where is safest area to stay in or around Memphis? Is the
shady Grove Rd area safe?
Shady Grove is a nice area, but you'll either need a car or be prepared to use cabs or ride share companies to access tourist attractions. Downtown is the most convenient for tourist attractions, but it is more expensive. One other area would be the north MS, around I 55/Goodman Road.
I presume you're looking at the Hampton Inn or the Embassy Suites over there? The area is home to lots of millionaires, and it's pretty safe. I work in that area. Both hotels border an upscale strip mall, and there are a few decent restaurants in the area, but it's very suburban and has little of the feel of Memphis. There you might as well be in just about any similar town in the country. You could be in suburban Indianapolis or Birmingham and not tell the difference, for example. You will absolutely need a car. Outside of rush hour, it will take you about half an hour to get downtown and 20 minutes to get to midtown.
Nothing that would interest a tourist is in an area that is particularly unsafe. Downtown is not unsafe, although you should pay attention to your surroundings. I was looking at crime reports for downtown recently, and very little that was reported was even a violent crime. Midtown is another area that will feel more like Memphis and is also safe.
Just recently I read a comment from a negative reader who lives somewhere in this region. He commented about a confrontation by a visitor to the city and a bad guy and drew the comparison of a robbery which happened to a foreign guest in 1987, nearly 31 years ago, and insinuated that nothing has changed!, ignoring the multiple millions of visitors to Memphis who have travelled about the city and reported safe and fun visits over the years since then. The point is that the few who see negativity sometimes blow things out of proportion and color reality with too much concern.