The More You Know: Hotel Bedding

After enjoying an amazing night’s sleep in a supremely comfortable hotel bed, chances are that you didn’t think to peek at the tag to find out exactly what you were sleeping on. But, once you got home, you may have started scouring the internet trying to track down the manufacturer or a hotel store you could buy the bedding from so you could enjoy the same comfort in your own home. Often to no avail.

But, have no fear. Even if you don’t know the brand name or manufacturer of your hotel bedding, you can still find the quality you seek. You can check out our handy hotel bedding finder to search for your favorite hotel’s bedding line in our database. But, you don’t necessarily need to find the same brand if you can find the right quality.

Don’t Always Trust the Labels

Often, bedding made in countries outside the US have labels that aren’t reflective of the materials used. For example, a label may say Thai silk, but actually be polyester.

You need to educate yourself in fabric fibers and weaves. Use your senses to identify these products. Smell, feel and sight can all inform you. Various silks including silk linen have a distinctive odor. Linen has a distinctive smell as well, but it’s very faint. Asking experts for tips on identifying textiles used in bedding can be very informative.

The Feel Can Help Identify a Fabric

Looking at the weave of a fabric is an excellent way to identify exactly what it is. Most plant fibers have many similarities.

Rayon and acetate, for example, are artificial, but both are made from natural plant fibers. The surface of these manufactured fabrics tend to be smooth and cool.

Cotton and linen have the crispness that you’re looking for, but their surfaces are duller than manufactured materials. Also, cotton tends to be softer and warmer to the touch. Linen is heavy, flowing and smooth. When you’re looking at them under a microscope, cotton and linen are strikingly different. Linen has smooth, straight fibers while cotton looks wooly.

Think Thread Thickness not Thread Count

Most of us have been sold on thread count as the basis for judging quality. But that isn’t necessarily how it really works. Most stores advertise thread count while failing to mention thread thickness. Commercial sheet quality is mainly determined by weight. It’s the best indicator of sheet durability.

Threads in hotel sheets can be up to 3 times thicker than those used in most homes. As a result, they retain their crispness for long periods of time.

Strands of yarn (individual fibers of a material, not the thick product used in crafts) can be twisted together in the direction opposite to that in which they were spun. Multiple yarns can be wrapped together in a single thread. This is called plying and it’s used to create thicker threads, which will impact both the feel and durability of sheets and other bedding. Finer threads result in softer sheets that drape well. Thicker yarns create a heavier and stronger fabric.

Single ply sheets are woven with individual un-plied threads. Two-ply sheets are woven into fabrics with a heavier feel.

The Burn Test

This may seem drastic, but it is an effective last resort for identification of fabric. You can use it after the fact for a post-mortem of bedding fabrics that have failed you. Rayon, silk, linen, polyester and cotton are all easily identified by this method. You only need a tiny scrap of fabric and a lighter.

Just remember that unless you’re making sheets from raw fabric, this test is probably best used as a last resort.