Brand Wars: How the finest Italian sheets stack up

by Kelsey Blodget on March 11, 2010

Guests at the hip Thompson LES sleep on 400-thread-count Sferra linens.

Guests at the hip Thompson LES sleep on 400-thread-count Sferra linens.

We’ll admit it: We are name-droppers here at Oyster. Not celebrity name-droppers, mind you (well, ok, sometimes), but brand name-droppers — we love us some Kiehl’s toiletries and high-thread-count Frette sheets.

But we know that many travelers don’t know their Mascioni from Anichini. So in our new series, Brand Wars, we’re going to offer a look at who’s who in the hotel brand world — from the designers to the electronics to the toiletries. After all, this stuff has a big impact on one’s overall hotel experience. Especially at the upper end of the luxury spectrum, the difference between, say, a 4-pearl (luxury), a 4.5-pearl (ultra-luxury) and a 5-pearl (insanely extravagant luxury) is largely in these kids of details.

So, to kick it off we’re going to start with a highly contentious category: sheets. Yes,  sheets. Hotels love to brag about high thread count, but as we learned from the hilarious Aziz Ansari, high thread count doesn’t always equal high quality. So what does make for soft, plush, feels-like-you’re-sleeping-on-a-cloud linens? Thread count does come in to play, but other factors like fiber quality, yarn size, and finishing matter just as much. With the luxury brands below, you can be sure  that you’ll get a decadent night’s sleep on a high-quality weave.

The best sheets tend to come from Italy, so to help you distinguish these brands we associated each with an elite Italian sports car.

Anichini

  • If these sheets were a sports car, they’d be: A Maserati — grown-up luxury with a lot under the hood
  • What makes them special: One of the few companies to use top-of-the-line materials like voile, silk twill, and double weight sateen; specialty fabrics like Muga silks from Assam and Tibetan cashmere add a touch of the exotic
  • Where you can sleep on them: Koa Kea Resort Hotel Poipu Beach; One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa

Pratesi

  • If these sheets were a sports car, they’d be: A Pagani — the most expensive car you’ve never heard of
  • What makes them special: Got its start over 100 years ago making linens for the Italian aristocracy; invented “Paradise” cotton linen, with thread so fine it takes a week to make 10 meters
  • Where you can sleep on them: The St. Regis Washington, D.C.

Mascioni

400-thread-count Mascioni sheets make the Plaza's beds feel heavenly soft.

400-thread-count Mascioni sheets make the Plaza's beds feel heavenly soft.

  • If these sheets were a sports car, they’d be: A Lancia — classic, understated luxury
  • What makes them special: Develops new techniques at in-house lab; complex finishing treatment results in less wrinkling and  increased durability
  • Where you can sleep on them: The Plaza; Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square

Sferra

  • If these sheets were a sports car, they’d be: An Alfa Romeo — bold, stylish, and relatively accessible
  • What makes them special: Started in 1891 as a producer of Venetian lace cuffs and collars; design team gets inspiration from travels to Italy, India, France and Germany
  • Where you can sleep on them: Surrey Hotel; The Cooper Square Hotel; Thompson Hotels (60 Thompson; Thompson LES, etc.)

Frette

  • If these sheets were a sports car, they’d be: A Ferrari — also the most recognizable brand name in its category
  • What makes them special: Became Official Purveyors to the Italian Royal family in the late 1800s; has produced custom linens with family crests for over 500 aristocratic families; provided table linens for banqueting rooms on the Titanic
  • Where you can sleep on them: Over 8,000 hotels around the world, including The Pierre; Mandarin Oriental, Boston; Crosby Street Hotel; The Beverly Hills Hotel; and Fifteen Beacon

Fili D’Oro

The Peninsula, one of LA's top luxury hotels, outfitts its beds with 300-thread-count Fili D'oro sheets.

The Peninsula, one of LA's top luxury hotels, outfitts its beds with 300-thread-count Fili D'oro sheets.

Rivolta Carmignani

  • If these sheets were a sports car, they’d be: A Bugatti* — elite, well-made, and powerful
  • What makes them special: Bed linens are made of pure Egyptian cotton, pure linen, or union linen; designed to withstand frequent washings
  • Where you can sleep on them: The Carlyle; Four Seasons Washington D.C.

*Bugatti is now owned by Volkswagen and is technically German, but it was founded by an Italian.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan March 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I am surprised that you have not included Manrico 100% cashmere sheets. Not sure what car they would be but as the sheets are all custom made I guess it would have to be a one-of-a-kind car.

Kelsey March 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Hi Joan,

Thanks so much for your comment! Manrico cashmere sheets are divine, we agree. They (unfortunately!) are not carried by hotels, or we would have loved to include them. (The one exception is the Principe di Savoia in Milan, which does have them in its Presidential Suite.)

Diane December 28, 2010 at 9:23 pm

All the names are impressive, and I’ve even bought a set of Rivolta’s from the manufacturer itself (courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels). But what my husband and I are looking for is the kind of sheet that they USED to make–cool, slick, and smooth.

It seems everybody’s concerned about thread count (courtesy of Martha Stewart), when it’s the FINISH that’s what our bodies feel. I think the sheets I remember were Percale, but I can’t find them, alas.

Just sayin’

Diane

Diane December 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm

PS. Addendum!

Sateen is too hot for us. And it’s difficult to turn over in bed at night on sateen.

Diane

Jill February 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

A bit of a mis-guide on Sferra sheets – their top of the line linens, like Milos and Colette, are way more pricey and fab to sleep on than what you’ve suggested here. They are pretty amazing!

Carol July 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

I just stayed at the mandarin oriental hotel in las Vegas. The sheets were fantastic. I think the company is called poh. Any thoughts?
I don’t think they are Italian but they are as nice as pratesi.

Jane Millman November 10, 2011 at 10:17 am

You might also consider QUAGLIOTTI which is a family owned mill in Northern Italy. You will find their sheets at the Ritz in Paris (just to name drop), and their table linens are at the Plaza Athenee and the Crillon.

CHRISTIAN FISCHBACHER of Switzerland also makes very fine bedding and the absolute best down comforters on the planet (including eiderdown). Look for Christian Fischbacher bed linens at the Setai on South Beach.

Both companies can make custom sizes, and are ideal for yachts and private jets.

You can buy Quagliotti and Christian Fischbacher at Aiko Luxury Linens in Miami, Florida or online at http://www.italianfinelinens.com.

cyndi July 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

how i came upon this page: i stumbled upon a fantastic sheet set at Goodwill. King. I knew I had my hands on something special, so I bought it immediately. I looked it up when I got home and voila: what I had purchased was a king-size set of Fili D’Oro. The price: $2.50. Score. Thanks to this blog, I now know just exactly how special my amazing find is. Will be sleeping on the Lamborghini tonight!

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