The main choice when you’re buying a new duvet is whether you want a ‘natural duvet’ (such as standard duck down, posh goose down or ultra-posh eiderdown) or whether you want a cheaper ‘synthetic duvet’ made from polyester (either a plump hollowfibre duvet or a denser microfibre duvet).
Personally, I look for a duvet which has:
- Canadian goose down filling (Hungarian is also very good)
- a high ‘fill power’ rating
- a cotton outer cover with a high thread count
However, there are plenty of other duvet types worth a look, depending on what you like in a duvet. We’ve picked out five outstanding duvets, ranging from £20 to £4000 (Ed: really?!) based on price, reviews and awards
Prices are for double size duvet covers and are correct at time of writing.
1. Slumberdown All Seasons Hollowfibre 3-in-1 15 Tog Combi Duvet – £25
If you want a cheap duvet which gets great reviews, I’d consider a synthetic hollowfibre duvet such as the Slumberdown All Seasons Hollowfibre 3-in-1 15 Tog Combi Duvet.
A synthetic duvet won’t impress your dinner party friends but they usually feel lighter than a natural fibre duvet (such as a duck down duvet).
This one is ‘Hollowfibre’, which means it is made from big chunks of polyester. The duvet will look squidgy and plusher than a microfiber duvet which uses smaller pieces of polyester. The main complaint about synthetic duvets is that they aren’t as breathable as natural materials, but it seems to be less of an issue with hollowfibre than microfibre from what I can tell.
Reviews are very positive(4.6 out of 5 from about 4000 reviews at the time of writing) with most reviewers saying it feels very light and warm. It’s an ‘all-seasons duvet’, so you’ve got three different options of thickness.
Slumberdown came about half way down a customer survey of the UK’s best duvet companies – John Lewis & Partners, M&S and Soak and Sleep came in the top 3.
Pros: cheap, versatile thickness options, positive reviews
Cons: less breathable than natural materials
A clever alternative is the synthetic Silentnight Yours & Mine Duvet (£31). Instead of different layers, it is split down the middle with 10.5 tog on one side and 13.5 tog on the other. It’s a good choice if your spouse is always complaining about being hot/cold. It won an award at the Furniture Awards 2020.
Eve Sleep sell a similar split duvet called the Yin Yang Hollowfibre which is more expensive (£135) but it’s 4.5 tog on one side and 10.5 tog on the other side.
2. John Lewis & Partners Hungarian Goose Down Duvet – £210 (10.5 tog) or £160 (4.5 tog)
If you can afford it, I’d get a goose feather and down duvet such as the John Lewis Hungarian Goose Down Duvet. A natural filling like this usually costs more than synthetic ‘microfibre’ or ‘hollowfibre’ but it should be more breathable.
This duvet has something called high ‘fill power’. I won’t bore you with the details, but a higher score means it will be fluffier and warmer. The very best luxury duvets have a score of 800, according to most guides I’ve read. This one is 600, so not far behind.
It’s also got a cotton outer cover with a high ‘thread count’ (that means it is tightly woven, so should wear well).
Personally I look for Hungarian or Canadian down. I’d avoid ‘Siberian Goose down’ as it’s often a marketing con and could well be from China (in the same way that your ‘French Windows’ aren’t from Paris).
A choice of togs
This John Lewis & Partners duvet is available in 2.5 tog, 4.5 tog (spring/summer) and 10.5 tog (autumn/winter). This duvet can be machine washed, which is a real bonus in my view.
John Lewis & Partners came top in a 2017 customer survey of duvet retailers by independent experts.
Pros: naturally breathable materials, highly respected brand, very soft, Hungarian goose are ideal
Cons: high goose content has less ‘structure’, very expensive
3. Snuggledown Goose Feather and Down All Seasons Duvet – £95
If you want a soft and warm natural duvet but can’t quite stretch to luxury prices, then I’d look at this Snuggledown Goose Feather and Down All Seasons Duvet.
This one is 15% down and 85% feather. The ‘down’ bit on a goose is the softer layer under the top feathers. The top layer of feathers adds a bit of structure to the duvet so most posh duvets have a mix. This one’s a bit cheaper because it is mostly feathers.
In this bundle you get two duvets (4.5 tog and 9 tog). That means you’ve got a 4.5 tog quilt for summer, a 9 tog for autumn/spring and you can combine them into a 13.5 tog for winter. Or you can have one each and argue over who gets the warmer half in winter.
Customers give it outstanding reviews on Amazon (4.7/5 from 1000+ reviews).
Pros: more affordable than most natural duvets, versatile thanks to double layer
Cons: relatively low proportion of down, more expensive than synthetic duvets, less well-known brand than John Lewis or M&S
4. Marks & Spencer Supremely Washable 13.5 All Season Tog Duvet – £55
A high quality synthetic microfiber duvet like this Marks & Spencer Supremely Washable 13.5 Tog All Season Duvet is a good alternative to goose down or duck down.
As you might assume, M&S make excellent quality duvets. They’re in the top three UK brands according to customers.
It doesn’t have the middle-class bragging credentials of a goose down duvet, but it gets outstanding reviews.
Further reading on dust mites
The issue of dust mites is worth a mention here, as you might have read that synthetic duvets are better for keeping them away.
According to a 2005 academic paper by Riccardo, Cazzola et al‘it has become common to advise allergic peoples to avoid the use of feather bedding’. Crucially though, they go on to add that ‘the evidence for such recommendation is not strong’. They conclude that ‘there is a weak scientific basis for recommending non-feather or synthetic bedding in our mite sensitized patients’.
If dust mite allergies are an issue for you, then the clearest advice I’ve found is that you should ‘Use allergen-proof barrier covers on all mattresses, duvets and pillows. These should be breathable and should completely enclose the item’. (Allergy UK Factsheet). They also offer other advice such as washing bedding at 60 degrees.
Similar advice was offered by researchers Vaughan, McLaughlin et al in a paper published in 1999. They found that ‘tightly woven fabrics and nonwoven synthetic fabrics can block common indoor allergens but still allow airflow’ (see ‘Evaluation of materials used for bedding encasement’).
The issue with microfibre
A more apparent downside with microfibre duvets is that they aren’t as breathable as other fillings, so you might wake up too hot.
You may have gathered that I’m a fan of all season duvets, which means you get two quilts of varying thicknesses for your money and a third thickness by sticking them together. It saves you a bit of money and it avoids having to store a massive winter duvet during the warmer months.
Pros: big name and popular brand, positive reviews, versatile layers for different warmth options
Cons: synthetic materials, more expensive than other synthetic bedding
5. Soak and Sleep Supreme 100% Eiderdown Duvet (£4350)
If you’ve recently won the lottery or sold your shares in Apple and are looking for things to spend your money on, I’d get an eiderdown duvet, such as the Soak and Sleep Supreme 100% Eiderdown Duvet.
I don’t imagine they sell many at £4000+ but they come with an evocative story about the down being ‘hand-picked from fledged Eider nests in Iceland’ (the country, rather than the supermarket).
The general idea is that the Eider duck produces exceedingly warm down, but that it’s very rare and expensive to collect, hence the eyewatering price tag.
Soak and Sleep have been named as one of the top three duvet brands a couple of times, and they also get excellent customer reviews.
Pros: the best of the best, respected and award-winning retailer
Cons: 100 times the price of some duvets…
Which is the best duvet brand?
According to a customer satisfaction survey, the best duvet brands are John Lewis & Partners, Soak and Sleep (formerly called the Duvet and Pillow Warehouse) and Marks & Spencer.
That’s not terribly surprising, since they are three of the more expensive brands of duvet on the market.
High scorers at the cheaper end of the market included IKEA and Aldi.
What other types of duvet are there?
Other less common types of duvet not mentioned so far include:
- Natural silk duvets (posh breathable option for those who want a natural duvet. Good for allergies, some can be washed at home) £100+
- Natural wool duvets – (quite expensive, breathable. Bit of a niche choice and they don’t use the usual ‘tog’ rating) £100+
For those who prefer a summary, the five types of duvet covered in our top five guide above are:
- Synthetic hollowfibre duvets (made from chunky bits of polyester to create a thick duvet. Good for allergies, easy to wash at home) – £20+
- Synthetic microfibre duvets (made from tiny bits of polyester, supposedly feels like feather and down. Good for allergies, easy to wash at home) – £20+
- Natural duck feather and down duvets (feels warm and soft. Down is very soft, feather is a bit more solid so most duvets combine the two. Bad for allergies and usually needs professional cleaning). £100+
- Natural goose feather and down duvets (similar to duck down, but warmer and more expensive) £200+
- Natural eiderdown duvets (ludicrously luxurious, because they come from the Eider duck, which is supposedly warmer) £2000+
Do natural duvets help you sleep better than synthetic duvets?
The question of whether the material that you sleep under makes a difference to your quality of sleep was tackled by an Australian academic study which took place in 2016 (‘The effects of fabric for sleepwear and bedding on sleep at ambient temperatures of 17°C and 22°C’ by Shin, Halaki et al).
Their researched examined two things:
1) cotton v merino wool sleepwear, which are both natural materials with breathable qualities
2) polyester v wool bedding, which is a synthetic material and a natural material
The study had support from an organisation called Australian Wool Innovation Ltd hence the focus on wool bedding, rather than feather and down or other competing materials.
The research into sleepwear concluded that people who used wool bedding fell asleep quicker (‘Sleeping in wool sleepwear produced a significantly shorter Sleep Onset Latency than cotton’). They also concluded that people using the wool sleepwear slept for a bit longer and a bit better, but it was less of a significant difference (‘Marginally significant results were observed for an increased Total Sleep Time and Sleep Efficiency when sleeping in wool compared to cotton sleepwear’.)
Bedding related academic research
The research into bedding produced a set of results which are interesting for different reasons.
Overall, they concluded that there was no noticeable difference in sleep between the synthetic and natural material (‘there was no bedding effect on sleep’ and ‘no main effects were observed for bedding types’).
However, it did reference a similar study by Ha, Tokura et al which found that ‘when comparing cotton to polyester fabric at a body temperature of 37°C and 60% relative humidity, a higher sweating rate was observed with polyester, since polyester is less hygroscopic than cotton’.