Hotels layer on luxury to create a sleep experience

(Innovations in mattresses and pillows shape the latest bedding trends)

Innovations in mattresses and pillows shape the latest bedding trends

By starting with a well-researched and tested mattress, then adding toppers, duvets, pillow options, throw blankets and more, hotels continue to layer on the luxury to help lull guests to sleep and ensure that they wake up smiling and perhaps even asking, “How can I get this bed at home?”

The trend is one that mirrors consumer preferences and at-home upgrades, according to hospitality designers. Guests want the comfort of home or better when it comes to their sleep experience at hotels, and owner and brands are working to deliver.


While pillow-top mattresses gained popularity in the hotel industry over the last several years, offering guests an added layer of comfort, some designers said the trend is waning, because these mattresses may offer a shorter life cycle. But that doesn’t mean hotels are giving up. To retain that added layer of softness guests are used to, many hoteliers are spending money on feathered mattress toppers. Not only that, but many branded and independent hotels are dedicated to choosing just the right mattress, researching and testing mattresses before selecting models that ultimately represent what they stand for through their “bedding experience.”

And while this does amount to higher initial costs, most hotels are seeing payback in slightly higher room rates, or increased guest satisfaction and repeat customers, noted Paula Azevedo, design director at Gettys. “A down topper works just as well and offers the same perception as a pillow-top mattress,” she said.

Mattress size is also gaining importance, according to Kristine Mortenson, interior designer at BBG-BBGM. “King-sized mattresses are more popular than ever before and hotels are taking note and making sure they offer enough king rooms to guests,” she said. The trend of “bigger is better” when it comes to mattresses in a hotel room also mirrors home trends, she explained. “King is a more grand bed experience and over the last few years many consumers have upgraded to king mattresses at home,” she said.

Another mattress trend is the growing popularity of hotel-branded mattresses also available for guest purchase. Westin Hotels & Resorts, which first introduced its Heavenly Bed in 1999, was among the first to provide its bed for sale to guests. Recently the brand formed a partnership with retail store Pottery Barn, through which it sells its bedding. Several other hotel brands, including Marriott and Hyatt, have followed suit, creating a custom “bed experience” and offering it for sale to consumers.

“Shortly after Westin introduced the Heavenly Bed, the brand’s internal survey of overall guest loyalty and satisfaction increased dramatically, and these satisfaction scores have continued to increase throughout the years,” said Brian Povinelli, global brand leader for Westin Hotels & Resorts. “Bed comfort continues to be Westin’s highest-rated guest satisfaction score. The Heavenly Bed has grown from a cult favorite to a well-loved classic with more than 75 million guests experiencing it at Westin hotels around the world, and more than 60,000 consumers purchasing the iconic product for their homes.”

Linens and SoftGoods

White is king when it comes to dressing the hotel bed with linens and softgoods. White linens offer a tranquil and calming factor to the bedding experience, and are favored by guests because they signal cleanliness, explained designers. White sheets, duvets and pillow covers eliminate the need for sorting by housekeeping, making laundry easier for the hotel staff.

“The purity of white linens is tranquil and certainly exudes a sense of freshness,” Mortenson said.

The Revere, a 356-room independent luxury hotel opening this month in downtown Boston, offers a unique bedding experience termed “livable glamour” by GM Simon Mais. Built on a foundation of luxurious, 400-thread-count white sheets, including a flat sheet, the experience was designed by BBG-BBGM. The hotel offers a contrast to the white foundation with colorful accents layered on top such as red accent pillows and a faux fur brown animal-print throw blanket with green satin on one side that is machine-washable.

Offering washable accent pillows and throws is a growing trend in the industry as guests focus on not just comfort, but also cleanliness. “Decorative items for the bed are often not selected these days unless they can be washed. This has sparked textile companies to try to develop more colorful, washable solutions,” Azevedo said.

High-quality linens are a must, and for some hotels, fine organic linens are used is some or all guestrooms. The Revere hotel in Boston is opening with one guestroom outfitted with hypoallergenic bedding, which includes linens derived from bamboo and eucalyptus.

More is better when it comes to layering on pillows, according to designers. “There is no doubt hoteliers are making larger investments in beds and bedding, layering it on for maximum guest comfort,” Mortenson said. It also creates a perception of being more luxurious, she noted.

The Westin hotel brand, including the recently opened Westin Abu Dhabi Golf and Spa Resort, a 172-room hotel in Khalifa City, United Arab Emirates, designed by Gettys, offers white linens with five pillows on the bed. The Revere offers an in-room pillow menu with five different types of pillows to choose from, ranging from body pillows and snore-support pillows, to cervical pillows and memory foam pillows. In all, the Revere in Boston dresses its beds with a total of seven pillows, including decorative accent pillows. The Benjamin Hotel in New York was one of the first to offer a pillow menu and still does. In fact, the hotel has a pillow concierge to service guests’ pillow needs, a service more and more hotels are providing these days.


New trends in headboards and lighting design are helping the bed steal the show, designers said. Architectural headboards that are oversized and built onto the wall are growing in popularity and showcased at some of the newest hotels including the Melia Atlanta, a 502-room recently opened property in downtown Atlanta, designed by BBG-BBGM. This property features double-layered upholstered headboards in white over gray to match the beds’ white sheets and gray bed skirt. Upholstered, tufted with buttons, and often draped with fabric, new and dramatic headboard designs call attention to the investment hoteliers continue to make in their bedding experience.

Pendant lights at the sides of the beds, and in some cases even small chandeliers over or near the bedside tables or bed, are new design tricks being used to highlight what is in many cases the star of the guestroom. White noise machines placed next to beds, aromatherapy on the nightstand and soothing music CDs are some other amenities hoteliers have incorporated into their bedding package to give guests what they hope will be an unforgettably comfortable night’s sleep.