How to buy the best beds for your B&BSep 01, 2020
How to buy the best beds for a B&B
On my B&B training course I'm often asked how to buy the best beds for a B&B. Should you should buy double, king size, super king size, twin, firm, medium, mattress topped etc?
Choosing your bed is up there as one of the most important decisions you'll make as a B&B owner. You can create the most beautiful B&B in the most perfect location, but if guests don't get a good nights sleep, they won't come back.
We've stayed at some wonderful places across the world. We'd love to go back to many of them and then we remember the bed. We stayed in a fabulous cottage in Tuscany on a vineyard. There was as much free wine and olive oil as we needed. Everyday the elderly owner would come round after our meal and ply us with vin santo. However, the bed was so soft that we ended up sleeping on the sofa bed in the lounge. That was only a little more comfortable.
What factors do you need to consider when buying a bed?
I think you need to get the biggest bed possible that will fit comfortably in the room. Most people these days will own a king size ( 5ft wide in the UK ) bed and won't want to sleep in anything smaller when they're on holiday or business.
At my B&B we're lucky to have large rooms. Each room has a super king size bed.
It is important that the bed doesn't dwarf the room. Your guests will need access to both sides of the bed with a table and reading light on each side. So, if a double 4'6" wide or single bed is all that fits, so be it.
Even if you're marketing your room as a single, most single travellers would prefer a larger bed. if you do need to opt for a single bed it should be a minimum of 3'wide.
You also need to consider the height of beds, particularly if you have a room that will be used by guests with restricted mobility.
It's really important that you know your market. Some guests staying at a B&B will prefer twin beds. Examples of this market might be:
- families with young children
- grown up children travelling with a parent e.g. mother/daughter shopping trip
- hunting / shooting / fishing guests
- people on courses
- friends on a weekend away
I think, unless you have a high percentage of people who fall into the market wanting twin beds, I wouldn't just have twin beds but I would recommend a zip and link option.
I decided to get rid of our zip and link bed a few years ago. Guests rarely requested the twin option and I didn't like the headboards or the work involved splitting it. My market is primarily couples coming away for a relaxing break. Even if I have to turn a few people away because we I don't have twin beds, I can fill the room anyway.
I need to add a word of warning here. Just because you start out attracting a specific type of guest doesn't mean your market will stay the same whilst you run your B&B.
Fiona Dodds of The Rumblie B&B gave this feedback on her zip and link beds
"we changed 1 room to fixed twin years ago (from having 3 doubles) and over the last 4yrs we've changed the 2 doubles to zip link beds.....frequently we have all rooms in twin format. It's given us additional flexibility and it means we can cater for the walking groups and coast to coast cyclists - which due to our location makes up 60% of our business (90% in May). Fact is thou that when we started the only reason for getting the twin was to cater for the occasional need...now it's a must. Our market has changed"
One of Fiona's bedrooms in both twin and super king size configuration are pictured below.
Zip and Link Beds
Zip and link beds are a great option if you want some flexibility. They split apart to create 2 twin beds or can be zipped together to create a super king size bed.
However, whilst some B&B owners love them for their flexibility. They don't make the best B&B beds for everyone!
Things to consider if you're planning on having zip and link beds
It can take both a lot of time and physical effort to split the beds and put them back together. I personally found this quite an issue running the B&B on my own. Other B&B owners have recommended the beds on wheels rather than legs as it makes it easier to manage.
You'll need both super king size and single bed linen, as well as super king size and single duvets. If you choose to have feather or down bedding at your B&B, you'll also need to have a supply of micro fibre bedding in case you get guests with allergies. You'll need all these duvets in both winter and summer weight. Then add in the guests who prefer their bed made up with blankets.......That's a lot of cost and you'll need to have storage.
Zip and link beds tend to come as divans only. See below for comment on divans.
You'll need to work out what you do about a head board. If you have head boards that are fixed to the bed, you'll need them to look good when the beds are linked as well as separate. I made the mistake of having material headboards when I had my zip and links. These got marked with people sitting against them and were very difficult to clean.
A lot of people I speak to, who stay at B&Bs, say they don't like sleeping in zip and link beds because of the dip in the middle where the mattresses zip together. Many B&Bs get over this by having a topper which they put on the mattress when its made up as super king size. However, bear in mind that you'' have to store the topper when it's not being used.
Wooden, Divan, Material, Leather or Metal Beds?
I've owned all of these types of bed at the B&B in my time. I know which I'd avoid buying for the B&B now!
We had a zip and link divan in our first B&B room. My 2 main issues with the divan are the base and the headboard. The type of base I bought had to be covered, so we have to have a valance. Like other B&B owners I've spoken to, the valance is not a well liked item!
When I got rid of the zip and link mattress, I replaced it with a super king size mattress and kept the divan base. The divan base is now in our dog friendly room, covered with a valance. Dogs have a habit of rubbing against it, so it has to be removed, cleaned and de-furred after each doggy guest has stayed.
I replaced the 2 material headboards that fitted the zip and link with a 6ft wooden headboard. This is much easier to keep clean. If you choose material headboards make sure they're easy to clean.
Our second B&B beds were cast iron and brass. These have a great traditional look. The disadvantage with them is that they can be squeaky. If you have squeaky beds in a B&B make sure you have good soundproofing!
Both the brass bed and the cast iron bed have foot boards. If I were buying a bed for a B&B again. I would avoid having a foot board. A lot of people, particularly very tall people, have told me they don't like them.
I bought a leather bed for the Granary Room. It's my favourite bed and the most comfortable. However it has its disadvantages. It's a low bed and there's no room for the vacuum cleaner under it. It's also very heavy so it needs 2 or 3 people to move it. To vacuum under it I have to lie on the floor with the vacuum cleaner nozzle and it takes ages.
A leather bed could also put off vegan guests.
My next replacement B&B bed will be a super king size oak bed with no foot board and a solid headboard. My current wooden headboard is slatted and needs constant dusting into between the slats. I will be able to vacuum under it with ease and there will be no problems with guest dogs rubbing up against it.
If you have space under the bed this provides guests with additional storage space for suitcases etc.
If you choose to put in speciality beds, such as four posters, make sure that your cleaning schedule allows time for cleaning the top of the bed and any curtains, drapes you use.
The mattress should be the best you can buy within your budget ( make sure you allow for replacement costs ). Everyone's preferred mattress is different. I've found that having a firm mattress with a topper provides the support people need without it feeling like you're sleeping on a board.
You must have mattress protectors on your B&B beds. As a guest, I want to see a mattress protector, and as a B&B owner you want a mattress protector! Whilst they've been few and far between I have had cases of guests having accidents in the bed. Luckily the mattress protectors I have absorbed everything that has leaked/ been spilt.
I buy the thick cotton mattress protectors from soak and sleep. These absorb everything whilst not actually being waterproof. Time and again I've heard people complaining about sleeping on B&B beds with waterproof protectors. People find them too hot and sweaty.
Updated to say that we recently stayed at the Great Northern Hotel in London. The mattress protector, whilst being waterproof, weren't sweaty. So I stripped the bed to find out what make it was. It was a an Aquasoft from Mitre, a hotel supplier.
Unfortunately bed bugs are becoming more common and are very difficult to get rid of. They jump into people's suitcases and travel from one accommodation to the next. I would recommend buying mattresses for your B&B with built in bed bug protection. This should be on the bed checklist for any prospective B&B owner.
For existing mattresses, you can buy mattress protectors that encase the whole bed and provide bed bug protection.
I recommend Sealy as my mattress supplier of choice. They have a contract department which supplies to hotels and B&Bs. They have a choice of mattresses for all budgets and will recommend the best mattress for you. Their mattresses are treated to kill bed bugs and house mites. This is a quote from their website.
"The Bugshield fibres in the beds and mattresses contain a new, special form of biocide, which is guaranteed skin-safe and kills bed bugs whilst creating an inhospitable environment to prevent further infestations. Bugshield offers a 100% bed bug mortality rate with 90% killed off within a period of 24 hours.In addition to bed bugs, Bugshield also kills off house dust mites. House dust mites are a key trigger for asthma, hay fever and eczema as well as many other allergic reactions in around 20% of the UK population. House dust mites thrive in the indoor environment, especially in bedrooms, and are present all year round causing constant allergic reactions. Thus the eradication of dust mites in beds is extremely beneficial to anyone who suffers from allergy symptoms."
If you decide to buy a divan bed, Sealy sell them with coloured bases, so you won't need to rely on the dreaded valance.
I do recommend you ring them up rather than buying online as they may have mattress options available for you.
Clare and Dave Wright of The School House B&B bought Sealy beds when they set up. You can see their zip and link here made up as a twin. They chose a coloured base so they don't need to bother about a valance.
Hypnos beds are also recommended by past course attendees and it is possible to get a trade deal with them
"We have numerous compliments on our King Size Hypnos beds. " Www.tynllainbandb.com
Nicky Arnold of Tyn Llain B&B, Anglesey
I hope you've found this article useful and it has helped you decide on the best B&B beds for your bed and breakfast business.
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