What Is a Bed Runner? Why Do Hotels Use It?

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Wondering what that piece of fabric lying on the bed of the hotel room is good for? And what is it even called? If you are looking at a long yet not-so-wide piece of fabric running along the foot of your hotel room’s bed, seemingly adding an aesthetic touch to the bedding décor, you are most probably looking at a bed runner.

In this article, we shall discuss what a bed runner is and why hotels use these ‘seemingly’ useless (apart from being decorative) pieces of fabrics on the bedding. 

What is a Bed Runner?

A bed runner is a small yet long piece of fabric that is used to add a touch of elegance to the bedding of the room – be it a hotel room or a personal one. Up until recently, bed runners were most commonly seen in upscale hotels. However, the trend of enhancing the appearance of a plain duvet cover with an elegant touch of color and style has made bed runners extremely popular with a growing number of hotels (even the not-so-upscale ones). 

Bed runners easily add to the bedding appearance without too putting a dent to the wallet and are also sometimes used for extra warmth during those intensely chilly winters. 

Talking about the history of bed runners, they were not ‘always’ used for adding aesthetics to a room. In fact, bed runners in the early days (as early as the medieval time period) were used to hold heat in between them for warming beds. 

Bed warmers were stuffed with hot rocks or coal. Next, they were placed on the bed to keep the bed warm during extreme cold. Although it was considered a form of the tapestry of the family crest meant for fashion, the original intent was always to maintain the warmth of the bed using these runners.

Nowadays, bed runners are ‘mostly’ used for aesthetic purposes to enhance the appearance of the living room and have totally lost their use as bed warmers.

What are the available sizes for Bed Runners?

Bed runners are available in different sizes so that they do not come off as too big or too small. To ensure that they are fit perfectly with your bedding and lay just across the foot of your bed, bed runners come in the following commonly preferred sizes:

  • Full – 68 x 18 inch
  • Queen – 74 x 18 inch
  • Twin – 53 x 18 inch
  • King – 90 x 18 inch
  • CA King – 86 x 18 inch

Why are Bed Runners expensive?

Whenever you are planning to add a touch of a little ‘something’ to your room and the best way to go about it will be bed runners. However, bed runners can sometimes be expensive. The primary reasons behind certain bed runners being more expensive than the others is the quality of the fabric used, embellishments, design, and handcrafting on the bed runner (if any). 

If you are aiming for a simple do-over for your bedding, choosing a minimalist and quality bed runner shall not come off as expensive for you.

What are the patterns and styles available for bed Runners?

Although a number of hotels use bed runners in solid colors, usually in contrast to white, in order to complement the interiors of the room, one can often find decorative bed runners across countless hotels (and homes).

Depending on the style of the interior, decorative bed runners can often be categorized into modern, Asian, tropical, contemporary, farmhouse, etc. Apart from styles, bed runners are also found in different patterns such as ikkat, Moroccan, French toile, ombre, etc.

Now, when there are so many styles and patterns available for bed runners, why do hotels mostly go for solid and plain ones? That is because they do not want to go overboard with the design. 

There is a fine line that must always be maintained to ensure that the bed runners accentuate the appearance of the room, not disturb it. Since most hotel rooms are minimalistic and simple with the interiors, choosing an over-the-top designed bed runner might not complement the ambiance of the room.

Why Do Hotels Use Bed Runners?

Anyone with an observant sight and enthusiasm for travel knows that bed runners are most commonly seen in hotel rooms. 

The point of perplexity lies in the question that if you could not use these pieces of fabric for extra warmth or as quilts (obviously owing to their small size), what are they good for?

Why do hotels use these bed runners? Further in this article, you’ll understand bed runners are way more important to hotels than being used for decorative purposes or aesthetic reasons.

1. To add a statement to the plain old white linen.

If you have done a touchdown on a handful of hotels, you already know that most of them use plain white linens that are, well, in simple words, monotonous. Using a bed runner to enhance the appearance of these plain white linens allows hotels to create a better ambiance for the guests. 

However, you must be wondering, “Why do hotels use white sheets, then? Why don’t they just choose some fancy linens and save the cost of having to use bed runners?”

Why do hotels use white sheets?

Not only are plain white linens inexpensive, but also cheaper to launder than fancy and embellished linen. Since decorative linens are often damaged by machine washes and the fabric is often unsuitable for bleaching, decorative linens do not last as long as plain white linens. 

White linens, on the other hand, are easy to bleach (even when you decide to be clumsy and spill your morning tea on them). They do not fade away easily, and there is no possibility of color bleeding. 

If you look at the washroom towels and fabrics, all of them are white, which means the hotel staff can put all of them in for washing (the linen and towels, etc.) without having to worry about color bleeding. 

Besides, plain white linen creates a Zen ambiance for the guests and gives off a vibe that the room is newly furnished, which makes the stay for the guests more pleasant.

Above all, white linens are used for the most obvious reasons that you wish they were not used – so that dirt and stains are visible on the sheets. It makes it easier for the hotel staff to clean the sheets. It provides assurance for picky travelers who are concerned about the hotel hygiene that the sheets are clean – since white sheets, if unclean, can instantly be recognized.

So, now that we have established how white linen is a crucial and indispensable part of most hotel beddings, one of the very limited options that hotels are left with to amp up their bedding game is to add bed runners.

2. Cost reduction on the hotel’s end

When you look at the whole bed runner situation from the hotel’s point of view, it is more than just a complimentary piece of fabric that adds to the hotel’s expenses. 

Surprisingly, bed runners are, in fact, cost-effective decorative additions that come off more inexpensive than most other types of decorations.

If hotels had to do over their bedding so that their plain white bedding does not look monotonous and boring, there are very few options that are as inexpensive as bed runners. 

Besides, bed runners enhance the ambiance and appearance of the room holistically, which means that they also save hotels from the additional cost of adding extra elements to a room to customize it and make it look more attractive.

3. Protects against shoe mucks and dirt on the linen 75

Remember the one time (or the countless times) you tied your shoes on the bed? Imagine how badly that could soil the white linens in hotel rooms (not that you haven’t soiled them at least once with those mucky shoes). 

Bed runners provide protection to the white linens against dirt and stains when you either tie your shoes on the bed or stow your luggage onto the foot of the bed to pick out some clothes right after taking a bath. 

Since bed runners lie across the foot of the bed, they act as a protective covering to not just the linens but also the white quilts and the white blankets.

4. Cheap and small in length

Bed runners are small in size, which means they do not cost as much as fancy sheets. The manufacturing cost of bed runners is lesser than that of embellished and designed bed sheets which again, makes bed runners a viable option to enhance the bedding without actually changing a lot of the elements. 

5. Does not get dirty easily

When we say bed runners do not get dirty easily, we mean the obvious ‘spots’ and stains do not appear as fast as they would on those pristine white sheets. Thus, the need to launder them as soon as the guests leave is obliterated, which in turn adds up as savings on the hotel’s end (detergents and machine laundering are two expensive things, after all).

Since bed runners used in hotel rooms are often in dark shades, they do not come off as ‘dirty’ even to the picky travelers, which saves the time and the money of the hotel staff to launder them on a quotidian basis.

6. Easily washable

Now, say the bed runners have been dirtied after all – what now? Well, the obvious answer is ‘washing’ them. However, unlike linen, bed runners do not take up much space in the machine, owing to their small size, mostly the dimensions in terms of width. 

This is why they are not only easily washable but multiple of them can be fit into one load and run on a gentle cycle. This, again, proves cost-effective to the hotels.

Besides saving up on the expense of multiple washes, hotels also save on time since washing several bed runners in one go avoids delays in resetting rooms.

Can You Use Bed Runners at Home?

Yes, bed runners can be used to decorate beddings at home. In fact, a significant number of people use bed runners at home to enhance the appearance of their room without having to do much about it to begin with. Since bedding is an important element of the room’s ambiance, amping it up with bed runners can give your room a new and refreshing look.

How to choose bed runners for home?

From so many options available, how do you choose a bed runner that perfectly adds to your room’s interior design? It can be overwhelming when you start looking at the options, but where are a few tips that can help you choose the right bed runner for your room that truly complements it:

  • Pick a bed runner based on the style of your interior, such as contemporary, tropical, etc. Choose a color, pattern, and other details based on how they complement the interior of your room. 
  • Pick a bed runner that gives a rejuvenating feel to the ambiance. This would make the room look newly furnished.
  • Satin or silk bed runners often give off an elegant and minimalist look; thus, if you want to keep it simple yet posh – go for any of the two fabrics when choosing a bed runner.
  • Select a bed runner that is easily washable and has tightly woven knits so that the fabric does not fall loose after a few washes.

The strategic placement of the bed runner on the bed is equally important. If you have a fancy and decorated bed runner, placing it at the center will give the bed a detailed appeal. Your bed runner will, for sure, steal the spotlight – if that’s what you were aiming at! 

On the other hand, if you only want the bed runner to subtly blend with the bedding and the other features of the room, lay it across the foot of the bed, thus keeping the style of your décor perfectly balanced. 

Buying a set of matching pillows can add a certain hint of ‘fresh’ to your complete space.

Read More

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  2. Can You Have Visitors in Hotels?
  3. Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel?
  4. Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel?
  5. What is a “French bed room” in German hotel terminology?
Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.


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