A reader staying at the Holiday Inn Marquette, Michigan relayed that his room had just two pillows on the bed instead of the usual four. He spoke to the property’s guest relations manager who explained that this is part of “eliminating surfaces for people to touch and viruses to spread.” And that as a result, Holiday Inn parent IHG told all properties “that the new standard is two pillows per bed.”
I reached out to IHG to see what was going on, and a spokesperson told me,
As part of our guidance to hotels during the response to COVID-19, we have recommended that hotels across our brands take variety of steps in-room to help protect the safety and wellbeing of guests. This may include reducing the number of pillows and blankets initially and providing additional items only on guest request.
Credit: Holiday Inn Marquette
However the reader was told he could not have additional pillows because of instructions from corporate. Regardless, reducing pillows may be a good way to save on housekeeping and laundry cost, but it’s not a very good way to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
If four pillows are unsafe, then two are just as unsafe. Hotels change the pillow cases between guests (not always), but pillows get reused. You may be sleeping on the same pillow someone slept on the night before.
It seems far better to disinfect the pillows if they aren’t going to ensure they’re swapped out and not reused immediately than to reduce the number of pillows. Doesn’t reducing the number of pillows just increase the statistical likelihood you’re sleeping on the same one as the person before you? A better approach then would be to give you 6 or 8 pillows! Then you’ve got a lower likelihood of reusing the same one.
And while hotels are supposed to be paying special attention to ‘high touch surfaces’ like television remotes and alarm clocks, you’re frequently still using the same toilet paper roll as the guest before you.
Just as airlines cut amenities to reduce cost and blamed coronavirus hotels are, of course, doing that too.