If you love history and music and music history, then you will love staying at Central Station Hotel – the best place to stay in Memphis, Tennessee. Located in the trendy, artsy neighborhood and historic South Main Street, the hotel sits on the site of the former railroad station, Central Station.
This unique hotel is within walking distance of many top attractions in Memphis like the National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel, the Blues Hall of Fame, Beale Street, Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, and more.
And not only is Central Station Hotel one of the best hotels to stay at in Memphis, it’s also one of the best places to visit. It’s a perfect hotel destination for audiophiles. You’ll love its history, unique lobby bar (Eight & Sand) with a DJ that spins vinyl records, and the hotel’s own listening music room.
What’s great about staying at the Central Station Hotel on South Main Street, you will feel an authentic American Main Street vibe.
Special thanks to Memphis Travel and the historic Central Station Hotel for accommodating my comfortable stay during my four-night stay in Memphis, Tenn. Opinions are always my own, and Central Station Hotel is the best place to stay in Memphis.
This post contains recommended links to products and services. While you will not accrue any additional costs to support my blog, I may receive compensation if you purchase these products and services. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. All images taken by kmf are available for purchase via digital download.
One of the top things to do in Memphis, Tenn. – visit or stay at the historic Central Station Hotel
Not only is the historic Central Station Hotel the best place to stay in Memphis, Tennessee – it’s also the best place to visit. Especially if you’re an audiophile or looking for a unique bar with great music in Memphis. See my related post: Top things to do in Memphis, Tenn. – a three-day itinerary.
While the Central Station Hotel is part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, it did not feel like I was staying in a chain hotel. They retained all the historic charm in this converted rail hub. You will love the energy and vibe of the Central Station Hotel in Memphis.
Audiophiles and history buffs alike will love Central Station Hotel, which features 123 spacious rooms with views of the historic South Main Street or Mississippi River. Stay for the night or visit for a couple of hours listening to records spun on the turntable in the lobby bar. My husband and son are audiophiles and own a vast collection of vinyl records. They would love Central Station Hotel. I’ll definitely stay here again.
History of The Central Station Memphis
Built on the site of the former Calhoun Street Station (Grand Central Station), the railway station opened in 1914. It served as the main train passenger hub for Memphis during the popular train travel days in the early to mid-20th century. In fact, an Amtrak office is still located onsite. And you’ll also find the Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum connected to the Central Station Hotel.
Train travel started declining in the 1960s as did Central Station. This once-vibrant and bustling transportation hub became deserted and neglected. Fortunately, in 1995, the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) rescued, revitalized, and redeveloped the historic Central Station (while retaining its historic charm) with a $20 million renovation project. Today, it’s one of the most liveliest places to visit in Memphis.
Check-in at the top hotel in Memphis, TN – Central Station Hotel
The front-desk staff at the Central Station Hotel were extremely friendly, accommodating, and informative during my stay. When you check-in, you’ll receive a unique card key holder that serves as a great souvenir. Not only does it hold your room key, this mini travel guide brochure provides:
- The historical background of the former railway station, Central Station (aka Grand Central Station)
- Overview of the art community district neighborhood of South Main Street
- South Main Street history
- Feature on the music and sound you’ll enjoy during your stay – from the lobby to the listening room, and even your own guest room
- Information about the Central Station’s onsite French restaurant, Bishop
- Guide to the art you’ll find throughout the hotel
- A Memphis manifest that outlines the best places in Memphis and their distance with a chart with designated categories: eat, drink, culture, music and performance, shop, sports and activities
- Blank pages to journal your visit to Memphis, Tennessee
Where is The Central Station Memphis located?
The historic Memphis Central Station hotel (aka Grand Central Station) is located at 545 South Main Street. This historic hotel was built on a former rail station called Calhoun Street Station.
Known for its lively arts community, the South Main neighborhood is walkable to some of the best things to do in Memphis. For example, the National Civil Rights Museum and Blues Hall of Fame are just a couple of blocks away. And the iconic Beale Street is just over a half-mile.
Is Memphis safe?
That’s a frequently asked question: Is Memphis safe? I traveled solo to Memphis the summer of 2021, and I always felt safe and comfortable walking the streets of Memphis.
Here are my top common-sense safety tips for visiting Memphis and in anywhere else in the world – even in your own city.
- Always be aware of your surroundings – everywhere in the world.
- Keep your valuables and passport in the in-room safe (although I’ve never had any issue leaving my iPad or laptop out in the open).
- Don’t leave any valuables in your car. Lots of smash-and-dash going on lately everywhere.
- Park in a well-lit area that’s heavily populated.
- Travel using the buddy system.
- When traveling solo, like I did in Memphis, I planned my tours and meals so I would arrive back in my hotel room at Central Station before dark. When I do walk by myself at night, I usually follow closely behind another group of people so it looks like I am not alone. Or sign up for a walking tour or food tour. It’s a fun (and safe) experience.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, change your plans. I was traveling solo in Madrid, Spain a couple of years ago. I noticed a guy watching me as I took a shortcut down a less-crowded street. He whistled at someone and got on his mobile phone. And then started following me. I hustled to a busy street and turned around after a block to see if he was still behind me. He was and continued following me for a few blocks. It could have been coincidental, but I had that feeling something was off. So I slipped into a busy store for several minutes. I did not see him when I exited the store; however, I did cross the street and doublebacked just in case. And then that feeling went away. However, I remained cautious and alert, which is essentially number one on this list. Be aware of your surroundings.
Memphis – one of the world’s greatest places to visit
When people learn that I visited Memphis, Tenn. by myself, I hear lots of comments that it’s not safe, lots of drugs, lots of graffiti, it’s dirty. All I can tell you that they must not have done it right. However, always be street-smart and be aware of your surrounds.
I loved Memphis and always felt safe and will definitely return – next time with my husband as there are so many cool things to do in Memphis, that I’d like to share with him.
I highly recommend visiting Memphis and discover for yourself why Time Magazine placed Memphis on its World’s Greatest Places in 2021 list.
Guest room suite tour at the Central Station Hotel in Memphis
I loved my Central Station Hotel stay in the comfortable corner guest room overlooking the historic Main Street. I’m a bit of a bed and pillow snob, and I must say the Central Station Hotel offers very comfortable beds and pillows – guaranteeing a great night’s sleep.
I’m also a light sleeper, and while I could hear the trolley ring its bell occasionally, it did not interfere with my sleep. Here’s a photo tour of the guest room and what you can expect when staying at the historic Central Station Hotel in Memphis.
Music and great sound carry over to the Central Station Hotel guest rooms. Your king-size or double queen suite comes with a custom EgglestonWorks speaker (a Memphis-based company) that streams the hotel’s curated playlists straight from the Eight & Sand lobby bar.
You’ll enjoy the throwback nod to the Central Station Hotel’s décor with its industrial furnishings.
I loved my guest room’s floor-to-ceiling window letting in natural light with great views of the historic Main Street, the MATA trolley. I didn’t know it at the time, but my window overlooked one of the most haunted (allegedly) places in Memphis and America: Earnestine and Hazel’s is also, apparently, the best dive bar in the world. And I missed it! So this is a justified reason along to return to Memphis and stay at the historic Central Station hotel.
Each king and queen guest room at the Central Station Hotel comes with:
- Free wi-fi
- 50+ HDTV with premium cable channels
- Easy-access USB cables
- A workspace (this would be perfect for a workcation!)
- In-room Keurig coffee
- Oversized windows with blackout curtains
- Music pumped in from the Eight & Sand lobby bar (you can turn it off)
- A spacious bathroom
- A mini-fridge
- Minimalist clothes rack and drawers
- Lots of outlets!
You can also book a reservation for one of their spacious king concourse room (comes with a sofa or lounge chair) or their loft suite that features 15-foot ceilings and a spiral wrought-iron staircase leading to the king-size bedroom loft. The Central Station Hotel also offers one-bedroom suites that feature a living room space and/or a kitchenette.
Are there restaurants at the Central Station hotel in Memphis? What are the best restaurants in and near Central Station Hotel?
Yes, Central Station Hotel is home to one of the best restaurants in Memphis: Bishop. This French-brasserie-inspired foodie restaurant features local and Southern-style dishes and an extensive wine list from family-owned wineries
Located onsite at the Central Station Hotel and the corner of South Main Street and G.E. Paterson streets, this restaurant is named after the inspiring faith leader Bishop G.E. Patterson.
Other nearby restaurants include:
- The historic Arcade Restaurant, opened since 1919 is located directly across from the Central Station hotel – the oldest restaurant in Memphis is also the best place for brunch.
- Also across the street from the Central Station hotel – the historic (and possibly haunted) best dive bar in the world: Earnestine and Hazel’s. Featured in nine movies, you’ll enjoy live music including an upstairs piano player, and ghost tours.
- Rizzo’s is located just down the street from Central Station hotel and features award-winning pot pie and award-winning bread pudding and was featured on Dinners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (which I’m not sure why as I felt Rizzo’s was more upscale with a great atmosphere and fabulous food).
- South of Beale (SOB) is home to the best smoked Gouda mac and cheese and located on South Main Street in Memphis, just a few blocks from the Central Station hotel.
- The Green Beetle – oldest tavern in Memphis opened in – features decent food, 50 brands of beer, a local’s go-to casual dive-bar, and is just a couple of blocks from Central Station Hotel.
Does Central Station hotel in Memphis offer room service?
Yes, the Central Station hotel in Memphis offers room service from its onsite restaurant, Bishop. And not just any room service. You’ll receive foodie meals delivered to your comfy suite prepared by some of the best James Beard award-nominated chefs.
Does the Central Station hotel in Memphis have a bar? What bars and lounges are near the Central Station hotel?
Fun fact: Eight and Sand is rail talk to wish train crews a fast and safe journey. Eight derives from notch-8 – the fastest throttle setting on most trains. Sand comes from the practice of spreading sand on train tracks to prevent slippages
You will find the most eclectic and fun bar right off the lobby at the Central Station Hotel. The unique Eight & Sand bar and lounge is perfect for beer, cocktails, and listening to a DJ spin records from the massive vinyl record collection.
And right off the lobby and the Eight and Sand bar is the unique Listening Room. It’s a custom-built acoustic space featuring EgglestonWorks speaker system. Everyone is welcome to sit and enjoy the music.
Things to do and see near The Central Station in Memphis, Tennessee
You’ll find many historic, fun, and cool things to do near The Central Station in Memphis, Tennessee. See my related article: Top things to do in Memphis, TN – a three-day itinerary
Best historic museum in Memphis: The National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel
One of the best places to visit in Memphis and one of the most significant and tragic historic events occurred just a couple of blocks over from Central Station Hotel. The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the Lorraine Motel – where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
One of the best music museums located near the Central Station Hotel in Memphis: Blues Hall of Fame
You will love the Blues Hall of Fame Museum – one of Memphis’ hidden gems – is only a few blocks away. Also located on South Main Street, the Blues Hall of Fame features 10 different blues galleries with interactive touchscreen displays where you can listen to music samples, watch videos, and read stories about the 400 inductees.
Another Memphis museum within walking distance of Central Station Hotel: Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
Less than a mile away from the Central Station Hotel, you’ll find the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is one of the best music history museums. See my related post: Guide to Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum for more details.
How far away is Beale Street from the Central Station Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee?
One of the best things about the Central Station Hotel in Memphis is its location. You are less than a mile from the Beale Street Entertainment District. It’s very walkable along safe streets or you can even take the trolley.
MATA trolley stop on Main Street nearest Central Station Hotel
Right outside the front door is the MATA trolley stop where you can purchase a ride for only $1. This trolley will take you all along the historic Main Street. Check their website for locations, operating hours and routes (including their Madison Avenue Line and Riverfront Line).
Discover street art on historic Main Street
The historic Central Station, nestled in the art district of Memphis, features lots of street art.
Any questions about the most beautiful and unique hotel in Memphis, Tennessee?
If you have any questions about staying at the historic and unique Central Station Hotel – the best hotel in Memphis, leave in the comments or contact me.
If you like this hotel review, you might like more of my favorite historic hotels, such as: