May 11, 2012 -- Blanche Garcia is no stranger to hotel beds. Her job demands it.
If that sounds a bit racy, it's really not. Garcia is the interior designer on The Travel Channel's show "Hotel Impossible." Since being cast on the show, she's helped turn around 10 struggling hotels so far, with two more left for the season. And she should know what's important in home décor. She's had 15 years of experience in the design industry and in addition to her job on Hotel Impossible, she's was also cast on season six of HGTV's Design Star.
And she loves bedding.
"Bedding is really important," she said. "After all, it's where we spend the most time."
I'm no stranger to hotels myself (again, it's part of the job description), but despite many miles logged and hotel points collected, I can never seem to get my bed at home just right. For me, "just right" means a bed worthy of a five-star hotel. No matter how many pillows I buy and duvet covers I try, it's never quite the same. So I asked Garcia to share with me her tips for turning a regular, at-home bed into one that could have been stolen from a Four Seasons. And now, I will share those tips with you. You're welcome.
1. Get a pillow-top mattress. OK. There's my first mistake. I purchased a mattress without a pillow top. You did too? OK, next-best thing, according to Garcia, is to buy a pillow-topper for your mattress, at least three-to-four inches thick. Then she said, cover it with a fitted sheet. "It's all about packing it in," she said. "The fitted sheet is key to getting enough cush."
2. Get a mattress pad or wrap. Hotels do it for cleanliness, Garcia said, but it also helps with overall layering. "Layering is the key to a great bed," she said. "You know how in a hotel you never feel the bumps and ridges that you feel on your home mattress? The wrap obliterates that."
3. Feather duvet and a white duvet cover. There are two choices when it comes to duvets: Natural or synthetic. If you have no allergies, natural good down is preferable. "It's far more luxurious," said Garcia. In terms of fills, you want a lighter, thinner duvet for the summer and something thicker for the colder months. And why a white duvet cover? Garcia says white and neutral colors are what you're going to find in a hotel. "If you're partial to a particular color, that's fine," she said. "But to get the true feel of a hotel room, white bedding is key." And have you noticed how hotels use a multi-sheet system instead of duvets? Me too. Garcia said the three-sheet method popular in luxury hotels is simply because it's easier to strip and clean. A duvet cover at home does the exact same job.
4. Down pillows. Garcia's rule is six pillows for a king bed and four for a queen bed. Goose down is good here too – but not 100 percent. Garcia said to avoid 100 percent goose-down pillows in favor of a mix of down and synthetic. "If it's all goose down it'll be flat as a pancake." She also suggested putting a smaller pillowcase on a larger pillow, again to "pack it all in."
5. A cashmere throw. This is where you can bring in a pop of color. Garcia said a cashmere throw so often found in upscale hotels is a luxury to bring to your own bed. Besides looking beautiful, she said it's perfect to throw around your shoulders in the middle of the night if you get out of bed for a glass of water. Garcia, like me, prefers her room on the chilly side.
Of course, some hotels actually sell their beds. Westin's famous "Heavenly Bed" is available for purchase. For $3,040 - $3,480, you get the complete set with lots and lots of layers. Marriott sells its bedding, but no mattresses.
And while you can't buy a Four Seasons bed online, they are available for purchase through a Four Seasons concierge.
So what hotel does she think has the very best beds? Her number-one are the beds at the Hilton Istanbul, followed by The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach and The Plaza in New York City.
You can find out more about Blanche Garcia and her designs on her website.