The Peabody

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A hotel to love in

Memphis Tennessee
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This article will help you plan a lovely trip to The Peabody Hotel.

In this article...

Ducks in Lobby of Peabody Hotel in Memphis
Ducks in Peabody Lobby

Hotel overview

At a glance

5 things to love:

  • Excellent location in downtown Memphis
  • History dates back to 1869
  • Luxurious hotel and guest rooms
  • Infamous Peabody Duck March through lobby twice daily
  • Dine at Chez Philippe, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant

Nicknamed “The South’s Grand Hotel” and located in the heart of downtown Memphis, The Peabody is a luxurious historic hotel with an interesting twist. The Peabody in so many ways embodies the grace and finesse of southern hospitality, all in the midst of a vibrant and musical urban setting.

Though its history stretches way back to 1869, the present-day hotel was built in 1925 with an Italian Renaissance design by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlshlager. You will love the exquisite decor of the lobby, restaurants and the over 400 well-appointed guest rooms.Β 

Chandelier and paneled ceiling of Peabody lobby
Gorgeous Peabody lobby decor

One of the most distinctive things to love about The Peabody is the “March of the Peabody Ducks”. As the story goes, ducks were originally brought into the hotel’s lobby fountain in 1933.Β 

Then in 1940 a bellman named Edward Pembroke, who was a former circus trainer, trained the ducks to march from the lobby’s fountain to their home on the rooftop.Β 

To the delight of visitors young and old, they’ve been marching through Peabody’s lobby, led by their Duckmaster, twice daily for over 80 years!

Elvis Bobblehead
Elvis bobblehead at Peabody

Speaking of the rooftop, The Peabody hosts amazing concerts on the rooftop with sweeping views of Memphis. It is the ideal place to see a pink sunset over the Memphis Arkansas Bridge.

Did you know?

Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, is located just 8 miles from The Peabody Hotel. As legend has it, Elvis signed his first contract in Peabody’s lobby and even had his prom in Peabody’s lovely ballroom. You will find interesting Elvis-related artifacts at the hotel, including part of that first music contract!

The Peabody Hotel Sign
Historic Peabody Signage

A bit of history

Originally built in 1869 about a block away from its current location, The Peabody has been host to many famous guests including President Andrew Johnson and numerous confederate icons like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

Old Postcard from Peabody Hotel in 1910

In 1925 the hotel was re-built at the corner of Union and 2nd, just two blocks away from Memphis’ famed Beale Street. Over the last century and a half, The Peabody has served as a cornerstone of social life in Memphis, as it’s long been considered one of the most elegant hotels in all of the American South.

Old picture of workers building Peabody hotel
Workers building Peabody

It wasn’t all good times, though. From the 1950’s through 1970’s The Peabody was auctioned off and sold multiple times as commerce around downtown Memphis deteriorated. In 1975, Jack Belz bought the hotel for $400,000 and invested $25 million in renovating the landmark hotel.

When The Peabody re-opened in 1981 it is credited with sparking the revitalization of downtown Memphis, which continues to this day. Memphis is now a popular tourist destination with distinct BBQ, culture, and an influential music scene.

Old drawing of Peabody Hotel
Peabody in 1925

For many years, radio station WREC operated out of the basement of The Peabody Hotel. In fact, Peabody’s ballroom was one of the few locations for live weekly broadcasts from CBS Radio Network.

One of the most recognizable features of The Peabody is the enormous neon red sign on the rooftop that has graced the Memphis skyline for almost 100 years.

Peabody Lobby Bar and Restaurant
Peabody Lobby Bar

Things to love about The Peabody

💜 Chez Philippe Restaurant

Serving classical French cuisine from Chef Andreas Kisler in one of most elegant dining rooms you’ll ever see, Chez Philippe is an award-winning restaurant located within the lobby of The Peabody Hotel.

The Peabody is iconic for its ducks, so it may come as no surprise that Chez Philippe is the only classic French restaurant lacking duck on the menu.

It is the only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four Diamond restaurant in the entire Mid-South region. The attire is casual elegance and jackets are optional, but you’ll want to dress your best for the special occasion of dining at Chez Philippe.

Inside Chez Philippe restaurant at Peabody
Chez Philippe Restaurant
Other dining options
  • Sit down for authentic Italian fare at Capriccio Grill and Steakhouse
  • Savor afternoon tea at Chez Philippe, a Southern take on classic English tea
  • Grab a quick bite or pastry at Peabody Deli & Desserts
  • Socialize with cocktails at Peabody’s Lobby Bar or its Jack Daniel’s inspired Corner Bar

💜 The Peabody Duck March

Every day at 11am and again at 5pm, you will find visitors lining the red carpet and the second floor balconies of the Peabody Lobby to catch of glimpse of ducks marching at the orders of the famous Duckmaster.

These 5 ducks actually live at the Peabody and spend their afternoons lounging in Peabody’s beautiful central fountain. In the evening they retire to their 288 sq ft residence on the rooftop called Duck Palace.

Peabody Ducks

It is a fun-spirited and free event for visitors to witness (even if you’re not a hotel guest), and it is especially fun for the kids.

Insider Tip: We recommend you arrive 30 minutes early to get a prime viewing spot. You won’t mind waiting in the gorgeous lobby to the wafting sounds of live piano music.

💜 Immaculate Guest Rooms

You will love the charming and elegant decor of the 464 guest rooms and suites at The Peabody Hotel. The soft and hard furnishings are a delightful mix of modern and classic.

In each room you will find distinctive wall art that Peabody commissioned to pay tribute to Memphis, blues music, sunsets on the Mississippi River and, of course, the Peabody Ducks.

The pampering provided by Peabody has earned it the distinction of being a Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four Diamond rated hotel.

Guest room inside Peabody Hotel
Peabody Guest room

Insider Tip: Don’t sleep on Peabody’s own spa, Feathers Spa, which is a relaxation oasis that has been rated in the top 10 of all hotel spas by Spas of America.

Memphis Sign
Welcome to Memphis

About Memphis

Located near the border of Tennessee and Arkansas, Memphis is an iconic Southern city that is renowned for its food, music, and culture. It is the largest city on the Mississippi River with over 650,000 residents.

Memphis is home to the original BB Kings Blues Club, which opened in 1991 on Beale Street. You will find nightly live music from local blues musicians and excellent Memphis Barbecue in a colorful venue that pays homage to blues greats.

Beale Street is the beating heart of Memphis nightlife. This vibrant area of downtown Memphis is iconic for its row of nightclubs, restaurants, shops and colorful neon signage.Β 

BB Kings Blues Club Memphis
BB King's Blues Club

Civil Rights

Memphis has also played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement since the 1960’s. In fact, the Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis is the location where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

Nowadays you will find the National Civil Rights Museum located at the Lorraine Motel, an educational experience that takes visitors through centuries of history in the struggle for civil rights.

Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion

Memphis is also home to Elvis Presley’s private retreat, the 14 acre estate and mansion at Graceland. You can book a tour of the estate and it makes for a perfect day trip from the Peabody Hotel.

Graceland pays tribute to the king of Rock n Roll with several exhibits featuring personal items, honors, accolades, and historical exhibits. It is here you can also see Elvis’ quirky and infamous Jungle Room.

Beale Street Downtown Memphis at Night
Beale Street carriage, downtown Memphis

Getting around the city

The Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis is located about 11 miles from the Memphis International Airport. There are several options for getting from the airport to the hotel including all the standards: cabs, Ubers, shuttles and car rentals.

From the airport, a shuttle will cost about $35 per person, whereas a cab will cost about $25 total and an Uber could be even cheaper at less than $20 depending on time of day.

While you are staying at The Peabody, a great transportation option to get around town affordably is the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA). You can ride their vintage trolleys all day around town for less than $5, which hits most of the major points of interest.

Downtown Memphis

Best time of year to visit Memphis

Special events

Memphis in May International FestivalΒ – all month

Beale Street Music FestivalΒ – May

Elvis Week – August

Mid-South Fair – September

The most popular time of year to visit Memphis is the summer due to summer vacations, but the best time to visit for weather and festivities is Spring (April-May) or late Summer (October-November).

Weather in Spring

If you visit Memphis in the Spring time you can expect daily highs in the range of 70-80 degrees and lows in the 50-60’s. Spring in Memphis does not have the overbearing level of humidity that is common during the summer.

May is a great time to visit for popular local events. In fact, the Memphis in May International Festival lasts all month long with live music, art and exhibits that showcase a different country of the world each year.

Weather in Summer

Lots of families travel during the summer with school on vacation, so naturally Memphis is a popular destination from June-August. You can expect daily highs in the range of 85-95 degrees and lows in the 70’s.

If you visit in early August, you can catch Elvis Week festivities at Graceland. In addition to live music and celebrations, there is a candlelight vigil attended by thousands of Elvis fans.

Weather in Fall

Autumn is a nice time to visit Memphis, but the weather is less predictable than during the Spring. Expect daily highs in the 60-75 degree range and lows in the 40-50’s. It is often less humid than during the sweltering summer.

Weather in Winter

Winter is the rainiest season for Memphis and the coldest, though not unbearably so. Expect daily highs in the 40-50 degree range and chilly nights that are often just below freezing.

It does snow in Memphis, so dress appropriately. They get on average about 3 inches of snow per year.

Chez Philippe Restaurant inside Peabody
Peabody lobby from 2nd floor

Concluding thoughts

Memphis is a vibrant musical city with an interesting history and an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. The Peabody is a historic and elegant landmark hotel in the heart of downtown Memphis that will take your breath away.

From the award-winning Chez Philippe classical French restaurant to impeccable guest rooms and charming lobby bars, you will rest in style at Peabody.

And let’s not forget the Peabody Ducks! No visit to Memphis would be complete without witnessing this quaint tradition that goes back decades.

There is so much to love about Memphis, and so many reasons to stay at The Peabody Hotel.

Don't forget

💜 #hotelstoloveofficial

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The Peabody - A Hotel to Love in Memphis, TN