A novel idea for sleepy guests: mattress-free beds

There are few things as important to a hotel guest as getting a good night’s sleep. Patrick Kingsland takes a look at Ammique’s new mattress-free sleep system, which provides an alternative to the traditional bed and mattress combo.

From bed bugs and lice to suspect stains and mattresses so hard it feels like sleeping on concrete, horror stories of sleepless nights spent in grim hotels abound on travel review sites.

For hoteliers, choosing the right bed should be one of the most crucial decisions they take. But for a product that humans depend upon for a third of their entire lives the market for mattresses is remarkably staid.

Sure you can get a soft mattress or a hard one, a mattress with foam, water or conventional spring coils, but mattress design, says Ammique, a British company that designs beds “has hardly changed since the 19th century”.

Shoddy beds aren’t just bad news for sleepers. Conventional mattresses tend to also be bad for the environment. According to research by The Waste and Resources Action Programme roughly 5.9 million mattresses were thrown away in the UK in 2014, with 73% sent to landfill and 11% incinerated.

Ammique believes it has come up with a solution not just to this problem of unsustainable beds but to the lack of fresh thinking that the hospitality sector sorely needs in the bedroom: get rid of the mattress altogether.

An inauspicious beginning

Not so fast: Standardisa-tion issues and low coverage

The company is currently marketing a mattress-free system that uses a body-contouring technology featuring thousands of small plastic domed caps, which instantaneously yield to the shape, weight and movement of whoever is lying in it.

“Each cap is fixed onto a rod,” the company explains on its website. “All rods pass through a support/guide bar. 50% of the rods are held within an extension spring allowing upward and downward movement. The rods are loosely linked together both across and down the bed and move interdependently.”

“There was no way a mattress would ever achieve what a good sleep system should achieve.”

The story of what Ammique is calling “the most technologically advanced bed in the world” began in a rather inauspicious way: in the Somerset bedroom of the company’s founders.

Colin Greenhalgh had been designing and making furniture in South West England for twenty years. But when he came to buy a bed he found “we couldn’t find one that we liked.” His fellow co-founder, Marlene, realised the problem was not them but the way mattresses were designed

“[Beds] were never designed to actually shape to you they were just designed to keep you off the floor,” she said. “There was no way a mattress would ever achieve what a good sleep system should achieve.”

Hygienic, adaptable, sustainable

Not so fast: Standardisa-tion issues and low coverage

The system Ammique created has a number of benefits. The precision-engineered components contour to the natural curves of the body “making sleep a completely new experience,” while the use of stainless steel extension springs mean the product will not deteriorate despite decades of use.

“The Ammique body support and sleep system has no mattress and has been rigorously tested for durability and longevity at a higher level than any mattress and is guaranteed to withstand a lifetime of use,” the company says.

“Stainless steel extension springs mean the product will not deteriorate.”

The structure can be steam-cleaned and the padding is removable and washable, meaning the bed can be easily maintained, unlike a traditional mattress that accrues huge quantities of body fluids, dust mites and dead skin over the years.

Modular construction means the bed is also adaptable. It can be lengthened by adding extra modules and customised to suit different aesthetic tastes and changing trends. Ethically sourced materials mean the product ticks sustainability boxes too.

“All timber and timber products are FSC certified and are from renewable sources,” the company says. “Waste is carefully managed throughout. All packaging is reused or recycled. ABS components are made from reprocessed stock and all materials are sourced ethically and can be recycled.”

Tailored for hospitality

Not so fast: Standardisa-tion issues and low coverage

For the hospitality market the company promises financial savings on replacing and disposing of mattresses, time saving room cleaning operations and increased guest satisfaction.

The bed has been trialled at the Bath Priory hotel and the Cotswold house hotel, both with positive results, according to Anthony Greenhalgh, the company’s director of sales and distribution.

“We’ve had extremely good feedback both from clients and from the owners of the hotels,” he said.

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Cover image credit: Hilton Hotels and Resorts