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The best mattress in 2021: from comfy memory foam to innovative hybrids

TechRadar logo TechRadar 11/24/2021 Claire Davies
Best mattress: the Simba Hybrid Pro mattress on a dusky pink background © Provided by TechRadar Best mattress: the Simba Hybrid Pro mattress on a dusky pink background

Choosing the best mattress for you is easy once you have factored in a few key considerations such as the position you sleep in, your body weight, and whether you snooze solo or with another person. From our testing and research, memory foam mattresses are the best choice if you like to feel cradled during sleep. They provide good pressure relief too, as do hybrid mattresses; these are usually more breathable than all-foam beds, making them the best choice for hot sleepers.

On the subject of price, the best mattress for you isn’t necessarily the most expensive one, as the two top picks in our guide (the Emma Original and the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress) are actually among the most affordable you’ll find. We have included mattresses to suit a range of sleepers and budgets here, including one or two you may have spotted on TV.

Our best tip for anyone buying a mattress online is to go with a brand that offers a risk-free trial period. These are vital as they enable you to properly test your new mattress at home to make sure it’s the best choice for you. The average trial period is 100 nights, but some brands, like Nectar and DreamCloud, offer a year’s trial.

When creating our shortlist of the best mattresses, our main criteria included good spinal alignment, proper support and comfort, and pressure relief for your hips, back and shoulders. That, plus a fair price for the build quality and the mattress technologies on offer. Mattresses online are usually cheaper than comparable models sold in-store too, and you’ll normally find plenty of discounts to lower the price – especially with all the Black Friday mattress deals now arriving. Ready to find your dream bed? Then these are the UK’s top-rated mattresses to consider… 

THE BEST MATTRESSES IN THE UK

The Emma Original mattress is a bit like getting the moon on a stick. By that we mean it’s cheap, comfy in every sleeping position, and ready to snooze on in minutes. The Original isn’t much to look at – it’s a slab of body-hugging memory foam with a white cover and grey base – but during testing we found it to be a reliable all-rounder. Stomach, back, side and combi sleepers are all catered for here, though during our month-long testing period we found it especially comfy for side sleeping. 

Halo Memory Foam is one of the reasons why the Emma Original Mattress supports all sleepers. The foam adapts to your unique body shape and curves; keeps your spine aligned and dishes out consistent pressure relief when you’re lying down. There’s another layer of foam at play too: durable Emma HRX (High Resiliency Extra) Supreme Foam, designed to distribute your body weight evenly across the mattress and prevent sagging.

Foam mattresses sleep warmer than hybrids because they don’t have any springs or coils for air to move around. Emma Sleep attempts to side step this issue by infusing the Original with a mattress technology called Point Elastic Airgocell. It regulates temperature by absorbing then evaporating sweat, so the rise in temperature shouldn’t cause you to overheat. The temperature-regulating, moisture-wicking cover doubles down on this. 

Does it work? Yes... to an extent. The hot sleepers on our team found it slept a little warm but certainly not hot. Our other testers found it comfy, cosy and temperature-neutral (neither cool or warm). So let’s say this: if you naturally run hot and you’re constantly kicking off the covers because you overheat during sleep, check out the Simba Hybrid Pro (below). For everyone else, at such a low price the Emma Original Mattress is hard to beat. It’s biggest rival is the Nectar (above) because it’s equally comfy, equally well-priced for the mattress tech involved (though it’s a touch more expensive), and it comes with free bedding for extra value for money. It's currently on sale too thanks to the Emma Black Friday mattress sale, with 45% off.

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Emma Original: was from £499 £274.45 at Emma Sleep

Save up to £404.55 - The Emma Original excels for side sleeping, but it’s comfy for every other position too. Like Nectar, the Emma is good at isolating motion, so if you and your partner have different sleep routines, you shouldn’t disturb each other too much getting in and out of bed. Overall, the Emma is a reliable and cosy memory foam mattress that cradles your body for tip to toe comfort. At 45% off for Black Friday, it’s a tough act to follow.

The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is well-made, super-comfy and affordable, and comes on a 365-night trial, giving you an entire year to triple-check that it really is the best mattress for you. There’s a market leading Forever Warranty on it too, which few other UK mattress brands can match. Add to that how the Nectar is certified as a climate neutral product, with emissions offset by a range of global schemes, and you’ve got an eco-friendly mattress at a good price.

There are five layers keeping you comfy and supported when you sleep on the Nectar, one of which is pressure relieving memory foam. When you lie down, that memory foam layer gets to work reducing pressure beneath your hips, knees (side sleepers) and shoulders, while ensuring your spine is comfortably aligned. The memory foam is CertiPUR certified too, so you won’t be breathing in any nasties here. Nectar partner’s its deep layer of body contouring memory foam with a seven-zone supportive base to further boost spinal alignment and minimise motion transfer. 

That’s why we love recommending the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress to couples – the high levels of motion isolation mean you shouldn’t feel each other wriggling so much. This is important because if you aren’t woken up so often by your partner’s restlessness, you stand more of a chance of sleeping through the night and feeling more refreshed come morning. 

A lot of all-foam mattresses sleep warm, but not the Nectar. That’s due in part to the Dynamic Support layer, made of open-cell breathable foam to increase air flow, regulate your body temperature, and dissipate heat. The Quilted Cooling Cover doubles down on this by drawing away heat from your body so that it doesn’t build up and leave you a sweaty mess. 

We will say that side sleepers may prefer the Emma Original Mattress (see below) as that one feels a touch softer and more cushioned around the shoulders, hips and knees during side sleeping. Other than that, every sleeping position is supported by the Nectar, and while we found the edge support to be a little flimsy, there’s not much to criticise here. With a 365-night risk-free trial, free delivery and returns and a Forever Warranty, you have nothing to lose and years of cosy sleep to gain. For the latest savings, read our round-up of the best Nectar mattress sales and discounts.

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Nectar Memory Foam: was from £569 £312.95 at Nectar

Save up to £418.95 - Nectar’s Memory Foam Mattress is suitable for all sleeping positions and won’t overcook you during sleep either. You’ll get 365 nights to try it at home too, with a Forever Warranty covering you for the long-term. If you change your mind during the trial period, Nectar will collect the mattress and refund your money. There’s nothing to lose on this one, especially at 45% off.

Sleep specialist Simba is known for making some of the UK’s best hybrid mattresses, and the Hybrid Pro sits in the middle of its range. While it houses a smaller number of coils than the pricier Simba Hybrid Luxe, the Hybrid Pro still packs in 5,000 Aerocoil springs, which is impressive considering a double size costs £1,239 when not on sale. We’d expect it to cost more, but that’s the major draw with online mattresses – they are cheaper than comparable in-store only models because mattress in a box makers don’t have the cost of bricks and mortar shops to contend with.

Such a high amount of coils also adds up to higher levels of back support and comfort, so if you’re looking for a medium-firm mattress to help you sleep more comfortably with neck and back pain, the Simba Hybrid is the best mattress for you. The many thousands of coils also mean that the Simba is one of the most breathable mattresses in our guide. That’s because air flows more freely around coils, and the Simba also uses a layer of open cell Simba-Pure foam infused with cooling graphite. 

The Simba Hybrid Pro has racked up plenty of awards for its mattress technologies and has the high user reviews to go with it. Sleepers praise its ability to reduce pressure and distribute body weight evenly across the mattress, so you won’t have any annoying dips or sagging to worry about. On the very top you’ll find a 750g knitted cover, which is thicker than the one found on the Simba Hybrid Original though not as plush as the bamboo infused wool cover on the Hybrid Luxe. 

The Hybrid Pro mattress is 3cm deeper than both the Nectar and the Emma (28cm vs 25cm), but it’s more expensive – even when on sale. We’d also point out that sleepers with lightweight bodies may find it too firm at first, especially side sleepers with a lighter body weight. The Simba and the Emma are tied in terms of mattress trials – they both offer 200 nights – so the Nectar trumps them both. But like the Nectar, the Simba has impressive eco-credentials and is also certified carbon neutral, with 100% recyclable materials.

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Simba Hybrid Pro: was from £999 £549.45 at Simba

Save up to £622.79 - The Hybrid Pro is designed to promote cooler, deeper sleep, ensuring your spine is aligned and your hips are cushioned. There are 5,000 Aerocoil springs responding to your every movement here, working together with the other layers to isolate motion and ensure a more peaceful night’s sleep. Right now there’s 45% off the Hybrid Pro, which is a fantastic saving.

The Brook + Wilde Elite Mattress has something for everyone because it’s available in three different levels of firmness: soft (3 out of 10), medium (5 out of 10) and firm (7 out of 10). So regardless of your sleeping position, or how heavy or light your body is, The Elite Mattress will cater to your body and sleep needs. As befitting a hybrid mattress, this one is made from memory foam and pocket springs. It sandwiches together eight individual layers to deliver enhanced all over support and comfort – whatever comfort feels like to you (soft, firm or somewhere in between). 

Like the other hybrids in our best mattress guide, Brook + Wilde’s The Elite is breathable (springs encourage better airflow than all-foam mattresses), and that’s enhanced by a thermo-regulating top layer. It’s made of high density foam with an open cell structure (hence the breathability and thermo regulating). By the way, the four-way stretch cover is also designed to be breathable, and you can unzip it and machine wash it regularly for freshness and to keep your new mattress in tip-top shape. 

The real magic inside The Elite mattress is Brook + Wilde’s Wave Technology, which draws upon specialist foam to cushion and provide pressure relief in the upper part of the mattress. This ensures your spine is aligned during sleep and that pressure points are relieved. There’s a total of 3,500 springs in this hybrid mattress too – 2,500 mini springs to add a little bounce and to move with you as you turn in bed, plus an extra 1,000 taller springs to provide even more bounce and push back. 

Brook + Wilde has won a raft of awards and accolades for all of its mattresses, including The Elite. The only downside is that, unlike other bed-in-a-box companies, the wait time here is within three weeks. So if you need a new mattress urgently and you want a hybrid, look at the Simba Hybrid Pro above instead. But if you can wait, The Elite offers high comfort and support for a not extravagant price. You’ll have 100 nights to try it out too, and it comes with a 10-year guarantee for peace of mind.

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Brook + Wilde The Elite: was from £899 £539.40 at Brook + Wilde Save up to £559.60 - You can save 45% on any mattress worth over £599 in the Brook + Wilde Black Friday mattress sale. This discount reduces a double size Elite Mattress to £719.40, and for a luxury hybrid that's a reasonable price indeed. It comes in your choice of firmness, so it's a breathable and comfy pick for most sleepers.

The Otty Pure Hybrid Bamboo and Charcoal is the best mattress for anyone who suffers from allergies and who wants a medium-firm mattress made with natural materials. There are some very attractive features with the Otty, namely the lower price (especially when on sale), and the addition of cooling bamboo and charcoal. All of the foam is CertiPUR and Europur approved too, which means the toxicity of the foam has been repeatedly tested and has passed the highest standard set.

There are multiple foam layers inside the Otty Pure hybrid, putting it in line with the likes of the Nectar and Emma mattresses. The bamboo memory foam layer is infused with charcoal to regulate in-bed temperature, while a layer of high density Reflex Foam dollops on the comfort and extra support for your back. This is enhanced by the addition of up to 2,000 16cm tall pocket springs, giving the Otty Pure its medium-firm rating.

On the top you’ll find a foam-filled, charcoal-infused cover designed to wick away moisture. The cover is also antibacterial and breathable, working in tandem with Airflow technology on each side to aid temperature regulation. These side slabs also mean the Otty has great edge-to-edge support, so you can sit on the edge of the mattress to pop your shoes on without sliding off. 

When analysing the thousands of Otty user reviews on Trustpilot, the main gripes we came across were about customer service and a narrow selection of delivery days. In all of these instances, Otty’s customer service team responded to address the concerns raised. You’ll get 100 nights to put the Otty Pure Hybrid Bamboo and Charcoal to the test, and the brand offers free basic delivery (premium services, such as to your bedroom, cost extra - other brands offer this for free) and free returns.

If you want a cooling mattress on a budget, as well as a firmer sleeping surface, the Eve Premium Hybrid is definitely worth considering. This is one of the best mattresses in the UK for higher levels of neck and back support, and it’s one of the firmest mattresses in this guide. It has high user reviews among those seeking a firm bed, as well as among people who usually wake up in the night, kicking off the covers because they feel too warm to sleep. The Eve Premium Hybrid feels cooler because it houses 1,500 pocket springs that keep air circulating while you lie on the mattress.

If you suffer from night sweats or hot flashes due to medication, pregnancy, menopause or another health condition, you’ll be in good hands with the Eve Premium Hybrid because the top panel can be washed, so you’ll be able to quickly deal with any sweat , staining or odours. Those pocket springs contribute towards pressure relief too, particularly around your back and hips. The mattress is also designed to keep your spine in alignment during sleep so you don’t wake up sore or stiff. 

While some other hybrids lose points on motion isolation, we found the Eve Premium Hybrid to be very good at isolating motion during testing. It doesn’t stop it completely, but it’s hugely reduced – this is vital if you share a bed with a restless sleeper or if you are prone to tossing and turning in bed (and it isn’t because you’re physically uncomfortable). We’d recommend the Eve Premium Hybrid to people with heavier bodies too, as it provides a higher level of support to stop you from sinking too far into the mattress. If you have a lighter body and you’re a side sleeper, the Eve might be too firm for you to sleep comfortably so consider the Emma Original or the Brook + Wilde The Elite Soft instead. 

The Eve Premium Hybrid comes on a 100-night trial, which is common to most of the models featured in our best mattress guide, and it has a 10-year guarantee too. We regularly see it on sale, with discounts averaging 30 to 35%, so you can usually buy it for a couple of hundred pounds less than it’s RRP. That makes it more competitively priced, though it is still one of the more expensive hybrids here. For a cheaper option that’s still breathable and has a firmer feel, look at the Simba Hybrid Pro Mattress.

Tempur-Pedic’s Original mattress is an excellent choice if you need a reliable bed that’s not only comfortable, supportive and balanced, but easy to care for too. That’s because the Tempur Original is a no-turn model (you should rotate it regularly though to spread out the wear and tear) and comes with a machine washable cover. More importantly, this is the best mattress in our guide for giving you that feeling of being gently cradled. You’ll sink into the Tempur, but you won’t be swallowed by it; a perfect meeting point of spinal support and I-don’t-want-to-get-up comfort.

There’s plenty of flexibility on offer with the Tempur-Pedic Original, as it’s available in three ranges: the Tempur Original Supreme (21cm deep), the Tempur Original Elite (25cm deep), and the Tempur Original Luxe (30cm deep). Each of those is available to buy in 10 different sizes, from single to super king, plus there are special sizes too, including longer singles and different widths. Honestly, this sheer amount of variety outperforms every other mattress in our guide and you won’t find a greater range of sizes and firmness levels from any other brand featured here. 

If you need a sturdier foundation, the deeper Luxe mattresses offer more support in the base. The Supreme range nails that just-right feel with 2cm of Tempur Comfort Material perched above 8cm of Tempur Support Material. 

Tempur-Pedic prides itself on the Tempur material it uses, explaining that, “NASA developed a material to relieve the pressure endured by astronauts during lift off.” Back down on Earth, sleepers can take advantage of similar benefits, including all-night body cradling and support regardless of the position you sleep in. When you lie down on the Tempur Original mattress, you will feel it start to mould to your curves, delivering Tempur’s famous pressure relieving magic from head to toe.

Finally, for those of you dealing with night sweats and hot flashes that leave you and your sheets drenched, the Tempur Original mattress also has a removable cover that can be machine washed at 60°C to keep things fresh and odour and stain free.

There’s only one DreamCloud mattress available to buy in the UK, but that’s fine because the Luxury Hybrid is designed to serve up a feast of back support and all-over body comfort. It’s one of the deepest (tallest) models in our best mattress guide, outgunned only by the Brook + Wilde Ultima and Tempur Original Luxe, yet both of those are far more expensive. So considering the level of plushness we’re talking about here, the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid is well-priced indeed.

Like all good hybrid mattresses the DreamCloud uses a combination of body-hugging memory foam with supportive springs. In this case, ActivEdge pocket springs. Their job is to make sure you are properly supported when you lie down so that you don’t wake up with neck or back pain caused by your mattress. Those springs also make the mattress more breathable, as air moves more easily through and around the springs. 

The DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid UK is designed to support side, back and stomach sleepers, so if you’re often restless in bed and flip and flop between different positions, this mattress will respond quickly to your movements and keep you feeling comfy. And hopefully, if you upgrade to a better mattress such as this one or any other in our guide, you won’t feel quite so restless during sleep because you’ll be more comfortable. We will say that if you have a lighter body weight than average and you love soft mattresses, then you may find this one too firm, so take a look at the Emma Original instead.

DreamCloud, like Nectar, offers a market-leading 365-night risk-free mattress trial, so you get a whole year to put the Luxury Hybrid through its paces at home. It also comes with a Forever Warranty, plus free shipping and returns if you decide this isn’t the best choice for you after all. Delivery usually takes around four days, so if you need a luxury yet affordable mattress for better back support now, the DreamCloud is a great choice.

Sleep is a vital part of recovery, so if you have an intense exercise schedule and want a supportive mattress with high levels of pressure relief, the 25cm deep Rem-Fit 500 Ortho is the best mattress for you. It’s also well-suited to people who need deeper back and neck support, as it uses zoned memory foam to deliver different levels of pressure for different parts of your body, especially your hips and back.

The Rem-Fit 500 Ortho is a hybrid mattress made from open-cell memory foam (designed to be more breathable than standard foam) and 2,000 firm encapsulated premium pocket springs. Overheating in bed won’t be an issue on this mattress either, as Rem-Fit has designed it to deliver constant temperature regulation, dissipating heat so that it doesn’t build-up beneath you. The Re-Ax cover is also fully breathable, plus you can remove it for machine washing. (Read our how to clean a mattress feature for tips).

Those springs also mean that the 500 Ortho minimises motion transfer, so you won’t disturb each other so much if you share a bed. Another plus for couples is the defined edge-to-edge support, which enables you to both spread out and sleep right up to the edge of the mattress without falling off. At the base sits a deep layer of high-density foam for durability and support of a total body weight of 40 stone.

How to choose the best mattress for you

Picking a great mattress comes down to a few key factors. The first is knowing which position you normally feel comfy enough to drift off in. The most common sleeping positions are side sleeping, stomach sleeping, back sleeping and combination sleeping, where you switch between all of those positions during the night. We fully support the underrated Starfish position too, though your partner will probably hate you for it.

Choosing your best mattress also revolves around whether you have any specific health or posture needs, such as neck or back pain. If that’s the case, speak to your healthcare practitioner to see what they suggest in terms of the level of firmness you need – firm doesn’t always equal best for back pain relief. A medium-firm feel suits most sleepers and average body weights, plus stomach and back snoozers. Those with a lighter weight body, along with side sleepers, may prefer a softer mattress that offers more cushioning. Memory foam mattresses are a good pick here. 

Other health considerations include whether you’re a hot sleeper. If you are, the buzzwords to look for are ‘breathable’ and ‘cooling’. But not all breathable mattresses are made equal and we have certainly experienced our fair share of so-called cooling mattresses that still left us kicking off the covers at night. If you sleep very hot or have a health condition or take medication that causes night sweats, we’d recommend a proper cooling mattress. Be prepared to pay more for these, but if overheating is ruining your sleep, the cost is relative to improving your shut-eye.

Finally, consider your bed buddy’s needs if you co-sleep. We always recommend that couples pick a mattress with good motion isolation, as well as reinforced edge support so that you can both spread out and use every inch of the mattress while still feeling supported. If one of you sleeps cooler than the other or enjoys a wildly different firmness level, you may be looking at split-model mattresses or two singles squished together. Whatever you decide, always pick a mattress that comes on a risk-free trial period so that you can send it back if you aren’t happy.

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