We have a bit of bad news for hotel lovers: You may never rest quite as easy again, even if you've got that do-not-disturb sign squarely on the door. We caught up with hotel and bed experts who helped us uncover some of the disturbing facts you may not have considered. (Keep in mind, mileage varies by hotel quality, of course — but it's worth arming yourself with knowledge.)
1. They might be bad for your back.
"The vast majority of hotels use low cost innerspring mattresses made with lower-end spring units," explains Jered Goodyear, founder of mattress company Hyphen. "High-end and boutique hotels will use higher-quality pocketed coil springs, often combined with foam." While that may not seem like anything that matters to you, it could be the reason behind your gnarly backache when you're on the road.
2. They're disposable.
Even the best hotels manage to skimp on bed quality, and many experts believe that comes down to dollars and cents. If a mattress is ruined, it's easier to throw out than to have professionally cleaned or repaired. "This is driven predominantly by cost, with hotel sales being contract-driven and often going to the lowest bidder," Goodyear says.
3. They're not as clean as you think.
We asked Goodyear how often hotel mattresses are cleaned and sanitized and he gave the shortest, most nauseating answer of all time: "Never." Just think about all the people you've officially shared a bed with now... and not in the badge-of-honor way.
4. Some hotel beds have removable covers that are washed, though.
Apparently your best shot at sleeping on a clean mattress is by staying at a hotel that uses removable, washable mattress covers. When you check in to your room you can ask to see and inspect your bed first, and if there's no fitted mattress cover between the mattress and the bottom sheet, you may want to reconsider your stay. But even then, who knows how often they launder those mattress covers.
5. Yes, you can get sick from a hotel bed.
"Look, life is dirty. There is a lot of unseen nastiness in our everyday lives that most of us would just prefer to ignore and blissfully pretend doesn’t exist," Goodyear says. "But people are a hotbed of germs and we transfer and spread microorganisms, as well as food for microorganisms — like skin cells — everywhere we go."
6. There's more bacteria on your pillow than a toilet seat.
According to this horrible study by Amerisleep, there's potentially more bacteria living on your hotel pillowcase than a toilet seat. So think about that next time you lay your head down and get cozy.
7. Pillowcases are especially questionable.
While traveling with all your own linens may be a pain, that same study seems to indicate that pillowcases offer a much more plentiful array of bacteria, and high numbers, too. If you don't feel like keeping your mouth and eyes directly against the hotel bed spot with the most potential to get you sick, it may make sense to bring your own pillowcases.
8. They're one-size-fits-all (which may not work for you).
If you're likely to feel a pea under your bed, hotels aren't for you, because medium firm is the standard choice for most hotels. Why is that? It's because the majority of sleepers (read: humans) don't really know what they like in a mattress, so they opt for "medium" as their best choice.
9. The bed frames are reinforced with steel.
"Most American hotel chains actually encourage management to order additional steel rod reinforcement kits for the undersides of their guest bedframes," shares, Marina Dani, a Best Western franchise partner in California. "If you're wondering why, it's because we have a lot of heavy guests, heavy couples, and rowdy people who think they can come back after a night of drinking and act like cowboys or cowgirls on our mattresses." Ummmm.... OK then.
10. They could flare up your allergies.
"We usually like to buy wood bedframes that are treated with special chemicals that make them flame resistant. Usually fabric, vinyl, or plastic frames aren't used because they can't stand up to rough guest treatment, even if they're pretty or trendy," Dani says. She suggests asking what type of bedframe your hotel uses in advance if you have severe allergies to flame retardants.
11. Hotel covers are disgusting.
Those coverlets that go on top of your hotel bedsheets? They're gnarly. Like vomit worthy in many cases. In fact, vomit-related bacteria can be found all over them. Toss them aside pronto.
12. Someone may have died in your hotel bed.
While national statistics aren't available, some reports indicate Las Vegas hotel room deaths are frequent, so if you head to Vegas and stay in a hotel, just know there's a chance your mattress may be haunted. But sweet dreams.
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