Beds are the single most used item of furniture in hotels and guesthouses. Yet little regard seems to be given to their specification, and they are often given a very small budget. Questionnaires left in guests' rooms almost universally fail to enquire after bed comfort.
During March, the National Bed Federation (NBF) aims to make people think harder about their beds with its annual National Bed Month. Retailers and manufacturers across the country are taking part in charity events and using it as an educational platform to promote beds.
But buying a bed for a hotel is totally different to buying one for a domestic set-up. The NBF recommends buyers to go to experts, remembering that contract beds are needed: domestic products are not up to the job. The NBF has lists of members who supply the hotel trade.
Versatility is crucial. Beds will need to be all things to all people to suit guests from eight to 18 stone. One important thing to remember is that beds purchased for hotel use should at least be resistant to ignition source five of BS7177, the standard for flammability. Ignition source seven may be advisable for rooms where access is more restricted, such as the top floors of a high-rise building.
Go for firm and comfortable designs with reinforced sides because many people sit on the sides of the bed. Mattress handles, where fitted, should be well-secured.
Bases can be metal-framed on legs or upholstered divan-types. Divans should have well-attached castors or gliders and be protected at their lower edges to withstand the battering of vacuum cleaners.
Avoid heavily printed covers, which tend to show through some bed linen and are not always colour-fast. Make sure headboards have robust fixing and, if wall-fixed, have stable, robust wall support.
Size matters. A 135cm (4ft 6in) model would be ideal for a single person but space and budget restrictions may mean opting for a smaller size. Specify double beds of at least 150cm (5ft) in width. You could opt for the zip and link beds which convert two singles into a king-size quickly and efficiently, but avoid integral headboard and bedside table fixtures.
Caring for beds is also crucial. Beds should be aired for at least 20 minutes every morning. Turn mattresses at least once a month and always use a washable, preferably stain-resistant cover between the mattress and the bedding. Clean beds using a weak solution of soap and water and never use detergents.
The general rule is that the bigger and better the bed, the more it will be appreciated by guests, and the greater the sense of luxury it will lend its environment.