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What It’s Like Staying At The Historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee + The March of The Peabody Ducks

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS verbal gold blog travel blogger

 

I was born in Germantown, Tennessee but haven’t been back since I was in 1st grade. I was so excited when I was invited to explore Memphis again. It was so nostalgic because my family has a lot of memories there. This time, getting to experience them with my husband, and make new memories was a blast. We checked into the historic Peabody Memphis for our weekend getaway.

What It’s Like Staying At The Peabody Memphis

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS verbal gold blog travel blogger

Hotel

Peabody history dates back to 1869 and when the original Peabody Hotel opened on the corner of Main & Monroe and immediately became the social and business hub of Memphis. In 1925 a newer, grander Peabody was built at its present location at Union and 2nd Street continuing the legacy of the “South’s Grand Hotel.” It was 1933 when ducks were originally placed in the hotel’s lobby fountain, setting in motion an 80-year tradition that continues today with the March of the Peabody Ducks. The Peabody name has become synonymous with the 5 North American mallard ducks that are now the living symbol of the Peabody brand.

The Peabody has a long-standing tradition of providing exceptional hotel experiences and creating memories that last a lifetime. I was just 3 years old when I got to experience my first March of the Peabody Ducks so getting to see them again at 33 was surreal. Legendary, charming, elegant, and grand are just a few words that describe what sets Peabody Hotels apart from other hotel brands.

There are 464 smoke free guest rooms and suites at The Peabody. The hotel has earned Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond ratings.

You definitely can’t go to The Peabody in Memphis without heading up to the roof. There are incredible views from every direction and the large Peabody sign really makes a statement. There is also a little duck palace on the roof where you can see the famous Peabody ducks playing in the water and waddling around their home.

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS verbal gold blog travel blogger

Rooms

The Executive King rooms are spacious with a nice seating area and a desk. Big windows bring in lots of natural light. The rooms are what I would call updated vintage as there are notable signs that the hotel has been around since 1925. The bathrooms are a bit tight and close to the bed with no ventilation or windows, which I think is worth noting. But I didn’t tour any other rooms. Although, the lack of counterspace in the bathroom is made up for with a big desk and mirror so I could get ready easily. There was even floor sensor lighting underneath each nightstand which is a nice touch.

I think my favorite part was the turn down service. The chocolates and decorative chocolates every night were amazing. We got a white chocolate Peabody duck filled with chocolate truffles on a little blue icing lake. Beautiful and tasty!

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS verbal gold blog travel blogger

Food + Drink

For nearly 150 years, The Peabody Memphis has been acclaimed for its superb cuisine and beautiful restaurants. They have some amazing on site dining options as well as brunch, afternoon tea, and of course in room dining (my favorite)!

CHEZ PHILIPPE

The most opulent dining room in Memphis enthralls gourmands who relish its Old South splendor and the classic French cuisine of Executive Chef Andreas Kisler and Chef Robert McGrattan. In addition to being the only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond rated restaurant in the Mid-South, Chez Philippe has been named among Food & Wine magazine’s “Top 50 Hotel Restaurants,” described as “worth a special trip” by The New York Times and included on Open Table’s list of Top 100 “Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S.”

CAPRICCIO GRILL™

Capriccio Grill™ is known for having the best steaks in Memphis. Under the direction of Chef Derek Smith, steaks and chops are flash-seared to seal in the juices and flavor producing the most succulent, flavorful steaks and chops ever. Fresh lobster and seafood are flown in daily and pasta dishes from “La Bella Italia” are cooked to al dente perfection. Breakfast offers superb American and Southern specialties while lunches offers modern Southern comfort fare.

SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE PEABODY

Served in Capriccio Grill™, this Memphis tradition features a variety of breakfast dishes, entrees and desserts, including salads, pastas, freshly-baked breads, croissants, pastries, eggs benedict, smoked salmon, Belgian waffles, applewood smoked bacon, prime rib and champagne.

PEABODY AFTERNOON TEA

Served in Chez Philippe, this is the only place in Memphis that offers a traditional English afternoon tea. Enjoy a three-course menu of savory tea sandwiches, assorted sweets and warm scones from the Peabody Pastry Shop in addition to a selection of teas and caffeine-free children’s teas.

PEABODY DELI & DESSERTS

Stop by for morning coffee, continental breakfast, a quick sandwich, homemade ice cream, or a wide array of delicious desserts from The Peabody Pastry Shop. Official Peabody merchandise, including Peabody Duckmaster Celebriducks, is also available.

THE LOBBY BAR

Located in the Grand Lobby, The Peabody’s famed Lobby Bar has been referred to as the “living room of Memphis” and it has been said that the “Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of The Peabody.” The Lobby Bar has been voted “Best People Watching” and “Best Martinis” by the readers of Memphis Magazine. It’s also the place to watch the March of the Peabody Ducks. A selection of desserts from the Peabody Pastry Shop are available in the evening.

ROOM SERVICE

Room Service. Room Service. Room Service. It’s my favorite thing about hotel life and The Peabody offers it 24/7. Plus, they do it right. Rolling table, white table cloth, silver trays, impeccable service, and delicious food. I loved their menu. However, I might be bias because they had crème brûlée and it’s my all time favorite treat. Everything I ate was amazing and it doesn’t surprise me because Memphis is on point when it comes to food!

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS verbal gold blog travel blogger

Amenities

From the heated indoor pool, Athletic Club, luxurious Feathers Spa to a galleria of fun shops and award-winning dining, their facilities stand out among Memphis hotels.

Services:

  • 24-hour in-room dining
  • Same day laundry and dry cleaning services
  • Award-winning catering and conference services
  • Complete audiovisual services
  • Valet or self parking in our adjacent covered garage
  • On-site shoeshine
  • Choice of local newspaper or USA Today or Wall Street Journal
  • 100% non-smoking property
  • Business services
  • Pet friendly rooms

Club floor

Peabody Club Floor is located on the private, key access controlled top level of the hotel. This floor offers a dedicated Concierge, welcome beverage, continental breakfast, afternoon snacks, evening hors d’oeuvres, and turndown pastries. Definitely worth it!

Shops

  • Gir Collection presents an exceptional array of pendants, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and other fine jewelry.
  • Lansky at The Peabody, named after “Clothier to the King” Bernard Lansky, offers fine men’s sportswear and is the showplace for the Lansky Family of Shops, operating since 1946.
  • Lansky Lucky Duck specializes in Memphis and Peabody-themed gifts, apparel and souvenirs.
  • Lansky 126 is a contemporary boutique for men and women featuring trendy brands, apparel, footwear, and accessories.
  • Lansky Accessories Shop showcases an eclectic assortment of jewelry, scarves and unique gifts.
  • Peabody Logo Shop, located inside Peabody Deli & Desserts, offers Peabody-branded gifts, such as Duckmaster t-shirts, Peabody history books, “Peabody Blues” CDs and one-of-a-kind gifts, along with travel sundries and and toiletries.

 

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS verbal gold blog travel blogger

 

The famous Peabody Ducks

The Peabody Ducks March Daily at 11am & 5pm. Kids get a front row seat along the red carpet that runs out of the elevator to the hotel lobby fountain. There are ropes behind the kids where the adults can stand. Make sure to get there early if you want a seat at the bar or in the lobby. It’s roped off around 4:30pm and although you’ll have a comfortable seat you aren’t allowed to stand. It is definitely an event. It’s a big deal and the entire hotel fills up to watch the Peabody Ducks everyday.

Yes, the Peabody ducks waddle across the roof, into the hotel, onto the elevator, down the elevator, and hop off at the lobby to waddle along the red carpet for smiling faces and flashing photography all the way to the hotel lobby fountain where they stay from 11am to 5pm until they march back up to their home on the roof of the Peabody Hotel.

The lobby is super packed so my advice is to head to the roof to watch them from there. Trust me, there is no one up there so you get a front row seat and the best view!

The Legend of the Ducks

How did the tradition of the ducks in The Peabody fountain begin? Back in the 1930s Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had a little too much Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys (it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys) in the beautiful Peabody fountain. Three small English call ducks were selected as “guinea pigs,” and the reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Thus began a Peabody tradition which was to become internationally famous.®

In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became The Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991.

Nearly 90 years after the inaugural march, ducks still visit the lobby fountain at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.

 

what it's like staying at the peabody hotel in Memphis Tennessee + THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS

Some facts about the Peabody Ducks

  1. Ducks were not the first residents of The Peabody’s lobby fountain. Rumor has it that turtles and baby alligators each briefly graced the fountain in the 1920s.
  2. The Peabody Ducks are five North American mallards – one drake (male) with a white collar and green head and four hens (females) with less colorful plumage.
  3. Duck is not served anywhere at The Peabody and has not been seen on the hotel’s menus since its 1981 reopening, quite possibly making Chez Philippe the only French restaurant in the world that does not offer duck.
  4. The Peabody Ducks do not have individual names. However, the very first team of ducks were Peabody, Gayoso and Chisca – named for the three hotels owned by the Memphis Hotel Company in 1933.
  5. When off-duty, the ducks live in their Royal Duck Palace on the hotel’s rooftop. The $200,000 structure is made of marble and glass and features its very own fountain with a bronze duck spitting water. It also includes a small house – a replica of the hotel – where the ducks can nest with a soft, grassy “front yard.”
  6. The Peabody Marching Ducks have appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” “Sesame Street” when Bert and Ernie celebrated Rubber Ducky Day, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and in People magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
  7. The Peabody Ducks have been both a question on the TV game show “Jeopardy” and in the board game Trivial Pursuit.
  8. Original Duckmaster Edward Pembroke held the position for 50 years.
  9. Raised by a local farmer and a friend of the hotel, each team of Peabody Ducks lives at the hotel for only three months before retiring from their duty and returning to the farm, where they are free to live as wild ducks. With a return to the great outdoors in mind, the hotel recognizes its resident waterfowl as wild animals and does not domesticate them or treat them like pets.

+ THE MARCH OF THE PEABODY DUCKS

More Information

Peabody Memphis

Website

Address: 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103

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