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Peabody Memphis
Bill Syken
February 16, 2007
This Blues City institution provided the royal treatment, but a VIP tour of Graceland was fit for a king
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February 16, 2007

Peabody Memphis

This Blues City institution provided the royal treatment, but a VIP tour of Graceland was fit for a king

ROOMS: 464 ROOMS (15 SUITES)

PRICES: $245--$2,200

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: CHAT UP BERNARD LANSKY, ELVIS'S PERSONAL TAILOR, WHO OWNS FIVE HOTEL SHOPS

CONTACT: PEABODYMEMPHIS.COM

The highlight of the SI swimsuit crew's grand tour of Memphis was unprecedented access behind the ropes at Graceland, where we were allowed to throw off our shoes and dig our feet deep into the shag carpeting of Elvis's Jungle Room. Everyone took snapshots of each other against the backdrop of the animal-skin furniture and came away convinced that the floating white dots in our images were due not to cheap flashes but rather the presence of the ghost of the King.

We found treasure in less obvious Memphis-area locales, too, such as the shoot on the old railroad bridge that traverses the Mississippi. First-year model Tori Praver was flanked by crunk pioneers Juicy J and D.J. Paul of Three 6 Mafia, and photographer Walter Chin said, "Make it real sexy." His instruction was meant for Tori, but Juicy J took it as a cue to flash his full grill. Craig Brewer, a Memphis resident and director of Hustle & Flow, which featured the Academy Award--winning Three 6 Mafia song, It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp, grinned as he watched. "This is a perfect moment," Brewer said. "That girl, these guys, this bridge." Brewer liked having the rusty bridge in the shot, he explained, because it reveals that Memphis is more than Graceland and the usual tourist-brochure destinations.

From a music standpoint the city is an aural mosaic of blues, rock, country, crunk, hip-hop and '70s Memphis icon Isaac Hayes (also a participant in the shoot) branded "hot-buttered soul." SI's crew had set up at the Peabody Memphis, which is within walking distance of B.B. King's and other Beale Street music clubs, making it the perfect home base when you're getting to know what Memphis is all about.

What the Peabody's all about is Southern comfort: big rooms, plush beds, attentive service and an in-house tourist attraction. Every morning at 11, trained ducks file into an elevator to make the trip from the rooftop to the lobby fountain before returning to the roof (via elevator) at 5 p.m.

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