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Sometimes a hotel is the destination. That was certainly true for my visit to Memphis earlier this month.
Visitors who know anything about the city beyond its world-famous barbecue and vibrant music culture know The Peabody Hotel.
Peabody - Throwback - Era - Hotels - Memphis
The Peabody is a throwback to a different era, both for hotels and Memphis itself. Dating to the 19th century, the present-day building, inspired by the style of the Italian Renaissance, was erected in the mid-1920s. As the saying goes, they don't build them like that anymore.
It was built for a Memphis that, frankly speaking, no longer exists. Back then, Memphis was a major economic hub. Cotton was king. One prominent writer said the Mississippi Delta — the South’s South — started in the hotel’s lobby, where a literal who’s who gathered both to conduct business and to be seen.
Peabody - Hotel - Memphis - Raison - D'etre
The Peabody remains the finest hotel in Memphis even if its raison d'etre has changed.
On any given day the lobby is filled not with businessmen but tourists watching the twice-daily march by the hotel’s famous ducks to and from the fancy sculpted marble fountain and their special rooftop abode.
Spectacle - Duckmaster - Livery - Kitsch - Moneymaker
The spectacle, which includes a duckmaster dressed in regal-esque livery, is admittedly tourist kitsch. It’s also a moneymaker as most of the onlookers sit around and order an expensive drink or two from the old-school lobby bar.
I know what you’re thinking: Is it safe to leave the hotel?
Memphis - Country - Cities - Detroit - City
To be honest, I was cautious. After all, Memphis is regularly ranked as one of the country’s most dangerous cities. But being from Detroit I knew the city couldn’t be that bad.
The Peabody’s location in the heart of downtown is within walking distance of pretty much everything from iconic Beale Street to the Pyramid on the banks of the Mississippi River.
I walked around and never felt unsafe, though, as with anywhere,...
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