When it comes to hotel room mattresses, designers are considering much more than how soft or firm they are.
These days, they are examining products with pocketed coils, cooling gel foam, memory foam, and moisture-wick fabrics that protect the mattress. They are deciding on height, shape and size. They are testing out a variety of toppers, covers and protectors.
“Today’s mattress is much more personalized than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” says Mark Kukulski, president of Wyndham Hotel Group’s management company, which chose Simmons mattresses across its entire portfolio after many tests and factory visits.
Studies have shown that not sleeping enough can have a negative impact on a person’s health. In the National Sleep Foundation’s 2015 Sleep in America Poll of 1,029 U.S. adults, those who reported having good or excellent health said they sleep 18 to 23 minutes longer than those with just good, fair or poor health.
“It’s become a topic growing in importance just in the general public,” says Errol Williams, vice president of the Americas brand operations at InterContinental Hotels Group. “Our travelers have consistently identified sleep … as one of the critical parts of their experience.”
It’s so important that Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, part of AccorHotels, spent 18 months testing out mattresses, which typically last seven to 10 years.
“Realistically, it’s the one part of room that gets used the most during the guest’s stay,” says Jane Mackie, vice president of the Fairmont brand at AccorHotels. “It has the most potential to have an upside and potential to have a downside if we don’t get it right.”
Fairmont officials went through three rounds of testing the mattresses at five hotels in the Americas. They did tests at hotels with different climates. They also tried hotels that cater mostly to business travelers as well as properties in leisure markets.
The company settled on two custom-made mattresses from Sealy—the Fairmont Bed and the Fairmont Gold Bed.
Based on the Sealy Posturepedic sleep system, the mattresses feature a hidden band of reinforced gel memory foam. The new Fairmont Gold Bed has even more layers of plush upholstery.
At Cambria hotels & suites, guests sleep on the Simmons St. Pierre Top Mattress, with features such as pocketed coil springs that conform to your shape and move independently so as not to wake up your sleeping companion. It also has cleanable mattresses that repel liquids and stains, an allergen-reducing feature, replaceable mattress tops and cooling technology.
“Mattresses and beds have evolved a lot over the years as well as guests’ desires and needs,” says Michael Lusick, vice president of brand operations for Cambria, which is part of Choice Hotels.
Amy Hulbert, managing director of design at Best Western Hotels & Resorts, has noticed mattress companies offering more unique toppers, such as a zip-off top the company is using for mattresses at its Vib brand. At its GLo brand, Best Western is using a gel topper that creates a cooling effect.
“Sleep is what Best Western is selling, so it’s important to never skimp on the quality of the mattress,” Hulbert says.
Despite having 14 brands, Hilton’s mattresses are designed to be consistent by brand and throughout the world. Even if the company can’t import a mattress to a particular country, it provides the specifications so an exact match can be made.
“So if you’re staying at a DoubleTree in Doha, you’ll have the same mattress experience as at a DoubleTree in Chicago,” says Kristopher Beck, Hilton’s director of product management.
Hilton’s product management team researches and tests products at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia, the company’s innovation hub.
“However, mattress preference is personal and subjective and how comfortable you find a mattress depends on a lot of factors such as whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach,” Beck says. “We put a lot of effort into creating a sleep environment that caters to as many guests as possible regardless of their sleep habits.”
Beck says the most popular mattresses are relatively firm with a softer topper.
Mattress height is also starting to vary. At IHG’s Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites, mattresses are 13 inches high. Mattresses at InterContinental Hotels are 14 inches high. Even Hotels, a brand that is focused on fitness and wellness, has 15-inch mattresses.
IHG’s Williams says that sometimes people prefer the thicker mattresses because they have more foam. Others just like the look of them.
“When we think of sleep we think of a very holistic experience,” he says. “We think about temperature, we think about light.”
Scott Mitchell, director of operations at Marriott International, says the company uses various types of mattresses across its 30 brands, many of which it acquired after merging with Starwood Hotels and Resorts this year.
But he has noticed a trend towards mattresses that don’t need to be flipped, which saves housekeeping staff time.
Box springs are also not as popular as they used to be, he says. Now designers are choosing to rest the mattresses on platforms, partly to better match furniture in the room. But that decision also benefits housekeeping.
“When you have the platform, there’s no way to get under the bed,” he says. “Housekeepers don’t have to vacuum under the bed and guests don’t lose shoes under the bed.”
It’s not just the major hotel chains that are paying attention to mattresses. Smaller, independent hotels are also becoming more innovative with their beds.
The “Jefferson Bed” is a custom-made bed that manufacturer AvroKO developed for one guestroom type at Arlo Hudson Square, a new hotel in New York City that opened late last year. The custom King bed is shaped as a square, filling a wood wrapped window seat. That way guests can have the option of sleeping parallel or perpendicular to the room’s large windows.
Many hotel companies have found that their mattresses are so popular that guests want to take them home with them.
Westin Hotels and Resorts sells its trademark Heavenly Bed. Fairmont and Hilton also sell their beds.
“You know you’re doing something right when guests start asking how they can buy the same mattress to use at home,” Hilton’s Beck says.
Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY