No one can argue about the late Elvis Presley’s status as an icon.
Whether you remember his music and films, or have simply heard stories from those influenced by him, you know who he is. And when you think of Elvis, your mind will wander to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, the King of Rock 'n' Roll’s home for 20 years.
A Grand Welcome at Graceland
What better place to stay during my visit to Graceland than at The Guest House at Graceland, a luxury hotel that opened in 2016? After a 10-minute drive from Memphis International Airport, I stepped out of my taxi humming “Blue Suede Shoes.”
The next morning, as the tour bus took me up the sweeping driveway to what is probably the most famous residence in history, I was excited to learn more about Elvis’ life. This house meant the world to Elvis, and he loved to share it with his family and friends.
As I crossed into the marble foyer, I imagined being greeted by the King himself and escorted into the living room, complete with a custom 4.5-meter sofa, white carpets and a black baby grand piano. I was then led into the kitchen and saw the first microwave oven ever sold in Memphis.
Elvis Presley's living room at Graceland, his mansion in Memphis, Tennessee
Downstairs in the television room, Elvis had three TV sets so he could watch all three networks at once, not missing anything; there were only three stations in those days. The ceilings were mirrored as was the wet bar. Across the hallway, the pool room features multicolored, hand-pleated, fabric-lined walls to set the mood for a friendly game of billiards.
Probably the most famous room in the house is the Jungle Room, one of Elvis’ favorites. This was where he relaxed with friends and family and recorded songs for two of his albums. From the dark wood-paneled walls to the fountain and green shag carpet, it was easy to imagine this being a very relaxing spot for Elvis and the Presley family.
Three television sets in the TV Room at Graceland
Adjacent Buildings to Explore
Next to the mansion, the Trophy Building displays hundreds of awards, including Elvis’ Grammys and his Gold and Platinum records. Elvis had a lot of firsts in 1956, when he was only 21: his first national television appearance, his first studio album and his first movie.
In the Racquetball Building, I saw some of the legendary stage costumes Elvis wore during concerts. It was in this building that I got my first feeling of just how important this man was, and still is, to fans all over the world. People stood mesmerized by the memorabilia and images showing on the television screens. In the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, more than 20 of Elvis’ beloved cars, motorcycles and “anything with an engine that moved fast” are on display, showing a playful side to the King.
Memorabilia on display in the former racquetball room at Graceland
My final stop on the tour of Graceland was the Meditation Garden, where Elvis is laid to rest along with members of his family. Next to the stained glass windows and the fountain, people paid their respects in silence.
Visiting Graceland was an unforgettable journey through the life and career of the greatest entertainer in history. In the words of the King, “Thank you very much” for joining me. Now, go eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich and plan your own trip to Graceland!