Our pillow and duvet expert believes bedding can change your life. Here's why.
'I think that most people don’t understand what it is like to sleep on a proper pillow. When you stay in a Soho House bedroom and have a good night’s sleep, it can change your life because you feel so much better – you’re healthier. Sleep and health go hand in hand.
The most important thing is that you have as uninterrupted a night’s sleep as possible, you aren’t tossing and turning trying to get the pillow to sit right or trying to find a soft bit or a hard bit or whatever, you’re not taking the duvet on or off because it’s too hot or too cold, you just sleep uninterruptedly. Most people with their sleep patterns during the night, because they move around, will wake up in a totally different position and on a totally different part of their pillow to where they started.'
'Many brands describe their pillows as 'pure' goose down - and you’d think that ‘pure’ would mean 100% wouldn’t you? Actually the legal requirement for ‘pure’ is 70%! As it happens we don’t use 100% goose down and there’s actually a very good reason for that - what matters is the balance between too soft and too light, and structure and support.
What we’ve done [with Soho Home’s pillows] is have a percentage of feather in them, and again, the feather is probably as important as the down. Very low quality feathers which are horrible and stalky and stick out and nip you, while high quality feathers which are smaller. The feathers give structure and the trick is getting the mix right. Soho Home pillows have 70% down and 30% feather. It’s high quality feather and high quality down and it’s a really nice mixture of very soft on the face, yet with enough filling and enough feather to give structure to it. So it’s this balance between not having it so soft that your head goes straight through it, but soft enough that you will sleep comfortably on it.'
Duck, duck, goose
'A very high quality duck down is better than a low quality goose down. What it comes down to is the quality of the down itself, the age of the birds (because if it’s a very young bird for example then the down hasn’t formed fully so won’t be as good quality). It’s also the fact that a goose is a different sort of bird to a duck and has slightly different down on it. It's because the bird is bigger and heavier, so it has to be more effective.
Our goose down is all European sourced. We have very high standards of where the down comes from and only use the highest quality suppliers of the feathers. The highest quality down always comes from birds that are looked after.'
The power of two
'You should have two pillows on the bed because then you’ve got enough support that your shoulders and neck are comfortable and you can read a book. Then when you go to sleep and you slide the two pillows down, they are soft enough that you can go to sleep, but they’re not so firm that your neck is cricked. Feather and down squidges up at both ends so your head sort of burrows through it, it wont do that with a synthetic pillow.
You’ve got to get it so your head is nestled about two thirds of the way through. 'Medium' is our standard – most people most of the time don't want a soft pillow, because your head would go straight through it and it wouldn’t give any support.'
'A duvet must be warm and heavy enough so that you don’t think about it, it just folds round you, you’re not hot, you’re not cold, it just breathes. Yet it feels like you’ve got something on you when you’re asleep. By its nature, a high quality or high filling down duvet becomes very thin because down holds warmth more than feathers do, feathers don’t really hold it at all.
A tog rating is a measure of a duvet's warmth. Everything has a tog – the duvet cover itself, a sheet - it’s about trapping air which keeps you warm. You could have a 10.5 tog duvet filled with eiderdown, which is the best in the world and you'd need very little eiderdown because these ducks bob about in the Arctic Ocean and this stuff keeps them from freezing solid. It would be much thinner than a 10.5 tog duvet with 15% down in it.'
Getting the balance right
'The better the tog rating with a down duvet, the lighter the duvet, and so if you have a duvet which is very light, for me personally it doesn’t feel like I’ve got a duvet on me, it bothers me during my sleep, I like to feel like I’ve got something which actually feels like I’m in bed. So in a lot of ways it’s better to have a bit of feather in it to bulk it out. You can’t have it all down because it becomes too warm.
You always have to have this balance between how thin it looks and how warm you want it to be. If you have a high quality, high down content duvet, it will be very thin, but spectacularly warm! Soho Home's 10.5 duvets have got it right - they look plump enough and they work because they are warm.'
'To make our duvets and pillows, you have machinery which chooses the mix which you have specified. Air is blown through the feathers and down and the lighter particles stay up longer, while the heavier particles fall down more quickly. Soho Home's pillows and duvets are made in the UK. UK industry is very important to us and wherever it’s possible to manufacture in the UK, we'll always do it.
You should always shake a duvet, every single day when you’re making the bed. Everything plumps up again and looks better. What you’ve done is aerate it - you’re getting air in, separating little bits of down and feathers. It's the same with a pillow – give it a good banging plump to get it aerated as well and it’ll double or treble in size. When you’ve aerated it, it isn’t going to be damp and that is the best thing to do. In the main, if you aerate them – plump them up, hang them over a bannister – that should be enough.'