When we choose a hotel for a trip, a number of criteria go into the selection. It really depends on what we’re wanting to get out of the stay, but location is consistently near the top. I want to be able to either walk or have a short drive to most of what we’re in town to experience. So when we found ourselves staying the weekend in Memphis for our NBA Road Trip series, having a hotel near the action at FedExForum was a plus. The fact museums, restaurants, shopping and nightlife also were all within walking distance made the Westin Memphis Beale Street hotel a good choice for this trip. But could it be a winner for us?
So it’s well established here that we live in Memphis. I’m in Downtown Memphis a lot, and walk next to the Westin Memphis Beale Street hotel anywhere from 20 to 30 times every basketball season on my way to FedExForum for a game. So I’m very familiar with the location of this hotel and how that puts the Westin Memphis Beale Street on a level all its own for NBA fans. In fact, many of the visiting NBA teams use the Westin Memphis Beale Street as their home base when in town to play the Memphis Grizzlies.
But for visitors to Memphis looking to do more than attend a basketball or concert at FedExForum, there are other reasons to consider staying the night at the Westin Memphis Beale Street hotel. But let’s start with my favorite part about the hotel.
So I’ve made it clear I like the location of the Westin Memphis Beale Street hotel. It’s just across from the main entrance of FedExForum, as well as the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Gibson Guitar Factory. Just to the north sits the historic Beale Street and all of its nightlife fun. Just a couple of blocks west is the South Main Historic Arts District, and the core of the Central Business District is just a couple of blocks north.
The Westin Memphis Beale Street is about 10 years old, being built roughly the same time as FedExForum, which opened in 2004. The property is on the backside of Beale Street, but its architecture seems to resemble more the brick exteriors of the adjacent FedExForum and Gibson Guitar Factories. Inside the Westin Memphis Beale Street, the design is downtown cool, something that possibly would be seen more in Manhattan than one of the South’s grand cities.
Our hotel arrival was different than what many guests will experience. Because I work nearby, I decided to walk over that Friday afternoon to check in before driving home to get the family for our return downtown for the weekend. I walked into the lobby about 2 p.m. for check in, which is normally at 3 p.m. There was no wait at the desk, and it only took a few minutes to get the room keys.
We returned about 5:30 p.m. with the car and luggage. The hotel’s front door is the same as the valet entrance. The parking area is small, but I’ve never seen cars spill out into the street waiting to drop off. After dropping off the car, I was able to quickly carry the luggage up to the room before heading out for our pregame meal.
Our room was on the fourth floor with a window looking out to Beale Street. That could’ve been a concern with the bands in the street’s clubs playing into the early hours of the morning.
But we were pleased with the soundproofing of the room. My wife is a light sleeper, and she didn’t experience issues with street noise.
Our room had two full beds with reading lamps placed in good spots for our nighttime reading. There is an iPhone charging station on the nightstand, and there was good placement of wall outlets.
I found the in-room coffee maker worked fine. There is a well-stocked mini-bar in the room.
I don’t use these, but I do find it important to note how this one works. It has a pressure sensor on it, meaning when it detects food or drink products have been removed for more than a few seconds it automatically charges the room. That’s not a good thing for parents traveling with young children.
The only other issue I had with the room was the temperature control. Our stay was in early April, so air conditioning wasn’t a necessity quite yet. But we do like sleeping in cold rooms at night, and I just couldn’t get the thermostat to cool the room as much as I wanted it to. I could get it set to 65 degrees but it felt more like 70. I’m not sure if I was doing something wrong, the air just wasn’t fully functioning yet in early April or if the room doesn’t cool as much as I’d like it to. And I never called down to ask for assistance, so it’s quite possible I just wasn’t doing something correct.
Overall, we found the room to be comfortable with enough space for our needs. The closet was big enough to set our bags in.
The bathroom is a real treat in this hotel room. I haven’t seen too many with this much room to move around in, at least at the non-ultra luxury level.
Inside the door to the left is a large walk-in shower with a rain shower head. Note what seems to be a higher-than-usual shower head.
To the right in the room is a separate bathtub, a nice touch for parents traveling with young children or just anyone who prefers a bath to a shower.
I found the mirror and counter space sufficient for two people to get ready at once.
This is an area that I failed the Westin Memphis Beale Street on this stay. Other than the room, the lobby and the Bleu Restaurant & Lounge, we didn’t linger in the hotel’s public spaces. The hotel does have a 24-hour fitness studio on the second floor with cardiovascular equipment, free weights and a universal weight machine. There is a nice touch for runners with the RunWESTIN self-guided custom running maps. These 3- and 5-mile routes are on pocket-sized maps. As a Memphis resident I don’t need the service. But as a traveling runner, I love this idea.
The lobby is spacious, with a lobby bar and plenty of seating spread throughout.
And there is a Starbuck’s at the hotel, although it only has an exterior entrance. It fronts Third Street next to the side door to Bleu Restaurant & Lounge.
Oh, and one amenity I never had the time to take part in and wish I did. With the Gibson Guitar Factory located across the street, visitors to the Westin Memphis Beale Street can check out a Gibson guitar to take to their room, free of charge.
Bleu Restaurant & Lounge is more than just a hotel dining experience. Yes, it does the trick of hotel breakfast and room service. But this hotel restaurant stands on its own as a Memphis dining destination. Menus change according to the season; in fact, the latest menu makes its debut this week.
The attention here is on locally sourced products, many of which come from the nearby Memphis Farmers Market. The seafood is brought in fresh throughout the week; the ahi tuna, for example, is flown in three times a week from Hawaii. I haven’t had Bleu’s burger, but it has a reputation as one of the best in town.
Stacey and I have eaten at Bleu a couple of times before, including having the opportunity to enjoy a special Valentine’s Day menu this year. We visited Bleu twice during our stay: for a few bites and drinks after the Memphis Grizzlies game on Friday night, and for a dinner reservation Saturday.
The restaurant wasn’t packed after the game, but it was mostly full. The bar area sounded like it had a great crowd celebrating the Grizzlies’ win, as well as the outside seating that looks out to FedExForum. We enjoyed an order of the Creole Beignets (so good) and they made up a special chicken item just for Colby.
I really like the look and feel of Bleu. It has more of a sexy New York setting than the typical old-brick feel of Downtown Memphis. It has a good setting for a date night, but we never felt out of place with Colby joining us for a 7 p.m. dinner on Saturday.
Separate from the dining room is a lounge and full-service bar. I’ve had a few drinks in the bar before, and I’ve thought it to have a good happy hour crowd. There is also outdoor lounge seating, and on a spring or fall evening, or pre- or postgame drinks late in the basketball season, those seats look like a solid choice.
Wireless access in public areas of the hotel is available for $12.95 per day and $6.95 per day in guest rooms. Internet access in the business center is complimentary.
This was our first time to stay in a hotel in Memphis since our wedding night some 15 years ago. It was a good experience staying in Downtown Memphis, a neighborhood I’m in five days a week for work and too many times to count at night and on the weekends for entertainment. Downtown Memphis is a great destination for families looking for a weekend getaway, as well as couples wanting to get away for a few days. There are several hotels in Downtown Memphis, many of which I’ve heard are great choices. For our NBA Road Trip weekend, I can think of no better lodging choice than the Westin Memphis Beale Street. Its location alone makes this a great place. We were able to come back to the hotel for postgame snacks and drinks at Bleu. Plenty of locals were hanging out, always a plus to me.
Westin Memphis Beale Street
170 Lt. George W Lee Ave.
Check-in time: 3 p.m.
Check-out time: Noon
Parking: $18 self-parking; $24 valet parking
203 rooms and suites
We were guests of the Westin Memphis Beale Street, including complimentary lodging and meal at Bleu. As an unbiased journalist, I was in no way swayed by the hotel’s great location, sleek design, friendly staff or Bleu’s fantastic meal. As always, all opinions are my own.