You don’t need to be an Elvis fan to visit Graceland, one of the most famous homes on the planet. The estate first opened in 1982 and has since hosted over 20 million visitors, cementing Memphis as the destination for blues, soul and rock’n’roll. In 2016 The Guest House at Graceland was unveiled, offering visitors a chance to spend the night the Elvis way. Here’s what to expect when you check-in.
Situated only steps away from the Graceland Mansion, the design and décor at The Guest House at Graceland are a celebration of Elvis’ personal style and his iconic home. There are 450 rooms, two full-service restaurants, meetings and special events spaces, a theatre, pool and fitness centre. The property has also been awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating.
I checked into a Living Room suite, which was contemporary in style with subtle touches from the King, such as exclusive pieces of wall art. Initially I felt the room could do with more daring Elvis nods, however, like the five-star resorts at Disney World, The Guest House at Graceland doesn’t cross the fine line onto themed tacky. It retains its elegance perfectly, utilising Elvis hints to accentuate mood and design. The key here is subtly, from the lobby chairs with their Elvis collar-ends to my suite’s Vegas-era golden finish walls. Those looking for bolder Elvis imagery will in due course get their fill elsewhere on the premises and on the Graceland tour.
DreamCatcher Simmons Beautyrests with 300 thread-count linens made with an innovate blend of cotton and eucalyptus fibre ensure an optimum night’s sleep. I slept like a king on the king-size platform bed, surely there’s no other way to sleep here!
The bathrooms carry spa-like Kohler overhead rain showers and luxury toiletries contained in a collection of Elvis-inspired bottles. In terms of technology, all quarters have a 50-inch high-definition flat-screen TV with Netflix; a Bluetooth-enabled media hub, refrigerator, wireless iPhone charging clock radio and Keurig coffee brewing system.
There are 20 stunning themed suites in total and their design and décor was curated by none other than Priscilla Presley. These include The King’s Suites, the premier offering from the resort; the one-bedroom Vernon and Gladys Suites (named after Elvis’ parents and inspired by Palm Springs); glitzy Living Room Suites; TCB (Taking Care of Business) Suites, and The Hospitality Suite, which provides easy access for corporate meetings, press rooms, and other functions.
The Guest House at Graceland has a pretty decent range of options to choose from, and what I especially love about dining out in Tennessee is the friendly Southern hospitality.
Delta’s Kitchen celebrates classic Southern cuisine – full of bounty stretching the state and the Mississippi River Delta’s farms, fields and markets, with meat and produce being exceptionally fresh – locally raised or grown. The buffet breakfast stars contemporary versions of the King’s breakfast favourites, and of course, signature Southern biscuits in three savoury flavours. Dinner is more upscale, accompanied by fine wines and a selection of locally produced ice creams and cheeses.
E.P.’s Bar and Grill has a relaxed, pub-like atmosphere and, here, the Tennessee spirits and local drafts are the big draw, going hand in hand with burgers and barbecue. Pop down with friends and find your way to the pool room; its cocktail chairs, sofas and low tables are perfect for groups. As is the shiny Lobby Lounge, which serves bar favourites and à la carte light dining. Finally, Shake, Rattle and Go is the café located off the Lobby, providing caffeine and baked treats (their cupcakes are irresistible).
A grand outdoor pool is lined with chaise longues providing for a serene dip and spot of relaxation after a long day exploring the estate. This is open seasonally (April to October), although, if like me you want to avoid the crazy Memphis heat, it’s best to come outside of the burning summer months, so I would suggest April/May or September/October. There’s also a fitness room that’s open 24 hours a day for those who still have energy to exert after a few laps.
As one would expect, a destination like Graceland draws in couples looking to wed on its legendary grounds. The Guest House more than meets their needs with an 11,000 square feet ballroom that holds up to 1,350 people and a 464-seat theatre with capacity for live performances and movie screenings. Imagine ending your wedding night with a champagne screening of Blue Hawaii at The Guest House at Graceland, I’m not even an Elvis fan but would consider signing up for the experience.
Graceland’s Ultimate VIP Tour
Celebrity visitors including Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran and Paul McCartney (to name but a few), have flocked to Graceland over the years, it is one of music’s most important landmarks, after all.
Not only can visitors see the mansion, complete with famous Jungle Room, but there’s also the Trophy Building, which tells the Presley family story; the Racquetball Building, where Elvis and friends hung out; and the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and his family are buried.
Across the street there’s Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibit and entertainment complex, which houses exhibits and museums about Elvis’ life and career. The two largest are Presley Motors, which features his pink Cadillac and Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest dedicated Elvis museum.
The Ultimate VIP package is well worth the price tag if you want the rock royalty experience.
It includes an expert guide, access to the Ultimate Lounge and VIP exhibit, lunch at Vernon’s Smokehouse, and lots of special keepsakes and photo opportunities too.
Memphis has plenty more rock’n’roll (and Elvis) to offer. Sun Studio is home to Elvis’ first microphone, as well as being the historic studio that launched careers of Johnny Cash, B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis. It continues as an active recording business for artists such as U2 and Tom Petty. While you’re in town, I also recommend a stroll along the famous Beale Street which has plenty of blues clubs, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Look out for Itta Bena – a hidden gem up a fire escape above BB King’s Blues Club. It is a cosy date spot for fine southern dining, live music, and the interiors and atmosphere are gorgeous (especially if you like the colour blue). Memphis Travel has plenty more ideas on what to do in the city.
The hotel is just 10 minutes from Memphis International Airport.
A double room can be booked from $209 and suites from $349.
Images courtesy of Graceland and The Guest House at Graceland.