The white duvet cover on your hotel bed may look crisp and spotless, but do you ever wonder if it was laundered before your arrival?
One of the USA's largest hotel chains thinks enough people do, so it turned to sticky notes to adjust potentially negative perceptions.
Earlier this year, the nearly 1,900-location Hampton Inn chain began applying messages printed on sticky notes to headboards that tell guests "duvet covers and sheets are clean for your arrival."
In other words, the linens, including the duvet covers, are laundered after every guest departs. What the chain didn't do was change its laundering practices; the same policy has been in place since 2006.
"I think it's terrific," Drew says of the messages, which appeared in other forms throughout his hotel. "My duvet looked like it had indeed been washed. It was as white and crisp as a freshly laundered sheet. I don't think it's just marketing. I really believe that at the hotel I was at they were washing them between guests."
A sticky note at a Hampton Inn hotel tells guests that their bedding has been laundered after the prior guest checked out.(Photo: Doug Drew)
They also stand out, in a good way, to frequent traveler Mark Michalski. He has been seeing them for about six months and says they've "been at all of the Hampton's that I've stayed at recently."
Frequent traveler Jim Burba, who organizes hotel industry trade shows, also gives the sticky notes a thumbs up.
"One never knows if the duvet or bedspread is cleaned after each guest checks out (probably not), but a note like this tells the story," Burba says.
What do the notes say about other hotels?
Hampton's seemingly harmless sticky note may raise questions for travelers. It could, for instance, prompt someone to wonder if other hotels don't launder their bedding after each check-out.
Not so at Hilton's biggest rival, Marriott.
John Whitwell, Marriott's vice president of operations for brands such as Courtyard by Marriott, Springhill Suites and Residence Inn, says their hotels have been regularly laundering bedding since 2005.
That's when Marriott's brands began rolling out out their answer to the now-common duvet cover (a heavy blanket sandwiched in between two sheets), he says.
"We clean all the sheets and duvet covers and anything that touches the guests," he says.
Marriott advertised the new bedding style at the time with cards in rooms and media events. There is no plan to remind guests of the hotels' linen laundering practices.
"It's something that we did a long time ago. If we announced it since then, I'd be concerned that people would think that we had a problem and we were telling them again," Whitwell says.
Reminders might be a welcome sign for concerned travelers
Casey Halloran, co-founder of online travel agency Costa Rican Vacations, says her firm regularly grills hotels on cleanliness — and duvet covers in particular — because it's such a priority for clients.
"Since these duvet covers have become all the rage, we grill the hotel providers with whom we work on how often they actually launder these things," she says. "The answers typically range from every check-out to once a month."
It's become a particularly hot topic among her clients given concerns about bed bugs, she says.