Testing hundreds of mattress-and-pillow combinations to find the perfect night’s sleep: a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
Since its introduction in 1999, the Westin Heavenly Bed has eased millions of hotel guests into deep, restful sleep. While it may certainly be the most well-known hotel bed in the world, not everyone knows the story of how that came to be, nor what it means for the wellness of those who sleep in it.
Hotel beds in the 1990s weren’t necessarily the most comfortable of furnishings; in fact, foam-based mattresses were common in hotels thanks to their budget-friendly price points, which were great for keeping operational costs down. But the Westin team sensed an opportunity to aim higher and deliver a better experience for guests. In 1999, the brand conducted a survey of travelers, requesting their thoughts on the most important service a hotel could offer. The answer: quite simply, a good night’s sleep.
This finding was an elemental one, of course, but it tied into something greater. Good sleep is a foundational part of overall wellness: two-thirds of people who experience subpar sleep report poor or middling health, according to research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. Peer-reviewed medical studies show critical links between restorative rest and a wealth of health benefits, including the ability to reduce stress, promote mental clarity, lower high blood pressure, support a healthy metabolism and boost the immune system, just to name a few.
Realizing an opportunity to give guests precisely what they wanted and support their overall wellness in the process, Westin spent $50 million to outfit 39,000 guest rooms with more than 50,000 Heavenly Beds. This didn’t happen overnight, of course; it took quite a bit of research to make the perfect bed.
The Search for the Perfect Night’s Sleep
For over a year, the brand engaged in a rigorous research project, beginning with rounding up 50 beds from 35 major hotel chains and housing them in a hotel ballroom, using it as a testing facility to find the magic formula for an optimal night’s rest. A system was devised to test each mattress with various combinations of pillows and linens in search of the ultimate hotel bed experience. Around the same time, the hotel group’s founder had begun sleeping on a pillow-top mattress his wife had just purchased, and it was so comfortable and plush, he wondered why hotels hadn’t thought to start using them.
Eventually, the formula revealed itself, indeed confirming the necessity for a pillow-top mattress with a well-constructed box spring underneath. The full ensemble ended up including an array of finely-cased pillows including both down-and-feather and down-alternative fillings, as well as a duvet and duvet cover, not two but three sheets, and a boudoir pillow to complete the experience.
Meticulous linen care testing was completed as well, concluding that a thread count of 250 was ideal; anything lower wouldn’t be crisp or luxurious enough, and anything higher wouldn’t be able to withstand numerous trips to the laundry without degrading the fabric over time. As for color, survey respondents showed an overwhelming preference for crisp, clean, solid white — a blank slate in which to envelop themselves and ease into a deep, restful sleep.
The Iconic Hotel Bed
Once the Heavenly Bed was deployed in Westin properties around the world, customer satisfaction levels rose considerably, and competing hospitality brands began racing to concoct their own version of the branded hotel bed. Many imitators followed in the years to come, but 20 years onward, the Westin Heavenly Bed remains an iconic symbol of luxurious, restorative rest.
Today, the legendary Westin bed’s 10 layers of comfort ensemble is available for purchase through the Westin store: the famed mattress and box spring, two feather and down pillows, two down alternative pillows, boudoir pillow, duvet, duvet cover, down blanket, bed skirt, flat sheet, middle sheet, fitted sheet, pillow shams, and matching pillowcases to complete the set.
The Heavenly bed stays true to its name wherever it stands, offering a dreamy, wellness-focused getaway even in the familiar surroundings of home.