BEDDING BATTLE: FLAT OR FITTED

While there has been a lot of discussion in recent years about upscale bedding and pillow-top mattresses, members of the Lodging Hospitality community seem to have more basic bedding concerns: fitted sheets.

Early last month, Lodging Hospitality Features Editor Carlo Wolff wrote in the LH Front Desk Blog (www.LHonline.com/blog): “I've never understood why hotels don't use fitted sheets, particularly with all this emphasis on how great the bed is. Are non-fitted sheets less taxing for housekeeping? Are they cheaper? All I know is that the sheets always seem to get out of control in hotel beds no matter how high their thread count or how upscale the property.”

His rant drew 21 online responses. The comments generally followed one of two lines of thought: the respondents either defended the practice of flat sheets only on guest beds or concurred with Carlo's frustrations in not being able to enjoy all the comforts of home while traveling.

Consultant and Lodging Hospitality contributor Stanley Turkel summed up the arguments against fitted: “In addition to the extra cost of buying, stocking and supplying fitted sheets, they are more expensive to wash and iron. Furthermore, they shrink with the heavy usage and constant washing, and then do not fit on the mattress.”

Added Gordon Rostvold: “Fitted sheets don't go through the presser very well and also don't fold through the machine as well as flat sheets. The fitted sheets' elastic don't last as long due to the sheets being washed many more times than the ones you have at home and will often pop loose from the corners when the elastic wears out.”

Steve Coval, who says he manufactures and sells luxury Italian linens, believes quality of the sheet is an issue. “It is true the elastic can yield over time due to extended and often excessive heat of the ironing press; however, with a well-made sheet this is typically not the failure mode,” he wrote. “You will notice more wear on a fitted sheet versus a flat sheet that is used for both purposes because the fitted sheet is the item that receives the most abrasion (the body's entire weight is pressing and twisting over the fitted sheet); the flat sees no load or weight.”

Greg Y. offered a simple, yet elegant solution: “I've always thought they could put a fine stripe in the fitted sheet to help housekeeping keep track of which is which.”

Despite the arguments against the them, some operators use fitted sheets with no problems. “I am a general manager of a Hampton Inn and the first thing I did when I came to the property was get approval for fitted sheets,” wrote D. Doberstyn. “The fitted sheet may cost a few pennies more, but it is much easier for the housekeeper to make the bed and the bed always looks neat. Our laundry person has no problem washing the fitted sheets. We fold the top and bottom sheet together and storage is labeled so there is no doubt whether it is a king or double set.”

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