The Art of the Turndown Service

Thanks to Nate, the covers have been turned down. All is cozy for bedtime.  Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

First-class services have been provided in the bedroom lately and I want to tell Nate that I’ve noticed and—me likey. What better way to show my appreciation for Nate’s amazing bedroom arts than to write a blog post that only the public can see? Yes, I’ve decided that the world has to know about Nate’s extremely proficient skills in the area of the turndown service.

Just over the last few weeks or months, I’ve discovered that not one, but both corners of our comforter have been turned down at night and that the heavier pillows have been removed. It’s much easier to just slip into bed and drift off to sleep now.

“That’s the point,” Nate told me. “Preparing the bedroom for sleep makes you want to go to sleep faster.”

And it works. It really works, and I start to wonder why we didn’t try this on Alex when he was a toddler. Then, I remember why. Little touches like these would work once. Then, he’d wise up after that first night and become angry with us for “tricking” him into thinking he lived in a five-star hotel. “Yeah right, Mom and Dad, where’s the pool?” he’d ask. “I’m not falling for that again.”

Though we do not live in a five-star hotel, Nate and I once did stay in a very fancy place on St. John’s Island during our honeymoon. The staff would tiptoe into our room at night, while we were still setting sail into the sunset, protecting our yummy shrimp from the seagulls on our cocktail cruise. We’d come back slightly tipsy and seasick to find the corners of the beds turned down and delightful shells placed “just so” on the pillows. Someone with beautiful handwriting would also provide inspirational messages about dreams, seashells, oceans, ocean-dream seashells, and dreamy oceans with seashell breezes. (The messages all started to run together after a while.)

In any case, Nate has revived this tradition, nearly 20 years later and now I’m wondering: Who came up with this idea of the turndown service in the first place? I’ve spent about 30 exhausting minutes searching the Internet for an authoritative source to answer this question—to no avail—so it’s up to my imagination. Here’s my best shot at a “lost account” of sorts:

In a medieval castle far, far away, Lord Rumphilius, after a night of carousing, would wander into his bedchamber and fall face first into the very fluffy and decorative pillows on the bed. He would then proceed to drool profusely onto the very fluffy and decorative pillows. Lady Rumphilius was not amused. She would call to her servants and complain:

“Looketh at these wretched drool stains! These are decorative pillows! Decorative!”

The servants would do their best to comfort her, but it was Lady Rumphilius herself who came up with the solution:

“When we heareth the Lord’s clumsy steps on the stairs, we’ll pull back the covers and throw the decorative pillows from the bed.”

It took at least a year for Lord Rumphilius to fully notice that he was getting a turndown service, but when he realized how pampered he was and how sumptuously he lived, he bragged about it to all of the world. If someone slapped him in the face and challenged him to a duel or swordplay of any kind, he would just say:

“You fool! I’ll have you know that someone cometh into my bedchambers at night and prepareth the bed for me!”

This statement would draw loud gasps from crowds of people that would gather any time someone would yell, “Duel!” Soon, all of the medieval castles and kingdoms received five-star reviews—but only if they provided a turndown service.

Over the years, trinkets and gifts would be placed on the pillows. In colonial times, according to my imaginative resources, which can’t be found online—until now—an entire pineapple could be left on the pillow. Now, we just settle for chocolates, seashells, or notes—or bedtime stories and cocktails. (The bedtime stories and cocktails are real. Check out this link here.)

Of course, I did find some more authoritative sources online that might provide hints at some of the first turndown services. “The Household Staff in an English Medieval Castle” by Mark Cartwright provides a few clues and “A Brief History of the Bedroom” by Anne Reagan also provides some insight about how bedrooms were made up—and who was allowed to enter them—throughout history.

I also did look up the proper way to provide a turndown service, which you can find in the Youtube video on this link here. However, here at the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks headquarters, we (I) don’t get all hung up with the “proper way” to do things. Instead, we (I) try to come up with “other” ways of doing things. Then I try them out and tell you what NOT to do. Here are a few things you should NOT leave on the pillow if you decide to provide a turndown service at home:

1) To-do lists for the week.

2) Bills.

3) A bucket of chicken wings. (It might sound like a good idea at first, but the sheets! My goodness—think of the laundry!)

4) Disturbing images of sharks or other ferocious animals.

5) A giant rotating disco ball.

6) A whoopee cushion.

7) A drum set.

In Other News: I wrote a humorous piece for a magazine called The Haven, which is hosted on a platform called Medium. I’m not sure how it works and I think I’m supposed to gather “claps” for it, which feels kind of weird to me, but oh well. I had fun writing the story—and Nate, as usual, is a wonderful, terrific, good sport! The humorous essay/piece is provided here on this link:   “The Massage.” (If it won’t let you read the story because you’re not a member of “Medium,” sign up is free and they don’t bombard you with emails. Just one email a day, so it’s not too obnoxious—and you get to choose your reading interests. It’s all ad free too.)

Your Turn: When you travel, do you look for hotels that provide a turndown service? What was your worst or best hotel service experience?










32 thoughts on “The Art of the Turndown Service

  1. The summer I worked at Yellowstone Lake Hotel, I had the opportunity to do Turn Down service on several occasions, including a foreign ambassador and his family. It was fun, straightening things a bit, turning down the bed, and leaving a chocolate on the pillow. Never happened for me, not VIP enough. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t usually get turn down service, but I get the appeal. I admit I haven’t had many bad hotel experiences, but I was in a hotel last week and my reservation had gotten screwed up but I was rewarded with a two room suite, so I’m definitely calling that a win

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Always fun reading your unusual takes on love life. What did he “do” to try to get in your good graces by turning down the bed? LOL No rose petals? Come on Nick! Lavender also is nice.😊😊
    Congratulations on being published at another site.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve never come across a hotel with a turndown service before, although that might be because we stay in really cheap hotels xD The worst was Easy Hotel in London. Our particular room had no windows, and it was so small the bed took up the entire floor!
    Off to medium to check out your piece 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think I must be a descendant of Lord Rumphilius. I tend to flop down onto the bed on top of the covers (there may or may not be drooling involved). Once I actually get under the covers, I’m a bit of an uncouth barbarian and don’t make my bed as often as I should (I like to be positive — it’s kind of a permanent turndown service).

    I think I would have to pass on the entire pineapple on the pillow. Whatever form it arrived in, it sounds rather inconvenient, messy, or painful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I once read that pineapples were a symbol of hospitality in colonial times, so I’m assuming someone probably put one on a guest’s pillow at some point. However,that’s just the kind of hospitality that no one needs. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t really do the fancy turndown (mostly because it’s hot where I live and I don’t slip under anything, lol), but I like stripping the bed and setting the pillows before I go prepare for bed. It feels nice to come into the room and just get into bed.

    As for hotels, as long as they provide a spacious bed, plenty of pillows and air conditioning, I’m happy!

    P.S.: Your little imaginary history lesson made me laugh loud enough to make the neighbor’s dog bark.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a fun read! Our worst hotel experience was a night in Gatlinburg Tennessee. We went out to a couple of shows and retuned to our room late and exhausted. All of the rooms had outside access we were on the bottom floor just below the staircase. Just as we began drifting off to sleep the noise started – it sounded like thunder right over our heads. My husband looked out to see what was happening he found that a bus load of band students had just arrived. Apparently they all had rooms on the upper level and were carrying things up the stairs. When he went to complain and ask if we could be moved to a quieter room there was no one in the office to speak to. The noise went on for at least an hour before they all got settled in and we could get to sleep.

    Liked by 2 people

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