Tucked on the western banks of the Mississippi River in the heart of Tennessee is mesmerizing Memphis. Elvis fanatics and blues lovers aside, Memphis has been drawing an increasing number of travelers over the years. It might lack the vibrancy of Nashville, but Memphis does have an active and out-and-about gay scene. This is evident in the rise of gay friendly hotels in Memphis in recent years. Tenessee and the rest of the Deep South might rank low on the LGBTQ-friendliness radar, but Memphis is slowly coming into its own. In fact, the city has quite a spread-out gay scene, but most of it is centered around the buzzing Cooper-Young neighborhood. Lying on the southeastern edge of downtown, it’s home to a host of gay-friendly bars, a gay adult bookstore, and even Memphis’ Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
That said, there’s so much more to do, see, and explore in this gorgeous southern city. For instance, culturally-inclined gays will love visiting the iconic Memphis Pyramid which lies downtown. Moreover, it’s one of the Largest Pyramids In The World! Who’d have thought that that list would feature a city from the American south? What’s more, there are so many Top Things To Do In Memphis, such as the National Civil Rights Museum, the iconic Beale Street, and Memphis Zoo, once one of America’s best zoos. If you’re on a sojourn to the southern states, Memphis is a worthy gay-friendly destination. To that end, here are the top 11 gay friendly hotels in Memphis, Tennessee.
Stay at what is still one of the South’s true “grande dames,” the sophisticated Peabody Hotel. Having thrown open its doors in 1925, it’s one of the best gay friendly hotels in Memphis today. Some of Memphis’ best gay bars are just a few streets away. Plus, the hotel is also a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. The Peabody is a class act top to bottom, which is evident the moment you step into the lobby, complete with a marble fountain with resident ducks! That’s where the hotel derives its name from – the Peabody ducks that live on the rooftop but make daily treks to the lobby to frolic in the fountain.
It should come as no surprise that the hotel features a host of luxury amenities. A southern-inspired breakfast later, the indoor pool with its moody and sensuous setting beckons. With sunbeds by the side, it’s a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy some amorous moments with your partner. Keep the romance going with couple’s massages at the full-service spa. If you want to impress someone, we’d recommend the fitness center where you can work up a sweat – and an appetite.
After a day -and night – of revelry, take the party back to the vintage rooms. Inspired by a bygone era, the well-designed rooms only seem to egg the romantic thoughts further. Swish mod-cons aside, we love the luxurious bathrobes, huge beds, and lovely bathrooms with a large shower-for-two.
River Inn of Harbor Town
If you want to stay away from the bustle, then the elegant and intimate River Inn of Harbor Town is just the place for you. Tucked right in front of the lush Greenbelt Park on the banks of the Mississippi, the inn feels as though it’s in another world altogether. This contemporary boutique hotel is for discerning gay travelers, who love tranquil and upscale settings, personal service, and attention to detail. As you check-in, you’re warmly plied with complimentary wine.
The wonderfully outfitted rooms come with four-poster beds, reclaimed wood floors, and antique fixtures. Plus, you’ll find windows that actually open, allowing you to breathe the fresh Memphis air. Enjoy reading the daily newspaper delivered along with your full gourmet breakfast in the comfort of your bed. Some rooms even have jetted tubs and fireplaces, making this a great place for a romantic vacation. Did you know they serve truffles and port wine at turndown? Sigh.
The rest of the inn is no less exceptional. Enjoy meals at the incredible French restaurant Paulette’s just off the lobby, or lighter fare at Tug’s Casual Grill. If you’re here during summer, seasonal snacks are served on the charming rooftop terrace. Downtown and Cooper-Young might be a 10-15-minute drive, but this place is so worth it!
Talbot Heirs Guesthouse
Featured on almost all best-hotel lists of Memphis is Talbot Heirs Guesthouse, one of the most unique and exclusive gay friendly hotels in Memphis. LGBTQ travelers looking for supreme comforts paired with an offbeat and personal experience will love this tiny, gay-friendly place. This downtown mini-hotel sits around a few streets away from Memphis downtown gay bars and slightly further than that from Cooper-Young.
This funky place boasts eight huge suites that look more like bijou studios, all with well-equipped kitchenettes. Decked out in designs ranging from cutting-edge modern to artsy-bohemian, it’s a hit with design-obsessed gays. Despite the full kitchens, a delectable full breakfast awaits you every morning, including everything from coffee to cheerios. If you’re missing some supplies that you need to cook, the extraordinarily helpful staff will get them for you. The innkeeper is equally delightful and will help you with travel tips, bookings, and more. What’s great is that the inn even has tickets to a garage closeby, and sell cards that allow unlimited access to the place if you have a car. Now that’s thoughtfulness.
Sitting smack dab in the heart of the buzzing Cooper-Young is Hostel Memphis, a fabulous budget-friendly option for solo LGBTQ travelers. Those looking to have fun and socialize to the hilt will love this hip place that sits in the middle of Memphis’ hippest neighborhood. Ironically enough, this extremely gay-friendly hostel is a part of the First Congregational Church! The hostel offers a lot of opportunities for you to mix and mingle. For instance, you could rent recycled bikes and explore the neighborhood. The shared kitchen is a great place to cook meals and save money, and maybe even impress that cutie you’ve been eyeing. There’s even a shared lounge with books and a piano. The sun terrace is the best hangout spot of them all and is buzzing at all times of the day and night.
Choose from spacious and modern bunk-bed rooms and private ones, all of which come with spotlessly clean shared bathrooms. Notwithstanding what you get, you have access to lockers and free Wi-Fi. The best part? Your day begins with a hearty serve-yourself breakfast, which is also a great place to meet people.
Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel
The Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel is one of the best gay friendly hotels in Memphis’s downtown. Gay travelers looking for full-service hotels downtown will love the design and amenities at this hotel. A greenery-filled lobby welcomes you within this modern place, complete with a grand piano. Dig into a hearty breakfast, as well as other meals, at the Southern-inspired restaurant. Post a long and laidback breakfast, you could either set out to explore the city or head straight to the heated indoor pool area. A divine turquoise pool sits right at the center, with sunbeds to the side and excellent views out of the all-glass walls. Fitness freaks can hit the fitness center instead. What’s great about this hotel is that even Memphis’ gay bars are within walking distance.
Going further, the rooms and suites at this hotel are the ultimate nests for relaxation. All rooms come with flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi, spacious decks, and even Starbucks coffees. If you can splurge, go for the Club Room that gets you access to the Club Lounge with complimentary refreshments.
Big Cypress Lodge
Stay in what is one of Memphis’ most surreal hotels, the five-star Big Cypress Lodge. Tucked inside the famed Memphis Pyramid, this 28-storeyed feat of engineering has America’s tallest free-standing elevator! It even has a swamp with huge cypress trees and live alligators! Talk about grandiose. What’s more, the hotel is also a gay-friendly accommodation – and a lavish one at that.
Its rooms are designed like treehouses, fishing and duck hunting camps, and feature screened porches and fireplaces. Luxurious touches include the most decadent beds in all of Memphis, handcrafted furniture, and jetted tubs in bathrooms. It might have come off as cheesy, had it not been for the incredible attention to detail and excellent service. For wanton luxury, go for the Governor’s Suite that has a full kitchen and a wraparound balcony with million-dollar views of Memphis. It’s no wonder that this hotel is one of the Best Hotels in Memphis, Tennessee.
If that wasn’t enough, the resort has much to explore. These include a shooting range and an ocean-themed bowling alley. When you want to unwind, then hit the heavenly spa for a facial or a massage. When you’re hungry, the on-site restaurants are great, especially the Lookout restaurant atop the pyramid. It boasts stupendous 360-degree views of Memphis.
Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis – Beale Street
If you’re looking for value-for-money gay friendly hotels in Memphis on the iconic Beale Street, then check out The Hampton Inn & Suites. This affordable option for LGBTQ travelers lies just a few streets from some of the city’s best gay bars, as well as Memphis’ major attractions. Free Wi-Fi throughout is a blessing for Instagrammers and social media-obsessed digital nomads. Enjoy a great start to the day with the free hot breakfast buffet. Aside from a fitness center, you’ll love the indoor pool where you can enjoy a refreshing dip. If you’re hanging around the hotel all day, do enjoy the complimentary coffee/tea in the quaint lobby lounge.
You’ll like the rooms and suites at this hotel, besides the unbeatable location. Separate living areas, full kitchens, and huge windows with excellent views are the mainstays in all rooms. However, we’d suggest that you pick a suite with a balcony for brilliant views of Beale Street.
Comfort Inn Downtown
Yet another great LGBTQ-friendly downtown Memphis find is Comfort Inn. What’s great is that it’s within easy walking distance of Memphis’ gay bars, Cooper-Young, and many of its best attractions. Coming to the hotel, it’s bright, immaculate, and comes with a huge choice of spacious rooms. Rooms and suites are spacious with carpeted floors and huge floor-to-ceiling windows with wonderful views. A basic kitchen setup allows you to cook meals when you don’t want to eat outside. Make yourself a hot brew using the coffeemaker and savor the quiet early morning moments by the window. The granite bathrooms will leave you surprised – they come with bathtubs.
What makes this hotel a great value pick is the host of amenities. A free hot breakfast aside, this place even has a fitness center, business center, and a garage. However, the best feature of them all is the rooftop outdoor pool with sun loungers from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
The Guest House at Graceland
Are you a fan of ‘The King of Rock and Roll’? Then The Guest House at Graceland, which lies 20 minutes south of Memphis, is for you. One of the most lavish gay friendly hotels in Memphis, the hotel is a reflection of Elvis Presley’s personal style and taste. In fact, the hotel sits just a few steps away from The King’s very own White House. However, don’t be under the impression that the aesthetic will be gaudy – for the place is as elegantly lavish as you can imagine.
The sophistication and chic are evident just about everywhere, whether it’s the on-site restaurants or the theatre. The hotel is full of lounge areas for you to unwind and relax. The tropical lawns are the perfect setting for the heavenly pool, next to which sit plush sunbeds and a pool bar. Dig into dishes featuring contemporary twists to Elvis’ favorite foods. After some sampling at the complimentary PB and Jelly Bar, hop on to the complimentary shuttle to downtown Memphis and explore its gay nightlife.
All rooms here are modern and spacious, complete with rain-head showers in the bathrooms and gleaming mod-cons. Do you have money to splurge? We’d highly recommend one of the 20 lavishly themed suites, which have been designed by Mrs. Priscilla Presley herself!
Discerning gay travelers will love the chic boutique Hotel Napoleon, which lies right in the heart of downtown. The gay-friendly hotel sits in a former newspaper office building and boasts a breathtaking early 20th-century stone-veneer facade. But, this historic exterior is highly deceptive, for inside you’ll find what is possibly the chicest space in downtown Memphis. Think lobby speakers playing techno, industrial-chic decor, and rooms stuffed with all the tech you can imagine. All in all, it creates an ambiance of millennial cool. You’ll love the rooms and suites at this hotel, which come with Bluetooth stereos, 50-inch flatscreen TVs, and excellent bathrooms with bespoke toiletries and huge for-two showers.
The rest of the hotel is similarly exceptional. Settle down to a delectable à la carte breakfast at the farm-to-table restaurant. It’s also where you can also enjoy a craft beer in the evening. A fitness center, a 24-hour front desk, and room service make up the rest of this place.
The Westin Memphis Beale Street
Located right on Beale Street, The Westin tops the list of the best gay friendly hotels in Memphis. Sitting right in the heart of all the action, it’s within walking distance of all downtown sights, including gay bars, as well as the Cooper-Young gayborhood. Choose from a host of modern guestrooms and suites, which offer sweeping views of Memphis landmarks. Pillow-topped beds, swanky mod-cons, and tea/coffee-making facilities. If you want to splurge, we’d suggest the corner rooms, which come with wraparound windows and excellent views of the Memphis skyline.
There’s a lot to do at the hotel itself, starting with a workout in the well-designed fitness studio. Enjoy a great breakfast and meals at the on-site seafood restaurant, and sip on cocktails at the lobby bar. Concierge services help you explore Memphis as well as explore the city’s best entertainment and dining venues.
Just So You Know:
- Memphis’ gay scene was far more progressive and out-and-about earlier. By 1988, there were 14 official LGBTQ bars operating in the city. Today, there’s a huge mural inside Dru’s one of the LGBTQ bars in Cooper-Young. It logs the names of nearly 110 bars that once served Memphis’ LGBTQ community.
Get Some Culture in Memphis:
- Mid-South Pride: Memphis’ main Gay Pride event that takes place in downtown Memphis every October. This vibrant and community-oriented festival features discreet HIV screenings, a VIP lounge, car show, truck park, 200+ vendors, and live entertainment.
- Tri-State Black Pride: Along with Mid-South pride, this is the other hugely important pride festival in Memphis. It celebrates Pride with parties, talks, brunches, and more in June at different venues across the city.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Memphis:
- Mollie Fontaine: An elegant two-floor lounge that’s amongst Memphis’ favorite hangouts for LGBTQ locals. Set in a stunning historic mansion in the historic district of Victorian Village, this one has well-crafted cocktails, lots of cozy spots, and live piano music. If you have a date, then this is where you should be.
- Pumping Station: This pulsating gay bar is a favorite with guys into Levi’s and leather, bears, and their admirers. Oozing a cruise-y atmosphere, this place has excellent drink specials and a lushly landscaped two-level deck. P.S: Steps at the back leads to the famous-infamous “treehouse” section where you’ll find all sorts of activities.
- DRU’S BAR: This Midtown staple is one of the best LGBTQ bars in the city, complete with a jukebox a stage set for karaoke. They also host events such as comedy shows and drag shows.
Best Gay Saunas in Memphis:
Unfortunately, there’s no gay sauna in Memphis currently. However, with a definite rise in the city’s gay scene, we’re hoping that gay saunas make an appearance soon enough!