We received a question from an aspiring innkeeper about the ins and outs of linens. With so many choices, it's difficult to decide what you need to buy. Susan Sternthal, owner and buyer of B&B linen company InnStyle, wrote this guest post to help innkeepers--aspiring or seasoned--understand the basics.
Besides a wonderful breakfast, good company, and excellent hosts, guests appreciate a clean, well dressed room and bed! There are many available opportunities to dress a bed and room to its best advantage. Some concerns, especially for those with allergies, is that the room be prepared for a highly allergic guest. I will address these concerns.
Bed and breakfast and country inns always had a reputation for decorating with doilies, ruffled bedspreads, dolls, stuffed animals, etc. Most inns have moved away from that decorative look and have decided to go more simple or minimalistic. They have cut down on all the extra stuff in the room and got down to just essentials. Less is more. More being more attractive and appealing to the eye…and less to catch dust.
Duvets and coverlets
For decorative top of bed, many properties are using duvets and duvet fillers (either down or down alternative). Duvets and alternative fillers can be washed, as well as some down fillers (but be sure to check with the manufacturer). The duvets should be washed after every guest checks out of your property. The fillers can be washed once a month unless there was an issue with staining.
If you prefer to use down fillers or you think that your guest would appreciate the loft and warmth of a down filler, you should always have a few alternative fillers on hand for those that are allergic. There are down fillers available that are hypoallergenic, but you may find that they are priced higher.
Coverlets (one offered by InnStyle is pictured) also have been a very popular choice for top of bed. They are shorter and less bulky than a comforter. Most coverlets can also be washed often. My suggestion would be if you are using a coverlet or quilt, use a decorative box spring cover rather than a bed skirt, which can become dusty and would need frequent washing for those concerned about allergies.
The triple-sheeting method
Another popular and protective development in the hospitality industry is using triple-sheeting. When a bed is made using the triple-sheeting method, you would place a fitted or flat sheet (some properties prefer flat sheets only) over the mattress pad, then a flat sheet would be layered. A blanket would then be added with a 3rd flat sheet on top of the blanket. This way the blanket never touches the guest's skin, as it is protected by a sheet on top of it and a sheet underneath it. You would then add your duvet or coverlet. If you would like to add a little pizzazz, add a throw or bed scarf at the bottom of the bed. A throw is more useable, as a guest can use for warmth when sitting in a chair. Either way, it makes for a beautiful looking bed as well as a more hygienic bed.
Guests with allergies
Many guests are allergic to dust, pollen, etc., and there are precautions you can take to protect them. Remove whatever you can in the room that would minimize dust collection. On the bed, you should always have a fully-protected, zippered mattress cover. It is best if it is a bed bug, waterproof, hypoallergenic cover. This will protect the bed from bedbugs and dust mites, and protect you if a guest questions you. You will need the same protector on the box spring. These do not have to be removed. You will need a mattress pad on the bed over the mattress protector and under the sheet. A mattress pad is used, not only for protection, but to add comfort to the mattress as it is padded. These also can be purchased with waterproofing and hypoallergenic. The mattress pad can be washed often. When a guest leaves, the bed should be stripped of all bedding and washed for the next guest’s arrival.
Hypoallergenic pillows should also be used along with pillow protectors. The pillow protectors should be washed often. Pillows can also be washed and refluffed in the dryer to bring the loft back.
If concerned about allergies and dust, I would suggest hard window treatments on the window rather than drapery especially for allergy-concerned guests. Hard treatments can be wiped down often for dust removal. If using drapery, these should be checked often for dust, vaccumed, washed or dry cleaned.
Luggage racks are also a must. If used properly, luggage will not go on the bed, which is a real problem with all the germs they could be carrying. I suggest keeping the luggage rack out--not in the closet. This way guests will know that these are to be used!
Of course, sheets and pillowcases will be washed after each guest’s visit. How often you wash your top of bed, mattress pads, pillows, pillow protectors, blankets depend on use of room. Each room may be treated differently depending on staining issues (another subject all-together). I would suggest preparing a schedule for washing all of the above mentioned. Some properties may choose to do these once a month. I think that you will have to decide for yourself what will work for your property.
At InnStyle, we always welcome phone calls, emails for advice on decorating, sheet choices and staining issues. We also offer a start-up list of linens and products needed when opening a bed and breakfast or inn. Please feel free to call us at any time on our toll free number, 1-800-877-INNS.