5 Best Natural Mattresses In The UK 2020 and 2021
Definitions vary a bit, but a ‘natural’ mattress is one that uses things like cotton, wool, latex and springs. Posh ones also use fancy materials like cashmere, although the actual amount used in each mattress may not be huge. Natural mattresses are usually more expensive than manmade mattresses as the materials are pricier.
You'll find that most mattresses described as 'natural' also contain a small amount of manmade materials such as polyester. However, these are usually buried deep down so you still get the benefits of the more breathable and posher natural materials.
It's also worth considering the research into the impact of mattresses on the environment. According to research by Glew, Stringer et al (2012) 'natural fibre (biomaterial) pocket spring mattresses are shown to emit marginally less greenhouse gasses than foam (petrochemical) pocket spring mattresses.' That would appear to be an endorsement for pocket sprung mattresses which use layers of wool, cotton, coir and latex rather than memory foam mattresses.
However, the researchers then go on to say that the impact once you've finished with the mattress has the potential to be much bigger ('when end of life scenarios are considered, the results suggest much larger GHG emission reductions for natural fibre than foam mattresses. Refurbishing natural fibre mattresses and reusing the springs, coupled with recycling the waste components, can reduce GHG emissions by 90% compared to sending the mattresses to landfill'.)
On the other hand, a foam mattress such as the Nectar Sleep mattress has 'climate neutral manufacturing' and 'environmentally friendly materials' according to the sustainability section of their website.
There is an argument that people who suffer from allergies to dust mites are better to avoid natural mattresses. According to Mattress Online, "Foam mattresses are particularly beneficial in lowering the risk of dust mites and allergens in your bedroom."
However, that's contrary to a notable study by academics in Norway which took samples from both foam and sprung mattresses and concluded that 'A simple replacement of foam mattresses with spring mattresses may reduce the exposure to house-dust-mite allergens' ('House-dust mites and mattresses' Schei, Hessen et al, 2002).
We've picked out five of the best natural mattresses and chemical free mattresses by looking at factors such as brand reputation, customer reviews, specification and value for money.
Prices are correct at the time of writing and are for double mattresses.
1. Millbrook Wool Luxury 4000 Pocket Natural Mattress - £529 (medium/firm)
Southampton-based Millbrook Beds make a range of wool mattresses, which come with a rather appealing 60 night trial period (read the Ts and Cs). If it's not comfortable, you can swap it for another mattress. Trial periods are common in the memory foam market, but less so in mattresses made from natural materials. It also has a 10 year guarantee, which is really good for a natural bed of this price.
The Millbrook brand won a big award in 2018/2019 when it was named as Bed Manufacturer of the Year.
We've gone for the Millbrook Wool Luxury 4000 Pocket Natural Mattress although there are cheaper models in the range.
As with most natural mattresses, it uses pocket springs which are the superior type of spring in a mattress. Some cheap mattresses use open coil springs which are far less stable and supportive.
The 4000 number in the title refers to the number of springs. Normally, this means that a mattress has a layer of big springs to support you and a layer of small springs for extra comfort. However, this mattress has actually got two layers of full size pocket springs, which should mean it will provide plenty of support.
Besides the springs, it also has 'temperature regulating cotton, absorbent flax, locally sourced Hampshire Wool, moisture controlling silk, luxurious cashgora, super soft bamboo and sumptuous pashmina'. To save you the bother, I searched for cashgora and discovered it is a type of goat which is a cross between cashmere and angora. Every day's a school day, eh?
Other signs of quality in this mattress are the hand-side-stitching. We're heading for a jargon-heavy area but that means it's made in a labour-intensive way so that the sides won't collapse when you sit on the edge of the bed to put your socks on.
The cover is made from Egyptian cotton. As you may be aware, Egyptian cotton is better and more expensive than standard cotton because it's made from longer strands which are better for bedding.
This mattress is also very deep at 28cm. That's not a guarantee of quality but it's a good sign. You can turn it over, which is seen as a good thing because it can help a mattress last longer rather than ending up with a big dent of your bottom after a few weeks.
Customer reviews are currently more than 9/10.
Available sizes for this natural mattress include single, double, king size and super king as well as some more unusual sizes such as a zip link natural mattress which is similar to two singles side by side.
2. Herdy Sleep Wool Natural Mattress - medium/firm - £849
The Herdy Sleep mattress isn't the cheapest but it's a natural mattress which is worth considering for several reasons:
As well as the home trial period, there's also an option to try it out in a store.
3. Hypnos Swinton and Hypnos Walters Pocket Sprung Mattresses - £829/£899 (medium or firm)
**Hypnos Sale: £200 off the Hypnos Walters Mattress**
You've probably heard of Hypnos, which is one of the posher brands in the UK. Its reputation has been helped along with a Royal Warrant, which means Hypnos mattresses are used in the Queen's household.
These two models - Hypnos Swinton and Hypnos Walters - are very similar but one is medium tension whilst the other is firm.
As an aside...picking the right firmness for a mattress is quite tricky online but the general rules are that larger and heavier people need firmer mattresses than smaller and lighter people. If you're very light then you probably won't sink into a firm mattress very much so you won't get much support for your body.
Another general rule is that people who sleep on their backs and fronts need firmer mattresses than those of us who mostly sleep on our sides. The theory being that you put pressure on your hips and shoulders if you sleep on your side, which means that a very firm mattress probably won't be right for you.
Anyway, back to these two natural mattresses from Hypnos.
It's worth realising that these are not 100% natural mattresses. They both have layers of 'Solotex' and polyester. Solotex is a fancy type of polyester which offers 'a supremely soft, yet resilient filling'.
However, they also both have a layer of wool which is naturally good at regulating your temperature. At the time of writing, both are scoring 4.7/5 from customer reviews.
You get a decent 10 year guarantee and it's designed so that it's strong right to the edges. On the downside, you can't turn this mattress over and it doesn't come with a home trial period.
4. John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection Egyptian Cotton 5900 Natural Mattress - £999 (medium or firm)
Apologies, this is another fairly pricey mattress but you do tend to pay a premium price for natural materials rather than synthetic materials.
This one is part of the John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection. It's certainly not the most expensive mattress in the range but it's a good compromise of quality and price.
The range is made by a Yorkshire based mattress manufacturer called Harrison Spinks (also mentioned earlier). They're another bed company which has won at the National Bed Federation awards in recent years.
The layers on this mattress are not all 100% natural, but the vast majority of it is. It uses wool, cotton and flax as well as a synthetic 'fibre pad' on the bottom layer. It's also got a 'completely glue-free design' which they say makes it easier to recycle.
The 5900 number refers to the number of springs it uses. If you're really interested in the technical stuff then it's worth noting that it uses two layers of springs including some full size springs (for support) and some mini springs (for comfort). Perhaps more important than the number of springs is the fact that the larger springs in this mattress won an award in 2019 (yes, there really is an award for the design of springs).
Customer reviews average about 4.5/5 for this mattress.
One big plus is that you can choose from medium or firm tensions. John Lewis suggest that the the medium version is 'Suitable for bodyweights of 8-16 stone (50kg-100kg)' and the firm version is 'Optimum comfort for bodyweights over 16 stone (100kg+)'.
It comes with a seven year guarantee which is good but not spectacular for this price tag. Other downsides include the fact that it's only one sided, so you can't flip it over to make it last longer. Double sided mattresses in the John Lewis Natural Collection are even pricier.
There is also a 60 night home trial period with this mattress, although for a long time that wasn't the case (it was introduced in 2021). It isn't quite as straightforward as some mattress trials because you have to a) buy a mattress protector at the time of purchase b) pay to return it and c) swap it for another model. However, it's a welcome add-on which adds another option for online shoppers who don't fancy spending hundreds of pounds on something which may not suit them.
You may be asking why you should consider spending somewhere around £1000 for a John Lewis & Partners mattress when other models from the same retailer are much cheaper. Besides the obvious features, such as spring count, there are other factors which are important but less visible such as hand-side-stitching.
We analysed 14 mattresses sold under the John Lewis & Partners own brand. Some were from their posher range and others were from the budget options.
Seven mattresses were those which cost under £500 for a double mattress and the other half were those costings between £500 and £1000. The bar chart below shows that 'hand side stitching' is a key feature which is much more common on the more expensive mattresses than it is on the cheaper ones. This is unsurprising, considering the extra manufacturing cost of the process which involves strengthening the side of the mattress with a number of stitches which are done by hand.
The advantage for the user is that you get a mattress which is stronger when you sit down to put your socks on. It also helps it maintain its overall shape over the years.
5. Dunlopillo Millennium/Dunlopillo Orchid Natural Latex Mattress - (medium/firm) - £1399
A Dunlopillo mattress is a great option for a natural mattress, as long as you have deep pockets.
They're made from latex, which is a natural material which comes from rubber trees. It naturally 'responds to your weight and shape to provide pressure relief tailored to you' (according to Mattress Online). Plus, it can be produced sustainably.
So, why aren't all mattresses made from latex?
One answer seems to be that it's very expensive to produce. Most 'latex' mattresses just use a 2-3cm layer of latex on top of synthetic materials. Meanwhile, Dunlopillo use a much greater amount of latex in their mattresses (about 10cm typically) and are the brand leaders in the latex mattress market.
You get an eight year guarantee, which is OK but not remarkable for a mattress of this price.
The two mattresses we've picked out are both award winners and very similar. The main difference is that the Dunlopillo Millennium is a medium firmness mattress whilst the Dunlopillo Orchid is a firm mattress.
On TrustPilot, Dunlopillo is one of the highest rated brands with customers. When checked in 2021, it was scoring an average of 4.6/5.
Dunlopillo also sell a cheaper range called Dunlopillo Go which has a much thinner layer of latex.