How to buy the perfect mattress

Firm or soft ?  Springy or sinky ?  Thick or thin ?  Single, Small Double, Double, King, Super King, or Emperor ?
Whichever way you envision your perfect mattress, there are lots of things to consider before pulling the trigger.  After all, your sleep quality and comfort at bedtime depends on it !  In this guide to how to buy the perfect mattress, we’ll discuss everything you need to consider in your search for a mattress, including firmness, sizes and materials.  Read on to get to grips with mattress buying once and for all.


What type of mattress should I get?

In general, the heavier you are, the firmer your mattress should be so that you have adequate support. Your biggest consideration when buying a mattress should be comfort, so the type of mattress you should get depends on how you sleep.

Side sleepers should look for a medium-soft to medium mattress while back and front sleepers should look for a medium-firm to firm mattress.


What are the different types of mattress?

There are five main types of mattress:

  • Memory foam: These are made from layers of memory foam and support foam. The foam compresses evenly under pressure, making it squishy
  • Pocket sprung: These contain individual pocket springs. Each spring moves independently, allowing a high degree of support
  • Open coil: These contain interlinked springs. They tend to have more give than pocket sprung mattresses and are cheaper
  • Hybrid: These contain memory foam and pocket spring layers. The coils add breathability and provide more bounce than a standard memory foam mattress
  • Natural: These are made using materials found in nature like cotton and bamboo, which are densely packed together to create a filling.


How do memory foam, pocket sprung, and hybrid compare?

Memory foam mattresses are squishy, pocket sprung mattresses are bouncy, and hybrid mattresses sit somewhere in the middle. All three mattresses can be soft, medium or firm.


Should I buy a mattress online or in-store?

We recommend buying online. Many of the best mattresses are only available online and many companies have de-risked the buying process with 100-night trials and similar offers.


What are ‘mattress in a box’ like?

Mattress-in-a-box mattresses make home delivery easier and perform in exactly the same way as regular mattresses. You can get memory foam and hybrid mattresses-in-a-box from a variety of leading brands with 100 and 200-night trials.


How thick should my mattress be?

As a general rule, your mattress should be at least 10” (25.4cm) thick for optimal comfort and most memory foam and hybrid mattresses are over 20” thick. The thicker you go, the more luxurious and expensive your mattress will be.  


What size mattress do I need for my bed? 

Your bed will be specified in either UK or EU size. You need to find out which of these sizes your bed is because they have different mattress sizes.

If you can’t find a sticker on your bed frame that designates UK or EU, you can use a tape measure to measure the internal frame for the mattress.

Here are the sizes:


UK mattress sizes:

  • UK Single – 90cm x 190cm (3′ x 6’3″)
  • UK Small double – 120cm x 190cm (4′ x 6’3)
  • UK Double – 135cm x 190cm (4’6″ x 6’3″)
  • UK King – 150cm x 200cm (5′ x 6’6″)
  • UK Super king – 180cm x 200cm (6′ x 6’6″)


EU mattress sizes:


The key difference is equivalent EU sizes are a bit longer than UK sizes.

The most common sizes are single, double and king. Most brands offer these. Small double and super king are more specialised sizes.


What is the best mattress for front, side and back sleepers? 

Front and back sleepers should choose a medium-firm to firm mattress for proper back support. Side sleepers should choose a medium-soft to medium mattress so that it contours to their spine but doesn’t allow them to sink.

If you like to sink into your mattress like it’s a cloud, you can go as soft as you like, but you may put a strain on your back and wake up with aches.


How should I maintain my mattress?

Just follow what the manufacturer recommends. Most manufacturers will recommend flipping or rotating your mattress every now and then. This will extend your mattress’s life and prevent any one side from wearing down prematurely.

If you have allergies you should also hoover your mattress every 3-6 months. This will remove dust, dander and dead skin from the top layer of the mattress. Try not to let stains dry and use a mattress topper if you can.


Do I need a mattress topper?

A mattress topper will keep your mattress clean for longer and prevent spills from causing irreparable stains. However, it could change the feel of your mattress, and this is especially true of waterproof mattress toppers which have a plasticky feel.

Whether you need a mattress topper depends on whether there’s a risk you’ll spill something in bed or make a mess. Mattress toppers aren’t really for comfort but protection to extend the life of your mattress and maintain its warranty.


Top-rated mattress brands

Now that you know how to choose a mattress, let’s discuss brands.

Mattress brands can be split into newer ‘mattress-in-a-box’ brands and hallmark brands that have been around for ages.

The mattress brands that are suitable for your bed depends on whether they offer UK or EU sizes. If they offer both then great!

These are the top-rated mattress brands that offer EU and UK sizes:

  • Simba
  • Otty
  • Ergoflex
  • Tempur
  • Silentnight

Of these, Simba is the highest-rated ‘mattress-in-a-box’ brand overall with a 4.5-star review score based on over 28,000 reviews on TrustPilot. Otty is the least expensive ‘mattress-in-a-box’ brand but has fewer reviews (around 6,000).

Tempur and Silentnight are more established mattress brands that offer high-quality mattresses. You can’t go wrong with either of them.


Best mattresses

You’ll find our top picks of the best mattresses you can buy in 2021 below. All the mattresses are available in most UK and EU sizes (we’ve provided the sizes for you) and they are compatible with platform top, slat top and sprung top beds.


Our favourite mattress overall – Simba HYBRID®

The Simba HYBRID® is Simba’s best-selling mattress. It’s a 25cm medium-firm hybrid mattress made from five layers including a patented Simba-Pure foam layer and a micro-pocket spring layer. It comes with a 200-night trial and a 10-year guarantee.

Sizes (EU): Single, Double, King. (UK): All sizes up to Super King.


The best value ‘mattress-in-a-box’ – OTTY Original  

The OTTY Original costs around 50% less than other ‘mattress-in-a-box-brands. It’s 70/30% springs to foam with 16cm pocket springs and several layers of foam. It also has an airflow system to keep you cool and comes with a 100-night trial.

Sizes (EU): Single, Double, King, Emperor. (UK): All sizes up to Super King.


The best soft foam mattress – TEMPUR® Cloud

The TEMPUR® Cloud is an exceptionally soft foam mattress that feels like a cloud. It’s made from 100% TEMPUR foam in three layers. It’s available in 21cm, 25cm and 30cm thicknesses and comes with a 100-night trial and 10-year guarantee.

Sizes (EU): Small Double, King. (UK): All sizes up to Super King.


The best memory foam mattress for hot sleepers – Ergoflex 5G

If you get too hot when sleeping and want a memory foam mattress, the Ergoflex 5G Mattress should be top of your list. This medium-firm 23cm mattress regulates temperature with a 5cm airflow system. It has a 30-night trial and free returns.

Sizes (EU): Double, King. (UK): All sizes up to Super King except Small Double.


The best natural medium-firm mattress – OTTY PURE Hybrid

If you want an eco-friendly medium-firm mattress, the OTTY Pure Hybrid has the first-ever bamboo memory foam with charcoal for its natural antibacterial properties. It comes with a 100-night trial and a 10-year guarantee.

Sizes (EU): Single, Double, King, Emperor. (UK): All sizes up to Super King.


The best cheap foam mattress – Silentnight Memory Foam 3 Zone

Our favourite entry-level medium memory foam mattress is the Silentnight Memory Foam 3 zone. It’s 18cm thick with four layers, including memory foam, zoned memory foam and a soft sleep surface. It comes with a 60-day comfort exchange.

Sizes (EU): Single, Double, King. (UK): All sizes up to King.


The best firm memory foam mattress – TEMPUR® Sensation

The TEMPUR® Sensation is the best firm memory foam mattress on the market. It’s 100% foam but replicates the sensation of pocket springs to create bounce. It’s very supportive for people over 15 stone and comes with a 100-night trial.

Sizes (EU): Single, Small Double, King. (UK): All sizes up to Super King.


Summing up

Your extensive research into buying a new mattress is one of the smartest things you will ever do. Good sleep is the key to good health and your mattress is crucial in ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep on most nights.  

The key to buying the perfect mattress is ensuring that the mattress can support your body weight and how you sleep without sinking. This is what firmness levels are for. The heavier you are, the firmer your mattress will need to be.

If you weigh 15 stone or more, a firmer mattress will provide greater comfort. If you weigh less than this, you can choose something softer.

Of course, you may simply prefer a soft, cloud-like bed, in which case you should go ahead and buy what makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Happy sleeping!