So, it’s time to buy sheets, towels and other linens for your vacation rental or Airbnb property.
You might be tempted to just head to your nearest big box store, plop some sheet sets in your cart and call it a day.
Resist the urge, friends! If you want to compete with hotels in the hospitality game, you’re gonna have to do better than that.
After all, hotels are all about the bottom line—often under pretty intense public scrutiny. You best believe they have carefully considered their linen choices and processes to balance guest comfort and overall value.
And you can, too.
Here are the linen secrets I’ve learned from hotels. Read these before you buy!
1. Go for commercial linens.
The first, perhaps most important page from the hotel playbook: purchase commercial linens for your beds and baths. I can’t tell you how much time, money and hassle I’ve saved at my own rentals by choosing commercial linens. (And my cleaners thank me, too!)
Commercial linens are typically made from a low-maintenance, cotton-polyester blend, with hospitality benefits like:
- More efficient laundering (lower utility costs!).
- The polyester in the sheets and towels dry faster than traditional 100% cotton.
- Less wrinkling, which is ideal for vacation rental owners laundering on-site.
- More durable and longer-lasting than cotton.
Cotton-poly sometimes get a bad rap, especially when compared to high thread-count or Egyptian cotton sheets. But the comfort of cotton-poly commercial linens is better than you think—about 1 out of 5 reviews from my place in Kauai mention the comfort of my beds, which are outfitted with commercial linens.
If you stay in hotels, you’ve likely slept on cotton-poly sheets yourself—maybe even liked them!
2. Budget comes first.
It may seem obvious, but before you start shopping, consider what you’re comfortable spending per bed. Hotels wouldn’t proceed any other way.
Unsure how to set your budget? When a vacation rental owner or host calls me to ask which sheet sets to purchase, my first question is: what is your nightly rate? And we go from there.
Nightly rate influences guest expectations, so you should place yourself on a sliding scale: the higher your nightly rate, the more you should be willing to spend on quality linens.
3. Mattress size matters.
Hotels know that being able to mix and match your linens is essential for streamlining turnover.
For that reason, I recommend purchasing the same size mattress for all your beds if at all possible—like the hotels do—so you can use your linens interchangeably. It’s the same theory behind purchasing all-white linens. Mix and match is your friend!
Of course, lots of family-friendly rentals are going to include twin beds or bunk beds. My rental is one of those! Size of rooms is a factor, too, of course. But if you can select the same bed size for all adult bedrooms, I recommend you do.
BONUS TIP: if you have twin beds, make sure that the mattresses are extra long to accommodate adults. Chances are, adults will be sleeping in them at some point, and no one wants their feet to dangle over the edge!
Don’t worry about outfitting an extra-long bed (as long as you follow the advice in #1)—commercial linen suppliers usually carry twin XL linens.
Also note that the hospitality and hotel standard for mattresses is 10 – 14 inches in depth. It’s a good rule of thumb.
4. Size identification: a simple thing that makes turnover easier.
If you use all white linens (which is what I—and hotels—highly recommend) across differently sized beds, it can be difficult for you or your cleaning staff to find the right sheets. Cue size identification.
What the heck is size identification?
It’s the details manufacturers offer to differentiate their sets. For example, hospitality sheets might include green threads along the length of their king-size flat and fitted sheets, blue threads for queen sets, lavender for queen, and no thread for twin-size sheet sets.
If your preferred sheets don’t have size identification, consider adding your own. Pick a spot that will be obvious to you or your cleaners but not the guests, and add a permanent marker swipe in different colors to identify.
5. Separates are best.
The long and short of it for this important trick is to purchase your flat sheets, fitted sheets and pillowcases as separates—not as a set. This makes replacements simple and more affordable.
6. Find a linen vendor with a solid, long-standing reputation.
Hotels have brand loyalty to keep their design and product consistent—and so should you. Why? Because once you find linens you love, you want to rest assured that they’ll be available for replacement when the time comes.
A vendor that’s been around for a long time will likely stock the same sheets and towels for years and years.
7. Streamline your pillows, too.
Have you noticed that many hotels use only king or only standard pillowcases? Once again, this is to streamline the turnover process.
I recommend that vacation rental folks to do the same—purchase either all king or all standard pillows. Skip the queen-size. It’s difficult to tell the difference between queen and standard pillowcases, and your cleaning crew with thank you for making it easier to find the right set.
Or, streamline even further and choose only standard pillows and pillowcases and skip the kings altogether.
Another tip: I highly recommend upgrading the thread count of all of your pillowcases. It’s worth the minimal extra investment, the guests appreciate the softness on their face, and an upgrade to one-size cases across sizes allows for minimal mix-ups.
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