent space to watch a ballgame). Like most of the properties in this line, amenities include free WiFi and cookies, and an on-site T.G.I. Friday's restaurant serves as the hotel eatery. The Main Street Trolley, Beale Street and the Cotton Exchange Museum are just a few blocks away, and the surrounding area includes a variety of locally-owned and quite good restaurants, from Charlie Vergos's Rendezvous and to Automatic Slim's. In addition, the Doubletree's pricing makes it an easier option on the wallet.

8. Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Memphis
Photo courtesy of Courtyard Marriott Downtown

The relative newcomer to downtown Memphis properties, the Courtyard is a very hip spot located in the central business district, but with easy access to most downtown attractions, thanks to the trolley. A mid-rise terrace patio includes city views, a fire pit and an outdoor spa, while inside, a media room and business library are offered for those who need to stay connected, whether to the office or cable television. A small on-site Bistro serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as cocktails - and there are plenty of excellent dining options in the few blocks just around the hotel, as well as farther afield. This is a nice, slightly off-the-beaten path spot that's great for families and those wishing to explore downtown on foot.

7. Embassy Suites Memphis
Photo courtesy of Hilton Worldwide

Located on Shady Grove Road in East Memphis, the Embassy Suites is a no-nonsense choice for the road warrior. Rooms are large and include a sitting area with a desk, couch and plentiful outlets, so you can set up your office-away-from-the-office. WiFi is free throughout the hotel, making it easy to connect; meeting rooms with full catering services are available, and a business center offers 24 hour access with printing, faxing and scanning available. The on-site restaurant, Frank Grisanti's, is a favorite of east Memphians, and a surprisingly excellent spot in which to host a business dinner. In addition, Circa and Ruth's Chris are just steps away, and a courtesy van can get you to local businesses, shops and restaurants with advance notice.

6. Hampton Inn & Suites at Beale Street

This Hampton Inn is smack in the middle of the Beale Street action, being just one block north of the intersection of Beale and Third. A number of rooms offer balconies, affording a birds-eye view of the always-on pedestrian life around Beale- but don't be dismayed by the thought of all those revelers; soundproofing glass and a rule that any open containers of alcohol have to stay on Beale means there's a better chance than you'd think of getting a good night's sleep. Beyond exploring Beale, this is a great spot to headquarter if you're also planning to catch a Broadway show at the Orpheum and a baseball game at AutoZone Park. Out of all the downtown hotels, this would be the least child-friendly, given the proximity or revelers on Beale; the clubs are open practically all day, so there's always a bit of rowdy behavior around the hotel.

5. Hilton Memphis
Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels

Set on the eastern perimeter of the city, the Hilton Memphis is a good choice of accommodation in Memphis for a wide range of travelers. It is adjacent to the primary business and corporate district, but is centrally located for easy accessibility to the University of Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, the Memphis Zoo and Aquarium, and downtown museums, attractions, Beale Street and dining. The round hotel features curved rooms with skyline views, signature linens and toiletries, high-speed Internet access, microwaves and mini-fridges, beverage stations, and the usual array of modern conveniences. The lobby bar is stylish and a good spot for people watching, especially when there are charity parties taking place at the hotel.

4. River Inn of Harbor Town
Photo courtesy of River Inn of Harbor Town

Harbortown - home to the charming River Inn - isn't downtown per se, but locals consider it so (and we get the final vote). The Mud Island location and luxurious appointments combine for a quiet destination for those hoping to escape it all and perhaps cocoon with another, even if it's just for a night. The hotel is actually two buildings, with two restaurants and an excellent rooftop bar, open daily from mid-March through October, which offers calming views of the Mississippi River, less than 75 yards away. Home to the excellent Paulette's restaurant, rooms at the Inn include breakfast for two at the iconic Memphis restaurant - yum. In the area, talk ling walks along the river, visit Miss Cordelia's for a snack, or Cafe Eclectic for a morning jolt of java.

3. The Westin Memphis Beale Street
Photo courtesy of The Westin Memphis Beale Street

We love the Westin for oh-so-many reasons: The ultra-sleek rooms, the neon views of Beale Street and the FedEx Forum out every window, and the super-cool NBA player rooms, which offer higher ceilings, shower heads and larger-than-normal beds to accommodate the basketball players who stay here while in town taking on the Grizz. (Be sure to request in advance). The on-site restaurant has gone through some growing pains since opening but has now settled into something uniquely Memphis, now home to Bleu, a seafood-focused, delectable eatery. The bar is hip and fun, especially on game or concert nights, and serves as a nice respite from the sometimes crazy buzz on Beale.

2. Madison Hotel
Photo courtesy of Madison Hotel

The chic Madison is the best boutique hotel in the central business district, and oozes sophistication and big-city amenities. Luxuriously appointed rooms blend geometric wall coverings with bold colors, and many have a river view (ask for a room on a high floor facing west to lock in the view). Bathrooms are generally small yet still lush, featuring soaking or jetted tubs and touches of stone. The Twilight Sky Terrace is open daily, with drinks and small plates offered and during the summer is a more refined alternative to the nearby Peabody Hotel's rooftop gatherings, which are raucously festive. The hotel's restaurant, eighty3 - now with outside patio dining right on Main Street - is a perfect spot for a quick meal or drink before heading out to discover the Memphis music scene; the Main Street Trolley is the perfect ride to the South Main or Beale Street.

1. The Peabody Memphis
Photo courtesy of Peabody Hotel

The grande dame of Southern hotels, the historic Peabody is a treat for the senses; opulence abounds, a dynamite restaurant pleases the palate, and the famed ducks entertain both adults and children. All the guest rooms were upated in 2014,and feature cool color palates and sleek furnishings. The old-timey pool area - a throwback to the glamour days of indoor hotel pools - intrigues kids, and the chance to watch the duck parade and enjoy duck-shaped soaps and other in-room amenities are added bonuses for families. For business travelers, this is the perfect spot to impress if a meeting room is needed, or to discuss deals in the quiet corner bar. Surrounding the hotel is an array of dining options, with the famed Rendezvous just across Union Avenue and down a back alley, and the hotel's own Chez Philippe is a grand dining experience (coat and tie definitely required).