Comfort, cleanliness key to a good night’s sleep


This bed shows several current trends: A pop of color, emerald green and an upholstered headboard.


The vast majority of Americans say mattress and pillow quality are important to getting a good night’s sleep, according to the first-ever Bedroom Poll from the National Sleep Foundation. And more than three-quarters of Americans believe that comfortable sheets and bedding are paramount. The poll found that Americans believe that comfort and cleanliness are fundamental to good sleep. 

Simple indulgences also make a difference. The survey showed that things like a fresh scent to sheets or well-made bed can affect how people feel about going to bed and even how they sleep.

That said, a fresh, clean hotel bedroom could actually be the best place to sleep. And the marketplace is responding to that possibility. Retailers such as Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and even TJ Maxx are selling high thread-count sheeting under the “hotel” moniker. Pottery Barn has recently added Westin’s well-known Heavenly Bed to its product line.

“A comfortable bed is a big trend in hospitality, so much so that some hotel brands are selling their own mattresses and bedding, and even doing private labels,” said Lesly Zamor, design director of Seed Design in Manhattan. “Guests say, ‘I had such a comfortable sleeping experience in the hotel that I want that same experience at home.’” 

It could be a chicken-egg conundrum. People want a luxury hotel experience at home but they want that cozy home feel at a hotel. “We’re finding in a lot of our hotels owners want more of a residential look and feel in the guestrooms,” said Rashana Zaklit, design associate at Gensler. 

The White Bed

Regardless of origin—home or hotel—the white bed is still hot. When guests walk into a room, white shouts “clean.” After all, how much dirt can you hide on a white topper? “Hotel guests want to know they’re coming to a nice, fresh bed,” said Martha Culpepper, an interior designer at Thomas Hamilton Associates. “You can do color and texture in the rest of room but the white bed sends a message.”

Bed toppers depend upon location. For starters, down-alternatives are gaining traction as allergies are a serious concern—real or imagined—with the public. And, while durable polyester bedding populates bargain properties for housekeeping ease, duvet-swathed comforters are go-to luxuries that suggest guest-by-guest housekeeping changes.

The white bed
The white bed, as seen here at the 28-room Detroit Athletic Club, is always popular because of its clean look.


However, in warmer climates, triple sheeting may be used instead of puffy comforters or coverlets. 

And, still, white dominates. Neutrality is broken with color and texture from blanket throws and throw pillows. A colored throw can be functional as well, extending bedcover lifespan because it provides a place for guests to rest luggage, said Dana Irvine, interior designer with Kraemer Design Group. 

Skirting the Issue

Many beds employ a bed skirt, though some hotel brands are specifying a mattress stacked atop a platform for a contemporary appearance (and no under-bed dusting). Just last year, Irvine and Zaklit, designers from two different firms, began using a new product called the Bedsok to customize that contemporary look. 

Zaklit described the Bedsok as “a scrunchie for the box spring.” Like a rubber band, the Bedsok encircles the box spring, adding a customized dash of color and/or texture. It’s easier than a skirt or sheet for housekeeping to place and to remove for cleaning, they said. It’s washable and, unlike an aging bed skirt, maintains its structure. 

Fashion designer Andrew Morgan, the brains behind the Bedsok, worked on the concept for four years before debuting it. “It’s a beautiful design element for a white bed. It brings a whole new focus for the bed,” he said. 

Going Green

So, what about that hot pop of color the fashion industry is so often celebrating in bedding touches? “Bedding may stay the bright spot in the room,” said Culpepper, who identifies a shift from oranges to saturated greens, especially emeralds, as the accent du jour. 

Still, final design decisions are rooted in region and theme. “Greens and tangerines are the hot colors, but I keep seeing ranges of fuchsias and purples,” Zaklit said, noting that individual projects may break with the trend. “With our projects, a lot of it is based on locale. With a Hollywood project we’re paying homage to old and new. We’re using deep and rich purples. Our background is very rich tones of grays and white.

313-room Holiday Inn, San Antonio
A throw adds color and texture at the 313-room Holiday Inn, San Antonio.


“Color is based on where the project is,” she said. “Is it a beach environment? An urban space?”

Bedding accent color can add character to the room and it can be updated in low-cost ways, designers said. “You can change throws and pillows and the room becomes more relevant,” Zamor said.

Sustainability also plays a role. Eucalyptus fibers are now making their way into sheeting. The bedding doesn’t smell like eucalyptus and has a highly absorbent, moisture-wicking property. “It has an amazing hand to it,” said Irvine. “It’s renewable, fast-growing, and hypoallergenic.”

These things are important as people gain in allergy and environmental consciousness, she said. And while they cost more, eucalyptus sheets last longer than traditional bedding options, designers said. 

Above Board

Several hotel brands are also shopping for fabric headboards, said Culpepper. “We’re still having some wood trim with a very cleanable back on the headboard, but the trend is following the residential trend of the upholstered headboard,” she said.

Zaklit noted that upholstered headboards give a residential feel, but, like color, the choice of material depends on the final goal. 

Andrew Morgan’s custom Headsok slipcovers for headboards—a sister product to the Bedsok—can simplify a transition to the upholstered look. “Hotels don’t have to throw out old furniture,” said Morgan. “The Headsok saves money and the environment.” He said Kimpton Hotels in Aspen, Colo., are already using them. “People are getting excited because they can create a piece of art with the headboard,” he said.

Hot Wired

Technology is also coming to the bed with the addition of built-in power strips. 

“I hate it when I can’t plug in my phone by my bed,” said Irvine. Older hotels with only two sockets in their bedside outlets—often far from reach—limit that availability. Bedside power strips, especially those attached directly to the headboard, make it easier to recharge devices. The wiring, of course, is a hidden amenity. 

It’s the overall bed experience that stays with the guest. “The center of the room all goes back to the bed,” said Irvine. “If you have a nice bed, that’s what people are going to remember more than anything.”

Virtual Event

Hotel Optimization Part 3 | January 27, 2021

With 2020 behind us and widespread vaccine distribution on the horizon, the second half of the new year is looking up, but for Q1 (and most likely well into Q2) we’re very much still in the thick of what has undeniably been the lowest point of the pandemic. What can you be doing now to power through and set yourself up for a prosperous 2021 and beyond? Join us at Part 3 of Hotel Optimization – A Virtual Event on January 27 from 10am – 1:05pm ET for expert panels focused on getting you back to profitability.