Man muss: German beds

When we waved goodbye to our mattress in Virginia (which was loosely tied to the roof of a stoned undergrad’s car and about to partake on a high-speed journey up I-81*), I don’t think we realized that it was the last queen bed we’d been sleeping in for a while. Everywhere we’ve lived in Germany, and in nearly every hotel we’ve stayed at, there have been two twin beds pushed together. Even more bizarre, the hotels sometimes have one bed frame designed to hold two separate twin mattresses. In either case, each bed has its own twin-sized comforter.


Do I like this system? On first glance, it’s hard not to see it as a reflection of, well, cultural uptightness. 1950s American television, anyone? But if done properly, it actually works fine. I’m a light sleeper, so I can see where having the separate mattresses and blankets makes for a more comfortable night. In most hotels we’ve been in, there’s not been an actual barrier between the two mattresses. But I can never forget how hard various friends laughed when I would give them the tour of our last (and most utterly ragtag) apartment, where the beds were pushed together, but used two stunningly different bedframes and were completely different heights.

Also, don’t spend time looking for that missing sheet. It’s not there. German beds consist of the elastic-edged bottom sheet and a comforter with a duvet cover. I’m not sure if they are exactly twin sized, but you should probably pack a sheet from home if sleeping right under the comforter will leave you feeling unhinged and un…comforted. Ha.

*Godspeed, old mattress. Who knows if you ever even made it to your destined dorm room.

18 responses to “Man muss: German beds

  1. When we moved into our apartment in Bielefeld we were happy to find a double mattress on a regular Ikea frame. However, there were two twin comforters covering the bed rather than a double comforter. That doesn’t work well in practice either.

    • Sounds like someone didn’t plan that out well. If you don’t want to spring for a double comforter at IKEA, you could always just be crafty and duct tape the two together 🙂

  2. I hate the European habit of pushing two twin beds together. I kind of like to fall asleep cuddled up to my husband and having a seam down the middle of the bed is really uncomfortable. But as you say, it is perhaps a reflection of uptightness. Wouldn’t want to encourage sexual relations by making the bed too comfortable, now, would we? :-p

    • I never saw this when I was living in Spain. Is it common in other European countries? And funny that you mention comfortable, since there doesn’t seem to be any comfortable furniture here, beds or otherwise 🙂

      • In Spain, loads of people who plan on living here a year or two are perplexed by the lack of queen sized beds. My grandparents pushed their beds together years ago, and I’d always fall through…until I did it to my own bed at home! still, I looooooove my queen sized in Spain (especially because the Novio always falls asleep on the couch!).

      • I’ve seen it occasionally in Spanish hotels; more common in France, though. Seen it a fair bit in Germany, as well. I think I’ll take a nice, fluffy king size bed any day!

  3. Hi Sam,
    I’m actually missing the “separated” mattresses and comforters/duvets here, for two reasons:
    With separate mattresses, my tossing around is less apt to wake my wife in the middle of the night, and with separate comforters/duvets I can, what I really like to do, have my lower leg out under them on either side. That really would help me sleep more comfortably as my lower legs tend to feel too warm quite frequently.
    Something else I think is different: the mattresses here in the US are much thicker, and the box springs, too. So, in Germany I can sit DOWN on a bed, whereas here I have to climb UP into it and sometime even need a little stool.
    Best regards from southern Texas,

    • That’s true that U.S. beds can be a lot higher – with some of them, you need an extra running start to get up there 🙂

      • I used to have great fun vaulting off of my queen bed back in Florida. It was bouncy enough that I could do a drop-bounce and wind up on my feet a short distance away from the bed.

      • Maybe eve a pole to help you vault in! 😉 But seriously: I have been to places where they do provide you with a stool to climb into the bed.

  4. Yes! It’s the same here! While we did get a regular ol’ queen sized bed, I really grew to love having separate twin comforters. No fighting over it, sweating under it, or feeling guilty because I know I’m a cover-hog.

  5. Oh, how I hate those twin mattresses! I remember, I once went to a mattress store and ordered a queen size mattress. The lady looked very sceptical and pointed out that that wouldn’t be good for my back as a bigger mattress apparently gives you less support. I was tempted to say that the bigger mattress would help with my love life, though, but of course I didn’t. So maybe the whole issue is about health?
    Btw, when we were travelling through Mexico, it was almost impossible to get a hotel room with a king size bed, mostly we ended up in twin beds. Maybe that’s the Mexican way of birth control…?

  6. Apparantly, it’s so that each person can select the mattress that’s best suited to them – different weights of people need different mattresses, for example. The boyfriend and I don’t do it (he’s clearly not a proper German :-D). We have one mattress and one quilt (what you call a comforter, I guess?). At his dad’s house, we sleep in a bed with one mattress but always get give separate quilts, so if I want to cuddle up to Jan I end up having to be under BOTH quilts and feel like I’m melting!

  7. So funny that Mexico has these as well! Since I’ve only seen these in hotels and our temporary apartments, I had thought that the separate mattresses were to accommodate for whatever sleeping arrangement a traveling group might want…that doesn’t really hold up when it’s the one frame/two mattresses deal, though 🙂 Even if they’re intended to be “healthy,” there is no way that these separate, thin German beds are better for my back – I’m used to the thick American mattresses, as Pit describes them.

  8. We had the same experience of two twin beds pushed together in both Croatia (hotel) and the Netherlands (furnished apartment). The beds in the Netherlands were on small castors, which unfortunately meant that they constantly drifted apart. This resulted in one of us falling between the mattresses occasionally, when we were especially determined.

    • Affection is rewarded with injury. Sadly, I fell through our “couch” a few days ago. It’s like how it was in your last place – two sad little chairs pushed together. This is a snuggle-free apartment.

  9. That reminds me of our trip to Egypt: we were on a boat and had twin beds with a bedside table between. We actually dared to move the furniture after we realized not every thing was as fix as it seemed and afterward the next room cleaning they had even fitted the sheets for a double bed (even the German word for a big bed means that there are two beds “Doppelbett”). Only did they also take away one comforter… Being pretty German in that this resulted in a night long struggle for the comforter until the next morning we found the missing comforter in the wardrobe…

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