IF you ask me to recommend my favourite hotels in Saigon, Santa Barbara and Barcelona I will rattle off three properties with great beds.
Sure, each address boasts a panoramic location, fabulous bars and restaurants, amiable staff ready to satisfy a guest’s every whim, peaceful day spas and marvellous swimming pools, but my favourite feature of these properties is the bed.
At the Villa Song Saigon, Belmond El Encanto (below) and Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos, I have hit on that blissful combination of mattress, sheets, doona and pillows to present those lucky enough to spend the night a chance to slumber on the closest thing we earthbound creatures have to a cloud.
The best hotels, from international brands with hundreds of branches around the planet to unique boutique properties, spend an enormous amount of time and money getting the combination right to guarantee guests luxurious napping.
But what makes some hotel beds superior, and better than we have at home?
Research & development
Westin Hotels & Resorts – the up-market Starwood brand with 200 hotels in 40 countries – revolutionised hotel snoozing almost two decades ago by developing the signature Heavenly Bed and making sound sleeping part of its trademark approach to customer wellbeing.
“We are committed to ensure our guests leave our hotels feeling better than they arrived, sleep plays a large part of it and the Westin Heavenly Bed plays a big role,’’ says Starwood’s senior director of brand management Vincent Ong.
“In 1999, Westin received a wake-up call from travellers who said, in a survey, that the most important service a hotel can offer is a good night’s sleep, so we spent $50 million and introduced 52,000 Heavenly Beds in 39,000 guest rooms.
“The team spent more than a year creating the perfect bed and began the process by filling a hotel ballroom with 50 beds from 35 major hotel chains plus luxury and boutique hotels around the world.
“After months testing hundreds of mattresses, pillows and bed linen the Heavenly Bed was born with the coming together of the crisp, white 250-thread-count sheets, down duvets, plush pillows and custom pillow-top mattresses carefully crafted to promote the best possible sleep.’’
While Westin was the first to craft a signature sleep experience, many hotel brands followed, with W Hotels developing what’s nicknamed the Do-Not-Disturb Bed, Rydges has the Dream Bed and Four Points by Sheraton the Comfort Bed.
It’s all white
While thread count, pillow quantity, and mattress thickness – Marriott boasts its mattress is “one foot high from top to bottom’’ resting on a nine-inch box spring – are important, it seems colour is also critical.
When Westin tested the Heavenly Bed it discovered an all-white ensemble created a serene “halo effect” and some hotel managers report that guests think a suite has been completely renovated when nothing more has been done to the room than replacing colourful bedding with simple but smart white linen.
Add to that a selection of five pillows, including two with a feather-and-down blend and a bolster for decoration, three sheets so the body is always touching high-thread-count cotton, and a fluffy feather mattress topper and that cloudlike combination is ready to make guests swoon at their sleeping arrangements.