Ultimate Guide: What is a Pillow Menu?

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Pillow menu from the Fairlawns Hotel.

Higher-end hotels have quickly taken to the new trend in comfort: a hotel pillow menu. You may be asking, “What is a pillow menu?” The name pretty much explains it. It is a menu provided by a hotel of available pillow options. You will get a browsing experience that may allow you to tailor your needs your perfect sleep experience.

 It is a simple concept, but once you start to learn more about it, you will discover more options in a pillow menu than you can imagine. Find out how you can experience a better night’s sleep whenever you travel!

But really, what exactly is a Pillow Menu?

As you know, a pillow menu gives you specific pillow options for your room. Since you can choose them for yourself, there is no need to pack your monogrammed travel pillow anymore. You can ensure you have a good night’s sleep on a pillow that best matches your favorite home pillow. The hotels’ goal is to guarantee consistent comfort for future hotel stays around the world.

Menus will typically provide a range of luxury pillow design options: soft, medium and firm, white goose down, feather and down, memory foam, cotton thread count covers and various sizes and shaped pillows. There are typically options for hypoallergenic pillows, and even body pillows!

Many luxury hotel chains will provide you with information on the pillows and allow you to select from a menu of options, while informing you of the features that make the best choice for your body and sleep style. 

Why Do Hotels Use a Pillow Menu?

Most higher-end, upscale hotels provide a pillow menu these days. You may wonder why they have these menus and if they genuinely elevate the whole experience for guests. 

The hotels view pillow menus as an amenity which will earn customer loyalty to their hotel brand. It can hopefully help bring guests to their accommodations over a competitor, who does not recognize customer sleep preferences.

Another advantage to a pillow menu is that it allows the hotel to monitor customer preferences for future purchases. They are able to gauge which are the most popular options and ensure that they keep an adequate stock of the most popular pillows available to customers.

We have provided you with a table of contents for a quick look at our topic.

Why Do Hotels Use a Pillow Menu?

Most higher-end, upscale hotels provide a pillow menu these days. You may wonder why they have these menus and if they genuinely elevate the whole experience for guests. 

The hotels view pillow menus as an amenity which will earn customer loyalty to their hotel brand. It can hopefully help bring guests to their accommodations over a competitor, who does not recognize customer sleep preferences.

 Another advantage to a pillow menu is that it allows the hotel to monitor customer preferences for future purchases. They are able to gauge which are the most popular options and ensure that they keep an adequate stock of the most popular pillows available to customers.

How Pillow Menus Benefit You?

Having access to a pillow menu can help make the difference between a great night sleep and a toss and turn night sleep. According to Aprive Wellness, having pillow choices allows you to choose a pillow that will support your neck and spine in the way you require, based on your personal preferences. Since the pillows come with recommendations for users, you can match up your preferences with the various choices being offered. This translates to a better night's sleep and overall good spinal health.

 You also benefit from choosing a pillow that will not aggravate your allergies or cause an allergic reaction. This also will enable you to sleep better and avoid something that could disrupt your whole stay.

 To top things off, being able to choose your own pillows enhances the luxury experience of a hotel stay. It can make you feel happier and more pampered knowing that you have choices and can have control over your own sleep experience.

                                                                      A sample box of a pillow menu from the Bored Panda

Types of Hotel Pillows on a Menu

The actual pillow menu at a hotel will vary from place to place. You may not even be aware of the many pillow options that are available until you see one of these menus. You'll find that you need to consider many different aspects of the pillow to choose the right one.

Loft and Firmness Level

In general terms, people categorize pillows based on loft and firmness, so it helps to understand these terms and the different options. Loft refers to how thick the pillow is. Firmness is how much the pillow gives when you lay your head on it.


Loft comes in three general options:

  1. Low- relatively flat. Best for stomach sleepers.
  2. Medium- typical height of most pillows. Best if you change positions throughout the night.
  3. High- quite thick and taller height from the side. Best for you if you are a back sleeper or need to keep your head elevated while sleeping.

Firmness Level

There are also three general types of firmness for pillows, but you may see many different variants. Knowing the three main ones, though, should help you out:

  1. Soft- very moldable, but will flatten considerably when laying your head on them. Favored by stomach sleepers.
  2. Medium- Holds it's shape but still has moderate support for neck and head.
  3. Firm- maintains a high loft and shape in order to stabilize the head and neck. Favored by back sleepers.


Options for the Best Hotel Pillow

There are so many pillows out there promising a good night's sleep. The cover on a pillow and it's thread count play an important part in how soft it feels on your skin. The higher the thread count, the higher the quality and cost of the pillow covering. a 230 thread count would be an average pillow cover, while an 800 thread count would be considered a luxury cotton cover. Aside from the pillow's cover, the potential list of pillow options is substantial and can include:


Hypoallergenic hotel pillows use materials that are not likely to cause an allergic reaction. They usually will also be easy to clean, rendering it simple to remove any potential airborne allergens or dust mites. The most common materials are synthetic. The support can range from soft to firm, and they can come in various sizes and styles for all types of sleepers.


Feather hotel pillows are made of a filling of duck feathers, and as such, they are very fluffy and soft. Usually these pillows have some down feathers mixed in to create a softer feel, while offering an more economical alternative to 100% goose down pillows. Although you cannot get a full feather pillow in firm, they do come in various sizes ranging from standard to king sizes. These pillows do retain heat and may occasionally shed feathers. They are a frequent favorite with individuals who like to position a pillow between their legs to support their hip placement.


Anti-aging hotel pillows can help you to get some nourishment for your skin while you sleep. These alternative pillows usually infuse some kind of vitamin, such as vitamin E, which is soothing and beneficial to the skin. These alternative pillows may also have a smooth, silky cotton sateen shell to help prevent facial wrinkles while you sleep.


A buckwheat hotel pillow contains buckwheat seed husks. It provides firm support and does an excellent job of molding to your head, neck, and body. It is an environmentally-friendly option, but it can be noisy. When you move, the husks will rustle inside the pillow.


A microbead hotel pillow has the same general properties as a buckwheat pillow. The filling is synthetic beads instead of buckwheat husks. The main difference is this type of pillow will not make rustling noises, and it does allow your head to be enveloped by the pillow.


A lullaby hotel pillow is a high-tech option. If you like to have music playing when you go to sleep, then this may be the ideal choice for you. It contains speakers that will connect to your music playing device and pipe music right around your head all night long. The design is so the speakers are in spots where you can hear the music playing, but where they won't affect your comfort.

Memory Foam

Memory foam hotel pillows are known to be made of a "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam material that conforms to your body. A type of hotel pillow will provide you with full support. It is a great choice for back and side sleepers, but can work for almost any type of sleeper. They come in different sizes and compositions such as: solid foam, contour-shaped foam and shredded fill.

Goose Down

A goose down hotel pillow is similar to a feather pillow, only considered more expensive due to it's softer feel. However, goose down is actually the undercoat of a bird, not its feathers. The ratio of feathers to down can vary, with the higher quality hotel pillows being constructed completely with 100% goose down feathers and have been described as cloud like. 

Down fluffs nicely and is often the first choice of a hotel for pillow filling. It is very soft, but you can manipulate the shape of the pillow to whatever you want. However, be aware that it won't provide a lot of support as you sleep.


A latex hotel pillow may seem an unlikely choice for most sleepers. It tends to be hot, but for some sleepers that is a good quality in a pillow. A latex pillow does not conform to the head, as well as a memory foam pillow however. It is hypoallergenic, as well, unless you are allergic to latex, of course. It provides adequate support and is ideal if you are a side sleeper.

Cotton/Poly Fiberfill

A Cotton/Poly Fiberfill hotel pillow usually refers to a 100% cotton cover with the filling made of a spun polyester fiberfill. Some sleepers are allergic to synthetic substances, making it one of the best hotel pillow options because it's cotton cover is breathable and the filling is soft. It has a tendency to compress over time however, losing it's resiliency, making it an inconsistent choice for a hotel pillow. It will not give you a lot of support, so hotels usually suggest pairing them with a firmer pillow.


A body hotel pillow provides you with full support and prevent you from rolling onto your stomach. It is the best hotel pillow option for people with back issues who are forbidden to sleep on their stomachs or pregnant women. The fill used inside the hotel pillow can vary and the size can range from small to extra-long.


A Tatami hotel pillow is a Japanese product that provides some of the firmest support, since it uses tatami fibers as the filling.  Tatami fibers offer a breathable and comfortable alternative that firm pillow lovers appreciate.

How Do Hotels Choose Their Pillows?

Now that you have read about the many options hotels have in pillows, which ones make the list? Well, manufacturers compete for the privilege to offer their luxury versions of their "hotel pillows" believing that it will convince customers to purchase their products for themselves back home.

The buying power of luxury hotels allows the pillow manufacturer to use their hotel name in their own advertising as a mutual benefit for both parties. How does this affect you? You are able to get the best hotel pillow for trying out while on your stay.

The Process

USA Today explains that many hotels will go through an extensive testing process. Some hotels may test more than 100 different types of pillows to narrow it down to a reasonable number. They may use pillow experts and focus groups to help choose the best pillow choices.

 Most hotels that offer a pillow menu feel choosing pillows is more important than choosing a mattress. For example, Comfort Inn pillows result from serious examination and time spent determining the exact pillows that will suit the majority of guests.

  The ultimate goal is to provide pillows that give guests an excellent sleep experience. In general, this requires providing pillows in all levels of firmness, having options for people with allergies, different sleep positions, injuries and different cultural sleep styles.

The Pillow Brands

Before hotels offered any type of menu pillow menus, they would use a standard pillow type. The standard is a mid-level firmness pillow that is hypoallergenic and soft. Now that pillows are considered as important as the mattress for quality of sleep, hotel guests are requesting custom options and higher quality pillow designs.

 When it comes to pillow brands used by hotels, there are not many restrictions as long as it stands for quality and comfort. Hotels want the brands they use to reflect those values. Here are some of the common pillow brands that we discovered in hotel pillow reviews:

  •  Brooklinen
  • FluffCo
  • Pacific Coast
  • Continental Bedding

Examples Within the Industry

An excellent example of a standard industry pillow menu is what you get from The Ritz-Carlton. The Star reports that The Ritz-Carlton uses down pillows by default. However, they do offer alternatives if guests prefer no feathers.

                                                                The Ritz Carlton Pillow Menu

The Ritz-Carlton pillow menu includes five options. These include down, foam, gel, full-length body, roll-style neck support, and anti-allergen. The hotel markets its pillow menu as part of its health and wellness services. 

These high-quality pillows are a big hit with guests especially popular is the Brooklinen down pillow. You can even find Ritz-Carlton pillows for sale, but it is a free service when you use the pillow menu during a stay.

Making Their Own Best Hotel Pillows

Some hotels have found that they want to promote their own name over the name of the pillow manufacturer. They work to create the best line of hotel pillows by working with different pillow and bedding manufacturers. Using their own feedback from customers, they are able to formulate a line of their best hotel pillows reflecting their customer's high quality needs, while maintaining the hotel's own brand name. This usually results in a superior line of pillows across the board at an affordable level.


Wyndham's line of it's best hotel pillow adopted the name WynRest. This sustainable pillow is designed with fill that is a microgel made from recycled bottles. While it may sound very uncomfortable, the filling is actually quite soft. It's also hypoallergenic and allows the pillow to have a long lifespan without common issues, such as losing its shape. A Sleeper can also feel good about helping the environment!


Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants provides a fun touch with its pillows. The options from this hotel line are all tied to celebrity's choices in a hotel pillow and feature their faces right on the pillow. You can choose almost anyone from Chuck Norris to Brad Pitt.

Best Western

Best Western's hotel pillows are two specific options: The DreamMaker and Comforel, both of which are medium firm. They have an antimicrobial synthetic fill, and they also offer natural filled pillows, including down. Only Dreamaker and Comforel pillows are custom-made for Best Western.


The signature custom pillow for Langham Hotels and Resorts is the Langham Blissful pillow. It has a unique blend of half duck feathers and half goose down. Not only does the hotel use these pillows in rooms, but it also sells them at some locations due to their popularity.


Westin Hotels have gone to a whole other level when it comes to customizing the perfect pillow and bedding. The Westin custom pillows are part of the hotel's Westin Dream Bed, called the Heavenly Bed. It's been using this bedding design since 1999, and the focus is on comfort at every level. Their motto is that each part of the bedding is essential to providing the deepest sleep for every guest.

The linens, blankets, duvets, and pillows are all from Westin's collection. According to Westin, it took many years to develop the perfect formula that provides the highest level of plushness and coziness.

The Heavenly Bed starts with a pillow-top mattress and strongbox spring. It's layered with three sheets, a duvet, and a duvet cover. So, you may ask, "What kind of pillows does the Westin hotel use?" 

 According to the Westin Store, the hotel uses two types of pillows on its beds. It will feature a soft pillow and a firmer pillow. You have three options in soft pillows, which will be the ones upon which you lay your head. The firmer pillow goes underneath for support. 

 The Feather & Down Pillow features a half and half mix of down and feathers with a 100% cotton cover. It also receives an antimicrobial treatment. 

The Westin owned Benjamin Hotel's Pillow Menu located in New York, NY.

The Westin Down Alternative Pillow replicates the feel of the original but without the allergy-inducing aspects. The filling is a fiberfill, and it has a 100% cotton cover. It also gets an antimicrobial treatment.  

The Heavenly Bed can also include Westin Down Pillows. These are incredibly plush and soft. Westin describes them as sleeping on a cloud. They have white down fill and a 100% cotton cover.

How to find Your Personal Best Hotel Pillow

Now that you know all about pillow menus, you are probably wondering what you do with one when a hotel offers it to you. It is one thing to talk about what a great idea it is, but it is a whole other deal when you have to actually choose from the menu.

 There are some general guidelines that you want to keep in mind as you consider your options from the menu.

Sleep Position

First, you should aim to find a pillow that suits your sleeping style. Some pillows are better for certain positions than others.

 In general, if you sleep on your back, you need a firmer pillow, whereas someone who sleeps on their stomach would want a softer pillow. However, stomach sleepers should be careful with a pillow that is too soft. You don't want to sink too much into it so that you can't breathe and keep getting woken up. Ideally, you want a flatter pillow if you sleep on your stomach.

 If you sleep on your back, look for a pillow that offers solid neck support. It should allow you to keep your neck in a neutral position without pushing your chin into your chest.

 Side sleepers need good neck support, so they want a pillow that will conform to their body. Typically, a bulkier pillow is best so that you can fill the space between your shoulder and ear to prevent you from slouching down during the night.  


If you have sensitivities to anything, such as feathers or latex, then you will want to look for hypoallergenic options on the menu. Most pillow menus will tell you the materials in the pillow, so make sure that you read them if you have sensitivities or allergy issues.


Some people get extremely hot when they sleep, which can impact sleep quality. If you fall into this group, you will need to find a pillow that doesn't retain heat. You may even benefit from one that will have cooling effects. Gel- infused memory foam and 100% cotton covers tend to stay cool, while feather, and down pillows tend to retain heat.

 If you get incredibly hot during the night and sweat, you may want a moisture-wicking pillow. This will help keep your skin dry, so you avoid irritation. Pillows made with bamboo or bamboo pillowcases are great at moisture-wicking.

Fill Power

Because you will want to ensure that you get a fresh pillow that isn't going to be broken down, you should understand fill power. Fill power is a number that tells you how long it will last and the overall quality of the pillow. Most hotels offering a pillow menu will have higher number fill power pillows. The higher the fill power, the better the quality.

 You should be wary of fill power numbers that are relatively low. Around 500 or 600 is a nice place to aim. There are higher numbers, but fill power has its limits, so going too high doesn't really add any significant value.


Adjustability refers to how easy it is for you to fluff or mold your pillow to your body in order to make it comfortable for you. Some people don't mess with their pillows at all. They lay their head on it and go to sleep. Other people will smoosh it and fluff it and move it around multiple times before finding what feels the best.

 If you are in the first group, then you probably won't care if you can adjust the pillow. However, if you are in the second group, being able to adjust your pillow is a must-have. The most adjustable pillows are down or feather filled. They will move and bunch however you want and stay that way.

 Other materials, such as buckwheat, have a filling that will move and is pliable, but it won't retain the shape very well. Some materials, such as foam, won't adjust much at all.


Hotels will often offer pillows in various sizes. They generally suggest matching your pillow size to your bed size. If your pillows are too small, you will end up with a gap between them, leading to uncomfortable situations if you tend to move around at night. If you go too big, you may end up pushing pillows off the bed or having to overlap them if you sleep with a partner.

 Pillows come in three basic sizes: 

  • Standard 20" x 26"
  • Queen 20" x 30"
  • King 20" x 36" 

Size comparison between the three pillow sizes.

Standard pillows are the most common choice for homes and many hotels. However, luxury hotels with pillow menus typically do not offer standard pillow sizes unless your room has a full-size bed or smaller. They also offer less space, making them hard to use for people who sleep on their stomach or side.

 Queen pillows are more common on pillow menus in hotels around the world. They are probably the most popular size for hotels. They fit pretty nicely on any size mattress, and they work great for all types of sleepers because they offer a lot of room.

 King pillows are made specifically for king size beds. They can offer extra length that is nice if you like to bunch or fold your pillow or even to use it as a type of body pillow.

A Note on Choosing Your Pillow

Keep in mind that if you can't decide, the hotel may have an expert on staff that can assist you with choosing the right pillow. This person may be a concierge or even a front desk worker, but he or she will likely have some insight into the pillow menu or training in helping guests choose pillows. He or she may ask you questions about your sleeping habits to help narrow down which pillow choice is the best for your needs.

 Don't be afraid of asking to see some samples of the options because seeing and touching the pillow will help you to make a better decision. Make sure that your information is stored in your profile for future stays.

Wrapping Up

So, you've asked the question, "What is a pillow menu?" We'd like to think that we've given you a comprehensive look at the options and possibilities behind this newer hotel feature.

 Now that you are knowledgeable about such menus, you will be able to make an informed decision and get the most from the process. Hopefully, you will discover the best hotel pillow fit for your sleeping comfort and feel confident that your stay at the hotel will be a positive sleep experience.