“The trains that ran through Central Station brought goods, but the music coursing through Memphis brought spirit,” says interior designer Lauren McGowan of Looney & Associates. “The Central Station Hotel has not forgotten that.”
Guests entering the soaring Central Station Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, will instantly spot a DJ booth backed by towering shelves that house a vast collection of vinyl records. If they look even more carefully, they will notice that the check-in desks resemble stereo consoles, and that off to the side, there’s a wall of stacked vintage speakers. If patrons examine further, they will eventually discover a listening lounge hidden behind the bar.
Although only one train–Amtrak’s City of New Orleans–pulls in each day, the restored neon signs, marble floors, and heavy wooden benches of yore add patina to the space. “We were challenged to maintain as much of the building’s DNA as was possible while also creating an atmosphere that felt relevant and exciting to modern travels and local influencers,” McGowan adds.
The double-track influence of trains and music continues in the 123 guest rooms, where original photographs document whistle stops between New Orleans and Chicago and a palette of rich leathers, dark woods and navy accents echoes that of the public spaces.
The team custom-designed furnishings and lighting with a midcentury aesthetic to layer over the historic canvas. This choice “filled in the gap” between the building’s heyday decades ago and its return to glory, McGowan says, while nodding to Memphis’ most compelling music era. “By borrowing material influence from those artists and album, we created a place rich in texture and character,” she says.