Choosing the perfect superyacht bed linens
Last updated: 22/12/2016
Nothing looks or feels better than climbing into a freshly made bed with crisp, clean sheets at the end of the day, but the process of choosing the perfect bed linens is no more difficult than on board a superyacht, where creating beautiful bedding can be a process that takes many, many months.
Yachting Pages spoke to expert bedding and linen suppliers to provide some hints, tips and tricks on how to choose the perfect superyacht bed linens for a superyacht, and avoid the many possible pitfalls.
A buyer's guide to selecting yacht bedding and bed linens
As many superyacht crewmembers will tell you, there’s a big difference in choosing bed linens for your home when compared to the bespoke designs expected for the superyacht cabin.
Ann West, manager of Cabin Shop explained, explained, “The appearance of the cabin and the quality of linen expected by superyacht owners and charter guests is way above those in your typical shore-side home: Many owners and guests have already slept in exceptional beds, and as a stewardess it is therefore your job to make sure their experience on board is even better, if possible.”
Ann explains that, while more upmarket villas and shore-side may offer similar-quality linens to that of a superyacht, they don’t have the same laundry and storage constraints as on a yacht, further limiting the available choices. She said, “A larger and better equipped laundry room will allow client’s to choose from fabrics that need more delicate care or a specialised dry cleaning and drying programme. This is an option that’s not always available with the superyacht laundry room.”
Five factors to consider when choosing superyacht bed linens
1. The purpose of the yacht
Bedding and linens aboard a charter yacht will need to be just as luxurious, yet much more durable, as they will likely be slept on and laundered much more often than those on a private yacht. Luckily the quality of such high-end linens usually means that, as long as they are properly cared for, they will likely stand the test of time regardless of how often they are laundered.
Bedding for a private owner may not only be more experimental in design, tailored to the owner’s personal tastes, but may also be changed or ‘turned over’ more often, as the owner may decide to change the style of the bedding perhaps four or five times a year, or the cabin décor every three or four years.
2. The yacht linen fabric
The fabric in which bedding and linens are manufactured is a very personal choice, but can also be influenced by the activities and location of the yacht. Those that travel aboard in warmer climes will likely be more comfortable in lightweight yet luxurious Egyptian cotton fabrics or fresh linens, which both allow for cooling air circulation.
While linen sheets are just as luxurious as Egyptian cotton, they also crease much more easily causing a constant nightmare for the stews on board. Percale or sateen cotton-mixes therefore make for better options for the superyacht interior, offering flat or lustre/sheen finishes to suit the décor on board.
Current trends for yacht interiors and linens are remaining minimalist, with the focus on soft calming shades and simple accent colours that complement the overall interior styling. As well as helping to create a relaxing and clean environment, white and neutral colours help to make cabins appear larger and lighter.
Cashmere and silk are among the most exclusive fabrics for bed linens, for those that have the budget. Tanja Jarkovoj from Jet & Yacht Comfort explained, “Linen trends are changing, in years gone by we found detailed designs to be popular, with colours and design work woven into the fabric.
“Three-line embroidery has also been popular, but now simple white fabrics of higher thread counts (perhaps 1100 TC satin) with simple one-line embroidery are popular. To top it off, fur bed covers are back in style again. A bed with 1100 TC cashmere/silk linens and a fur bed cover is the height of comfort.”
Organic, eco-friendly linens
Trends have also appeared for organic and eco-friendly linens, says Susie Shaw at Sea Emporium. These are “high-quality materials that are free from any harmful toxins”. They are known to be softer, smell cleaner and be less likely to trigger allergies.
With a texture similar to that of silk, many Italian wood fibre linens come from beech wood trees and are sustainable, eco-friendly, and highly absorbent, able to take more moisture away from the skin and keep you feeling cooler.
Susie said, “Wood fibre linens come from nature herself and are very popular on board as they are low maintenance, long lasting and get softer and softer after each wash.”
What makes Egyptian cotton so luxurious?
The first thing to understand with Egyptian cotton is that it comes from a different plant to that of ‘regular’ cotton. With this in mind, their properties can never be seen as the same. So why choose Egyptian cotton? Grown in the rich, moist soil beside the “Nile River”, Egyptian cotton fibres are substantially longer than those of regular cotton creating more interrupted fibres when composing yarn and threads. Extra-long fibres can be made into very fine yarn making it softer and more lustrous, and it’s porous making it cooler.
However, it’s important that when you’re choosing cotton, you know it’s the genuine article. Ann explained, “Egyptian cotton is still the most luxurious cotton, however there are now many cottons sold under this title and it is very difficult to choose without feeling the linens and looking at the design yourself.”
Once woven, raw cotton fabrics such as Egyptian cottons are at their best when they’re exported to Italy to be washed, bleached and mercerised.
3. The overall thread count and ply
Thread count (TC) refers to the number of threads in one square inch of fabric, and while many believe that a high thread count of 1,000 TC will mean softer and smoother sheets of a higher quality, it actually means that the fabric will usually be denser. This may shout quality to some, while some may in fact prefer the soft and lightweight sheets of a 600 TC.
120 - 180 thread count fabrics are mostly associated with basic sheets for domestic use.
200 thread count fabrics, such as cool and light percale cottons, are mainly used during the summer months and hotter periods of the year. Such bedding can be found in hotels, or for other domestic usage where the requirement is for cool crisp bed linen on a smaller budget.
400 thread count fabrics are usually a soft yet more substantial Egyptian cotton percale, favoured for its cool feel and durability with a universal appeal. 500 - 600 thread count fabrics are more exclusive linens, providing a beautiful and soft luxurious fabric.
800 - 1000 thread count fabrics are seen to be the ultimate in luxury bedding, giving an amazing robust yet silky weave, considered to be very beautiful and expensive.
Tanja said, “The higher thread counts of 1100 TC fabrics are now in fashion and in high demand. Typically white with a discreet colour insert and cashmere borders. An exclusive cashmere/silk blend is one of the highest qualities that can be found in bed linen, from brands such as Lintea Mare.”
When referring to the ply of a fabric, it’s how many threads are wrapped together into a single thread. Single-ply fabrics unsurprisingly use single threads, whilst two-ply fabrics twist two pieces together into a stronger thread, which will also double the overall thread count of the fabric.
4. The quantity of bedding and linens to be ordered
The quantity of bedding required for a superyacht again usually returns clients back to the running and purpose of the yacht in question: How often the linens are being changed and how equipped the yacht is to turn over the laundry.
Expert linen suppliers typically recommend purchasing three to five sets of bed linen per cabin. With the made-to-measure demands of custom superyacht furniture meaning that bedding and linens are often not interchangeable between cabins, it is important to ensure there are spare sets should there be a laundry emergency or unexplained tear. With this in mind, large quantities should be ordered and a good working relationship maintained with the supplier for quick and hassle-free replacements.
5. The available budget
It is of paramount importance in creating the right look and feel to have the best quality fabrics within budget. Egyptian cotton satin (570 TC) is regarded as one of the best fabrics for the maritime environment, as not only is it luxurious, easy to care for and irons beautifully, but it is also very durable and doesn’t crease as easily as other fabrics, such as cotton percales.
How much will need to be spent for true luxury? Well, that is a matter of personal taste and comfort.
Designing luxury linens for a superyacht
Creating the look of luxury requires an understanding of what the ‘perfect bed’ looks and feels like, taking into consideration the overall design of the bedroom or cabin, the individual shape of its made-to-measure furniture, and the colour schemes intended for the space.
Ruth Douglas, general manager at Heirlooms Ltd explained, “Each yacht is as individual as its owner, and the creation of the linens should therefore be a reflection of their personality and tastes.” With this in mind, it’s important not to leave choosing your superyacht bed linens to the last minute, as often the case on shore, as the bedding is not a finishing touch to the yacht’s décor but rather an integral part of the cabin design. All suppliers and brands should therefore be involved early on in the process so all comes together seamlessly.
Ruth clarified, “This includes the finer details, including whether a duvet with poppers will be the quickest and most practical, or whether tuck-in flaps will be better – especially when using roller machines.”
Bespoke bedding or custom bedding?
Speak to any discerning client and you will find that bespoke and custom are not one in the same. While custom bedding allows the superyacht owner to add his or her stamp to already existing bedding or linens with unique monograms and colour alterations, bespoke means starting from scratch to a completely unique design – the ultimate in superyacht bedding.
Adding a unique embroidery design to bed linen can add that personal touch to any room or cabin. Ruth said, “Increasingly owners and designers want to incorporate a design from a wallpaper, cushion, or curtain fabric onto the bed linens with the theme followed through to the bathroom linens and a wide range of other accessories such as luggage mats, laundry and lingerie bags, etc.”
Speaking to Boat International recently, Hervé Martin, CEO of Italian Luxury Linen shared that only around one per cent of clients go for true bespoke bedding, while around 30% instead opt for some sort of customisation.
Not forgetting the crew – Ordering yacht crew bedding and linens
Ruth said, “As anyone will testify, a happy crew is a well-functioning, efficient and happy environment for both the crew and their owners or guests. The comfort of the crew is therefore equally as important as that of the guests.”
A good linen supplier should therefore work with the interior designer and stewardess to offer a wide range of durable yet quality fabrics at competitive prices for quality crew linens.