TO RISK STATING the obvious, one perk of working in magazines is that you often get to experience the thing you have been hired to photograph or write about. I’ve stood in a windstorm on the black sand beaches of Iceland for a photoshoot; lain face down at the edge of a halfpipe during the X Games, my face flush with the wheels of the skaters as they dropped in; and been so close to Alexander McQueen backstage during Paris Fashion Week that I could see the pins in his hands as he put final touches on the models before they stepped onto the runway.
Since I began working in travel, I have also gotten to experience some of the nicest hotels in the world. Visiting the Four Seasons for the first time, I found the room to be sumptuously appointed, obviously. The service was impeccable. The food was great. And the view from my private patio looking out toward the Mexican beach, the sand blinding white, the water shimmering baby blue — just beautiful. What else could it possibly be?
At Italy’s Villa Lena, artful living and creative exchange are always on offer.
But when I checked in, I had one thing and one thing only on my mind: sleep. My husband, back at home in Brooklyn with our children, was on the same wavelength. “Where is the mattress from?” he texted once he knew I’d arrived. (Is this marital flirting in 2022?)
Prior to the pandemic, I would daydream about all kinds of things: social events, outdoor adventures, new hobbies, and other things. The blur of the past two years seems to have erased those other things from memory, but I swear there were other things too.
Now? I am exhausted — totally, completely, entirely. I read enough to know I am not alone. After two long pandemic years, who isn’t? With three children of disparate ages bouncing in and out of various versions of school, what I dream about these days is simple. One thing I hear often in my line of work is that luxury is no longer about stuff, but about experiences. Lately there is only one experience I’m after, and it often feels as elusive as buried treasure: a good, deep sleep, one from which I will awake finally refreshed.
In my quest to achieve this, I have become a connoisseur of bedding — and beds. My own mattress is due for an upgrade, so every time I check into a hotel, I investigate the bed. And I just knew what the Four Seasons had to offer was going to be good.
Dear readers, it was.
Let me tell you about this mattress. I started out by bouncing a bit on it to assess its firmness. I like a firm mattress but I also like a squishy top, and the combo is very hard to come by. Somehow, in the Four Seasons mattress, a perfect balance has been struck between these two rarely coexisting elements. The mattress was both supportive and fluffy, providing a downy, cradling hug enveloped in the softest sheets that allowed me to sleep and sleep. I slept better on that mattress than I have in years. I didn’t toss or turn. I didn’t even dream.
When I woke up, I stripped back the edges of the sheets to try to answer my husband’s query. Where is this mattress from? The branding didn’t give me the answer, so I quizzed the staff. I was told that Four Seasons contracts with local vendors to make mattresses in each of the countries where they have properties. And then they went on to say something magical: Those mattresses can be bought through their website and app.
The mattress is for sale.
The Four Seasons is, of course, an expensive hotel. It’s a hotel whose name is almost shorthand for a certain kind of luxury, the kind that comes with a substantial price tag. But their mattress is within the realm of reasonably priced. For the cost of a single night’s stay, I could own the mattress that I was sleeping on. For the cost of two nights? The bedding too. (I could easily write a whole other treatise about the pillows, but the short version is that they are also amazing.)
Full transparency: Despite the wonders of this mattress, I have not yet purchased it. It is currently sitting in a shopping cart in one of the numerous tabs permanently open on my browser. Why, you may ask, have I not yet bought this incredible product? Many reasons, including but not limited to my utter inability to prioritize my own needs. (I mentioned I’m a mother, right?) But I had the chance to stay at another Four Seasons recently, this time the property in Los Angeles. With only one thing on my mind during check-in, I made a beeline for the bed and wasn’t disappointed.
Skye Parrott Writer
Skye Parrott is the executive editor of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor in chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.