Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Embassy Suites in Memphis, TN

Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Last Saturday afternoon, my husband and I decided that was what we needed and headed out of town for the night. We ended up in Memphis, Tennessee for dinner and checked in at the Embassy Suites just off Poplar on Shady Grove Road.

We did not have reservations, we just decided to surprise ourselves when we got there. After discussion over dinner at The American Cafe, we decided to check out a nearby Hilton. The Hilton was once the Adam's Mark, and before that the Omni Hotel. It's a round building, a unique architecture to the area. After staying there several years ago, at the time under the Adam's Mark name, I wasn't too impressed. It was in need of updating and just overall not that nice. I stepped into the lobby and my view was immediately changed. It clearly has been remodeled, at least in the front entrance areas. After searching for parking within a reasonable distance given the cold wind that night, we gave up and went just a short distance away to the Embassy Suites. The lobby is standard fare for the class of hotel, with an open atrium that all rooms overlook. In the atrium are walkways connecting various areas of the hotel, lined in plants. It's a nice touch compared to others of similar class, but I think the atrium aims to be in a Gaylord hotel when it grows up. I think I've come to the conclusion that all hotels with rooms that open to an atrium have both an upside and a definite drawback. On the upside is the wonderful view, especially in the layout such as found with the Gaylord properties. Their balcony rooms are well worth the extra few dollars to have a birds-eye view of the goregous gardens below. The downside? Noise. It seemed worse in the Embassy Suites, I presume due to a blend of architectural elements and their subsequent acoustical effects. Also I think being a more "family friendly" hotel, we saw several taking advantage of a trend: parents take the kids to a nice suite hotel and get a room for the kids to have their pajama party. Just make sure you request the room not next door to the 13 year old girl's birthday celebration. The design of the suites helps significantly, as the bedroom is at the back of the space and once you close the door, the sound all but disappears.

The included hot breakfast is better than the average hotel continental service. It's nice that it's not an additional cost. Admittedly, unless I'm staying someplace swanky, I look for the hotels that have a good breakfast included. I guess that makes me cheap, but when the basic Holiday Inn Express rates run in excess of $100 regularly, I like to know at least a glass of juice awaits my groggy head in the morning.

I'd rank this Embassy Suites as a reasonable value for the dollar. It includes a good hot breakfast with a larger than average selection of foods, a larger suite than in many hotels and with adequate parking. For families, it would be a suitable choice; for those seeking a quiet, relaxing space, I would look elsewhere.

I think my next trip I'll give the Hilton a try as the first impression did get my attention.

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