Behind the Design

Creating the Perfect Room for Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest can be harder than you think. Everything from every day stresses to the very rooms in which we try to sleep can keep us up at night.

But there may be some easy fixes. That’s because there are some key elements—a comfortable mattress, pillows and sheets; noise and temperature controls; and complete darkness—that can help you get meaningful shut eye, according to Glenn Wilson, VP of global design services for Marriott International’s JW Marriott and Marriott hotel brands. And those are quintessential for creating the perfect room for sleep at home, as well.

Naturally, a great mattress is important, but Wilson says “it’s also critical to ensure the room is designed to allow it to be completely dark.”

Making sure rooms can be as dark as possible is a challenge for room designers. (Photo: Oakland Marrott City Center)
Making sure rooms can be as dark as possible is a challenge for room designers. (Photo: Oakland Marriott City Center)

In fact, ensuring that a room can be completely blacked out for sleeping is one of the biggest design challenges for Wilson and her team.

“This is especially critical with the extensive international travel of today,” she says. “People come in from every time zone and many need to sleep during the day.”

To darken spaces, “the window treatments we design must always be a balance of what’s on trend, but fabricated in a way to allow the outside light to be blacked out,” Wilson says. “This focus also extends to the layout and the interior architectural planning of the room. For example, more open bathrooms have been a direction for some time now. With this comes many considerations regarding light bleed into the room at night.”

To pick the perfect mattress, “we let our guests tell us what they prefer,” Wilson says. “We capture guest comments around the world daily and this feedback is constantly being analyzed for this and every other facet of the rooms and hotel. This information guides us on what mattress to use.”

What goes on the mattress is also key. For a great night’s sleep, sheets should be soft and they should never pill which can be irritating to the skin, Wilson advises.

For its beds, Marriott studies guest comments from around the world daily. (Photo: New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge)
For its beds, Marriott studies guest comments from around the world daily. (Photo: New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge)

“The right pillow and great quality sheets cannot be overlooked,” she says. “At Marriott, we offer guests their choice of firm or soft pillows so they will have the right pillow for their own personal comfort. Pillows provide neck and shoulder support during sleep. So, the right pillow for one’s own sleeping habits is necessary. In addition, we go to great lengths developing the best sheets possible that are soft and comfortable, and easily cleaned and durable. We go through sample after sample testing the hand, the feel of the sheet to the touch.”

Wilson recommends investing in top quality sheets.

“You should focus on the type of fibers used and less on thread count,” she says. “Long staple cotton fiber creates the smoothest sheets and Egyptian cotton is considered the finest. I personally believe the French and the Italians make the best sheets. I use 400 thread count, Egyptian cotton, Italian made sheets in my home. They just make the bed so much more comfortable! So, I would definitely recommend giving them a try. You may find yourself buying a second set soon after.”

When it comes to rooms, Marriott requires individual temperature controls in each guest room, Wilson says.

“Guests can then set the temperature to exactly what is most comfortable for them to sleep,” she says. “This is not a beautiful design detail that we plan in, but it is of utmost importance to a good night’s sleep. The position of the vents and registers is also an important planning piece.”

Make sure to turn off any screens like TVs and computers before going to sleep. (Photo: Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Make sure to turn off any screens like TVs and computers before going to sleep. (Photo: Atlanta Marriott Marquis)

Noise level is another important detail, Wilson adds.

“We have strict standards on acceptable noise levels and transfer to ensure guest comfort,” she says. “With the new direction to hard surface flooring in the guest rooms, we have had to relook at testing methods, requirements and standards to ensure this new design direction did create a noise issue in our hotels. This involves including in some installations a ‘hush’ underlayment to achieve acceptable noise levels.”

Finally, how you wake up is also a factor.

“Consider wake up alarm solutions that do not have lights that glare all night,” Wilson says. “You do not want electronics with lights in your room. They may not seem bothersome to your sleep, but they do have an impact on most people.”

She also suggests to turn all TV and computers off before going to bed since the lights that emit from the screens can disrupt sleep.

“Better yet, remove them from the bedroom,” Wilson says.


With Behind the Design, Marriott Traveler checks in with the minds behind the most unique hotel rooms, lobbies, restaurants and bars to understand the creative decisions that brought them to life.