One Grand Memphis Belle

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vampirefan on June 3, 2010

When my aunt and I were making our plans, she said that we could stay with her friend Beth. Sounded like a good plan. We decided however though, that since our first night didn’t give us much time between our arrival and the 8pm showing of Wicked. We decided to stay in downtown for the first night. Aunt Ellen said she had always wanted to stay at the Peabody and asked if I could get a pretty good rate. One call later, and I would be keeping up my high flalutin’ lifestyle of a low flatutin' budget.

The original Peabody was built in 1869 by Robert Campbell Brinkley. It was named after George Peabody who died shortly before the hotel opened. The original was located at Main and Monroe and it closed in 1923. In 1925 it moved to its current location on Union Ave. where the former Fransioli Hotel was located. In the 1970’s the hotel closed. In 1975 The Jack Belz Family purchased the hotel and started a major renovation. In 1981 the hotel reopened and the grand reopening is credited with breathing life back into the downtown area which continues to grow even today. Today the hotel is owned by the Peabody Group. They also own the Peabody in Orlando and Little Rock.

Aunt Ellen and I arrived and check in. It was before check in time and the very friendly employee tells us we are too early to check in, but we can check our luggage in and go and enjoy Memphis. That was great since that is all we wanted to anyway. Within just a minute someone comes over takes our luggage for us and tells us it will be waiting when we arrive back later. Were given our keys so were all set to go and enjoy Memphis.

After eating at Huey’s, riding the trolley, getting acquainted with downtown, and visiting the Civil Rights Museum, we arrive back 45 minutes before the ducks are due to depart only to find a huge crowd already gathered for this popular daily event. After seeing the ducks, we decide to go check into our room before going up on the roof. When one of the employees sees us with our key in hand, he ushers us to the front of the elevator and tells the crowds, guests of the hotel get on the elevator first!

Our room is just beautiful. We have 2 very comfy queen beds. We have a desk and chair and have a flat screen TV. The furnishings are just beautiful and everything about our rooms is just amazing. Shortly after we arrive in our room, an employee comes by to check on us and make sure everything is ok. The rooms include:

*Local newspaper and either USA Today or the Wall Street Journal
*Use of the gym
*Delightful amenities basket with duck products
*All rooms are smoke free
*Some rooms are pet friendly

The hotel offers:

• 2 hotels- Chez Philippe which offers French cuisine from Reinaldo Alfonso. Reservations suggested and there is a dress code. Capriccio Grill is an Italian Steakhouse.
• *Peabody Deli and Desserts offers breakfast lunch items including sandwiches and salads and some of the best pastries you have ever had. We had breakfast here and tried several of their desserts. Oh my.
• Sunday Brunch and Afternoon Tea.
• In room dining
• 2 bars
• Corporate/meeting space
• Wedding services
• They also have several shops including the Lucky Duck where you can pick up your own Peabody Duck Rubber Ducky and all things ducky emblazoned.

The hotel is just gorgeous. The lobby is massive and inviting. This art deco masterpiece has large chairs that invite you to just curl up with a good book and enjoy this place. They make use of rich woods and in there are beautiful stain glass in the ceiling. Anyone who loves architecture should take the time to just explore.

They are in a wonderful location. They are right across from the Rendezvous. The trolley line is just steps away. Beal Street, the Orpheum, and the Civil Rights Museum are all close by. The mighty Mississippi Delta is within walking distance. There are plenty of dining and shopping options close by.

The Peabody Ducks . The Peabody is most noted for its ducks. Every day at 11 am people gather to see the ducks and the duck master march into the lobby and the ducks spend the day hanging out in the beautiful marble fountain. At 5 pm, they return back to their home on the roof.

The tradition began back in 1933 when the general manager (a man named Frank Schutt) left his live decoy ducks in the lobby’s fountain after a hunting trip. Guests liked it so much the just stayed on. In 1940 one of the employees, Edward Pembroke, offered to take care of the ducks. He was the first official duck master. Edward had worked as an animal trainer in the circus and taught them to march in and out of the lobby. He served in the position until 1991. The ducks arrive and depart to Sousa's King Cotton March . They arrive on a red carpet and guests are kept behind the red velvet rope. They arrive via elevator. The ducks have appeared on TV numerous times and in magazines. People come from all to see the ducks.

The duck master tells the crowds that amass about the tradition of the ducks and explain what will be going on. Generally a child is picked to assist the Duckmaster, but a number of celebrities have been given that honor. Oprah Winfrey, Paula Deen, Queen Noor of Jordan, Patrick Swazey, Emeril Lagasse, and Kevin Bacon have all been given the title.

In the evening guests can go up on the roof to visit the ducks in the home. In 1998 they built a new "Duck Palace’. They have a huge window that allows guests to see the ducks. The roof also offers some amazing views of the city and the Mississippi. The new ducky home coast $200,000 (more than my home)!

The ducks are here from 11 to 5 everyday so you can stop by and see them without the crowds. But if you want to see the 11 or 5 march, you need to make sure you arrive early. We were there 45 minutes before and it was already packed with hundreds of people waiting on two floors. Trust me when I tell you there are lots of people who come out for the event. It is open to the public, so you need not be a guest to come in and see the ducks. The tradition continues at both the Orlando and Little Rock properties. Duck is not served on any menu at the hotels. The ducks live here only 3 months and then they are returned back to a farm when they get to live out their lives as wild ducks.

Honors/awards: .

*AAA 4 Diamond Rating
* Michelin 4 Star Property
* Preferred Hotels and Resorts
* Forbes 4 Star Property
* Historic Hotels of America
* Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places

My only complaint is a small one. They do not offer a lot on the way of vending machines and what they do have is not cheap. There are not a lot of convenience stores around either. If you are a soda drinker, stock up!

Parking Parking is either self park or valet. They have an adjacent parking deck and parking when I was here was $20 a day and it is charged to your room account.

Recommended? You bet! This place is great.


This place is just terrific and they employees are just wonderful. When we came back down that evening in our gowns for Wicked, they opened doors for us and were so kind. It was a nice change after our stay at the Grand Bohemian in Asheville.
Peabody Hotel
149 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee, 38103
(901) 529-4000

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