This evening at Kensington Palace, the official home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the London glitterati will enjoy champagne and canapés in a grand state room. Then, one by one, they will take off their shoes and climb into the Royal Bed—a $175,000 creation from bespoke British bed makers Savoir Beds.
“No one can deny that it’s a lot of money,” says Savoir’s managing director Alistair Hughes. “But for the kind of people who spend $10,000 a night staying in presidential suites or driving a fabulous car, it’s something that could very well appeal.”
It may seem over-the-top to throw a launch party for a bed at a palace, but the bed does have tenuous royal connections. When dreaming up the Royal Bed designers at Savoir took inspiration from the beds used by British monarchs throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Among the Royal Bed’s regal elements are its attractive half tester, elaborate headboard and regal embroidery. The crests are sewn by artisans at the Royal School of Needlework—the same hands behind the lace motifs on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.
For Savoir’s clients, who reportedly include Oprah Winfrey and Madonna, the grandeur of such a bed matters less than its comfort. The limited-edition Royal Bed boasts a mattress made with cashmere, cotton, and curled Latin American horse tail. (Horse tail wicks away moisture, helps maintain body temperature, and provides natural spring). The silk threads involved in the manufacture of just one bed would stretch all the way from New York to Miami.
It takes a lot of manpower to create the perfect night’s sleep: Each bed takes 700 hours to complete. Among the more esoteric skills involved is “hand-teasing,” a process by which artisans lay out the horse hair and cashmere, and comb through it to determine how much they need for an individual bed. The amount usually weighs in around 22 pounds. “It’s like a massive cloud of hair that’s puffed up and they’re pulling it up through their fingers,” Hughes says. “It’s like they are playing a concert piano.”
Given how personal and private sleeping is, Hughes doesn’t expect all of tonight’s guests to warm instantly to his latest offering. “It’s a bit like going to a catwalk show,” he says. “You watch the dresses come down the runway, but of course most of them won’t fit you.” Fortunately each bed is customized for the client, who can adjust the shape of the headboard, the feel of the mattress, the colors of the fabric, and the design of the crest. ”We buy clothes to quite detailed specifications of fit and at the very top end of the market you have them made for you,” Hughes says. “You spend a third of your life in bed. Why wouldn’t you have it made for you too?”
Savoir will only make 60 Royal Beds. For bed connoisseurs who miss out this time around —and for those who rather use their $175,000 to buy a house—Savoir does have more affordable, if still expensive, options. Each year they produce around 1,000 beds, ranging from $8,000 to $80,000.
Hughes likes to point out that life’s most important events—conception, birth, and death—usually take place in a bed. “The bedroom should really be celebrated,” he says. “In the last 15 years we’ve all gone nuts on our kitchens. Well I say it’s time to move on to the bedroom.”