Hypoallergenic Hotel Suites?
During my peak travel days in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, there were only 2 options of hotel rooms: smoking and non-smoking. If I walked into my room and detected smoke, of course I could go back to the desk and ask for a smoke-free room. For those who suffer with allergies, however, even these "smoke-free" rooms can trigger allergy attacks because of pet dander, mold, dust mites and fragrant cleaning products. Hotel chains are paying attention to their health-conscious customers now, and there are more options available.
What you see in a “hypoallergenic” hotel room is what you would want in your own home:
- Ideally, a solid floor instead of wall-to-wall carpet
- Solid wood furniture with minimal upholstery
- Dust mite-preventing mattress, boxspring and pillow encasements
- Anti-microbial, mold-free shower curtain and mats, and ventilation in the bathroom
- Clean air conditioner/heater units
- Additional air purification (such as a HEPA filter)
These are all designs/add-ons that hotels can offer to reduce allergens, but the major hotel brands have added additional cleaning processes and certification, such as those used by Pure Wellness. This company uses a seven-step process of ozone shock treatment, AC unit purification, Pure Clean Sanitation, Pure Shield Barrier, 24/7 air purification using Disinfecting Filtration System technology, Fresh Clean Air (Tea tree oil cartridge in the AC unit to sanitize the outflowing air), and allergy friendly bedding including mattress protector and pillow encasements. Rooms are deep cleaned for initial certification, recertified every six months and deep cleaned again every two years. Such rooms typically command $20 or more extra to the consumer.
Hyatt debuted their class of hypoallergenic hotel rooms in 2010, named Respire Rooms. The hotel says that “the air in Respire by Hyatt rooms on average is 10 times more pure than outside air due to lower particulate counts.” To find similar rooms, visit pureroom.com/find-a-pure-room . Although there are thousands of Pure Rooms in the US, I was pleasantly surprised to find two such hotels within 100 miles of my country home.
Not everyone is a fan of Pure Rooms, however, and it seems to be mostly due to management of the room between certifications. When hotel staff are not educated in the why’s of using only non-toxic, unscented cleaning products such as laundry detergent, toxins and smells can quickly build up. Reviews from sufferers of MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) for Pure Rooms are not purely positive. The tea tree oil cartridge in the ventilation filter, for example, may seem “fresh” to many people but is a disabling scent for those with MCS. Also, Pure Wellness does not require that carpeting be removed from rooms when they are converted, which can harbor allergens between deep cleanings.
How can I find a hypoallergenic room outside the US? A representative for Pure Wellness commented that as of February 2022, their company does not take responsibility for any rooms outside the US. Room to Breathe is a UK company which provides similar services as Pure Wellness, but they do not have a comprehensive directory of rehabilitated rooms for booking purposes. For the moment, I think it’s best to search “allergy-free hotel ______”, adding the name of your destination city. Don’t forget to do the same for cruise lines!
Sometimes peak seasons or emergency traveling preclude the ability to stay in one of these rooms. If there are no such distinctions available, you can mitigate the conditions on your own. It takes a little planning and perhaps a few more pounds in your suitcase, but you can do it!
- Skip online booking or the 1-800 number, and try to call the hotel directly and connect with someone who is familiar with allergies and how the rooms are cleaned. Ask about the use of fragrance-free cleaning products, if the air conditioner or heater filter has been cleaned recently, and when the carpets have been deep cleaned. If possible, ask for a room that has not had pets, and was cleaned some days before, to allow for the cleaning product VOCs to dissipate.
- Bring your own towels, if possible.
- Bring your hypoallergenic sleep sack that protects against allergens in the sheets next to your skin. It should have a pocket for the pillow. Here are some options:
- BraveEra 100% Silk Travel Sleep Sheet claims to be machine washable, drying in about an hour, costs about $100
- Browint has a number of options in silk, silk/cotton and microfiber for less than $60
- ASOOX makes a comfortable microfiber sleep sheet set that comes in 1 or 2 person sizes for less than $30.
- Stay in a hotel that has laundry facilities to launder your sheets and towels if necessary.
- Bring your own air purifier, if possible. The Air Angel is extremely travel friendly and works on 110v/240v (you’ll just need a plug adapter if in a country outside the US). Plug it in near your bed when you first arrive, and let it work while you go to dinner or entertainment.