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How to re-create the magic of an incredible hotel bed at home


(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Between the Irish hospitality and the Irish whiskey that flows accordingly, it can take a miracle to wake up feeling well rested after having a big night out in Dublin. But despite the good times, I awoke feeling rejuvenated at the Merrion Hotel there, and that was because they had one of the best hotel beds I’d ever crawled into.

I am not the only one blown away by the Merrion’s bed and its custom 500-thread count Egyptian cotton linens that are designed to be devastatingly soft. It turns out, when a hotel bed is good — and I mean really, really good — it’s not uncommon for guests to request information about how to buy them from the hotels.

“A good indication of how popular the mattress is, is how much people ask to buy them from us,” says Peter McCann, general manager at the Merrion. “It’s got to the point now where we refer them to the manufacturer.”

What is it that makes hotel beds so otherworldly, and how can travelers capture some of that magic at home?

The foundation

McCann says that the hotel gets requests from guests every month to buy the Merrion’s mattresses — and its popularity validates the work that was put into creating it 23 years ago. First, the hotel staff bought mattresses from different Irish companies, then tested them personally. Once they picked a favorite brand from their selection, the team went to the winning mattress company, Kayfoam Woolfson, and designed a custom bed for the hotel.

“Most guests will probably only stay with us once. We wanted to create something that would make your sleep memorable,” McCann says. “At the end of the day, if you analyze how much time a guest stays at a hotel, a huge portion of that is sleep.”


The junior suite in the Main House at the Merrion Hotel. (Merrion Hotel)

The resulting design was a firm, pocket-spring mattress. Unlike a continuous coil-spring mattress, these have springs that have been separated and put into individual vertical pockets. This helps the bed react to the varying shapes of the body, rather than to the entire body.

“Let’s say I’ve got a bigger backside than I have a shoulder. The bed would absorb the more curvy part of me without affecting the shoulder,” McCann explains.

Another key factor was the bed’s well-made base that allowed for the weight distribution to be equally spread out. About 12 years ago, the hotel added a pillow top to the mix so that the initial contact with the mattress was softer, but the underlying rigidity remained the same. The bed feels soft, but you’re not sinking into it and destroying your back.

The upkeep

As important as the creation of the bed is, its maintenance is just as critical. McCann says that part of what makes the bed’s linens so special isn’t just the 500-thread-count Egyptian cotton, it’s the painstaking effort to keep them in great shape. The hotel invested millions of dollars on a new laundry facility that could handle the material properly after having linens ruined by outsourced services.

Additionally, hotels wanting to give customers the same sleep every time will swap out mattresses much more often than you would at home: Every seven to eight years, the Merrion replaces mattresses in its rooms to maintain quality and consistency. The Merrion mattress McCann bought for his own home for a couple thousand dollars, however, has lasted him 15 years.

How you can incorporate this at home

Replicating the Merrion for yourself will take a bit of legwork wrangling each of the individual components. But Westin Hotels & Resorts found a way to streamline the process for fans of their bed. The hotel company was founded in 1930, and its signature Heavenly Bed was introduced to properties in 1999.

“Before Westin launched their Heavenly Beds, they went through very extensive research,” says Robin Ware, owner of Hotels at Home, the global e-commerce service provider for hospitality companies like the Westin Store. “It was a very rigorous process.”

The mattress and box spring was built to complement all body types and designed with pillow-top construction for comfort and support. Heavenly Bed creators took into account what would be the best combination of pillows for different kinds of sleepers, the best mattress, and how many layers of bedding it needed.

Once it was rolled out, demand from customers to buy a Heavenly Bed of their own came immediately. It’s been such a success that Ware says it’s not unusual for guests staying at a Westin for work to pass around the phone and order Heavenly Beds the next morning, one after another.


A guest room at the Westin Siray Bay Resort and Spa in Phuket, Thailand. (The Westin)

If you’d like one of your own, the Westin Store website offers customers a one-stop-shop opportunity to buy every tiny detail of the Heavenly Bed setup, from the box spring to the boudoir pillows. Instead of stumbling into a Bed Bath & Beyond and trying to navigate the maze of bedroom products, you can collect what you need on the website in one swoop.

But of course, building a hotel-like bed can come with a lofty price tag. The Westin Heavenly Bed Hotel Bed & Bedding Set starts at $4,636. McCann estimates that re-creating the bed from the Merrion will cost you between $2,000 and $5,000. It may be a worthy investment if you consider that humans spend the equivalent of years of their lives sleeping.

If you’d rather take on the curation yourself, keep a few key components in mind.

Start with a good mattress and box spring that will keep the weight in your bed distributed evenly. Next, think in layers. Your bed doesn’t stop with a fitted sheet, top sheet and comforter combo. Bed skirts, a mattress pad, feather and down pillows, alternative pillows, boudoir pillows, pillow shams and duvet covers are all options as well, and these special touches can go a long way. When you can, invest in sheets with a high thread count. And last, wash your bedding with caution. There’s a reason the Merrion hotel invested millions in its laundry service.

Replicating a hotel bed in your own home can result in a serious investment of both time and money. But it could also be a worthy one, considering the amount of time humans spend throughout their lives sleeping.

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