ACCORDING to research by Travelodge, 92% of business travellers said the most important thing about a hotel was a comfortable bed.
The chain takes the quality of its guests’ sleep so seriously, it has created the position of director of sleep.
Wayne Munnelly, the first man to fill the position, even has a bed in his office, but spends most of his time travelling around the UK sleeping in some of the budget chain’s 25,000 beds.
The sleep guru tests the tension in mattresses, the intensity of room lighting and sound proofing between rooms. Enlisting the help of Feng Shui and colour therapists, Munnelly aims to create the perfect sleeping environment for guests.
“Getting the balance right to deliver a sound night’s sleep is close to science,” he said.
Travelodge is not the only company that takes the subject of beds seriously. Since Westin Hotels and Resorts launched its Heavenly Bed in 1999, a pillow fight has broken out between hotel chains.
“The industry thought we were mad when we ran a huge public relations campaign in the US centred on this fluffy, all-white bed ,” said Barry Sternlicht, executive chairman of Westin’s parent Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
“The trend in the hotel business was to cut corners on the beds, and we all remember those nasty polyester bedspreads of old. Westin’s Heavenly Bed gave the industry a much-needed wake-up call.”
Other groups followed suit and over the past few years there has been a steady stream of specially created bed brands launched, from Hilton’s Serenity bed to Sofitel’s MyBed.
Some groups, such as Ritz-Carlton, have developed extensive pillow menus enabling guests to select their favourite type.
Crowne Plaza has devised a Sleep Advantage Programme using a holistic approach. It offers guests doctor-recommended sleep tips and a sleep CD, eye masks, earplugs and lavender aromatherapy spray, and quiet floors.
Lynn Hood, director of operations at the four-strong City Inn Group, said hotels should look beyond the bed when it comes to assuring guests a good night’s kip.
“Hotels should provide comfortable beds and good-quality linen as standard,” she said. “Hotels should examine the entire space. City Inn rooms are sound-proofed, have fresh air conditioning and opening windows.”
hotel checkSofitel saint james, london
Where is it?On the corner of Pall Mall and a short walk from Trafalgar Square. The West End and Jermyn Street are within reach. ????
What’s it like?Elegant and intimate, considering it has 186 rooms. The Grade II-listed building, a former bank, is described as Anglo-French chic. It’s certainly refreshingly unfussy. ????
Sleep tight?During my visit the hotel was unveiling its new MyBed concept. Those who like their bed to cocoon them will love it. I wanted to take the soft sheets and oversized pillows home. Rooms are hi-tech – so much so we had to call reception to ask how to operate the lights and use the iron. Bathrooms feature double sinks and a fantastic shower, but ladies will struggle with the plug sockets and mirrors. Mini bar prices are steep at £3 for a bottle of water. ????
Eat in or out?In. The Brasserie Roux, in the former banking hall, serves bistro-style French food to a high standard, with mains from £8. Breakfast was superior to most hotel breakfasts in this price range. The St James’ Bar offers a range of champagnes, whiskies and cognacs as well as a humidor, but its gentleman’s club atmosphere was a bit stuffy. ?????
Smiley service?Excellent service, with none of the pomposity you get in many London hotels. However, the concierge struggled to find pills for a headache. I had to fill in a form and even then he had only Alka-Seltzer. ?????
Anything else?Plenty of meeting and banquet facilities, plus a state-of-the-art boardroom. Brasserie Roux does a pre-theatre menu for £15 and a special Sunday menu from £24.50. There’s a small gym and 24-hour room service. ????
Overall impression?Every inch the businessman’s hotel; man being the operative word.
Sample productDoubles from £150, excluding VAT and breakfast; breakfast from £21.
Total rating: 20/30
Ratings are out of five
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