pillow shopping

Rest easy on a Marriott-designed pillow. (Photo: Marriott International)

Travel by Design

Picking the Pillow of Your Dreams for Home (and Hotel): How Fluffy Perfection is Born

For decades, medical research has shown an overwhelming consensus that deep, consistent sleep is essential to good health, playing a role in anxiety management, cardiovascular wellness and perhaps even cancer prevention.

And while sleep technology has boomed in recent years, running the gamut from white noise machines and bedtime podcasts to deep sleep apps and smart sleep masks, users repeatedly state that the right pillow is crucial for a good night’s rest.

As it turns out, experts agree.

“Having a good quality pillow to support the head and neck is important to the entire sleep experience,” says Scott Mitchell, Marriott International’s director of design and development. “The quality of the pillow is of equal importance to the quality of the mattress, sheets and blankets.”

The quality of the pillow is of equal importance to the quality of the mattress, sheets and blankets.

Scott Mitchell, Marriott International’s director of design and development

Whether you are on the beginning of your optimal pillow hunt or nearing the end, here are the three things the pillow expert urges you to consider when choosing the pillow of your dreams.

What’s Inside?

When putting together Marriott’s range of pillows for purchase, Mitchell feels it is important to offer a variety of options instead of just one signature pillow.

“We generally offer two types of pillows in our hotels: natural fill and synthetic fill,” says Mitchell.

While it may seem overwhelming to make a choice when walking down the pillow aisle, in fact, Mitchell reassures, it really comes down to these two aspects.

Natural fill

pillow shopping
(Photo: Marriott International)

“The natural fill pillows are made with blends of goose or duck down and feathers,” he explains. “There is no difference in the performance of goose or duck. The difference is one of perception.”

While feather quills come from the outer layer of the birds’ backs and wings, down is softer, lighter and taken from the underlying layer meant to keep them warm. As a result, down’s biggest perks are its softness and ability to retain warmth.

By comparison, full-feather pillows are more firm, and better at retaining their shape throughout the night. Mitchell says a combination of quills and down offers a happy medium with breathability and just the right amount of support for most people.

For Marriott’s part, it goes the distance to make its natural products as universal as possible.

“The goose and duck down and feathers we utilize come from suppliers that clean and sanitize the fill to remove all dirt and dander from the product,” says Mitchell. “They do this to the point that they are allowed to make the claim that the products are allergy free. This is an expensive and timely process and one that we require.”


Another natural option is a blend of materials including down and Lyocell, an energy-efficient fiber made from wood pulp. It’s used in the signature Marriott Pillow, which Mitchell says is a popular choice among guests and customers alike.


pillow shopping
(Photo: Marriott International)

For those that prefer a foam or other non-natural pillow due to allergies, a vegan lifestyle or otherwise, there are plenty of synthetic options.

“Our synthetic fill pillows are made of polyester fibers,” Mitchell describes. Materials like synthetic down and polyester mimic the feel of their natural counterparts without attracting allergens. They often cost less, too.

A Matter of Position

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 56 percent of people are side sleepers. Of these, 41 percent report sleeping curled up in the fetal position, while 15 percent sleep stretched out on their side. For both sets of side sleepers, a firmer pillow is ideal. That’s because the head and neck need more support in order to avoid straining throughout the night.

For back sleepers, a softer pillow is fine since the neck is in a restful position, and for stomach sleepers — the least popular and, incidentally, least recommended position to sleep in, according to experts — a breathable synthetic pillow that compresses easily is the best choice.

If you’re a person who tosses and turns throughout the night, a feather and down combination should provide the versatility you need as you switch from one position to another and back again.

Comfort and longevity

pillow shopping
(Photo: Marriott International)

Once you’ve found the right pillow, you can extend its life by using a pillow protector, ensuring years of luxurious sleep without needing to shop for a replacement.

pillow shopping
(Photo: Marriott International)

A well-made bed also typically includes a bolster pillow or two, pulling the look together and offering lumbar support while sitting upright. Side sleepers can also place it between their knees to align the spine at night, alleviating pressure and allowing for deep, full-body rest.

A little extra consideration can go a long way toward sending you off to sleep each night in comfort. For a wide array of bedtime comforts, Shop Marriott to build the perfect bed.