Human Bed Warmers Invade Britain

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal, January 27, 2010

Maybe it’s just the extra hard workouts I’ve been doing lately, but I really love my bed.

It’s a place of respite and it’s always the same. I never have to wonder how it’s going to feel, or who else has been in it. It’s just me, my pillows, sheets, blankets, and jammies—arranged exactly the way I like them.

I think other people feel this way, too. That’s why a new service being offered by Holiday Inn in Britain has me a little perplexed, not to mention a tad grossed out.

According to, the hotel chain is volunteering a human bed-warming service. The story says, if a guest requests it, a staff member will dress in an “all-in-one fleece sleeper suit” and slip into your bed before you’re ready for it, making it all nice and toasty for your arrival.

Holiday Inn spokeswoman Jane Bednall said it’s  “A bit like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed.”

Also included in the article was the claim that the “warmer” would be fully clothed and vacate the bed before the guest arrives. Hair is supposedly covered, but there was no confirmation if the person warming the bed would have showered first. I think I speak for humanity when I say, “Ugh.”

“Florence Eavis, Holiday Inn spokeswoman told Reuters that the ‘innovative’ bed-warming method was a response to Britain’s recent cold weather and marked the launch of 3,200 new Holiday Inns worldwide.

“She could not explain why the beds were not being warmed by hot water bottles or electric-blankets, but admitted the human method was quirky.”

Quirky is one word for this. Creepy is too.

In concert with Holiday Inn, Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Center, claims a warmer bed helps people sleep better.

“There’s plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop,” he said. “A warm bed—approximately 20 to 24 Celsius—is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep.”

All of this raises the question: Really?

It also begs a couple of other questions: What’s next?  Someone to warm the toilet seat before I sit down?  A staff member to chew my food for me?  Maybe an employee to sit in my bath water to make sure it’s just right?

Here’s an idea, Holiday Inn.  If it’s really that cold in Britain, why not opt for those electric blankets or hot water bottles you mentioned? Or better yet, some extra fuzzy blankets?

Maybe Brits are fussier about these things than Americans. Or maybe it’s just a matter of individual taste. But I like my bed a little cool when I climb aboard. My own body heat warms it up. And here’s the real plus: I never have to worry about a stranger’s hair, body odor or fluids taking over my personal space.

Of course, Holiday Inn is a hotel. And who’s to say what really goes on in hotel rooms before guests arrive? It could be anything, and probably is.

Sometimes when I’m staying in a hotel I have to try and not concentrate on what happened there before I checked in. And even though some places do a fine job of making it feel like home, let’s be honest—it isn’t.  And the thought that someone I don’t know has been in the bed I bought for the night to ‘warm it up,’ makes me want to sleep in the car.
Occasionally before I crawl into bed, I’ll put my laptop computer under the covers to warm my feet. Spouses are also good for, well, heating things up.

Holiday Inn’s groundbreaking methods are not for me, but will no doubt be used by some.  Meanwhile, when I hit the sheets, I like to recognize the scent of lotion or shampoo as my own, thank you.

And in a hotel, short of sterilizing everything before use, I’ll settle for a whiff of fabric softener.

The staff? They can stay behind the front desk.