We'll admit it: We are name-droppers here at Oyster. Not celebrity name-droppers, mind you (well, ok, sometimes), but brand name-droppers -- we love us some Kiehl's toiletries and high-thread-count Frette sheets.
But we know that many travelers don't know their Mascioni from Anichini. So in our new series, Brand Wars, we're going to offer a look at who's who in the hotel brand world -- from the designers to the electronics to the toiletries. After all, this stuff has a big impact on one's overall hotel experience. Especially at the upper end of the luxury spectrum, the difference between, say, a 4-pearl (luxury), a 4.5-pearl (ultra-luxury) and a 5-pearl (insanely extravagant luxury) is largely in these kids of details.
So, to kick it off we're going to start with a highly contentious category: sheets. Yes, sheets. Hotels love to brag about high thread count, but as we learned from the hilarious Aziz Ansari, high thread count doesn't always equal high quality. So what does make for soft, plush, feels-like-you're-sleeping-on-a-cloud linens? Thread count does come in to play, but other factors like fiber quality, yarn size, and finishing matter just as much. With the luxury brands below, you can be sure that you'll get a decadent night's sleep on a high-quality weave.
The best sheets tend to come from Italy, so to help you distinguish these brands we associated each with an elite Italian sports car.
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be: A Maserati -- grown-up luxury with a lot under the hood
- What makes them special: One of the few companies to use top-of-the-line materials like voile, silk twill, and double weight sateen; specialty fabrics like Muga silks from Assam and Tibetan cashmere add a touch of the exotic
- Where you can sleep on them: Koa Kea Resort Hotel Poipu Beach; One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be:A Pagani -- the most expensive car you've never heard of
- What makes them special: Got its start over 100 years ago making linens for the Italian aristocracy; invented "Paradise" cotton linen, with thread so fine it takes a week to make 10 meters
- Where you can sleep on them: The St. Regis Washington, D.C.
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be: A Lancia -- classic, understated luxury
- What makes them special: Develops new techniques at in-house lab; complex finishing treatment results in less wrinkling and increased durability
- Where you can sleep on them: The Plaza; Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be: An Alfa Romeo -- bold, stylish, and relatively accessible
- What makes them special: Started in 1891 as a producer of Venetian lace cuffs and collars; design team gets inspiration from travels to Italy, India, France and Germany
- Where you can sleep on them: Surrey Hotel; The Cooper Square Hotel; Thompson Hotels (60 Thompson; Thompson LES, etc.)
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be: A Ferrari -- also the most recognizable brand name in its category
- What makes them special: Became Official Purveyors to the Italian Royal family in the late 1800s; has produced custom linens with family crests for over 500 aristocratic families; provided table linens for banqueting rooms on the Titanic
- Where you can sleep on them: Over 8,000 hotels around the world, including The Pierre; Mandarin Oriental, Boston; Crosby Street Hotel; The Beverly Hills Hotel; and Fifteen Beacon
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be: A Lamborghini -- also an exclusive luxury product of northern Italy
- What makes them special: Uses traditional Northern Italian weaving techniques; materials made with fine Egyptian cottons and Flanders Flax
- Where you can sleep on them: The Peninsula Beverly Hills; Mandarin Oriental New York; The London West Hollywood
- If these sheets were a sports car, they'd be: A Bugatti* -- elite, well-made, and powerful
- What makes them special: Bed linens are made of pure Egyptian cotton, pure linen, or union linen; designed to withstand frequent washings
- Where you can sleep on them: The Carlyle; Four Seasons Washington D.C.
*Bugatti is now owned by Volkswagen and is technically German, but it was founded by an Italian.