All I want for Christmas: A Hotel at Home
As I write this on a flight back to London's Gatwick, the thought of having my house in Hackney as a hotel at home is particularly appealing. I wouldn't say that the reason that I became a travel writer was because I love the luxurious bed linen that traditionally comes with high-end hotels, but, well, that is actually part of the truth.
I travel less than I did and I love my home comforts more. So, I had an idea – either as a Christmas treat for yourself, or for your holiday guests, how easy would it be to create a little bit of the hotel experience at home? With a bit of high quality bed linen could you upgrade your bedroom to a boudoir to make a boutique hotel proud?
For me it has to be online. Yes, I do love John Lewis, but all those rows of fabrics to choose from fill me with fear. Luckily, bed linen is easy to choose online, although of course there is one problem – you can't feel the quality. So I thought I would do the testing for you. Feather and Black (www.featherandblack.co.uk) could have been named for Panda, my fluffy black and white cat who leapt onto the bed as soon as I dressed it in its new attire. The Hotel Collection Vienna has silky 600-thread cotton sheets that create a boutique hotel boudoir overnight. The pillows somehow seemed plumper, the duvet too. I had a little difficulty locating the entrance to the duvet cover but I think that is the point: it is supposed to be hidden for aesthetic reasons. This is 600 thread count, which I had read online can mean a lot of creasing. I don't iron. My mother taught me well: life is too short. Yes there are lines, but the feel was sublime, and Panda my cat never looked so happy.
The first problem was numbers. Maths is not my strong point and while the idea of thread count appears straight forward – the higher the number, the better the quality, apparently, it is not really as simple as this. Some people swear by the type of fabric as much as the digits of the 'TC', so there was some researching to do. Richard Haworth's (www.richardhaworth.co.uk) Hampton range hits the spot and they actually do two kinds of linen – one for retail and one for hotels, so you know their linen come from a tried and tested stable. I found the 400 TC to be a perfect happy medium, good quality, a reasonable price and apparently easy to care for.
An easy choice for me is the colour. It has to be white. I want my bedroom to be serene and with no fuss. A bit of texture I love, though. The White Company (www.thewhitecompany.com) was an obvious choice not least for their name and actually I love their shops too. Pretty much everything is white, or neutral. I have to admit my choice wasn't very scientific. I went for the Savoy collection, basically because the Savoy is probably my favourite hotel in the world. It was a really good choice and perhaps one of my favourite bed linens now too.
What's in a Name?
My approach to research isn't always scientific and I am a sucker for how things look and feel, rather than their statistics. Take a look at my article on how to choose a juicer previously on this blog for an idea of what I mean. So, I fell for the Fairmont range from Beaumont and Brown (www.beaumontbrown.co.uk) just as I fell for the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco that it is named after. Beaumont and Brown supplied the linen to that hotel when it re-furbished a few years ago and still supply it today. It's 400 thread count, with a double row of black cording which partly breaks my all white rule, but it's beautiful. And what better way to celebrate the 50-year anniversary this year of the Summer of Love?
What if money were no object? And you had the money to splash out on your bed linen? My advice would be to get silk. I had my reservations, the idea somehow seeming a little sleazy, but put all thoughts of shiny satin out of your mind. Silk, mulberry silk, is natural, breathable and actually an eco product, if that helps to justify your lavishness. Lily Silk (www.lilysilk.com) is an English company that does a full range of this extraordinary fabric, with a whole load of accessories. The sheet I stroked felt light, but somehow warm, comforting, even. The toddler pillow with pillowcase and the eye mask – both in silk by Lily Silk are lovely, affordable extras for your home hotel bedroom. They are also good for travelling. As my plane gets ready for landing at Gatwick, it occurs for me they would also make desirable travel accessories for a frequent flyer, which I plan to be less and less.