No matter how spectacular a hotel’s architecture, views, or on-site restaurant may be, there are few pleasures that can compete with sinking into a hotel bed at the end (or middle) of a long day. There’s something about these luxe beds that feels distinctly different from those at even the most perfectly appointed private homes. The combination of crisp, just-ironed sheets, plush pillows, and calming color palette can work wonders on even the most finnicky sleepers, leading to the deep kind of rest and relaxation that can be particularly difficult to replicate at home. Which begs the question: How exactly do you make a hotel bed at home?
After a blissful few nights this spring at the wonderful Cara Hotel in Los Angeles, I returned to my apartment in New York City dismayed to see my plain old regular bed. I wondered: Why couldn’t I make my own bed as comfortable as a hotel bed? Or could I? As I would find out over the next few weeks of research in my attempt to transform my bed into one replicating the look and feel of a high-end hotel, the answer is not quite so simple as yes or no.
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The Essential Components
My first port of call in determining how to create a hotel quality bed was coming up with a list of what I’d need to put it together. And it turns out that list is rather extensive. Lisa Karvellas, the co-founder of Cedar Lake Estates, a 500-acre private luxury retreat in the Hudson Valley, recommends the following, which are how she outfits the beds at her hotel: a premium mattress, mattress protector, mattress topper, sateen sheets, a down duvet, goose down pillows, and a throw blanket at the foot of the bed.
This sounded absolutely splendid. It also sounded quite daunting. “If you’re on a budget, I recommend addressing four areas in this order: the sheets, pillows, blankets, and mattress,” says Diana Dobin, the president and chief sustainability officer of Valley Forge Fabrics, the largest decorative textile and textile products supplier to the hospitality industry worldwide, including Auberge Resorts and Rosewood. In other words, you want to focus on what’s closest to your body first and work your way down and out.
Somewhat reassured, I turned my attention first to my sheets. “The most important components to creating the perfect bed are the sheets and the comforter,” says Sylvia Wong, owner of the peaceful and luxurious Amagansett boutique hotel, the Roundtree. “The perfect sheets are a fresh, crisp white color and tuck perfectly to avoid wrinkling.” Wong’s sheets of choice are Frette Smeraldo Sateen 300-count sheets, which are lightweight cotton percale which gives that crisp, cool, hotel feeling. Many other hotels are fans of Frette as well, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and the St. Regis. The St. Regis even partnered with the Italian linens company to create Frette 1860 for St. Regis — a line of fine linens spanning from 400 thread-count cotton sateen linens to luxurious white-on-white jacquard duvet covers that are used in their hotels and anyone can purchase to take home.
Luxurious and tempting as they may be, I was not looking to spend the equivalent of my monthly rent outfitting my bed entirely in Frette sheets. But one thing that surprised me when trying to figure out which sheets to choose instead is that many of the hoteliers I spoke with disabused me of the notion that thread count is everything. “Linen in general is subjective to your sleeping preference, and it’s important to know that thread count isn’t everything,” says Brian Standley, director of rooms at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “The higher the thread count, the less the linen breathes which means that the linen will sleep warmer than linen with a lower thread count.”
Noted. As someone who loves to feel crisp and cool while drifting off to sleep, I realized that a lower thread count might suit me better. I had long been intrigued by the beloved linens company Brooklinen, which was established in 2014 after co-founders Rich and Vicki Fulup fell in love with a set of hotel sheets with a high price tag and decided to create hotel-level bedding at an accessible price. In pursuit of the classic, calming, all-white vibe that many hotels recommend, I ordered the Classic Core Set. “The Classic set is our most hotel-like sheet option, with a cool feel and matte finish,” Brooklinen’s VP of Merchandising, Deanna Wu, tells me. “Made from 100% cotton, this weave is durable and has a minimalist and clean look, especially in an all-white set.” The Classic Core Set rings in at under $200, while Frette’s sheet sets approach $500. The sheets were notably softer and smoother than the random Amazon sheets I’d been sleeping on before and, best of all, offer the perfect temperature control for sleepers who tend to run hot like me.
This first order of sheeting business dealt with, I turned my attention next to pillows, per Dobin’s recommendation. Your perfect pillow will depend on whether you prefer the sensation of your head sinking almost down to mattress level, or whether you prefer feeling more supported. (Some hotels, like the Roundtree, offer pillow menus so guests can pick which they prefer.) As a general rule, down pillows are best for those who prefer a softer feeling, while feather is best for those who want a firmer feel. “We use classic down pillows from Muhldorfer across the entire Dorchester Collection,” Standley tells me. “These pillows are the best. They stay cool and are extremely supportive.” Expecting more Frette-esque sticker shock, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Muhldorfer is downright affordable at around fifty dollars for a classic, and am now the happy owner of no less than four Muhldorfer pillows that make me feel I’m falling asleep on a cloud every night.
Duvets & Extras
Finally, I turned my attention to my duvet comforter, which was frankly so old that I could not remember when or where I purchased it. Goose and duck down are the traditional choice for those looking for a soft but substantive feeling from their duvets, like being wrapped in a hyper-soothing hug. Duvets can be ruinously expensive, so I again turned to Brooklinen for my down comforter. This would prove to be the most shocking shift I made throughout my entire bedding experience. Whatever my prior comforter was filled with (cotton balls?) it certainly wasn’t down, and the first night of sleeping with my new Brooklinen down comforter I actually experienced a brief moment of grief for all the nights I’d spent under my old comforter before making the switch.
At this point, I might have turned my attention to my mattress — most hoteliers I spoke with recommended Casper — but having just purchased a Casper mattress two years ago, I was already a happy camper on that front. The Westin Hotels chain is so famous for their bedding that they have an entire program called Heavenly Bed, so when I set out for a new mattress topper, that’s the one I selected, and it did make the already-comfortable mattress feel even more cloud-like.
All the components of my new hotel-like bed procured, I asked a few top hotels for their advice on how to actually put everything together to replicate that hotel feeling. “Learning how to make a perfect bed is a rite of passage for every hotelier,” Standley tells me. “It takes a great deal of practice to get it right. First, it’s important to regularly rotate your mattress to maintain the shape and support. Second, make sure your linen is as clean and as neatly pressed as you can get it. There’s also a special hotel fold we use when making the bed — we tuck the ends taut as we can to remove all creases, which is what gives it that crisp hotel look. Make sure the duvet, sheets, and pillows are all as symmetrical across the mattress as you can get it,” he adds. “You will appreciate the effort you put in to making it perfect when you lie your head down at night.” I can’t say that my first attempt to follow all of his instructions was the smoothest sailing I’ve ever had making a bed — I found myself working up a bona fide sweat during the process — but right he was: that night, I briefly had the sensation slipping into bed that I was doing so in a resort.
And when it comes to housekeeping, Amanda Arling, president of the Whaler’s Inn in Mystic, Connecticut, recommends washing sheets weekly, and the duvet cover monthly, as well as using a bit of starch when washing. “This is what creates that crisp and clean feeling that you get when you slip between the covers at your favorite hotel,” she sayas. Nely Cruz, the director of housekeeping at Los Angeles’ legendary Hotel Bel Air also had a few tips and tricks. “Launder linens in warm or cold water as hot water can shrink them,” she tells me. “And tumble dry sheets on medium heat and remove them before they’re fully dry to cut down on wrinkles.”
Making your bed as it would be made in a hotel turns out to be a fair bit of work. But after embarking on a makeover quest for my own bed, I can unequivocally say that I don’t know what took me so long, and wish I’d begun making my bed in replication of one at a hotel a long time ago. Every night now, I lay out the finishing touches by my perfectly made up bed — a water carafe, a pair of slippers, and a Parachute robe (used at the likes of Los Angeles’ Hotel Covell) — and wake up every morning with the most elusive feeling in the world: like I’m on vacation.