If you want to be in the middle of things but can’t afford to stay at the Peabody, consider the Holiday Inn Select (160 Union Ave., 901/525-5491, www.hisdowntownmemphis.com , $200–250). Located across the street from the Peabody and near AutoZone Park, this Holiday Inn routinely gets good reviews from travelers.
The Peabody Memphis (149 Union Ave., 901/529-4000 or 800/732-2639, www.peabodymemphis.com , $225–350) is the city’s signature hotel. Founded in 1869, the Peabody was the grand hotel of the South, and the hotel has preserved some of its traditional Southern charm. Tuxedoed bellhops greet you at the door and all guests receive a complementary shoe-shine. Rooms are nicely appointed with plantation-style furniture, free wireless Internet, and in-room safes, as well as all the amenities typical of an upper-tier hotel. Several fine restaurants are located on the ground floor, including the lobby bar, which is the gathering place for the twice-daily march of the famous Peabody ducks.
One of Memphis’s  newer hotels is the River Inn of Harbor Town (50 Harbor Town Sq., 901/260-3333, www.riverinnmemphis.com , $245–595). A 28-room boutique hotel on Mud Island , the River Inn offers great river views and a unique location that is just minutes from downtown. Set in the mixed residential and commercial New Urban community of Harbor Town, the River Inn provides guests with super amenities like a fitness center, reading rooms, modern decor and furniture, two restaurants, a 1.5-mile walking trail, and spa. Even the most modest rooms have luxurious extras like 32-inch flat-screen televisions, chocolate truffle turn-down service, and full gourmet breakfast at Currents, one of two restaurants on the property. The River Inn offers the best of both worlds—a relaxing and quiet getaway that is uniquely convenient to the center of Memphis.
Seeking to be the finest hotel in Memphis , the Madison Hotel (79 Madison Ave., 901/333-1200, www.madisonhotelmemphis.com , $250–450) is appropriately snooty. The decor is modern, with a touch of art deco. Guests enjoy every perk you can imagine, from valet parking to room service from one of the city’s finest restaurants, Grill 83. The daily continental breakfast and afternoon happy hour are an opportunity to enjoy the view from the top floor of the old bank building that houses the hotel. The 110 rooms have wet bars, Internet access, and luxurious bathrooms.