Living in small town America sometimes necessitates going to a larger city for things I can't get locally. One of the nearby larger cites for me is Memphis, Tennessee. There's several good things there, like a variety of great local restaurants and a Penzey's store, where I could camp out for days. Sometimes the trip requires an overnight stay, as was the case recently. Since I've stayed there a number of times in the past, I'm always on the lookout for a good hotel.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I stayed at The Peabody in downtown Memphis. Overall, we just weren't that impressed. It was nice enough I suppose, but between the extremely busy atmosphere, the lacking service and noise levels, it just wasn't worth returning. We tried The Peabody in Little Rock, and while it was more modern and the service somewhat improved, it too was noisy. I have a low tolerance for noise in a hotel. If I'm out of town, most often it's for leisure and one of my favorite leisure things to do when traveling is sleep in a bit without disruptions. Hotels that fail to provide a quiet environment to do so are promptly marked off my list.
For this trip, we stayed at The Madison Hotel. I have found my new home away from home in Memphis. It's quiet, with a modern feel yet the building is definitely not new. It doesn't have the wild flurry of activity feeling of The Peabody. One thing that's a must-see is the gym. Located in the basement, a portion of it is in an old bank vault. Grill 83, just a few steps away, is a good and convenient choice for dinner. I could have made a meal off the cheese fritters appetizer alone. The room service breakfast we ordered was one of the best ones I've found thus far and well worth the price. The hotel staff was friendly and I didn't get the impression I was merely an obstacle between them and their paycheck. They honestly cared about doing their jobs well or were great at giving that appearance anyway. That combined with the low noise levels will keep me coming back to this hotel for most any overnight trip to Memphis in the future.
I'm finding in my travels that for a more luxury or upscale hotel, what are deemed "small boutique" hotels are my preference. They tend to be quieter with a more relaxed atmosphere and are at least adequately staffed to accommodate my needs. I've spent better nights in even a simple Holiday Inn Express than in some ultra-swanky resorts and paid far less for it. I've quickly come to the conclusion that the price isn't always a great gauge of the quality of the hotel or resort, but the size and attention to detail tend to speak more to how much I'll enjoy my visit and the likelihood of a return trip.