x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The pillows of our dreams

It was like lying in a sea of marshmallows, or clouds, or souffle...but when it came time to buy one, we missed the boat.

There are several factors that contribute to a good night's sleep: temperature, noise, stress levels, tiredness - and pillows. According to my mother, pillows are the key. Get the right pillow, she says, and pure, undisturbed, rejuvenating sleep will always be within your grasp. For a while, pillows were all she could talk about. We'd come home for the weekend and before we'd even finished relaying the tedium of our week, she was yanking her newest acquisition down from the cupboard and ordering us all to try it. "Apparently, this one can cure all kinds of muscle pain," she would proudly announce. Pillow Science was becoming her new specialist subject. And she was spending a fortune on increasingly technical varieties. Every time you opened a cupboard, a pillow would burst out, like an air bag.

Of course, we humoured her, but she never succeeded in inspiring in us quite her level of pillow excitement. Some of it must have brushed off, though, because the first thing I always do now when I go to a hotel (after yanking off the eiderdown - who knows how often they wash those things?) is check the pillows. Are they soft enough for sleep? Supportive enough for reading? So you can imagine my excitement when, on arriving at our hotel in Dubai this weekend, a quick prod of the pillows revealed that they were the among the softest and fluffiest I have ever experienced. Scores of geese mere hours old must have had to die to achieve such glorious bounciness. It was like lying in a sea of marshmallows, or clouds, or soufflé. I barely registered the news that night, so quickly was I enveloped in sleep.

Even my husband was smitten. "We simply must have these pillows," he announced as we mournfully packed up our things. But an obscure German brand name was all we had to go by. A visit to the hotel shop for the newspaper revealed that we were not alone in our affection. There, in a soft downy pile, were pillows - our pillows - the very marshmallowy, cloudy ones that had ensured blissful slumber for the past two nights. We didn't bat an eyelid when were calmly informed that that particular model was Dh850. "You can't put a price on sleep," we both muttered at each other, simultaneously reaching for our credit cards. And then the words you never want to hear: "Oh, but that particular model is out of stock at the moment."

My husband doesn't often cry, but I swear I saw the tears welling. Our distress was greeted by that other wonderfully vague palm-off. "But we should be getting more in soon."