Sunday , July 22 2018
Bunk Beds

Get a new perspective on bunk beds

Bunk beds are not just a trend for hip and cool boutique hotels anymore; you can increasingly find them in luxury accommodation.

Granted, some guests only choose bunk rooms for economic reasons, and some families may only prefer a bunk room to a traditional family suite because of the value it offers, but there are some who like retiring to a luxury suite with a private balcony, bespoke linens and two sets of queen-size bunk beds!

In response to the trend for bunk beds, some luxury hotels have reconfigured some of their guestrooms, taking a chance on bunk beds and surprisingly they have been a hit. For those guests who wish to harken back to their youth, this room option is fun-filled as it brings back the spirit of pyjama parties and overnight revelry! For large families and budget travellers, these bunk rooms can make travel much more affordable because bunk beds allow several people to stay together for a fraction of the cost of booking multiple rooms.

Services like Airbnb also accommodate groups and often use bunk rooms to offer extra cost-efficiency without giving up prime locations and now many regular hotels are banking on the appeal of bunk rooms too.

Bunk beds are no longer just for youth hostels, holiday parks or family rooms; some of the trendiest and most luxurious hotels in the world have added single, double or queen bunk beds to inspire friendship and memories that will last a lifetime. These are not your average budget accommodation providers either, some of these bunks offer safety, maximum comfort and come equipped with LED TVs, wireless connections and, of course, nostalgia!

Family hotels, hostels and smaller accommodation providers have always recognised the benefits of adding extra beds to small spaces. The average backpacker may not be too concerned about the comfort, or indeed safety, of their bunk bed but the increasing number of families and posh-packers who are now travelling on a budget are looking for comfort and peace of mind but their primary concern is always safety…

Children: danger

Consumer Protection Online warns of the dangers of injuries that can happen from unsafe bunk bed use, most commonly when children fall from the top bunk. Children can also get stuck in gaps or get their clothes caught on tall corner posts. This may lead to serious or even fatal injuries.

The site states: “There is an Australian/New Zealand product standard that applies to bunk beds – AS/NZS 4220:2010. This standard is voluntary and addresses the design and construction of bunk beds. While this standard is not mandatory, trading standards strongly advocates compliance with the standard.”

Accommodation providers need to take note that bunk beds are not suitable for children under nine years of age. They need to ensure that all ladders and guardrails are fixed and stable – check regularly for wear and tear and always repair any damage immediately.

They should also make sure that the mattress is suitable for the bunk bed, with no gap. And if replacing a mattress, make sure to check the proportions in relation to the height of the guardrail. Also, make sure that a bunk bed is always placed in a safe position away from windows, window cords and well away from fans.

Top bunks should have guardrails or bed-ends on all sides and the guardrails should be smooth and free from protrusions or potential snag points, with no gaps of 95mm to 230mm in any part on the bunk beds, including guardrail rungs on ladders. This is to ensure that small bodies cannot fit through – however heads can get stuck.

Once an accommodation provider has ensured that they are buying a safe product from a quality supplier that will fit into the designated space, they can consider design, style and combinations. Double or single bunks or a combination? What will best meet your needs?

Things to consider when purchasing a bunk bed?

  • Size matters: get the correct size bed for your space – king or single?
  • Look for an easy-to-assemble bunk bed.
  • Looks good? Bunks can be stylish too!
  • Can it be bolted to the floor to make it more secure?
  • Choose a mattress worthy of your guests – don’t skimp because it is just a bunk!
  • Ensure past bunk bed flaws have been rectified – problems such as the mounts on the legs splitting or breaking and the side rails and platform slats bending.
  • You do not want wobbly beds so ensure that the bed is super-strong and very sturdy.
  • Don’t buy a bunk bed that allows your guest to whack their head when sitting on the bottom bunk! Check for an extended gap between the platforms to give enough sitting space.
  • Consider a bunk that can be split in two, giving you options.
  • Always try before you buy and check for utmost comfort and safety.

Remember bunk beds are an easy and cost effective way to increase your heads on beds and therefore increase revenue, they can also cool enough to fit your vibe.

Industry view

KELLI-BUNK-WALNUT-292x300 Get a new perspective on bunk beds
Photo: Haven Distributing, NZ

We spoke to New Zealand industry supplier of beds Roger Harris, the director of Haven Distributing about his thoughts on bunk beds in the industry.

Q: What popular bunk bed design options are available for different accommodations? How can these be customised?

A: Many bunk designs and constructions are available, as varying accommodation providers have specific requirements, relating to functionality, style, size, room formats, etc.

The more traditional backpacker accommodation requests a simple yet extremely strong, often steel construction, due to high-use in these facilities. The facilities are very focused on strength and safety with a basic design, although there are some new options being trialled in various locations, with the view to upgrading the utilitarian designs of the past. However, with these backpacker facilities attracting a price conscious visitor, the proven steel designs are still extremely popular, at a relatively low-cost capital expenditure.

The development of backpacker accommodation in many holiday parks, and council operated facilities, with many still utilising the steel construction options, are also seeing the use of strong timber bunks in a variety of designs and finishes, with a strong focus on the use of hardwood options which, while being extremely strong and sturdy, can also offer a relative softness in their design. With this however, there is an uncompromising requirement for AS/NZS safety standard compliance, especially with the recent changes and focus on the health and safety requirements of accommodation providers.

The combination use of bunks and matching bed options, to provide a seamless combination in rooms, has also become more popular in recent times, and is allowing facilities to further extend the number of beds, especially in some family room formats.

Q: What colours and styles are on trend right now?

A: The utilitarian options of painted steel, in a small range of colours, including neutral silver, grey and black, and the timber options available include natural timber stain colours and painted finishes, complementing the décor of the facility, as applicable.

Q: What are the benefits of providing bunk beds in accommodations?

A: The obvious benefits to the provider are the ability to maximize the number of visitor nights using vertical bunking, and maximizing the sometimes-tight available space. The use of other sleep surfaces through the provision of extra beds, often stored under bunks and beds or rolled into rooms for additional guests, also work well with the bunking formats to increase the number of visitor nights in the facilities. The use of a lighter weight mattress on the upper bunk, provides an easier ‘make up’ of the bed by housekeeping personnel, which in many facilities is achieved with the use of quality foam mattresses on this upper level.

Q: Do you have an opinion on how important the quality of a bunk bed mattress is?

A: While the use of bunks in many circumstances, is to maximise the number of guests, it is still important that they get a comfortable sleep. It is therefore important that the selection of a mattress focuses on quality and the ultimate sleep experience of the guest.

Less expensive accommodation needn’t mean an uncomfortable night’s sleep. The awareness of ‘mattress health’, where support and ventilation are key to the longevity of mattress life, suits a quality bunk construction where there is both strong and even support and good air circulation for the mattress.

The use of a quality mattress protector, which is fully washable, further adds to the comfort and enhances the perception of a quality facility, where there is a focus on the health of both the mattress and the guest. These quality protectors can be changed and washed after each guest and protect against bed bugs, and other sensitive issues.

Q: What are the best storage solutions?

A: To maximise space in many facilities, the use of the area under bunks and beds provides the ability to have extra sleep surfaces available and stored under these frames.

Additionally, for travellers who use communication devices, including phones, tablets and other valuables, the security of these in multiple bed format facilities, is essential.  Therefore, the use of under bed secure and lockable storage lockers under the bunk or bed frame to save space is logical.

About Mandy Clarke, Industry Reporter

Mandy Clarke, is an industry reporter for

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