The bed: Arguably the centerpiece of any hotel room, it is the one item of furniture on which guests will likely spend a significant portion of their stay. It is also the one item of furniture on which hotels must be willing to spend significant money for a quality product and hire a top-tier designer to make sure the aesthetics are just as pleasant as the dreams.
“Hotels are thinking more about the role mattresses play in the guest experience than they ever have before,” said Anthonie Burke, head of business development for hospitality at bed company Reverie. As a result, he said, hotels are seeking out higher-quality mattresses—frequently opting for classic innerspring models, but also choosing mattresses with customizable firmness and/or hypoallergenic materials. “Adjustable foundations are just starting to catch the eye of buyers, and I think the value proposition is evident: Give guests the ability to elevate their beds, and they will not only spend more time relaxing/working/lounging in bed, but will also be more likely to return,” Burke said.
Deborah Herman, owner and president of Fabric Innovations, agreed, noting that hotels are “trying to create a unique experience to their brand.”
Of course, the mattress is only the beginning for a hotel bed. The number of accessories can be daunting, and designers must consider numerous elements when creating a bed.
Pillow menus, for example, have been a staple of high-end hotels for years, letting guests select on what kind of cushion they will rest their heads on each night. These menus, Burke said, are another response to the customization trend. “A pillow is responsible for 20 percent of a person’s comfort in bed,” he said. “Add a customized mattress and adjustable foundation beneath a guest’s pillow and you have the ultimate customized sleep environment.” That customization, he added, helps a hotel brand in the guests’ mind and builds loyalty.
Herman feels that 100-percent goose-down pillows are popular for high-end hotels. “Down substitutes are a huge hit because they are hypoallergenic,” she added.
Design company Studio Twist does not provide “sleeping pillows,” Director of Marketing Michelle Wildenhaus said, but focuses on decorative throw pillows instead. “We often make custom pillows to complete the top-of-bed ensemble in patterns and colors that compliment the decor or lend a ‘signature’ element to the room,” she said. For example, when working on pillows for the Westin Philadelphia, they created a pillow that depicted a section of Ben Franklin’s face with his distinctive glasses.
With the increasing trend toward simple, clean lines and a minimal fabric, bed skirts seem to be on the way out. Burke feels that they are “definitely not necessary, especially in more modern settings and in a setting where allergy-free is important.” Straight lines are “definitely” trendier than ruffles, he added.
Herman, on the other hand, has seen a rise in “contour-fitted bed socks” that “give a nice clean look. You can make them out of Matelasse fabric that gives the illusion of a bed frame.” She also likes quilted tailored dusters that look like an upholstered wrap sheath. “They keep their appearance and look more architectural,” she said.
Similarly, Studio Twist has developed a knitted “Bed Wrap” that installs on the box spring without removing the mattress and can also be easily removed for cleaning. Wildenhaus said that the wrap’s elastic construction looks like an upholstered box spring, but lets the housekeeping staff vacuum around the edge of the bed without disturbing the fabric.
Herman believes that slipcover headboards are quietly making their way back on the design boards. “Remember shabby chic?” she asked rhetorically. “Think of that direction but with today’s demands for clean and organic. The headboard slipcover can be washed after every guest.” One property, she added, has slipcovers for every season, and changes from spring cotton to winter velvet.
And then there are the sheets, which can come in a wide variety of styles, including cotton, linen, microfiber and poly-cotton blends. In addition to its mattresses, Reverie sells linens, and Burke said that hotels have stocked up on both the company’s 300- and 619-thread-count sheets. “But what matters more than thread count is the fiber and weave,” Burke said. “Hotel guests will care about how the linens feel much more than the thread count in the end.”
Herman, meanwhile, does not see much microfiber in hotel sheets, but they are “definitely making a dramatic trend” in duvet covers and printed duvet covers. “I think a 60/40 poly-cotton blend is still the standard, durable, three-star choice and laundry operations are used to this blend,” she said, noting a trend in duvet inserts being custom-designed “to prevent lumpy beds.” Fabric Innovations has duvet inserts that can be washed 50 times without a change of weight or appearance, she added, making them ideal for hypoallergenic rooms, she added. “They can wash the insert after every guest. The duvet insert literally becomes the top sheet.”
As noted in Hotel Management’s February issue (“The Call for Color”), guestroom softgoods frequently use a white-on-white color scheme, but designers are gradually working some color into elements like bed scarves, pillows and headboards.
“Studio Twist projects are all over the board on [color],” Wildenhaus said. “We do very neutral ensembles and those that make a bold color statement. “Navy is probably the color that we have seen the most of recently. Since throws and throw pillows are our specialty, we see a lot of projects that include bed throws, throw pillows, bed scarves and throws for the seating group in larger rooms and suites. Patterns are often classic stripes, herringbones, houndstooth, etc., but a recent installation featured giant filament light bulbs knit into the throw pattern for a property in Newark, N.J.—the birthplace of Thomas Edison.”
Burke agreed that color use is “across the board,” noting that it can also be based on the brand and the image that the brand wants to express to its clientele. “Design and use of color can be from an elaborate dazzle to your senses in a variety of color schemes, to a modernistic look of warm colors, to a conservative-based room with a splash of color in the throw pillows or shawls,” he said.
But Herman has seen mostly “white, white, white” beds, perhaps with “some neutral camel piping on the pillow case or a printed inset border on the duvet cover.” These splashes of color can “give a bit of interest to the bed,” she added, noting that many designers are eschewing extra decorative pillows. “They end up on the floor and aren’t a very good green statement,” she said.