New hotel opens near Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
Grand opening weekend, October 27-30, 2016.
By Hope S. Philbrick
The Guest House at Graceland is a brand new one-of-a-kind hotel destination near Elvis Presley’s famed home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Stay here and it feels like you’ve spent some time with Elvis.
The décor is inspired by Elvis’ style, taking cues from the legend’s wardrobe and home furnishings, with additional input from his former wife, Priscilla Presley, who supervised all designs and is especially credited with design details of the suites.
Like its inspiration, the hotel is a superstar.
For the grand opening celebration weekend, I was booked into a standard king room and left with one lingering impression: This is the sexiest hotel room in which I’ve ever slept. I don’t mean the most romantic, I mean the sexiest—and there is a difference. The room is sumptuous. It evokes comfort in a way that invites you to tear off all your clothes. Every surface is a different texture, many sparkle with come-hither flirtatiousness, there are 15 different possible lighting settings so you can set any ambiance, the multi-shades of gray color scheme is flattering plus makes the room feel warm (you can also control the room’s temperature), and upscale finishes and furnishings give the whole space a plush, lush and fabulous vibe. It’s luxurious, rich and masculine yet confident enough to don a little pink.
When I was a kid, Elvis was a fat sweaty guy on TV that made women my mom’s age and older swoon or sigh in ways I truly did not understand. But now I think they were remembering young Elvis. That is arguably Pricilla Presley’s favorite Elvis, too, we can assume, since that’s the one she married. Fond memories of happy days seem to inform the hotel’s upbeat vibe.
This is a classy place, there is no kitsch here. There are no Elvis impersonators on staff. The décor is no literal interpretation of Graceland; that home offers subtle inspirations here like color palettes, era-appropriate furnishings, artistic direction. And while artwork throughout the hotel features Elvis’ jumpsuits and cars, images are macro-focused on details not general portraits or profiles. If you know or care nothing about Elvis, you could still be very comfortable in this hotel. If you’re a super fan, you’ll probably discover things about Elvis that you never knew before.
Stay at The Guest House at Graceland and can’t help but fall in love with the place.
What She Said…
After the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 27, 2016, leaders of the hotel construction project—which, according to one of the architects, took “three years, all in”—hosted a brief question and answer session with members of the media.
Between initial planning to construction to finishing details, “It got better, and better and better,” said Joel Weinshanker (pictured right above), managing partner of Graceland Holdings LLC, which owns the rights to Graceland’s operations, with Authentic Brand Group, LLC and the Presley family as partners. “Elvis’ voice became louder. It got easier and easier to understand what he wanted.” In fact, while going through some documents in the Graceland archives, it was discovered that Elvis referred to ‘the guest house’—which didn’t exist at the time so confirmed to the team that they’d chosen the right name for the hotel—“It’s all about listening.”
“One of the biggest challenges was to create a design that complimented Graceland,” said Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ former wife (pictured center). “Here, we celebrate it.” The new hotel design is an “inspired-by” homage to Graceland not straight mimicking of it (the closest imitator is a grand staircase, above which hangs a chandelier originally purchased for Graceland that was too big and stored away until now). While Graceland is forever stuck in its historic style, The Guest House at Graceland feels very contemporary. It’s arguably a stroke of incredible luck that Midcentury Modern is currently very popular; this style heralds from the 1950s-‘60s and is thus an ideal combination of what was appropriate during Elvis’ Graceland days and what is currently a hot design trend.
“One thing in designing the hotel is that it’s not just an ‘Elvis Presley Hotel’, it’s for visitors, local people, fans,” said Priscilla. “Really the priority is to welcome people.”
“It’s world-class because Elvis was world-class,” said Weinshanker. “Elvis grew up very poor, he earned every dollar. It’s a world-class hotel that more can afford—it’s comparable in price to a three-star hotel even though it’s a four- or five-star hotel. Elvis didn’t judge people by money and it would be a failure if all his fans couldn’t afford to stay here.” (Rates start at $209 per night, but “it’s possible to find deals,” said Keith Hess, vice president managing director of The Guest House at Graceland. The best rates can be found during slow seasons; the highest rates will be during annual Elvis Week.)
“This would be a dream hotel for him if he were here,” said Priscilla. “If this hotel was here when he was alive, he’d have spent most of his time here—there’s a built-in theatre, it would have been his ‘man cave’!”
“And there are TVs in the ceiling above the bed in the King suite,” said Weinshanker.
Graceland opened to the public for tours on June 7, 1982. Did Priscilla Presley envision this expansion? “No, not at all,” she said. “To see what has come? Never in my wildest dreams!”
“When we opened Graceland, it was like planning a party, inviting the world to come, but with no RSVPs,” she said about the uncertainty of how many people might actually visit. “We knew the maximum number of tickets we could sell each day was 3,024 and we sold out every day. But we really didn’t know what would come. It was a huge risk, but here we are today.”
There are 20 themed suites featuring design and décor supervised by Priscilla Presley.
There are two “King Suites,” the premier two-bedroom suites that are each the size of four standard rooms and both located on the private 7th floor. Individually decorated, one is inspired by Elvis’ master bedroom at Graceland and features rich red and black tones with metallic gold and silver finishes, and a custom draped canopy bed with a TV overhead. The second King’s Suite is inspired by Las Vegas décor and features a royal blue and purple color palette with plush fabrics and furnishings, vintage touches and contemporary twists. In both, the two bedrooms are separated by the living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and and bar areas.
Named after Elvis’ beloved parents, the two exclusive one-bedroom Vernon & Gladys’ Suites, each the size of three standard rooms and located on the private 7th floor, are inspired by Elvis’ Palm Springs home and feature earthy hues of terra cotta and gold. Midcentury furnishings include a custom, serpentine sofa.
TCB Suites draw from Elvis’ personal motto of “Taking Care of Business.” Anchored by a dining space and living room, each elegant, southern-style, one-bedroom suite creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests. There are 11 TCB Suites, with varying floor plans and décor, located on several floors of the hotel. Each is the size of two standard guestrooms.
Living Room Suites, also referred to as junior suites and the size of one and a half standard rooms, feature navy and deep yellow tones with brilliant white and silver metallic accents. The one-bedroom, open-plan suites offer custom-designed headboards featuring the iconic lightning bolt found in Elvis’ signature TCB logo.
The single Hospitality Suite is located near the Lobby and has a gray décor palette. It offers private space for corporate meetings and other functions.
- Complimentary shuttle to/from Memphis International Airport (3 miles from the hotel)
- Complimentary parking
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- 450 guestrooms: 159 king, 271 queen, 20 suites
- Check-in begins 4 p.m.; check out by 11 a.m.
- Non-smoking property
- Business center
- 464-seat theatre for live performances and movies
- Over 17,000 sq. ft. of meeting/function space
- Fitness room
- Outdoor pool and hot tub
- Outdoor fire ring (with heart shaped flame element)
- Two full-service restaurants on site, plus room service and coffee/snack counter
- Shuttle to/from Beale Street Downtown, $5 each way
- Valet parking available
- Concierge service available
- Mattresses are proprietary DreamCatcher Simmons Beautyrest, dressed in 300 thread-count cotton/eucalyptus blend
- Showers feature a spa-like Kohler overhead rain shower plus wall-mounted body spray with120 water jets
- Dimmable, color-correct LED lighting in the bathroom
- High-definition flat-screen TV
- State-of-the-art, Bluetooth-enabled media hub
- Small refrigerator in each guestroom
- Wireless iPhone charging clock radio that displays the time on three sides
- In-room safe
- Keurig coffee brewing system with basic supplies; Starbucks vendor near the lobby
- Steam iron
- AAA 4-Diamond rated
- ‘The Founders’ members enjoy VIP benefits including special rates, room upgrades, exclusive access to The Founders Club room, special event invitations and much more; a limited number of The Founders memberships are available and cost $30,000
- Odds of Encountering Children: Varies, but lowest on the private 7th floor
The Guest House at Graceland
3600 Elvis Presley Boulevard
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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