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Peabody Hotel, Memphis

Editor's Pick
149 Union Avenue
Memphis , Tennessee
Tel: 901 529 4000's insider take:

This 14-story Italian Renaissance Revival landmark has been the preeminent Memphis hotel since opening downtown in 1869. Renovations brought the indoor pool and athletic club into the 21st century, and the 464 guest rooms got a refresh in 2006. The menu at tony Chez Philippe is an Asian-inflected version of la cuisine Française. Marble pillars, hand-painted skylights, a charming bar, and a manned grand piano grace the lobby. The slightly stuffy mood lightens daily at the stroke of 11 a.m., when an elevator opens, and five mallard ducks emerge to the strains of Sousa's "King Cotton March." After waddling down a red carpet, they ascend three stairs into the lobby's ornate central fountain to splash around. The spectacle is reversed at 5 p.m., when the celebrated ducks retire. Like many things uniquely Memphian, the Peabody Duck March comes off as endearing, weird, and wholly sincere. You can visit the ducks' rooftop aerie during between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., though you may prefer their posh accommodations to even your own.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.