In this mattress guide we’ll explain the differences between memory foam, pocket sprung, latex and hybrid mattresses, as well as providing a pick of the very best mattresses to buy based on our expert testing. Our mattress tester Ysanne has decades of consumer journalism experience, and has put each mattress through its paces at home, over several weeks, pitting them against the everyday situations we all encounter. Each one has been rated for comfort, support, manoeuvrability and durability.
Before you spend, check out all of our buying guides
Given we spend almost 16 years of your life in bed, buying a mattress is not a time for compromise. It’s important that you do your research and make sure that you really are choosing the best mattress for you. Don’t opt for bad quality simply because it’s cheaper – there are some great-value mattresses out there, meaning you don’t have to compromise, even if you are on a budget.
We’ve included mattresses for every budget and helpful tips about what to look out for, too. Scroll down for our comprehensive mattress buying guide.
How we test our mattresses
Our tester Ysanne has more than 20 years’ experience as an interiors editor and writer, and has spent many nights asleep on each of tens of mattresses on her way to selecting the best. She’s looked at mattresses made from a variety of materials, including popular memory foam, traditional pocket-sprung mattresses and hybrids of the two.
Ysanne has carefully picked the mattresses to review based on her own research into what’s new, innovative and popular in the marketplace – ensuring she looks across the full spectrum of price points. Editorial integrity is paramount at Ideal Home and Ysanne’s selections won’t be influenced by our sales team or advertisers. When her shortlist is complete, she will reach out to manufacturers directly to request samples under the condition that she will give a full, frank and completely independent review.
On the rare occasion we can’t get hold of a sample, we’ll simply buy it with our own money. Most of the time, however, we find companies are happy to lend to us, regardless of whether the review we then give is good or bad, because they trust in the quality of their products.
When testing, Ysanne has taken in factors like comfort and support, odour and also the manoeuvrability of each mattress – important, given regular turning of a mattress is often recommended. Ysanne also got husband Paul to help out, so both a back sleeper and a side sleeper have put the mattresses through their paces and we can say confidently which is best for who.
What’s the best mattress to buy in 2020?
Our overall best mattress was Emma, The Original Mattress, which we rate for its support, warranty and cool, breathable surface. The Simba mattress also wins our approval for side sleepers. Read on to discover more of our test verdicts.
What should I consider before buying a mattress?
There are a few key things you need to consider before taking the plunge and buying a new mattress:
- A bed, and therefore its mattress, should be 10cm longer than the tallest person who will be sleeping in it. So a king-size is the minimum for someone 6ft or more. If you’re sharing a bed, it should also be wide enough to allow you and your partner to lie side by side, hands behind heads, without your elbows touching.
- To check if a mattress is supporting you properly, lie down and slide a hand beneath the small of your back. If your hand fits easily, it’s too hard; not at all, and it’s too soft.
- The base will affect how the mattress feels. A sprung divan will make a mattress seem softer than a solid divan or slatted base. You might want to consider changing your bed as well as your mattress.
- Sprung and pocket mattresses are padded with fillings including cotton, lambswool and mohair, which can prove problematic for people with allergies. Luxurious options, such as cashmere and silk, will mean the finished product is more expensive, but are also less likely to cause issues.
- Does the mattress model require turning? Many modern mattresses don’t, which is ideal because they can be incredibly heavy. If it does, you’ll want your mattress to have sturdy handles at the sides.
One major problem is that a quick lie down in a showroom isn’t going to tell you whether a mattress still feels right after a long night’s sleep. It’s good to note that some online retailers offer 100-day, quibble-free return policies on their mattresses, so you really can try before you buy! We’ve pointed this option out in our list of the best mattresses below, if it’s available.
Take a look at our pick of the of the best mattresses and banish those sleepless nights forever. We’ve hunted down the top mattresses on the market across a variety of budgets and styles, so there’s a perfect choice for everyone.
Best Mattress reviews
Made in the UK, the Emma uses a different kind of chemical foam to most other bed-in-box mattresses, which the makers say is more durable. While we tried it for just a week or so, we’re not able to comment on whether it’s long-lasting or not but customer reviews seem to confirm that claim.
Underneath the soft breathable outer cover is a three layer construction that includes an Airgocell® foam layer for ventilation to keep you cool. A 25mm memory foam layer giving general pressure relief for joints while the thicker foam base targets areas such as the shoulders and lower back to give optimum support. It’s a combination that provided a super comfortable sleep on whatever our chosen night-time position, even though our testers found it sat on the fairly firm side of medium our side sleeper still experienced a restful night without any tossing and turning.
Unlike some memory foam mattresses, there was little or no odour and it rose quickly to its 25cm depth once released from its packaging. We’re fond of handles on mattresses, even if they don’t require turning as it means making the bed is a tad easier. It has a returns policy of 100 nights and a 10-year warranty.
Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Loaf has confidently – some might say arrogantly – named this mattress, but not without reason, we’ve found. From the moment it was delivered (by two absolutely lovely delivery men who took it up our awkwardly shaped stairs as if it was lighter than air, which it’s not, then unpacked it and popped it on the bed base) to the moment we had to reluctantly wave goodbye to it (as it exited in the hands of exactly the same delivery guys), we loved pretty much everything about this one.
The great service, to be praised in today’s market where corners are often cut to keep prices down, was a brilliant start. And the firm but cushioning sleep quality the mattress affords didn’t let it down.
Although Loaf has five mattresses on offer, this is their bestseller and we can see why. Pocket sprung, with breathable fillings including cotton and wool to help regulate temperature, it comes in three tensions, Extra Firm, Firm and Regular – we opted for Firm. The damask cover feels decadent and luxurious and the spongy top layer adds cushioning that’s perfect for side sleepers, while the individual pocket springs – 1200 in a double – gently contoured to our bodies for maximum comfort.
As well as some of the best night’s sleep we’ve had in quite some time, probably in no small part due to a construction that provides a high level of breathability, we also felt fewer of the usual morning aches and pains when it was time to get up. It’s also available on a 100-night trial with free returns and, if you do decide to keep it, a 5-year guarantee.
Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This buy online bed-in-a-box is probably the one most of us will have heard of, and offers free delivery, a 100-night sleep trail and free returns if it’s not for you. Conveniently packaged, the box in question is a cinch to get upstairs and in fact, one of us managed it on our own although it’s probably better with two.
Instructions for unboxing are online rather than in the package but it’s simple to work out so we didn’t bother – although watch the scissors as you release it from the plastic as you could easily nick the mattress if you’re not careful. Getting it out of the box and onto the bed, once the plastic packaging was opened, it immediately started to get its shape and was ready to sleep on in just a couple of hours.
There are no carrying handles but as it doesn’t need turning, this isn’t too much of an issue, although it might be handy when removing the outer cover for washing. It’s made up of several layers including a moisture wicking top, a breathable air-flow layer for added circulation, a comfort layer, a supportive foam base and a non-slip outer, which all adds up to the comfort and softness you’d expect from memory foam mattress with a level of support that you might find in a more traditional bed.
We had heard tales of that ‘sinking’ feeling when first trying memory foam but although the top layer was definitely softer than our usual bed it still felt supportive. We noticed a definite reduction in the early morning aches and pains we usually experience with our own firm mattress. If we had to give it a label we’d say it was medium firm.
If you’re a fidgety sleeper then this is a great option as whichever way we lay – side, back, or front – there was no discomfort. It’s also great if you sleep next to that restless sleeper as we found movement didn’t ‘travel’ from one side of the bed to another.
Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The unique layered construction of this mattress is what gives it enviable levels of support and helps to make it one of the coolest mattresses we tried. Delivered by a ‘white glove’ service that places the mattress in the room of your choice, unpacks it for you and, crucially, takes away the packing, it’s also one of the most expensive.
Two layers of Octasprings – open construction memory foam ‘springs’ – are grouped into three zones, which our testers found super supportive in key areas such as shoulders, lowers spine and hips. Despite our tests being undertaken on unseasonably warm winter nights, there was no sign at all of the overheating that can be found with some memory foam mattresses. This, plus the lack of motion transfer those springs afforded resulted in a great night’s sleep, with a distinct lack of muscle pain in the morning.
It worked well for both the side sleeper and the back sleeper, creating individual support where it was most required. It also has carrying handles – useful when rotating the mattress as recommended. It’s definitely a considered purchase but you’ve also got a 60 night trial period to ensure it suits you and there’s a 20 year warranty.
Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If you prefer to be cosseted by a cloud-like mattress but your partner yearns for one that’s on the firm side, then this ‘fits-all’ mattress, might well be the answer. Another bed-in-a-box, it arrives well packaged and with comprehensive instructions for use and care. A nice touch is the safety cutter supplied, allowing you to quickly and easily open the packaging without worrying about accidentally cutting the mattress with scissors as you release it.
Once unleashed from its box, the mattress takes 3-5 hours to fully take shape, ready for a night’s sleep. We found it was slightly softer than some of the other memory foam mattresses but much to our surprise, we didn’t mind that too much. It has five layers including a foam core, responsive memory foam, a unique layer of micro-conical pocket springs and a Simbatex synthetic latex layer all contained in a hypoallergenic outer cover.
It’s the springs that really make this one different, adjusting to your body as you sleep – we found that was particularly the case for side sleepers. As with many of the online purchase mattress options, it comes with free delivery and there’s a 100-night trial and free returns if you’re not 100 per cent happy. It comes in a huge variety of sizes, too, so whatever bed base you’re buying for, there’s bound to be one that fits.
Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A phenomenal 365-day trial trumpets the fact that Nectar is so sure that once its memory foam mattress is on your bed, it is unlikely to leave. That’s a whole year of sleep with free returns if you’re not happy, plus a forever guarantee. It’s a pretty bold stance for even this highly competitive bed-in-a-box market, so we were interested to see how it matched up to the rest.
It comes in an easy-to-handle box and releasing it from its plastic packaging is simple with the help of the supplied cutting tool, which ensures you don’t accidentally cut into the mattress while you’re opening it. It doesn’t take long to inflate either and was ready in a couple of hours. Four layers of foam are topped with a soft quilted adaptive cooling cover that is designed to keep you cool at night by adapting to your body heat.
It seemed to work well and even the hottest of our two testers wasn’t disturbed in the night by rising temperatures. Plus there’s a ‘smart’ layer that also dissipates moisture, pressure relieving memory foam to provide comfort and support and a 7-zoned layer that adds more support where it’s most needed.
We felt, as it was on the firmer side of medium firm, it was a good option for front and back sleepers but wasn’t so great for a heavy side sleeper. Currently, there’s a trial offer giving £100 off and two free memory foam pillows. We’ve previously found memory foam pillows a little too hard but these had great support with enough give in them to provide a restful night.
Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Launched in 1991, Tempur’s memory foam mattress was the first on the market. Created using a pressure-absorbing material originally developed by to provide added supportive and cushioned seating for astronauts. Tempur is the forerunner of all other memory foam mattresses.
Delivered to the room of your choice it doesn’t come in a box, which means it’s more difficult to manoeuvre initially but it doesn’t require time to fill out either, meaning you can catch some ZZZ’s straight away should you so wish. Is it worth the considerable price tag, though? It definitely smacks of quality, with a beautiful finish and luxuriously soft exterior. However, if you’re a standard sleeper with no significant join pain, you could opt for something a little cheaper.
That said, the support and almost complete lack of motion transfer means that if you suffer from back and shoulder pain, or you’re a particularly restless sleeper it could be an investment you won’t regret. The cushioned top layer makes it feel a little on the soft side and we definitely experience a sinking feeling at first, particularly the side sleeper, but it’s less suffocating and more a welcoming embrace. As with others, you’ve 100 nights to see if it’s for you and if you do keep it, there’s a 10-year warranty.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Sid – much like the punk icon for which we guess it might be named – is a law unto itself. The rock-aesthetic advertising and funky look combine to signal a mattress that stands out from the crowd.
Delivered in a sturdy box with reinforced handles – thank you Sid! – even a king-size was a breeze to get up our tester’s awkward twisty stairs. Inside the box, as well the mattress itself was a handy cutter, two sleep masks, a card for a Spotify music link and an enamel badge.
However, where the Sid really differs from all other memory foam offerings is its cover construction, as the stylish, removable and interchangeable Denim and Noir outer covers are designed to be shown-off. An uber soft comfort layer sits above the main mattress and specially designed sheets available from Sid cover just this top layer revealing the denim detailing on the base. An alternative Noir cover means that you can change up your look.
It’s not just about image for this mattress, though. Its six layers feature hypoallergenic, zoned support and Graphyx technology that uses the natural properties of graphite to help keep the mattress cool and well ventilated. The quilted top layer has the quality of a luxury mattress topper and initially we were worried it might be too soft. However, beneath this, several memory foam layers provide a firm and supportive base that was great for the side and back sleepers but might be a little on the enveloping side for a front sleeper. It has a 120 trial period and a 15-year warranty.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Not a bed-in-a-box but brilliantly and conveniently wrapped in a vacuum-packed roll with efficient carry handles, this was a cinch to get up our u-shaped staircase. Light but not insubstantial, the grey and white cover doesn’t feel as plush and luxurious as some of the other mattresses we tested but it does the job and once it’s covered in a sheet it’s not really noticeable.
The side carrying handles are a nice touch – they made it easy to get the mattress into place once it was out of the packaging – and they are sure to make moving the mattress a breeze when necessary, too. It doesn’t ever need turning apparently but topping and tailing from time to time probably wouldn’t go amiss.
We had to leave it to fully regain it’s shape before sleeping on it – which can take anything from a few hours to 48, so perhaps best not to plan using it straight away. A traditional pocket sprung construction with a layer of soft filling, it did seem a tad short for our bed frame but that may just be because we needed to leave it longer to fully ‘inflate’ before we used it.
Described as medium firm, it did feel a little softer than we’re used to and we were concerned that might make for an uncomfortable night. Thankfully, that was far from the case as it was actually surprisingly supportive. It did have a rather distinct ‘new mattress’ smell but that lessened after a few days and it wasn’t so bad that it stopped us drifting off into the land of nod pretty quickly. Ikea wants us to win at sleeping and we definitely think this is one of the best value ways of doing just that.
Ideal Home rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The patented spring system in this mattress is designed to give support just where your body needs it the most. We certainly found that the spring construction – which allows the bed to react independently to each sleeper –meant the fidgety sleeper didn’t disturb the light sleeper.
Although it was quite light, it was also the firmest and the most supportive of all the mattresses we tested. This was a great result for the front sleeper with a touch of sciatica as the spring technology gently cushioned pressure points and helped to provide a really supportive base, minimizing some nagging back pain.
However, that did mean it was marginally less comfortable for the side sleeper than some of the medium firm options we tried. That was easily addressed, though, by adding a machine-washable topper, which not only gave a little extra softness, it was also great for protecting the mattress itself. The outside layer is a micro quilted soft-knit tick fabric over polyester layers, which provide added comfort, plus eco-comfort fibres that helped to make sure our night was cool, dry and allergy-free.
It’s recommended to turn the mattress and top-to-tail it once a week for the first few weeks and then monthly after that. It doesn’t have side handles to help with that but as it’s one of the lightest mattresses we tried, that wasn’t the issue we imagined it might be. Unlike some of the others, you can’t test this model at home and send it back if you’re unhappy, so we’d definitely suggest you popped in-store to have a little lie down before committing to the purchase.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
If you want a super thick mattress then look no further. At almost 30cm deep we were put in mind of the fairytale The Princess and the Pea when trying this one out. You know the story, a queen suspects that the girl her son has fallen in love with isn’t the princess she claims to be, so sets about testing that by hiding peas under mattresses piled so high the girl needs a ladder to get into to bed. The point being that only a princess would be so sensitive as to have something so small spoil her sleep.
Well, we think we can safely say that if she’d been sleeping on this mattress, she wouldn’t have made it to wedding day. It comes in either medium firm or firm and we tried the medium, which, to quote another fairytale character, was ‘just right’. It’s quite a beast, so getting it upstairs was a challenge – luckily not for us, though, as the delivery men will take it to any room you nominate – but once in place, unlike some of the bed-in-a-box mattresses, it was ready to go straight away.
The science says that its patented 10cm IGel conductive ceramic formula layer works with your body temperature to help regulate it, ensuring you don’t get too hot or too cold. Now, were sure that’s true but in reality, the thing we noticed most was that the ultra squishy surface provided a supremely soft, almost bouncy top to the mattress that was also wonderfully supportive whichever way we slept. It’s another mattress that doesn’t require turning, which is probably just as well as there are no handles to make moving it a simple task.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The maker of this mattress has a One-10 programme which promises that for every 10 mattresses sold, it donates one to charities that serve homeless and at-risk men, women and children. It’s a scheme that has, to date, provided more than 17,000 new mattresses to those in need around the world. Also worth noting, is the company’s partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant one tree for every mattress they sell, with a goal to plant one million trees globally by 2025. While this is all to be applauded, the mattress itself does also have to stand up to scrutiny so we were keen to try it.
The first thing we notice was this bed-in-a-box had all the instructions you need right there on the top of the box, making it super simple to place it on the bed and unfurl. The padded and removable-for-washing outer was super soft and below are three sandwiched layers. The Avena foam provides airflow to keep you cool, the pressure-relieving memory foam helps to contour your body and finally the dense 15cm core adds support and durability.
We felt this was the firmest of the memory foam mattresses we tried, great if you sleep on your back or are a little heavier but a little less good if you’re a side sleeper. Memory foam mattresses can sometimes be associated with overheating but we definitely felt cool all night. It also provides enough bounce for freedom of movement – another winning quality, as standard mouldable foam can feel a bit smothering.
Making it even more attractive is the free delivery, 100-day sleep test and free returns if you’re not 100% happy with it. Also look out for a promotion code on the site that gives £100 off, making this one a really good deal.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy Now: The Leesa Mattress , £450, Leesa
We’ll be updating this list of best mattresses regularly and will include special offers when available, so make sure you come back to check before you buy.
Choosing mattress firmness: How do you sleep?
When choosing a mattress, comfort and support is key. We spoke to Myriam Ruffo, Head of Bedrooms and Bathrooms at IKEA UK, who gave us the 101 on the best mattresses for the three key sleeping positions; back, front and side. ‘Be sure to test the firmness and take into consideration your sleeping style, to ensure you choose a firmness that offers you the correct back support,’ she says. ‘Your mattress plays a huge part in your health and well-being when you consider you spend around eight hours every night sleeping on it.’
Sleeping on your back – Medium firm
Back sleepers require support for the lower back, otherwise too much pressure can be put on this area which can result in pain. A medium-firm mattress is the best mattress in this scenario as it offers the support of a firm mattress but also has a softer, more comfortable feel.
Sleeping on your front – Firm
This sleeping style requires a mattress that can keep the body afloat, rather than sinking into the mattress, as this can cause lower back pain. A firm mattress is the best mattress here, as it will keep the body in a position where spine alignment is minimal.
Sleeping on your side – Soft
Sleeping on your side allows your spine to relax and therefore takes pressure off of the back. This makes it one of the healthiest ways to sleep. Side sleepers require a softer medium-firm mattress so the spine can rest in its most natural position. This allows the mattress to mould itself to the curves of the body.
Buying a mattress ultimately comes down to personal preference, because no two people have the same needs and requirements. Some retailers now offer a free trial, meaning if you don’t get on with the one you’ve chosen, you can return it free of charge. Check this option is available before purchase.
Mattresses explained: Memory Foam, Sprung, Latex and Hybrid
Pocket-sprung mattresses have been the most popular for many years now. However, there are plenty of challengers in the shape of memory foam and latex. The modern-day mattress can arrive in a box, and some even overnight! There is no obvious best mattress type, what works for you will depend on your needs. Read on to find out the differences between Memory Foam, Sprung, Latex and Hybrid mattresses.
What is an Open-sprung mattress?
An open-sprung mattress contains one long piece of wire coiled into springs. It also has a border rod of wire that gives the mattress a firm edge and helps retain its shape.
Pros: Great value for money. They are lighter than other mattresses, so easier to turn, and can be turned in all directions, which extends the life of the mattress.
Cons: As the springs are all connected, open-sprung mattresses are less responsive to your body and overall, less supportive.
Best for: Occasional use. They’re also ideal for children’s bedrooms, as they’re less expensive, so can be upgraded as your little ones grow.
What is a Pocket-sprung mattress?
Pocket-sprung mattresses are more luxurious, with up to 3,000 individual small springs housed in separate fabric pockets. They tend to have hand-stitched sides for strong, stable edges.
Pros: The springs move independently to support your body. They come in a choice of tensions – soft, medium or firm – meaning good support whatever your weight.
Cons: Because of the density of the fillings, pocket-sprung mattresses can be heavy to turn. They’re usually filled with natural materials, like lambswool, which can exacerbate allergies.
Best for: The separate springs make them ideal for two people of different weights. They’re also available to buy with two sides of a different firmness.
What is a Memory-foam mattress?
Memory foam is a mouldable material. The most well known type of memory-foam mattress is Tempur, a material famously developed by NASA. Now here comes the science bit – it’s composed of billions of viscoelastic cells, which respond to your temperature and weight.
Pros: It feels the same on any bed base. When warm, it moulds to the body and absorbs weight, essentially relieving pressure from the joints.
Cons: As the foam moulds to the body it can feel too close and claustrophobic. This same sinking feeling means you can become quite warm, although high-quality memory foam mattresses are more breathable these days.
Best for: Supportive, good for allergy sufferers and helpful for people with joint pain or a bad back. It has a unique feel, so you’ll love it or hate it. Either way if you’ve never slept on one before it might take a few nights to get used to.
What is a Latex mattress?
Natural latex is white liquid tapped from the trunks of rubber trees. This is blended with synthetic latex and turned into latex foam, using the Talalay process, which produces the finest polymer.
Pros: Latex is breathable, so you won’t overheat. Exceptionally durable, its resilient feel also makes it good for those who prefer a firmer bed.
Cons: Some think these mattresses have a rather solid feel, and they can be heavy and difficult to move. Cheaper versions can develop lumps and body impressions.
Best for: Those with allergies (except latex) and asthma, as latex doesn’t harbour dust mites. It also has natural antimicrobial properties.
What is a Sprung memory-foam mattress?
A sprung memory-foam mattress is a hybrid of a pocket-sprung base and a memory foam top layer.
Pros: A compromise between the responsiveness of a pocket-sprung mattress and the support of memory foam. There’s also no need to turn the mattress.
Cons: The ‘sinking’ sensation can put people off, which also means it isn’t recommended for young children, in case they roll onto their face and breathing is inhibited.
Best for: People who still want the feel of a pocket-sprung mattress, without the natural fillings that may irritate allergies.
Look after your latest purchase: How to clean a mattress – for a sweeter night’s sleep
We hope you’ve enjoyed our best mattress guide. Remember to check back here if you want details of the latest mattress deals, and sweet dreams!