Why hotels and other places that cater to overnight guests have adopted bed scarves is another matter. The first time I noticed a bed scarf was in a cabin on a ship. Since space is tight in a stateroom, most passengers heave their suitcase on top of the bed to unpack. Functional rather than pretty, that ship's bed scarf was a piece of vinyl placed to protect the bedspread from being soiled by luggage.
The Sudden Popularity of the Bed Scarf
Not so long ago, hotels throughout the land covered their beds in bedspreads in prints, patterns, solids, chenille, quilted fabrics. And then they stopped, replacing them with solid-colored sheets, usually pure white, and topped that with a bed scarf.
I have some theories as to why bed scarves rose and bedspreads fell:
- Cleanliness. One never knew how clean a bedspread was and how often it had been washed. The white sheets under a bed scarf are obvious.
- Pestilence. Many travelers are wary about sleeping in a bed not their own, especially when bed bugs are a concern. These nasty critters are adept at concealing themselves. Contrasted against white sheets, they're easier to detect. See: How to Check Your Hotel Mattress for Bed Bugs.
- Aesthetics. Many bedspreads were ugly. Some were hideous. Even pretty ones looked passé after a while.
- Style. Just as men and women accessorize their clothing with scarves, dressing a bed in one adds flair to an otherwise dull-looking set of sheets.
- Economy. Instead of a hotel spending huge amounts on redecorating, rooms can be freshened up with a new coat of paint and a bed scarf that complements the color. An expensive bedspread with an obvious stain can no longer be used; a more-affordable bed scarf can be simply discarded and replaced.
- Novelty. Bed scarves can be easily switched and customized to match a color, display a logo, reflect the season, or work with another theme.
Want to extend that we're-still-in-a-honeymoon-hotel feeling to home? Consider changing your linens to all white or a solid color of your choice and topping it with a beautiful bed scarf (compare prices) that matches your bedroom décor.