Pillow Talk

A good night’s sleep is often hard to get in many hotels. Blame it on the pillows provided. Story and picture by PEGGY LOH

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IF you are used to down feather pillows or contour pillows at home, then hotel pillows would probably give you sporadic sleep.  Like the little girl testing out the beds in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, travellers try hard to find a bed and pillow that’s not too hard and not too soft but one that’s just right!

Very rarely do hotels provide ergonomically-designed or branded quality pillows that wear well with constant use, so be prepared for pillows that may have supported thousands of heads before yours.

After a tiring day, one of the pleasures that we look forward to is a sound sleep.  However, this may not happen.  The pillows on your bed that looked so soft and fluffy from afar, just flattens into wafers the minute you place your head on it.

Sometimes it’s as good as not using a pillow at all because they become so flat.  And don’t bother using two pillows placed on top of each other as they would both get completely compressed.  Some “deceptive” pillows simply sink in the middle, creating two balloons on either side of your face!

Then there are those that are so hard and firm that you’d never find a comfortable angle to rest your neck and shoulders, no matter how hard you try.  These solid pillows are reminiscent of the ceramic bricks or wooden blocks used by the Chinese in olden times.  Unfortunately, the art of sleeping on these is not one the modern generations have inherited!

If you need an extra pillow, you’d usually find one on the top shelf in the wardrobe.  Or you can call the Housekeeping Department to bring one.

If the hotel is running full, just be glad if you get extra pillows that are not lumpy or out of shape.  But you can’t help being wary of pillows that emit a suspicious stench.  Those kept in storage often smell of mothballs but be grateful as long as they do not stink of stale vomit or cockroaches!

With such pillows, it won’t be surprising if you wake up not only bleary eyed, but also with a stiff neck. Whether on holiday or on a business trip, this is literally a pain in the neck for travellers.  Dull aches that emanate from the neck and shoulders just spoils your holiday mood.

Forget about massages, neck braces or acupuncture.  An interesting old wives’ remedy for stiff necks is solar energy. Simply place the pillow in the sun and sleep on it to get rid of the stiff neck!

Or you can ask Housekeeping to sun the pillow for you.  It may raise some eyebrows but if any of the staff know that traditional cure for stiff necks, they might just do it!  Sweet dreams!

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 3 July 2007
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