Imagine if you could have the best sleep of your life, every night.
To climb into a bed that is tailored to your every need; so comfortable it feels as if you are floating in mid-air the moment you sink in. No lumpy mattress; no squeaking springs. If your sleeping partner is tossing and turning, you won’t even feel it.
How much would that be worth to you?
Some would say it is priceless – and it’s for those people that Hästens exists. Its signature navy-and-white gingham beds are the stuff of legend, having been painstakingly hand-crafted in a workshop in Köping, Sweden since 1852. Rumour has it that 49 of the top 50 Hollywood actors sleep on one.
Its chief executive Jan Ryde believes that sleep can change the world – and won’t rest until everyone has the mattress of their dreams (metaphorically, that is: we’re sure he sleeps very well indeed).
“We believe that our planet could be a kinder place – if more people had the energy to be kind every day,” its latest brochure reads. “Oh, how much we would like to invite all presidents, prime ministers and dictators to sleep for one night on a Hästens bed.”
Sleep – Londoners are doing it wrong
Just in time for National Sleep Awareness Week (March 8 – 14) I headed to the Hästens showroom in Chelsea to learn what Londoners are doing wrong when it comes to sleep, and hopefully experience a night of blissful slumber.
Store manager Caroline Webster was there to give me an induction into the Hästens way of life. First things first, she says, I need to get away from the idea that a very firm bed is a good thing. “Lots of our customers think they need a firm mattress, because they’ve been told that lying on a hard surface cures back problems – it’s a very British thing,” she says, explaining that Hästens produces mattresses in soft, medium and firm. “But a soft or medium mattress could be better for your body.”
The most important thing, she explains, is for your spine to remain straight – if the surface is too firm, all of your weight will be held in your hips and shoulders.
I get to work trying out the different beds that are dotted around the store. A bed and mattress will range in price from around £4,000 to £200,000 – but Hästens says these are not super-luxe products: they just work really, really well.
100 per cent natural
What you are paying for is time, and skill. Its flagship bed, the Vividus, weighs 300kg and takes a team of nine master craftsmen 350 hours to build.
“All the little details have been considered. The feet of the beds are set inwards so you don’t stub your toe on them, and the bases don’t have any screws in them so they don’t creak,” Caroline explains.
They are also made from completely natural materials: the bases from sustainably-sourced pine grown in the north of Sweden, and the mattresses from up to 34 layers of horse hair, wool, flax and cotton, as well as three different sizes of steel springs. Mind-blowingly, a team of four people are employed at the factory solely to ruffle horse hair.
Hästens doesn’t do this just to tap into the eco-friendly zeitgeist – the absence of solvents or synthetic memory foam means the beds wick away moisture so your body can regulate its temperature.
Having tried out all the beds the showroom has to offer, I plump for the Vividus, apparently also the choice of Beyoncé – although Caroline is keen to point out that the most expensive bed is not the best choice for everyone. Some of its most high-profile customers have opted for the 2000T (coming in at £20,000 – £40,000).
Changing our night-time habits
Before I settle in for the night, Caroline says she thinks I’ll wake up on my back – this is the most natural way to sleep for most people, she explains, but they end up sleeping on their side most of the time because their mattress isn’t comfortable enough. I don’t think I’ve ever slept on my back in my life, so we agree to disagree.
My bed has a soft mattress on one side, and medium on the other (a service they provide for couples), but I prefer the medium – you don’t fully sink into it, but it’s still cosy. Reclining atop the umpteen bouncy layers, you do feel weightless.
There’s a heavy quilt on the bed, but I’m neither hot nor cold, and I realise how unusual a sensation this is. I’m not twisting or turning or kicking the duvet off. I’m just instantly comfortable, and predictably I’m asleep within minutes.
I’d been worried about my ability to get up in the morning after a night in the world’s best bed, but it’s actually surprisingly easy when you’ve had such a decent night’s kip. I wake up feeling light, rested, and ready to face the day. And despite my scepticism, Caroline is right – I’m also on my back.
If a Hästens bed can change the sleep habit of a lifetime, I’m sold.
Hästens’ Chelsea store is at 115 Fulham Road, SW3 6RL. Call 020 7225 0974.