Sleeping in until 10 only to wake to a beautiful view of the Mississippi River isn’t an everyday experience. Getting to casually enjoy my cup of Keurig coffee with that view before going down for a swim in a historic hotel’s basement lap pool is also a rarity, especially for a family traveler. But on this overnight getaway to the Madison Hotel in Downtown Memphis without our son, it was an accurate picture of my morning. And this one-hour snapshot of the Madison Hotel doesn’t capture the full picture of what makes this property so unique – and relaxing.
We didn’t sleep in because we were out enjoying the scene in the surrounding neighborhood the night before and needing our rest. Yes, there are a handful of cafes and pubs nearby, but we weren’t at the Madison Hotel to enjoy Downtown Memphis’ nightlife. We were here to get a rare night out of relaxation in a beautiful property in our hometown while celebrating my birthday the previous night and Stacey’s book launch that was coming up a few days later.
We were in a beautiful corner suite on the 14th floor of the Madison Hotel with a comfortable living room where we were lazy and enjoyed watching TV. But we weren’t just watching TV, we were enjoying the spacious and comfortable room.
We usually don’t stay in a hotel because we want to spend a lot of our time in it. Sure, it helps that we live in Memphis and are able to get out and experience the city. But staying in was made much easier by the comfortable space.
We were in the Madison Hotel for less than 24 hours, long enough to get a full picture of the property but not long enough to enjoy it to its fullest.
Arriving at the hotel is simple. The property sits at the corner of Madison Avenue and Main Street. In this part of Downtown Memphis Main Street is pedestrian only. The entrance to the hotel is on Madison. If you drive up just pull up to the curb for the valet parking that costs $29 a night. If you prefer to self park there are garages in the neighborhood, and meters are free after 6 p.m. during the week and all day and night on the weekends.
When walking into the main entrance of Madison turn right to enter the lobby area or left to the entrance to eighty3 restaurant or a hallway to the main elevators. Check in on a Friday at 3:30 p.m. had no wait.
I’m not an admirer of great design, but to my untrained eyes I’d say the Madison Hotel is contemporary cool. In fact, I’d say it has a rock ‘n’ roll touch, with plenty of white and black furniture with accent reds to set the tone. A large piano sits in one corner, below a wall of windows that would let in plenty of late-afternoon sunlight if not for the breezy window treatments.
There are plenty of spots to sit with friends or alone to relax and plan out the day. The Mezzanine level above that looks out over the lobby also has plenty of seating options, including tables to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There are seven room classes, ranging from doubles to king deluxes to various suites. In all, there are 110 rooms.
We enjoyed the One Bedroom King Suite, a large bedroom with a king-size bed with a separate living room area that had its own bar, sofa, chairs and large TV. The bathroom had a separate tub and large walk-in shower that features a rain shower head.
We spent more time than usual in the room for several reasons. First, we live in Memphis and so we didn’t feel like we had to get out and explore. Secondly, it was frigid outside. And third, the room was just so comfortable. I walked to a nearby store and bought a bottle of wine that we enjoyed while watching “The Tonight Show.” Seriously.
That living room has its own bar with stocked mini-fridge that still has plenty of room to store restaurant leftovers, its own sink and counter space.
Our room had wonderful views to the south of the Downtown skyline and to the west of the Mississippi River. There are lots of windows to enjoy the views.
I will say one negative to all those windows in the corner room was that on this very cold night — it got down into the upper teens overnight — we had to crank the heater higher than usual to keep the room warm.
As mentioned, the hotel has a large lap pool in the basement. I was the only person in the pool. Adjacent to the pool is a workout facility that is located in what was the bank vault when the building was a bank.
Concierge services include in-room massage, yoga and nanny services, and custom transportation. Other amenities include 24-hour room service, nightly turn-down service, complimentary paper delivery, valet laundry, 24-hour fitness center and wireless Internet throughout the building.
We don’t always use a property’s dining services, but part of the reason we stayed at the Madison Hotel was to try the eighty3 restaurant. This is known as one of the better dining options in Downtown, a neighborhood not lacking for them.
We started our meal with the chicken lettuce wraps that had plenty of hoisin glazed chicken. We struggled to choose between that and the grilled gulf oysters, but it was a great selection for us to share. Our entrees were the honey-soy glazed sea bass and the ‘nola pan roast, which features gulf shrimp, mussels, scallop and a smoky scampi cream sauce. Both were excellent choices. I also considered the chicken & mac-n-cheese waffle or the confit duck leg quarter.
There is a solid dessert menu and an extensive wine list that includes more than 20 available by the glass.
The Madison Hotel is a newer property, opening its doors in 2002. But it has the feel of a historic hotel, and that’s thanks to the old bank building tower and the surrounding neighborhood. One of the great things about Downtown Memphis is the majority of the buildings are older. There really isn’t a lot of new construction, and thankfully many of the buildings have been reborn as apartments and condos with ground-floor commercial uses.
The Madison Hotel is one of the more prestigious addresses in Memphis. It’s arguably one of the top three properties in the city, top five for sure. It’s home to every kind of traveler who visits Memphis, from celebrities to touring musicians, NBA players and everyday tourists. It’s a sophisticated address, but without the stuffiness.
Thanks to what’s one of the best views of the Mississippi River from its rooftop, the Madison Hotel brings in locals who aren’t even staying overnight. In fact, if you visit when the weather is agreeable, the views from the Twilight Sky Terrace are wonderful, especially at sunset. In fact, Stacey and I had sunset drinks before dinner to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary last summer. The drinks are expensive compared to most bars in Memphis, but you are clearly paying for the views and romantic atmosphere.
I should also add that eighty3 built a patio on Main Street so during patio season it’s a great place to enjoy drinks or a meal while enjoying the scene.
If looking for a luxury boutique hotel in a more laid-back section of Downtown Memphis, the Madison Hotel is a great choice.
We were invited guests at the Madison Hotel and eighty3 restaurant. All views are my own.