Winston Aldworth checks into accommodation fit for the King in Memphis
The Guest House at Graceland is a massive white hotel, sitting next door to the real (and surprisingly small) Graceland, where Elvis rested his head.
Check in experience: Wise men say only fools rush in. I dashed to the check-in desk hoping to beat what I presumed would be the late-morning rush. No need. It's well-staffed and they're all whip-smart — I could have sauntered in Kingly fashion. The young woman checking me in is swift and helpful. "Y'all have a lovely accent," she says, in a lovely accent.
On the walls: A collection of art tastefully hints at the great man — large framed photos of his shoes on stage, a black-and-white shot of a raised collar. It's nicely done. When you might have thought the whole thing would be a kitsch-fest. The kitschest thing of all can be found in the southern wing where there's a staircase which is a replica of the diamante-studded feature in the real Graceland. During our stay, we found the genuine Elvis fans among the guests were taking the opportunity to get photos on the staircase. A good idea, as you're not allowed on the real one in the real Graceland building next door.
The room: I was in 615. They're all tastefully done and, with the place just opened in March, everything is looking slick.
The bed: Fit for the King!
The bathroom: Compact, more suited to svelte, 1950s Elvis than late-career, burger-chomping King. There's no bathtub.
When I arrive in the room, there's a question on the TV screen: "What's your favourite Elvis era?" Guests can choose 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. This guides the background music that plays when you're scrolling through screen options. I opt for the 50s — it's the natural choice — but by the end of our stay many in our group have switched to 70s. All the regular hotel telly options are present and correct, with added Elvis channels playing movies and live performances of the great man.
What's in the neighbourhood: Graceland is right next door and across the road is the freshly refurbished Elvis Presley's Memphis, a giant exhibition celebrating the music, and merchandise of the great man's life. My favourite thing there was the Boeing 707 he named after his daughter. What a man. What a dad.
Fellow guests: I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that quite a few of them were Elvis fans.
Exercise facilities: The gym is very basic, with a small shelf of dumb-bells and a row of cardio machines. And disappointingly the swimming pool is not guitar shaped.
Food and drink: Down at the bar, there's an array of cocktails riffing on Elvis themes: the Jailhouse Rocks (Tennessee moonshine, pear puree and ginger beer; $11) being the best of them. In the room, a competent room service menu delivers southern dining classics, with — sadly — no sign of a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich.
Perfect for: This would make a fine, slightly surreal break on your southern states road trip. If you book for more than two nights, classify yourself as a true Elvis fanatic.
Final word: A brilliant residence that manages to stay — only just — on the right side of kookiness and kitsch. Perhaps a guitar-shaped swimming pool would have sent the whole place over the edge.
You'll find The Guest House at Graceland at 3600 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Phone: +1 901 443 3000.