Awakening refreshed from a great night’s sleep on a consistent basis is the new luxury status symbol amongst the jet set. Sadly, like so many other desirable things in life, it can be hard to get. So how can one go about achieving sleep nirvana?
The good news: there are lots of options out there. The bad news: they don’t come cheap.
Among other elements, experts say that sound sleep demands the right sheets – they’re what we feel in direct contact with our skin throughout the night, so the best bed frame and mattress in the world can be ruined if the sheets aren’t up to par.
It’s not only about hand-feel, though. While sleeping, our body temperature typically drops a few degrees; sheets can trap that heat, which can disrupt sleep. Luxury slumber demands linens with breathability – at night, cool equals comfortable.
In our ongoing Dandelion Chandelier series on luxury sleep, we’ve already explored the best beds and mattresses for those seeking the best night’s sleep money can buy. Next up – luxury and high-tech sheets and linens. Special thanks to our Paris Bureau Chief, our Style Director, our Friend in France and our Head of Research for ferreting out so much helpful information.
Perhaps not surprisingly, luxury linen has always been de rigueur for the uber-rich: our Paris Bureau Chief notes that a beautifully-appointed bed is an important status marker. Whether it’s in your home(s), on your super-yacht or on your private jet, if you want to hang with the elite, then you need to have the right sheets. It’s also imperative that someone (preferably not you) make the bed every day so that your boudoir is in a visitor- or camera-ready state at all times.
Before diving under the covers, let’s review a few basics. One key decision point is what fiber your sheets are made of: cotton, linen or silk. Each has its proponents.
–Cotton breathes and keeps you cool, which allows you to sleep better, and most luxury purists opt for it. The thread count (the number of threads, horizontally and vertically, per square inch of fabric) is the primary influence on the softness of cotton sheets – higher is better until you get to four digits, after which there are diminishing returns. If you’re rolling with the luxury class, 300 is the absolute minimum thread count – most people opt for 500 or 1,000 (choose single-ply for maximum softness.) There are several kinds of cotton used to make luxury sheets and there are passionate fans of each. Most top-of-the-line brands use Egyptian, which is renowned for its breathability.
–Linen also has its devotees. We’re not talking about the scratchy linen used for apparel; for luxury linen sheets, the fine threads are closely woven so that the hand-feel is almost like silk. Take it from an expert: when Jackie Onassis was First Lady, she required that that the beds be dressed in crisp soft linen, which she mandated that the staff had to iron every day.
–While they epitomize the cliché of luxury living, our experts discourage you from buying silk They report that while it’s frequently used in elite homes in China, “it’s slippery and fragile, and can get uncomfortably warm.” Your call. Most people save the silk for their sleepwear.
Whichever fiber you opt for, just know that having luxury bed linens involves a number of post-purchase expenses that you’ll need to budget for. Purists swear that sheets (even cotton ones) need to be pressed to be of maximum comfort. And you cannot launder them any-which-way, you need to take them to luxury cleaning service (unless you have a personal laundress). As one of our friends says, “the key to good linens is that they only feel great if they’re pressed and laundered impeccably.” Consider yourself warned.
On to the main event. Whether you want linens from the most revered names in the business; custom-made sheets from an artisanal house; or high-tech bedding designed to help you sleep more soundly, there’s a high-end solution for you.
If old-school luxury is your aim, there’s a very short list of iconic brands to consider:
–The “Rolls Royce” of bed linens is French maker Porthault; the family-owned company claims to have crafted the first printed sheets in 1920, and is known for its floral fantasies. You can make your bedroom into a garden of floral artistry, with sheets and pillows of all sizes (true luxury requires having a minimum of 7 pillows on the bed), window treatments and other accoutrements, including matching wastebaskets. You can find the line at D. Porthault stores; at Harrods, Le Bon Marché and Bergdorf’s; and at fabulous Relais & Chateaux properties all over Europe. A king-sized set of bedding will range in price from $3,650 to over $6,500, depending on the print you select.
–Frette and Pratesi are the top-of-the-line Italian houses for high-end bed linens. The house of Frette was originally established in France, but has been in Italy since 1865 in the village of Monza. Pratesi, based outside Florence, is a family business now being run by the fourth generation. Both houses have an aesthetic quite different from their French competitor. Instead of florals, they’re known for pale solids with geometric (often rectangular) embroidery that is serious and austere. Their products are more likely to fade into the background of your décor rather than dominating it. The brands maintain strict aesthetic control: the only area that can be personalized is the color of the embroidery, and you can occasionally add a monogram. The cost of a king-sized set from either brand will range from $3,000 to over $7,500 depending upon the print and trim.
–Sferra Linens have an Italian heritage, and still produce all sheeting and top of bed linens exclusively in Italy. Founded in 1891 by Gennaro Sferra, an immigrant from Italy, and his two brothers, the company is now owned by another family, but still making its products in the US. Sferra provided the in-flight bedding for Pope John Paul II and the table linens for state dinners in the Reagan White House. Need a more recent endorsement? Kourtney Kardashian boasts of using Sferra table linens. Spanning both traditional and modern business practices, the company bought Brahms Mount, a rustic Maine textile mill weaving on vintage shuttle looms, and was also one of the first luxury linen brands to offer an iPad app. One of our stylish friends swears by their products (she describes them as “expensive but fabulous.”) A king-sized bedding set runs from $3,000-$5,000.
If you’re in the market for something that’s artisanal, bespoke and hand-made, consider one of these private independent linen makers (most require 3-4 weeks from order to delivery, but wait time ranges from 2-12 weeks so if you need something for the holidays, order it now):
–Léron is a 107-year old New York based firm owned and operated by the same family for three generations, creating custom “couture linens” for bed, bath and table. You can visit their showroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to get a sense of their capabilities, or they’ll make a visit to your home. Prices start at about $1,600 for a king-sized bedding set, and can go north of $5,000.
–Charlotte Thomas in the UK is a bespoke sheet maker based in in Manchester, in the North of England – “the birth place of the textiles revolution.” Part of the Swiscot Group (a European family-owned textile company), the house can incorporate metallic fibers like gold into its linens; orders can take up to 12 weeks to complete.
–MAREE Beds, based in Utah, was founded by CEO Erica Gleaton to serve the needs of clients looking for customized over-sized luxury beds and bedding (athletes, in particular). The client list on the company’s website includes LeBron James and Serena Williams. Offerings include custom beds and handmade linens in a variety of fabrics.
–Anichini’s La Collezione is an artisan collection of custom-made linens made to order in Tuscany. The sheets are completely bespoke: clients can choose the fabric type, the fabric color, and the color for embroidery. The average price is in the neighborhood of $4,000 for a king-sized set, but of course it could be much more depending on your choices.
–Flaneur was launched in New York in 2015 by former Columbia classmates Lu Xiong and Tianjiao Saikhantal Yu as a premium bedding brand with a personalization component focused on color-matching: “We wanted customers to stop compromising on white bedding as the only way to complete a well-designed room.” Clients can choose from an existing Flaneur collection; prescribe a Pantone shade; or provide a swatch to be custom-matched. The organic cotton bedding (the cotton is DNA-tested Supima®) is garment-dyed to order and prewashed to ensure no bleeding or shrinkage, making “the entire color wheel” available to decorators and their clients. A king-sized set will run about $1,000.
–Our Paris Bureau Chief swears by NOËL Boutique, a chic and utterly charming linen and home shop established in 1883. Located on Place d’léna in Paris, the company is legendary for its embroidery. Tablecloths, place mats, sheets and towels can be made to order in France in a range of colors and sizes (including for yachts and private jets) and customized with an embroidered monogram; coat of arms; the name of a person, house or vessel; or the date of a birthday or anniversary. Their online customer service is prompt and extremely helpful. Prices for a king-sized bedding set range from $1,665 to $5,700, depending on the print selected.
If your idea of luxury is performance fabrics with the latest sleep technology, here are the brands to investigate:
–SHEEX is a Florida-based company founded by former star WNBA player Michelle Brooke-Marciniak and her partner Susan Walvius; it makes sleepwear and bed linens out of performance fabrics powered by SLEEP•FIT® technology, which provides superior air ventilation, breathability and moisture-wicking. The company says that its products transfer body heat up to 2 times more effectively than traditional cotton. Full disclosure: we met the sensational Michelle several years ago; we own a number of SHEEX products, and love them. A king-sized bedding set runs $520.
–Bedgear’s Dri-Tec performance sheets facilitate air circulation, and wick away heat and moisture. The brand’s Air-X mesh sidewalls and hems provide ambient air flow for better sleep. The fabric has some stretch in it, so it adapts as the sleeper shifts positions, and its wrinkle and odor resistant. A king-sized set runs about $500.
–Cool-jams, located in San Diego, was founded by Anita Mahaffey in 2006. She was both a cancer survivor and suffering from hot flashes; her mission became selling bedding products to keep sleepers cool. Made from fabric comprised of a moisture-wicking fiber that has advanced evaporation and thermo-regulation properties, the company says that its product wicks and dries three to four times faster than cotton. With each purchase, the company makes a donation to a variety of charities including several cancer-related organizations. King-sized bedding sets range from $500-550.
Wow. All this research has made us sleepy . . . One final note: one of our friends swears by both the mattresses and the bed linens sold by the Four Seasons hotels. You can purchase them in the gift shops at their properties, or online.
And if all else fails, just remember the immortal words of Ben Franklin: Fatigue is the best pillow.