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The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The hottest new service at hotels? Sleep.

Sometimes the ultimate luxury is a good night’s rest

(Elise Vandeplancke/for The Washington Post)
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After the pandemic forced the Cadogan hotel in London to temporarily shut down, general manager Xavier Lablaude and his team began thinking of ways to bring guests back in.

With reports of insomnia on the rise, they decided to lean into one of a hotel’s key functions: providing a place to get a good night’s sleep.

The hotel launched its Sleep Concierge service in early 2021, assisting guests with all things slumber through a range of services and amenities, from hypnotherapy to calming tea. “A lot of people were quite stressed just by leaving their homes,” Lablaude said. “They’d been in their homes so much, that it was quite an adventure to get out of their cocoon, and I think it was the right timing to reassure people when they left their home, to have this offer at the same time.”

The hotel is one of many to invest more heavily in sleep-themed services, with offerings across numerous properties aimed at helping guests get the most out of their shut-eye.

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The Cadogan partnered with hypnotherapist Malminder Gill to create a meditation audio recording, and it also offers a pillow menu, a weighted blanket, a lavender pillow mist and more, all included in the room price. Guests also can book a private in-room session with Gill in advance for around $375.

Other hotels have designated spaces designed to help guests rest. When Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles initially launched its Rest & Recovery Suite last year, it was expected to be a summer promotion for National Relaxation Day. “We were expecting it to run for about three months, and then it just kept booking,” managing director Connie Wang said.

The 870-square-foot suite features a mattress from Eight Sleep that adjusts its temperature during the night and a custom Pluto Pillow that you can take home. The suite, which runs about $500 per night, also has a FORME fitness mirror — part of a holistic approach to helping guests sleep well, starting before they hit the sheets.

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Wang said the idea came about after guests sought respite at the hotel as people worked from home during the pandemic and the boundaries between personal and professional blurred. Many locals flocked there to get away from their work-from-home space, she said.

“We were already noticing this trend with hotel guests coming to stay in the hotel to find that really restful night of sleep, away from their emails and away from the stresses of home life and the stresses and the rigors of the pandemic, and just have an escape,” she said.

Tanner Saunders, senior hotels reporter at the Points Guy, said sleep-focused offerings at hotels are not new, but that “it’s just another thing that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic in a lot of ways.”

As the pandemic wanes, wellness is key for many hospitality brands, he said, with sleep emerging as a particular area of focus. “As the pandemic changed so many parts of our lives, we realized that sleep is so much more important because we had that time at home to regroup … and I think hotels are starting to capitalize on that,” he said.

In general, hotels try to create brand loyalty, said Jamie Larounis, a travel industry analyst with UpgradedPoints.com. The overnight part of a guest’s stay is especially important. “They want to associate you traveling … to certain brands, certain hotels, because you know you’re going to get an excellent night of sleep,” he said.

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A sleep-themed offering can also provide “an ancillary revenue stream” for the hotel that does not cost them much. Larounis added that travelers can primarily expect to see special services of that kind at mid- to high-end hotels.

The offerings can range depending on the property. The Lotte New York Palace decked out its Hästens Ultimate Sleep Suite with a $200,000 bed from the Swedish company and signature pajamas, while Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards designed its rooms with “regeneration” top of mind, including blackout blinds and soundproofing.

Some offerings are particularly immersive: The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara is holding a three-day Sophrology Sleep Retreat.

While some are more elaborate, Saunders noted that in other cases, hotels are “just kind of reframing the services that they already offer and tying it together with this little bow that says ‘sleep experience.’" He recommended travelers that are looking for specialized packages do some investigating “because there are some that are really different from the others.”

Wang said she expects Hotel Figueroa will continue to offer its suite until the end of the year and gauge demand again then. For the time being, though, guests can rest easy. “I think that as long as it’s helpful to people and that people are seeking out that experience, we’ll be able to keep it,” she said.

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