I've noticed that mattresses (and pillows) in hotels tend to be softer than I'm used to, and I don't get a good night's sleep like I do at home. I don't have anything super-special going on (no weird medical stuff); I just have a firmer mattress and pillow at home and I notice the difference at hotels, sometimes waking up with a bit of a backache. Is there anything I can do in a hotel room, or when making a reservation, to firm up the bed, within the constraint that when I fly I try not to check baggage? (So if I bring something, it has to pack down.) I don't want to sleep on the floor (that's too firm).

  • Weird thing is that softer mattresses should not give you backaches. Anyhow anything that modifies the firmness of a mattress must at least be the size of a one-person mattress (90x190). I doubt you can fit that in a carry-on.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 6, 2014 at 17:12
  • 4
    @JoErNanO Not at all. Too soft bed brings back ache and can bring long-term troubles. When you buy a mattrace, they should ask you how tall and how heavy are you, and choose one for you according to this.
    – yo'
    Nov 6, 2014 at 17:59
  • 1
    @pnuts That just results in a headache, compounding the problem. Nov 6, 2014 at 20:01
  • 2
    A lot of the hotels I stay in offer two sets of pillows, one hard, one soft. Doesn't help with the mattress, but can make a difference. Otherwise, phoning the front desk can often get you other pillows (though not usually other matresses)
    – Gagravarr
    Nov 6, 2014 at 21:56
  • 2
    @JoErNanO, softer mattresses totally and always give me a backache. I sleep on my side, or my stomach. A soft mattresses ends up making my entire body crooked. Just rest on it watching TV can kill my back but sleeping on one is the worst. I don't know where you got the idea that soft mattresses should not give backaches. They do. I know from first hand experience.
    – gman
    Dec 16, 2018 at 19:14

5 Answers 5


I found a helpful video for exactly this problem - and it's an easy solution: just put a pillow under your midsection and your spine will be much better supported. http://youtu.be/DQgpE3DIcXs


One thing I noticed is that more expensive hotels tend to have softer mattresses and fluffier pillows.

While probably not universal, it might be worth experimenting with selecting a slightly lower class hotel, or just a different chain.

In extreme cases, sleeping on the floor is of course an option, even at home I have to do that sometimes when I've a severe attack of back pain (and my mattress there is pretty hard indeed).

But if your back is healthy, the aches waking up in a strange bed have more to do with the bed being strange and not shaped/moulded to your body as the one you have at home is than with the specific firmness of the mattress and bottom (the stiffness, shape, and movement of the springs or wooden slats the mattress is sat on have a big influence as well on your nightly comfort).
You will notice the same thing the first several days to weeks after purchasing a new mattress for your home.

  • 1
    Please note that a hard mattress is not necessarily the cure for back pain. Depending on the type of pain, your sleeping position, your body shape and a bunch of other factors, you might actually be doing yourself more harm than good.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 7, 2014 at 9:56
  • 1
    @JoErNanO of course, it's personal. But at least for me, a harder sleep is beneficial (and I've over a decade of experience with chronic back problems).
    – jwenting
    Nov 7, 2014 at 10:14

Some hotels offer a choice of mattresses, not advertised but it is worth asking.

I had an uncomfortable night at one large hotel because the mattress was too hard for me. I called the front desk to complain. The next night there was a much softer mattress on the bed.

  • They changed the mattress, as opposed to moving you to a different room? Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. Is it possible that they added a pad to the existing mattress? Aug 21, 2016 at 17:05
  • @MonicaCellio It was a change of mattress - I happened to be leaving my room as they were wheeling in the new mattress, on an obviously designed for the purpose cart. Aug 21, 2016 at 17:09
  • I'm impressed; that's a level of service I wouldn't have expected. Next time this happens to me I'll try asking. (Meanwhile, the pillow trick worked ok for me on my last squishy-mattess trip.) Aug 21, 2016 at 17:14
  • @MonicaCellio It is always worth asking. The worst that can happen is the front desk people say "no". Aug 21, 2016 at 17:19

Check for online reviews about the bedding. When I see "too hard" I think, "perfect for me." Also, you can call the front desk of hotels before you reserve a room and ask what guests typically say about the beds.


Depending on the number of nights booked, the size of the room, and the size of the bed...putting the mattress on the floor may be a suitable solution.

  • OP mentions in the question that they do not want to sleep on the floor, as that is too firm.
    – Willeke
    Jun 14, 2022 at 19:14
  • 2
    @Willeke The OP does say they don’t want to sleep on the floor. The OP does not say they don’t want to sleep on the mattress on the floor. Jun 14, 2022 at 21:38
  • +1, but it would be possible for the mattress to be too soft even on the floor if the bed base has no give in it. Or indeed too hard if the bed base is heavily sprung (@Willeke) Jun 15, 2022 at 11:57
  • If you knew in advance that you had to stay somewhere with very soft beds, you could carry a lightweight inflatable camping mattress to use either on the floor or the bed base Jun 15, 2022 at 12:00
  • It may also be that getting up from floorlevel is not as easy as it is for some.
    – Willeke
    Jun 15, 2022 at 15:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .