by Tom Isler | September 01, 2005
Beautiful bedA hotel’s boasting about sheets with a colossal thread count a measure of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch of linen is like bragging about how many hot dogs you can stuff into your mouth at once: The numbers can be impressive but shouldn’t be the sole measure of quality.
    “There are only so many threads you can fit in a square inch before
you end up with cardboard,” says Fidelma Wyse, vice president of commercial design and special products for Anichini Hospitality, a luxury hotel linen and textile company based in Tunbridge, Vt.
    A top-of-the-line sheet combines a high-quality thread (for example, Egyptian cotton, composed of long, soft fibers) with a thread count appropriate to the sheet’s weave. A thread count of 200 is enough for percale, a basic weave that yields a crisp sheet with a matte finish; 300 is ideal for sateen, a high-sheen sheet.
    Hotels have latched onto thread count as a marketing tool because it’s easy to sell the notion that more is better. According to Wyse, the best way to determine a sheet’s quality is to find out if it was made by a reputable company (such as Bellino, Frette, Matouk, Peacock Alley, Pratesi or Yves Delorme), because there are too many variables to keep track of. Note: Even a linen with the right specs can be ruined in the cleaning, dyeing and finishing stages.