The Guesthouse at Graceland: High on luxury, low on Elvis

Guesthouse at Graceland
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In the summer of 2016, I was so excited when they were building the new Guesthouse at Graceland luxury hotel right next to Elvis Presley’s mansion. As a frequent visitor to Memphis and Graceland, I have stayed both at the Days Inn Graceland across the street from the mansion and the Heartbreak Hotel next to the Graceland Plaza. Both had a lot of Elvis character but were low on luxury. A new hotel was much needed in this area for many years.

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So just a few short months after the Guesthouse at Graceland opened in the Fall of 2016, I finally made my first visit to the new 450-room hotel. However, I discovered that The Guesthouse seems to be the opposite of the Days Inn and the now defunct Heartbreak Hotel — high on luxury, yet low on Elvis character.
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I was underwhelmed at the “Elvis” connection to the hotel. Truth be told, I didn’t stay there (too pricey for my budget) but I walked all around the public areas and outside by the pool, as the curious Elvis fan that I am. The hotel has two full-service restaurants, meeting and special events space, a large outdoor pool and a 464-seat theater for live performances and movies.
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From the outside, the hotel looks like a larger version of Graceland. On the East side of the hotel, there is a replica of the staircase at Graceland which is intended to be used for weddings.
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However, the only obvious link to Elvis in the main public areas are the headless photos of his Vegas jumpsuits and jewelry. These fine art-type photos are also in each room of the hotel.
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There are also some funky shaped chairs and couches in the lobby which are supposed to be inspired by Elvis’ unique sense of style, but you really wouldn’t know that unless one of the hotel staff told you.
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I know the powers that be were trying to keep the hotel classy and appealing for corporate visitors who may not necessarily be Elvis fans. They don’t want to hit these type of hotel guests over the head with Elvis. That’s what visiting the mansion is for, as well as the new Elvis Presley’s Memphis complex.
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But I believe they are making a mistake by underplaying Elvis in the hotel. The way to get these non-Elvis or casual Elvis fans to go visit the mansion and the new complex is to offer something unique and special about Elvis in the hotel. Maybe create a special memorabilia room or room of photos giving a brief history of Elvis’ life and career. Offer something that you can’t find in the mansion or the attractions that will entice these non-Elvis visitors to want to learn more about Elvis, and at the same time, offer the loyal Elvis fans a bonus for staying at the Guesthouse.
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I wish that the Guesthouse management would have taken a closer look at The Beatles-themed Hard Days Night hotel in Liverpool for inspiration. That hotel hired a talented artist to create over 100 unique paintings of The Beatles and put one in each room. No painting was the same. [see photos here]
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That hotel is also considered a luxury hotel, yet it still found a way to incorporate real photos of The Beatles all around the inside and outside of the hotel, while still keeping it classy. The Hard Days Night Hotel “truly does a fantastic job of displaying photographs, art work and bronze statues throughout the hotel,” according to one hotel guest.
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Unfortunately, when you walk into The Guesthouse at Graceland hotel, you don’t really get any kind of Elvis vibe. I feel that any hotel chain could have created the same hotel experience as The Guesthouse at Graceland.
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Yes, you can walk on a path from the hotel to the Graceland mansion, but you have to take a shuttle to get to the complex across the street because it is too long to walk. Also, if you want to visit the hotel, you have to pay $10 for parking.
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Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to stay there when I visit Memphis if I could afford it. It would be comfortable and convenient to stay there. But as an Elvis fan, The Guesthouse at Graceland does not really add anything to my “Elvis” experience.
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