Birth of a King

No Elvis pilgrimage is complete without a visit to humble Tupelo, Mississippi, where the pelvis-gyrating tornado blew onto the scene on January 8, 1935. Visitors will find his childhood home, a restored two-room shotgun built by his pops, granddaddy and uncle; the church where the Boy from Tupelo belted out his first gospel tunes; and an adjacent museum housing artifacts. (The destination is also part of the Mississippi Blues Trail, a route highlighting America’s original mournful music.)

 

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Tupelo is not exactly the B&B capital of America, so we advise setting up shop in nearby historic Oxford, where visitors rave about the Barn Loft at Willowdale Farm, a hand-built hardwood beauty featuring furniture crafted in the nearby studio of Robert, the proprietor. The 33-acre farm teems with chickens, goats, vegetables … and a hound dog, John Brown, who’s a friend to everyone. The property is also a favorite launch point for the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, a well-loved mini-fest celebrating the region’s contribution to the blues.

 


 

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The King’s Table

Elvis was a notorious devourer of fat- and gravy-soaked comfort foods — and the peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich was reputed to be his favorite. Fast forward 40-plus years to the Elvis Toast with Candied Bacon, the 2017 winner of Bed and Breakfast’s drool-inducing breakfast tournament. The creation of the Chestnut Street Inn’s chef, Monika Sudakov, is a sweet and savory masterwork featuring banana-and-peanut-butter-stuffed French toast topped with salty caramel-drenched meat, all drizzled with maple syrup. A five-year stint in Vegas working in show business — including scouting Elvis impersonators — was the muse for the decadent fan favorite. You might not be able to make it as well as Monika, but you can try.

 

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The Chestnut Street Inn, two hours from Chicago in the village of Sheffield, is the quintessential small-town B&B: friendly hosts, four-poster beds, floral Victorian wallpaper ... with a twist. Monika’s menus are informed by her background in cultural anthropology. So expect global influences, plus cooking classes highlighting cuisines from Greek to Moroccan.

 


 

I’m Going to Graceland

The only home more famous in the US is arguably the White House. (And some would say Elvis should have occupied both.) Even if you don’t believe Graceland is the source of cosmic energy, experiencing how the King lived is an American cultural rite. The mansion is preserved in 1970s shag amber, as if the slick-haired impresario could come bounding in at any moment. Self-guided iPad tours provide the commentary and greatest hits soundtrack, and an associated entertainment complex showcases the aforementioned onesies, the private jet and car collections and other memorabilia.

 

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Our Memphis B&B recommendation is, hands down, the five-suite James Lee House, a lovingly renovated Victorian stunner built in 1853 with 12-foot ceilings, marble mantels and antique furniture. It’s a 15-minute drive to Graceland and less than two miles from the National Civil Rights Museum, another can’t-miss Memphis attraction.

 


 

Aloha from Hawaii

Elvis couldn’t help falling in love (rim shot) with Hawaii, and more than a billion people tuned in for 1973’s TV concert special to hear the man crush “Suspicious Minds” in lei and American eagle jumpsuit. (The legendary show at Honolulu’s Neal S. Blaisdell Arena lives on in the form of a bronze statue.) His concerts and film stints on the islands — including “Blue Hawaii,” whose soundtrack spent 20 weeks at number one on the pop charts — earned him a status as an adopted son.

 

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On the B&B front, Hawaii's Hidden Hideaway Bed and Breakfast in Kailua is about 30 minutes from Honolulu on the island’s windward side. It’s a lovely secluded spot to reminisce about the first time you heard “Can’t Help Falling in Love” while ogling the fearless windsurfers at nearby Kailua Beach Park. Each of the suites has a kitchenette, TV with HBO and private lanai — and one boasts an outdoor jacuzzi.

 


 

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Rooms for a King

In Chicago’s upscale River North neighborhood is a seven-suite gray stone knockout within walking distance of Oak Street Beach. Inside, somewhat unexpectedly, is the Elvis Presley, a one-bedroom suite featuring the heartthrob’s mug in photographs and pop art, alongside gold walls, velvet accent chairs and hardwood floors. Celeste Celebrity Suites’ other suites honor the King’s contemporaries — think Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor — and all include impressive standard suite features like a fireplace, kitchenette with Keurig and iPads.

 

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850 miles east in North Wildwood—but also close to the beach, which Elvis would certainly approve of—is Summer Nites, a nostalgia-driven Jersey Shore B&B. The home features a retro-diner-styled eating area where you can enjoy coke in a bottle from a vintage machine and listen to the King on the jukebox. The two-room Elvis suite boasts memorabilia, an Elvis slot machine (just for fun, baby) and a mural above the bed.

 


 

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Elvis Is Alive

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And he runs a high-end B&B in Cape Cod, where he’s performed “Love Me Tender” for a minke whale and raucous chamber of commerce crowd. (There’s photographic evidence!)

“Every once in a while when the spirit enters my body I DO don the jumpsuit and sideburns to surprise a guest,” says Tommy Dotts, who co-owns Barnstable’s Lamb and Lion Inn and moonlights as an Elvis impersonator. Dotts has performed five-minute shows next to the inn’s solar-heated saltwater pool, delivered al fresco breakfasts in “full sequined splendor” and has checked in guests, without breaking character, as the King.

Even without an Elvis sighting, the L&L receives raves for its proximity to the beach and whale-watching options, in-suite fireplaces and charming onsite wellness studio.

 

 

—by Daniel Askin