What am I talking about? I’m talking about feathers. I’m allergic as can be. If I sleep on a feather pillow, I will cough and choke and wake up because I’ve stopped breathing in my sleep. I’m not exaggerating. It’s scary to wake up like that, fighting to breathe. Same thing if there’s a down comforter on the bed.
I like breathing. As Martha Stewart might say, it’s a Good Thing.
Yet it seems like every mid range or higher priced hotel I’ve stayed at has thought it the epitome of elegance and luxury to include feather pillows and down comforters. When I’m traveling and I don’t get there until late evening, I then have to say something to whatever staff is on duty, and then wait up until someone can retrieve and change the sheets and bedding for me.
You might ask why I don’t say something when I make the reservation. I’ve done that. They end up transferring me to the Americans with Disabilities office for the corporation, I explain it a second time to them, they duly note it down, and then I will check in to the hotel where I’ve made the reservations and made the specific request to find that no one has done anything about the sheets on the bed. Since I end up having to wait for someone to come fix it anyway, I end up not specifying in the reservation…it doesn’t really do much good.
Just last year, I made reservations at a nice hotel that was hosting a writer’s conference that I was attending. I made the reservation by phone so that I would be able to fully explain the situation. I was, as usual, transferred to the ADA office, where I explained again in detail. I was assured that it would be taken care of. I drove seven hours or so to the conference, checked in, and inquired again about the feathers, to be told it had been taken care of, and went off to dinner and a meeting before going back to the room to collapse.
I should have checked. I didn’t. I was about to fall asleep standing up, and it was one o’clock in the morning. I didn’t do much more than change my clothes and fall into bed. I had trouble sleeping all night. When I woke up in the morning, my eyes were puffy and red, I was having trouble catching my breath, and kept coughing, on a day I was pitching my work to agents and editors! I walked down to the front desk, and begged them to do something about it. Their reaction…we’ll change it today. Here’s a free coffee for your trouble. I don’t know what made me madder; the fact that I had to go to such lengths to have it backfire anyway, or the thought that free coffee makes up for breathing difficulties that shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place!
Why is it that everyone thinks feather pillows and bedding is so cool? If you own, manage, or work in a hotel that thinks this, please, for the love of all that is holy, tell your managers, owners, or corporate sponsors to be prepared to deal with this issue. Feather and down comforters might be luxurious to some, but it is nightmarish torture for others. So why does it have to be that I’d sleep better at, say, Bob’s Super Duper Local Dump Motel with their Goodwill clearance rack sheets, than at a Marriott, Hilton, or Hyatt-level hotel (using just for example, not name pointing) with the feathers, when I’m a customer willing to pay the higher rate and stay in a nicer hotel?