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HOTEL SHEETS Bring the luxuries of travel home



Published: Thu, February 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Americans are bringing the hotel experience into their own bedrooms.

HARTFORD COURANT

One of the greatest pleasures of luxury travel doesn't enjoy the spotlight. Shy and somewhat formal, it hides under blankets patiently waiting for you to return from your gourmet meals, your shopping frenzies, your long treks down unfamiliar streets. But when you find it, it envelops you in an experience you may remember more fondly than that kiss on the bridge.

Hotel sheets.

Linens aren't inherently sexy things, but they can offer indulgent pleasure. Think about the best hotel sheets you've slept on, and your memories might include spectacular snoozing, passionate wrestling or just languorous mornings with a newspaper and coffee. Above all, it was the sheets that you remember.

Today, Americans aren't content to save those moments only for nights at luxury hotels. So they're bringing the hotel experience into their own bedrooms, courtesy of hotel-style sheets, duvets, comforters, pillows -- everything to make their everyday sleep one of ultimate pleasure.

"People are taking their trips and enjoying the luxuries of really great sheets and thick towels. They're going home and saying, 'Wait a minute, we can get our hands on this stuff,"' says Dave Glassman, spokesman for Restoration Hardware. "Years ago they couldn't. They have options now."

Options aplenty. Hotel-style linens -- luxury bedding that was once the province of upscale specialty stores -- can now be found in mainstream retail. Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma Home and the big bed and bath stores all traffic in high-thread-count wonders that exceed the look and feel of everyday sheets.

"You spend a third of your life in bed," says Kimberly Aylward, spokeswoman for Garnet Hill. "So our philosophy is that your sleeping environment should be as close to perfect as possible."

In the name of luxury

Perfection, for many, is measured by the bedding they encountered at a luxury hotel, hence the name "hotel linens" that many of the upscale linen lines are being billed as. Aylward says that Americans are buying better sheets to bring that luxury hotel experience home.

"If you go to a hotel and have a fabulous experience, what is it about it that you remember? It's when you climb into bed and drift off, waking up in a safe haven. Bringing that safe haven home to your house and making it into a sanctuary is reminiscent of your great evenings at a hotel," she says. "You wake up in the morning at a hotel and you feel refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. That's what your deserve at home every day. It's an investment."

Indeed, these sheets can cost a pretty penny. A king flat sheet from Williams-Sonoma Home's Hotel Bedding line costs $150; a king flat sheet from Garnet Hill's Signature Supreme Sateen line, $80. Restoration Hardware's Italian Satin-Stitch Hotel Bedding costs $229 for a king sheet set; Pottery Barn's hotel-like Solid Sateen king set costs $179. (The thread count on these sheets ranges from 210 to 460, but linens experts caution that thread is not the sole indicator of sheet quality.)

Restoration Hardware's 600-count Paradigm sheet collection is even more elegant (and pricier) than its "hotel"-style bedding, suggesting perhaps that there's a level higher than luxury hotel sheets.

Growing trend

Ah, now there's a trend: specialty items becoming everyday luxuries. Especially where the home is concerned, it's a trend that definitely is happening.

Williams-Sonoma Home's white hotel sheets are the company's top selling sheets, says a spokeswoman, adding that customers see these particular sheets as the "core" of their linen closets.

In other words: Exceptional sheets are now becoming the basic sheets.

Aylward says it makes sense, and it's a trend that will only keep growing. "I really think it'll continue because it's about escaping the mundane of everyday life. You do that in a luxury hotel and you want to take that experience home with you," she says. "We provide ownership of that hotel experience."




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