The rise of the sleep hotel

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London's first sleep-centric hotel is set to open in 2020. We talk to the team behind the concept and discover what components are key to creating a good night’s sleep for guest

There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep. Getting a decent amount of rest has numerous health benefits, including improved concentration, reduced stress levels and a more healthy heart. So it’s little wonder that the “clean sleeping” trend has swept the travel industry, with hotels and holidays putting a good night’s sleep at the heart of guest experience.

In the UK, London's first sleep-centric hotel, Zedwell, is set to open in Piccadilly Circus in February 2020. It will have over 750 rooms, with innovative soundproofing and “calm-inducing colours and scents”. Everything has been designed to reduce anxiety and daily distractions, creating the perfect environment for sleep, relaxation and wellbeing.

Designing a good night’s sleep

So-called “power nap pods” – where you can check in for 40 winks – already exist, attracting jet-lagged travellers and tired business people. But Zedwell is offering something different: a sleep-centred ethos that focuses on creating the perfect environment for a deeper – and longer – slumber.

“We wanted to create a space where our guests could disconnect from the city, and offer rooms focused solely on relaxation and sleep,” says Craig McCormack, Head of Marketing at Criterion Hospitality, the company that owns the property. “We removed elements that could distract, disturb or complicate sleep – such as clutter, bright TV screens and complicated controls.”

Each room is focused on five key aspects that Zedwell has identified as necessary for proper sleep: peace, quiet, comfort, darkness and ambiance. “There’s a science to sleep and it all revolves around creating the right environment,” says McCormack.

Doors are more effectively soundproofed than those in most five-star hotels, while windowless rooms mean there’s no daylight to disturb your sleep. A living wall, moss ceilings and a plant in each guest room has been added to help create a tranquil environment amidst the city’s urban landscape.

Zedwell room
'Sleep is the thing that your guests will talk about.' Photo: credit to Zedwell


As for the “calm-inducing scents”, guests won’t be smelling the obvious relaxing lavender. Instead, soft citrus and floral notes will drift through the public areas, while colours will be gentle on the eyes. “Expect deep and rich shades in and around the hotel,” adds McCormack.

Combating jet-lag

Colour - and light more specifically - plays a vital role in combating that well-known traveller’s nemesis: jet-lag. Also called desynchronosis or flight fatigue, jet-lag is the disruption of the body’s biological clock, which occurs when you cross time zones faster than your body’s natural ability to adjust. Scientists believe it’s caused by out-of-whack circadian rhythms, also known as your 24-hour biological clock. Since circadian rhythm is managed by light and dark, jet-lag happens because, when we’re abroad, we experience daylight and darkness contrary to what we’re used to.

“When you travel, the outside input (light and dark) conflicts with the internal sleep pressure that creates sleepiness,” says sleep expert James Wilson. “The external factors don’t match what’s happening internally, which confuses your body clock and explains why we end up feeling tired during the day and wide awake at night.”

Sleep is vitally important – it’s how we recharge, and we can’t reach our full potential without it

According to the National Sleep Foundation, light exposure helps reset the clock. Airlines, hotels and airport lounges are now embracing circadian science in the form of light therapy – bright light for wakefulness and warm light to prepare to rest.

"Having a smart lighting system – which mimics sunlight frequency during the day and gives off an orange glow at night – is a game-changer for hotels," says Wilson. "But the experience needs to start at reception, a guest’s first impression. You could offer a pillow menu, and make the whole hotel feel like a home from home."

Promoting relaxation

Other hotels are taking the concept of sleep a step further by offering sleep retreats. Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa has created an exclusive sleep retreat with clinical hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb, including guided meditation, hypnotherapy, sound therapy and even equine-assisted therapy to help guests drift off – and bring about long-lasting changes to sleep habits.

“Sleep is vitally important – it’s how we recharge, and we can’t reach our full potential without it,” says Lamb. “Immersing guests in nature, for instance being outside and with horses, is very grounding and can boost levels of serotonin – your happy hormones – which turns into melatonin that helps you sleep.

“Rooms should be uncluttered, perhaps with soft music playing as guests arrive. You could also leave aromatherapy oils and relaxing sleep sprays on bedside tables, and epsom salts by baths to encourage guests to relax their muscles, as well as their minds.”

For Wilson, having an accommodation that promotes good sleep can be your point of difference in an increasingly competitive market. He says: "Sleep is the thing that your guests will talk about – in the morning you want them to say they slept well, not that the mattress was appalling."

The same rings true for Criterion Hospitality’s McCormack: “I’ve stayed in hotels where the room has been too hot, or the bed uncomfortable, or the curtains too thin so the light comes in and wakes me up. Rooms that I have fallen for are those that prioritise sleep – it underpins the entire experience. As a hotelier, if you’re not getting sleep right you’re not doing your job and the public will soon cotton on.”


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Hero image: credit to Christopher Jolly, Unsplash
  • Peace, quiet, comfort, darkness and ambiance are key ingredients for a good night’s sleep for guests
  • Clutter, bright TV screens and complicated controls in bedrooms can distract and disturb guests from proper rest
  • Jet-lag is caused by out-of-whack circadian rhythms, managed by light and dark. Some hotels and airlines are embracing circadian science in the form of light therapy to enhance the guest experience
  • Hoteliers looking to take the clean sleeping trend a step further than the guest room can offer sleep retreats, with add-ons such as guided meditation, hypnotherapy, sound therapy