Famous Last Words: A Traveler’s World—Duvets & Itchhikers
I’m writing this in the Bavarian ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, roughly 90 minutes by train from Munich, Germany. My wife and I are staying at Reindl’s Partenkirchner Hof, a superb, family-owned and operated hotel with an accommodating staff, splendid food and two cozy bars.
We have a large, comfortable room, but the double bed is made up with a white bottom sheet, two pillows and two duvets. This follows four nights at a Hilton in Vienna, Austria and a night in the Munich Le Meridian where the beds were made up with duvets.
I can’t recall the first time we encountered at a hotel that fluffy, all-in-one, snow-white combination of top sheet, down comforter, blanket cover and bedspread. This relatively recent development in the hoteliers’ bag of tricks is for me an abomination—a guarantee of a miserable night’s sleep.
My friend and mentor, Lew Smith, once proclaimed, “Happiness is having options.” I like layers on a bed—top sheet, blanket, blanket cover, extra blanket and bed cover. If I wake up in the night feeling warm or cold, a bed made up with these various elements allows enough options in bedding to get comfortable and quickly return to the arms of Morpheus.
With a duvet, it’s either this big, fluffy thick thing or nothing. In six nights out of the last seven I have awakened past midnight, drenched in sweat. I thrash around trying to get comfortable, and instead of going back to sleep, I lie awake for hours. If I do drift off, I dream of dragons. The next day, my pajamas are like cardboard.
In my opinion, hotels that use duvets stink. And that seems to be most hotels in the world. Because of duvets, maids can make up a room in a fraction of the amount of time it takes to run around making a traditional bed. Tighten up the bottom sheet, fold the duvet and that’s it. Time saved. Less time per room means more rooms cleaned, and so fewer maids are required, resulting in more profits for the hotel.