Tired of getting a poor night's sleep? We'll help you pick the best mattress for you
Traditionally, the best advice anyone could give you when buying a mattress was to try before you buy, but things have changed. The best mattress for you isn’t always the one that feels good when you try it for a few minutes in a showroom, because it may well feel entirely different when you get it home. After all, the well-tested mattress you try in a shop will likely exhibit plenty of wear and tear compared to the brand-new one that gets delivered to your door. Not only that, but the type of bed you have – whether that’s a divan or sprung slatted bedstead – can also have a significant impact on the way it feels.
Thankfully, though, the new generation of bed-in-a-box mattresses has made things easier than ever. These foam and hybrid mattresses often come with a 100-day money-back guarantee (and some, including those by Emma, Simba and Nectar, come with even longer trials) so you can make your mind up without any financial risk, and be absolutely sure that you’re picking the best mattress for you and your home.
This isn’t to say that pocket-sprung mattresses have had their day, and if you’re planning to buy one – or, indeed, a latex mattress – you’ll find the best of the bunch in our list below. You’ll also find a full guide of pointers on how to pick the best mattress for you, alongside an explanation of how we’ve put the mattresses that feature in our roundup to the test.
How to choose the best mattress for you
Do I need a new mattress?
The general rule of thumb is that your mattress should be changed roughly every seven years, although some may last a bit longer and others considerably shorter than that.
Tell-tale signs that it may be time to get a new mattress include not sleeping well and waking with aches, pains or stiffness. Sleeping better in other beds and not sleeping as soundly as you did this time last year should also be wake-up calls.
Springs vs foam – which type of mattress is best?
Broadly speaking, mattresses can be split into those that do or don’t have springs. The latter, usually made from foam, have become very popular in recent years. Memory foam does a great job of cushioning your bony protrusions and soaking up movement, but it can often feel warmer than a sprung mattress and can soften as the bed warms up.
When it comes to sprung models, you’ll likely think of traditional pocket sprung mattresses, where the springs are sewn into fabric pockets and topped with natural fillings such as wool, cotton or hemp. These usually offer better temperature regulation than foam models, but can be prone to suffering body impressions over time. Cheaper open-coil and continuous coil mattresses are best avoided since they readily transmit movements throughout the mattress.
Finally, you’ll find plenty of manufacturers now offer “hybrid” mattresses, which use a combination of pocket springs and foam, or other synthetic materials. These aim to combine the superior airflow of springs with the excellent cushioning properties of foam, but on the whole, these can still feel warmer than a traditional pocket sprung mattress.
Whether you opt for foam, springs or a combination of the two, the best mattresses deliver ample support and cushioning, so your choice will ultimately come down to personal preference.
What is a bed-in-a-box mattress?
Bed-in-a-box mattresses are becoming increasingly popular and more likely than not you’ve seen them advertised on television. These all-foam or hybrid options arrive vacuum-packed and rolled up inside a box rather than as a fully formed mattress. This makes them considerably easier to deliver and manoeuvre. Once unpacked, they quickly begin to expand, and within a few hours they’re ready to be slept on.
While some bed-in-a-box mattresses are available in stores for you to try out, many are online-only. Fortunately, nearly all of them are backed by lengthy at-home trial periods that allow you to test them out before committing. For more info on these money-back guarantees, see below.
How much should I spend?
When it comes to pricing, the sky truly is the limit, but as our roundup shows, a quality option doesn’t need to cost the earth. Affordable foam mattresses start at a fraction of the price of a good, traditional pocket-sprung model, all while offering excellent levels of comfort and support.
Don’t be tempted to choose your mattress on the price tag alone, however, as if it doesn’t suit your particular size, shape and sleeping style, you’ll have wasted every penny.
READ NEXT: The best mattresses for side sleepers
What is the best mattress for back pain?
When it comes to mattresses there’s no one-size-fits-all option, and so no single mattress type stands above the rest when it comes to alleviating back pain. Indeed, the best mattress for you depends on a number of factors, including the source of your back pain and your weight. For more info on the best mattress for back pain, see our best mattress for a bad back roundup. Alternatively, for more info on other things to think about before you take the plunge and buy a new mattress, see the extended buyer’s guide after our mini-reviews.
How we test mattresses
At the risk of stating the obvious, we test our mattresses by sleeping on them. However, as we do so, there are a number of factors we aim to take into account. In addition to comfort and support, two important factors are firmness and temperature control (though we may also take factors such as edge support and motion isolation into account).
For instance, some mattresses, all-foam ones in particular, might feel warmer than others, which makes them a less suitable option for those who are prone to overheating at night.
The base on which you put your mattress – whether that be a solid divan base, sprung slatted bed or even the floor – impacts how a mattress will feel beneath you. And while we can’t always test a variety of bed bases when reviewing a mattress, we’ll always take this into account.
We also consider value for money as a factor when reviewing mattresses, as well as the length of any trial period that may be offered (these are common, particularly in the bed-in-a-box market).
READ NEXT: The best mattress toppers to buy
The best hybrid mattresses you can buy in 2023
1. Simba Hybrid Pro Mattress: Best hybrid mattress
Price when reviewed: From £1,169 (single) | Check prices at SimbaIt might cost an arm and a leg, but the Simba Hybrid Pro is the comfiest bed-in-a-box mattress we’ve ever tested. What separates it from its rivals? For a start, its uppermost layer is made from British wool, which offers better temperature regulation than the foam used in most hybrids.
And that’s not all that’s different. The mattress also adds an additional layer of microsprings compared to the original Simba Hybrid, which makes it both bouncy and more breathable. We found the mattress exceedingly comfortable in a range of sleeping positions. In fact, we liked it so much that we didn’t want to go back to using our regular, everyday mattress.
The fact the Hybrid Pro comes with a 200-night trial rather than the 100 nights offered by some of its rivals means you have the luxury of being able to try it for more than six months before making a decision.
|Simba Hybrid | Read our full review|
|Type||Wool, foam and micro pocket spring hybrid|
|Needs turning?||Rotate once/month for the first six months; once every 3/6 months thereafter|
|Sizes||Single to king, arrives vacuum-packed|
|Warranty||200-night trial; 10-year warranty|
Also consider: Nectar Hybrid
If you’re looking for a hybrid mattress with an exceptional home trial period but can’t quite stretch to the premium-priced Simba, it’s worth considering the Nectar Hybrid.
Cool, comfortable and offering decent levels of support across all sleeping positions, the Nectar Hybrid is an excellent all-rounder. Unlike some hybrids, it also manages to retain some traditional spring-like bounce.
It’s not completely without drawbacks: the mattress can soften slightly as it warms and its cover isn’t removable and doesn’t have handles. However, at £1,699 for a king and backed by a full 365-night home trial, it’s still a tempting proposition. What’s more, you can currently get it for 50% less. In Nectar’s sale, the Hybrid is just £680 in a king size.
2. Otty Mattress: Best-value hybrid mattress
Price when reviewed: From £800 (single) | Check prices at OttyThe Otty mattress is, quite simply, one of the best hybrid mattresses we’ve ever tested. Its combination of 2,000 140mm pocket springs (in king size) and two foam comfort layers enable it to offer unmatched levels of support, comfort and temperature control.
Although its price has crept up over the past couple of years – it will set you back £1,050 for a double and £2,000 for a king – it’s still a good bit cheaper than some of the other hybrid mattresses on this roundup. What’s more, there’s a good chance you won’t have to pay full price when you take advantage of one of the manufacturer’s regular promotions. The only significant caveat is that it’s quite a firm level of support so, if you prefer a softer mattress, you’ll probably be better off with something else. There’s also quite a strong chemical smell when the mattress is first unpacked, but this soon dissipates.
|Otty Mattress | Read our full review|
|Type||Foam/pocket spring hybrid (50mm high-density foam; 2,000 140mm pocket springs; 30mm reflex foam; 30mm memory foam)|
|Needs turning?||Rotate once/month (for first six months)|
|Sizes||Nine sizes from single to emperor (also EU sizes), arrives vacuum-packed|
|Warranty||100-night trial; 10-year warranty|
The best memory foam mattresses you can buy in 2023
3. Emma Original: Best memory foam mattress for couples
Price when reviewed: From £311 (single) | Check prices at Emma UPDATE: Since publishing our review, Expert Reviews has noticed a recent influx of negative customer reviews for Emma Sleep on Trustpilot, with many customers complaining of delays to shipping and a lack of communication over when deliveries will happen. According to Emma Sleep, these delays have been caused by factors “not under [the brand’s] control”, and a spokesperson said that the process of transitioning “order management and fulfilment platforms” has led to these issues. We’ve also been told that resolving these issues is a top priority for Emma Sleep and the company is expecting to resolve the issues in the coming weeks. We will be sure to bring you more information as we receive it.
As well as being highly practical – it has both a removable top cover and carry handles – we found the Emma Original exceedingly comfortable to sleep on. Indeed, despite feeling relatively soft, it offers superb levels of support throughout the night and is better suited to side sleepers than some of its firmer bed-in-a-box rivals such as Eve.
That said, the Emma Original is a versatile mattress that makes for a comfortable night’s sleep regardless of whether you sleep on your front, back or side. It’s this versatility that makes it a perfect choice for couples who are struggling to compromise on firmness. As is typical of foam mattresses, it can feel warm but the Emma Original does a good job of wicking away sweat so we never woke feeling damp and clammy.
|Emma Original | Read our full review|
|Type||Three-layer (bottom layer 195mm dense support foam; middle layer 20mm memory foam; top layer 25mm open-cell foam)|
|Sizes||Single to super king (including EU sizes), available online and at some DFS and Carpetright stores|
|Warranty||200-night trial with money-back guarantee|
4. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: Best foam mattress with a year-long trial
Price when reviewed: From £949 (single) | Check prices at Nectar
Since its rival Eve extended its mattress trial period to one year, Nectar can no longer claim to have the longest trial in the bed-in-a-box industry. Nectar’s generous 365-night trial was a key selling point for the brand, making it stand out from its rivals. Nevertheless, considering that most brands still offer trials of no longer than 200 nights, Nectar is well worth considering.
It’s also one of the most comfortable bed-in-a-box mattresses we’ve tested (and, at 260mm deep, one of the thickest all-foam mattresses too). Not quite as firm as Otty and Eve but still offering good levels of support, it hits a perfect middle ground that should appeal to a wide range of people and cater to a range of different sleeping positions.
Unfortunately, Nectar’s memory foam mattress doesn’t have a machine-washable cover – so it’s a good idea to use a protector – and there are no handles for turning it. As with most memory foam beds, it can also soften as it becomes warmer, but it’s plenty supportive even then and works well when used on a sprung slatted base.
|Nectar | Read our full review|
|Type||Three-layer (bottom layer 160mm seven-zone supportive foam; middle layer 50mm soft “visco” memory foam; top layer 40mm breathable “visco” foam)|
|Sizes||Single to super king, available online only|
|Warranty||365-night trial; forever warranty|
5. Ergoflex 5G: An excellent memory foam mattress for back sleepers
Price when reviewed: From £770 (single) | Check prices at Ergoflex If you’re a back sleeper looking for a mattress that offers comfort and support in good measure, the Ergoflex 5G is an excellent choice. With a generous 90mm foam top layer the 5G moulds effectively around your body, providing support just where you need it along with plenty of comfortable pressure relief.
The all-foam construction also allows the 5G to excel at movement isolation, effectively dampening the vibrations produced by a restless partner, making it ideal for light sleepers. Like many memory foam mattresses, it can sleep a little warm, but we found it compared favourably against the competition, never leading to uncomfortable overheating.
At 30 days, the Ergoflex’s home trial is notably shorter than some of its rivals but still gives you the risk-free opportunity to try it out in your own home.
|Ergoflex 5G | Read our full review|
|Type||Three-layer (bottom layer 90mm dense high resilience foam; middle layer 50mm memory foam; top layer 90mm visco-elastic foam)|
|Needs turning?||Rotate every three months|
|Sizes||Single to super king (including EU sizes), available online only|
|Warranty||30-night trial with money-back guarantee|
The best budget mattresses
6. Silentnight Studio Eco: Best hybrid on a budget
Price when reviewed: £289 (single) | Check prices at Dunelm Bed-in-a-box mattresses can cost a small fortune, but you don’t always need to spend big to get a decent night’s sleep. Silentnight’s rolled Studio Eco mattress is proof of this, delivering a cool and comfortable night’s sleep at a fraction of the cost – a double will set you back a mere £369. It may not be overly plush or bouncy, but its eco comfort layer and 1,000 18mm-deep pocket springs provide more than enough support for the average couple.
It also comes with a 60-night exchange, so if you decide it’s not quite right for you, you’re able to swap it for a different Silentnight model of your choice. The only real caveat to this mattress is that the edge support isn’t as good as it could be, so if you’re prone to rolling around a lot in the night, you might notice this. All in all, though, this an impressive budget mattress that will have you sleeping soundly.
|Silentnight Studio Eco mattress | Read our full review|
|Type||Recycled synthetic materials and pocket springs|
|Needs turning?||Rotate once/month for the first few months|
|Sizes||Single to king, arrives rolled and vacuum-packed, without a box|
7. Dormeo Memory Plus: Best budget foam mattress (when it’s discounted)
Price when reviewed: From £630 (single) | Check prices at DormeoArriving vacuum-packed in an astonishingly compact box, the Dormeo Memory Plus has a 140mm foam core with a 30mm memory foam top layer. The mattress is very slightly softer than average but offers great support when you consider its relatively thin design.
If you sleep on your back and have struggled to find something suitable, this mattress should do you proud – as it will for people who are prone to moving around a lot in the night and don’t want to disturb their partner. Best of all, though, is its remarkably low price. Despite its advertised price on Dormeo’s website, you can regularly find it discounted by more than 60%.
As for niggles, that thin design means fitted sheets have some slack, but rotating it isn’t too difficult as it’s not very heavy. All in all, you’ll be very hard pushed to find anything better at this impressively low price.
|Dormeo Memory Plus Mattress | Read our full review|
|Type||Foam core with 3cm memory foam on top|
|Sizes||Five sizes from single to super king, arrives vacuum-packed|
8. Silentnight Studio Original: Best affordable foam mattress for a firmer feel
Price when reviewed: From £399 (single) | Check prices at Silentnight
From the same range as the Studio Eco featured above, the Original is Silentnight’s affordable memory foam offering. Indeed, at £699 for a king size mattress, it’s marginally cheaper than its all-foam rivals including the Emma Original, Nectar mattress and Eve Original, which all cost £799 for a king.
In terms of comfort, the Studio Original is very supportive. It’s labelled as having a “medium comfort” level, but we found it to be on the firm end of medium during testing. As such, it’s perhaps best suited to sleepers who like plenty of support, including those who primarily sleep on their back or front.
When we tested it, the Silentnight Studio Original missed out on a five-star review largely because of its inferior trial period (a 60-night “comfort exchange” rather than a money-back guarantee), and because its bed-in-a-box rivals are often cheaper when discounted. However, if you can’t wait for the right deal, the Studio Original is a very supportive and affordable option.
|Silentnight Studio Original mattress | Read our full review|
|Type||Four layer (‘Studio Flex’ memory foam foundation, middle foam layer, ‘geltex’ gel-infused foam layer, anti-allergy cover)|
|Needs turning?||No, but Silentnight recommends rotating regularly|
|Sizes||Three sizes from single to king|
|Warranty||5-year guarantee with 60-night comfort exchange|
Best mattresses: Extended buyer’s guide
What other key questions do I need to ask?
What is it made from?
When buying a new mattress, you’ll want to consider what it’s made from. As a general rule, synthetic materials such as foam are warmer and less breathable than the natural fillings such as cotton, wool and hemp that you’ll find in more expensive pocket-sprung mattresses.
How firm is it?
Mattresses should come with a soft, medium or firm rating, though it’s worth taking these with a pinch of salt as one manufacturer’s medium may be another’s firm.
In any case, we believe a good approach when deciding what firmness rating to choose is to think about how you sleep. If you lie mainly on your back or front, you’ll likely be happy with a medium-firm to firm level of support. If you more commonly sleep on your side, or a combination of all three positions, you’ll likely prefer something a little softer. Ideally you want a mattress that offers up enough give to accommodate your hips when laying on your side.
Larger individuals may benefit from the additional support offered by a firmer mattress, while those with a smaller frame may be more comfortable on something a bit softer. You should also bear in mind that the same mattress can feel different depending on the type of base you use, which we explain in more detail below.
Do all mattresses need flipping or turning?
With pocket-sprung mattresses, you’ll find some only need to be periodically flipped while other “non-turn” models only need to be rotated from time to time. Foam and hybrid mattresses, on the other hand, are usually only designed to be slept on one way and so typically only need rotating, if anything. The guidance varies from brand to brand, however, so be sure to check the specific advice listed by the manufacturer.
What base do I need?
The type of base you choose to pair your mattress with can have a significant impact on its overall feel. A yielding foundation such as a sprung slatted bedstead is likely to result in your mattresses feeling slightly softer than it would on a solid platform such as a divan, for instance.
Some manufacturers may also specify the type of base required. Many recommend that when using a slatted base, those slats are no more than 75mm apart, for example.
Does it have a strong chemical smell?
Bed-in-a-box mattresses that arrive rolled and vacuum packed often emit a chemical “off-gassing” odour when first unpacked. While the prominence of this odour varies from brand to brand, if you’re particularly sensitive to smells, you may wish to air the mattress in another room for a few days before first sleeping on it.
Is there a trial period?
Most bed-in-a-box manufacturers offer lengthy 100-day at-home trials and some even go so far as to offer 365-night money-back guarantees. With any trial, you’ll want to check the terms of the agreement to see if the cost of pick-up is included if you do decide to send it back, and whether you need to use a mattress protector during the trial period for the guarantee to be valid.
These conditions can vary depending on whether you buy directly from a manufacturer or from another retailer, so be sure to do your research before buying. If you’re looking at traditional, handmade mattresses, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to return it unless it’s faulty or you’re yet to remove it from its packaging.
What’s the warranty period?
Mattress warranty periods can vary enormously. For example, Dreams covers its products for only 12 months, while Ikea offers a 25-year warranty against defects on all its mattresses. A longer period might look better on paper, but be sure to read the small print, as in reality you might only be covered against major faults and not more minor complaints such as dipping and body impressions.