The Best Hotels to Book Near the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis

Wonder at the 28-story Sky High elevator ride from Big Cypress Lodge
Wonder at the 28-story Sky High elevator ride from Big Cypress Lodge | Courtesy of Big Cypress Lodge / Expedia
Photo of Mariette Williams
7 October 2021
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The second-largest city in Tennessee (after Nashville), Memphis is known as the birthplace of rock’n’roll and the blues. Most people come to Memphis for the entertainment on Beale Street, the delicious barbecue restaurants and the stomping live-music joints. When you’re exploring this city on the banks of the Mississippi, you’ll want a great base close to its cultural attractions and museums. Try one of these – all handy for the downtown National Civil Rights Museum, and bookable through Culture Trip.

The Central Station Memphis, Curio Collection by Hilton

Industrial-chic lounge with leather couches, armchairs and a wall built out of speakers at the Central Station Memphis
Courtesy of the Central Station Memphis, Curio Collection by Hilton / Booking.com
Music lovers lap up the unique perks at The Central Station Memphis. This Hilton brand hotel has a listening room with curated playlists and podcasts, a record wall with over 3,500 vinyl records and an in-house DJ. The 123 guest rooms display edgy details such as wood-paneled headboards, industrial open shelving and eclectic artwork. Eating and drinking is first-class here, too – try 8 & Sand, the trendy lobby bar with a seasonal cocktail list and beers from local Memphis breweries. And don’t leave without sampling Bishop, a French and Southern cuisine fusion restaurant. This hip hotel is close to the Blues Hall of Fame and the Memphis Zoo.

The River Inn of Harbor Town, Memphis

Sophisticated lounge space with antique furniture, fireplace, potted palms and chandelier at the River Inn of Harbor Town, Memphis
Courtesy of the River Inn of Harbor Town, Memphis / Booking.com
Best thing about this place? Most rooms have a terrific view of the Mississippi River. Also, the hotel is minutes away from downtown Memphis. Classic elegance prevails in rooms colored in a palette of dark greens, blues and yellows. Ask about upgraded spaces, which shine out with four-poster beds, large sitting areas and lashings of luxe Frette linens. The inn is renowned for its superb dining options. There’s Terrace, a rooftop restaurant that serves American classics (herb-roasted chicken, filet mignon), Tug’s Casual Grill, for well-portioned comfort food and beers, and Paulette’s Restaurant, a 46-year-old Memphis icon locals love for its steaks and Sunday brunches.

The James Lee House

The James Lee House
© The James Lee House / Expedia
Originally it was a two-story farmhouse, built in 1848. Today it’s the centrepiece of Memphis’s Victoria Village – a charming boutique B&B in an Addams Family style gothic pile. There are just five suites, each one opulently decorated. Think exposed-brick chimneys, ornate Victorian headboards and polished dark-wood floors. Spa-like bathrooms have been finessed with marble floors, soaking tubs and multi-head showers. The inn is close to major attractions in Memphis like the Blues Hall of Fame and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

Hotel Napoleon

Upscale bedroom in chocolate and mauve hues with exposed brick wall and arched windows at Hotel Napoleon, Memphis
Courtesy of Hotel Napoleon / Booking.com
Hotel Napoleon inhabits the historic Scimitar Building, home of the Memphis Press-Scimitar newspaper until 1983. Totally renovated, it has 56 rooms and ADA accessible suites that are photo-perfect, with exposed brick and soaring ceilings. Original details – including large framed windows from 1902 – work perfectly with modern elements such as sleek floating end tables. If you’re here with the family, consider the larger suites, with a parlor off the bedroom and a sitting area with a pull-out sofa. Enjoy the nearby restaurants such as Huey’s Downtown for burgers, or tuck into some barbecue at Rendezvous.

Talbot Heirs

Bed and Breakfast, Hotel
Talbot Heirs
© Talbot Heirs / Booking.com
Here’s a place ideal for long-term stays, or as home base for exploring downtown Memphis. It comprises just eight suites (some with large living rooms and fully stocked kitchens). Interiors are bold and eclectic: Suite One really turns heads with its black-and-white checkerboard floors and lavender walls. It’s not a B&B, but each space has breakfast essentials including cereals, milk, tea and coffee. Conveniently, the hotel is also right over a convenience store, and a wine and spirits outlet. A couple of shots and you’ll be ready for the short walk to famous Beale Street, the downtown stretch of nightclubs, restaurants and bars.

Big Cypress Lodge

Big Cypress Lodge
© Big Cypress Lodge / Expedia
Unbelievably, this is a hunting-lodge-style hotel contained inside a gargantuan pyramid structure. It’s home to 100ft-tall (31m) indoor trees, a swamp with live alligators and the tallest free-standing elevator in the country. Rustic details fill the 100-plus accommodations – exposed wood beams, fireplaces, stuffed animal heads – and exterior rooms have views of Memphis or the Mississippi River. When sated with the “great outdoors”, flop in the third-floor lobby or dine in one of the four restaurants – perhaps burgers at The Fishbowl, which is home to a 13-lane bowling alley. There’s also a rooftop terrace with two fire pits and live music.

Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis-Beale Street

Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis-Beale Street
© Hampton Inn and Suites Memphis-Beale Street / Booking.com
Families and groups of friends needing comfy, affordable digs love this hotel smack-bang on Beale Street. Some rooms come with a kitchen and a living room with sofa bed (connecting rooms are available), and they’ll also provide roll-away beds and cribs. The look is clean and contemporary: blue patterned carpeting, contemporary gray and teal furniture, and large windows or balconies with views of the city. Once you’ve had your complimentary hot breakfast and dipped into the heated indoor pool, head out into the city: you’re only two blocks from the Memphis Rock’n’Soul Museum and a mile (1.6km) away from the National Civil Rights Museum.

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