The best sofa bed or futon is one which is comfortable enough for a couple of nights, whilst looking half decent the rest of the time.
Many online guides include detailed descriptions of the 94 different types of sofa bed. They offer confusing diagrams of mechanisms. I find these as interesting as a book about concrete.
However, there are two main types of sofa bed:
- those which have a separate hidden mattress (e.g. folding sofa beds)
- those where you sleep on the sofa cushions (e.g. futons, corner sofa beds, click clack/clic clac sofa beds, lift and pull sofa beds, A-frame sofa beds)
Personally, I prefer the look of a sofa bed with a hidden mattress. These can easily masquerade as a normal sofa the rest of the time.
The downside is that the mattresses are thin because there’s only so much storage space under the cushions.
We’ve picked out five of the best sofa beds on sale in the UK today. We looked at specification, value for money, customer reviews and awards. Prices and review scores are correct at the time of typing.
1. Birlea Aurora Sofa Bed/Birlea Snug Sofa Bed – £139/£279 – 1 colour choice
Roll up bargain hunters!
£139 doesn’t go a long way when you’re looking for a cheap sofa bed. However, the Birlea Aurora Sofa Bed gets good reviews for the price.
You can upgrade to one called the Birlea Snug Sofa Bed which costs about twice the price and has a thicker cushion/mattress.
They’re both what are known as the ‘click clack’ style of sofa bed (sometimes called ‘clic clac’). That means the back of the sofa flattens out to make the bed. Nothing too fancy but it’ll do the job for Aunt Maude (assuming you don’t want her to stay for too long).
Once they’ve been turned into a settee bed you’ll end up with something which is about 10cm wider and 10cm shorter than a standard single mattress. So, it’s not really wide enough for two, unless you’re both very petite.
What are the reviews like?
The Birlea brand is scoring 4.2/5 on TrustPilot or 4.7/5 on Google Reviews. The cheaper Birlea Aurora is scoring 4.1/5 on Amazon. We couldn’t find reviews of the Birlea Snug Sofa bed.
If you buy either the Aurora sofa bed or Snug sofa bed from Happy Beds then you get a five year guarantee. I would say that’s pretty appealing as a lot of cheap furniture just comes with one year.
Pros: it’s terrific value considering the good reviews. You get a longer warranty than many rivals
Cons: there’s a poor choice of colours. There’s also a high chance of your feet falling off the edge if you are taller than 5 foot 8 inches and there are no arm rests.
Our value rating: ***** (out of five)
2. Dreams Gallway 3 Seater Clic-Clac Sofa Bed – £799 – 3 colour choices
This Dreams Gallway Sofa bed does a convincing impression of a sofa in your lounge and it comes in green, grey or navy blue. It’s a clic-clac sofa, which means that the seating area and back rest area folds flat and you sleep on the sofa cushions.
That means you get a thicker bit of foam to lie on than you’d get with a fully concealed mattress.
The ‘mattress’ uses pocket springs which should give it a good level of support. Pocket springs are posher than cheap ‘open coil’ springs.
How big is the sofa bed?
When it’s laid out flat you get a mattress which is 190cm long by 112cm wide. That means that it’s the same length as a normal single or double mattress. You should be able to stretch out unless your name is Richard Osman.
It’s worth noting that the armrests stay in place at both ends, so your pillow won’t fall off the end during the night.
The width of the sleeping area is halfway between a single and a double mattress. It is advertised as being suitable for two people to sleep on but I would say that it would be quite cosy for a couple for more than a night or two.
Reviews on the Dreams website are currently very positive (4.8/5 after 60+ reviews).
You can buy matching armchairs and footstools from Dreams as well.
Is a similar alternative the best sofa bed for you?
Dreams also sell a two seater sofa bed called Haze which works in a similar way. It’s available in two colours and is a similar price.
Pros: genuinely looks like a sofa and has pocket springs for added comfort. It gets very positive reviews and it’s long enough for an average height male
Cons: there’s only a modest choice of colours and too narrow for most couples being despite advertised as suitable for two. You only get a one year warranty
Our value rating: ****
3. House by John Lewis Oliver 2 Seater Sofa Bed With Pocket Sprung Mattress – from £1299 – 200+ colour choices
This House by John Lewis Oliver Sofa Bed isn’t the cheapest but it comes in dozens of different colours and ticks most boxes that I look for.
For a start, it’s a ‘folding sofa bed’ so it actually looks like a sofa. Some clic clac sofa beds or futons can look a bit out of place in a lounge.
What’s the mattress on this sofa bed like?
The mattress is a reasonably good size, as it’s as wide as a double mattress and almost as long. Some sofa beds are barely bigger than a single. It’s a 2 seater sofa, but is wider than most of the 2 seaters at John Lewis.
Most important though is the materials used for the mattress, as it’s available as a pocket spring mattress.
For the uninitiated, a pocket spring mattress is far superior to an open coil mattress which is what Grandma has in her spare bedroom which hasn’t been decorated since 1953.
The mattress itself is 10cm deep. For comparison, most decent mattresses are at least 20cm deep, with a cheaper one being about 15cm deep. Of course, this thinner option is a necessity of a folding sofa bed and 10cm is about as a good as it gets. The alternative is to pick a sofa bed where you actually sleep on the sofa cushions. That can be a lot thicker but doesn’t always look so subtle in a lounge.
The mattress sits on slats, rather than on some sort of flimsy material base, which is the less posh option.
The frame on this sofa bed
For nerds like me who are interested in the little details, it’s worth noting that the sofa frame is made from birch, which is a hardwood (that’s a good thing for a sofa as it keeps its shape and hardwoods emit lower volatile organic compounds than softwoods). Meanwhile, the frame is held together with glue and staples (that’s less good and is generally seen as a cheap option). The frame comes with a generous 15 year guarantee.
As for John Lewis & Partners, the company itself regularly scores well in customer service surveys. In 2019, it beat Amazon at the Customer Satisfaction Awards.
Finally, it is made in the UK. That isn’t a complete guarantee that you’re buying quality, but it’s a good sign. Many of the very best and poshest sofas and mattresses are made in the UK.
Is a close alternative the best sofa bed for you?
A cheaper alternative is the John Lewis & Partners Camden Sofa Bed (£1049+). Instead of a pocket sprung mattress, you get a foam mattress. Other notable differences are that it’s not quite as wide and it is made in Romania from a number of different woods (including some cheaper ones). You still get a long guarantee with the frame though.
Pros: respected brand, mattress is entirely hidden, very good choice of colours, long warranty, made in the UK, hardwood frame
Cons: thin mattress, expensive, frame construction method, not long enough for above average height UK men
Our value rating: ***
4. Chesterfield Style Three Seater Sofa Bed – £619 – 6 colour choices
This Chesterfield style sofa bed makes our list because of its pretty strong customer reviews (4.1/5 on Amazon) and decent specification for the price. It comes in a number of colours and has two seater and a wider three-seater option.
The mattress on the three seater version is pretty much a double mattress size. That makes it larger than some sofa beds which are cosy for two people.
Like most folding sofa beds, the mattress is relatively thin to allow it to fit into the base of the sofa. Most reviewers say it is fine for occasional use. You might consider a double mattress sized topper to make it more comfortable.
The sofa itself has a hardwood frame, which is a good sign. Cheap sofas use softer wood which loses its shape more easily.
Do customers think this is the best sofa bed they’ve owned?
Our analysis of the 100+ Amazon reviews found that there are 14 uses of key phrases praising its build quality (‘well made’ or ‘good quality’). Six people described it as ‘value for money’. On the other hand, five reviewers highlighted that it was a ‘little hard’ to sit on.
Pros: good range of colours, good value, long enough mattress for most people (185cm), hardwood frame
Cons: thin mattress, short warranty, less well known brand, too firm for some people
Our value rating: ****
5. Innovation Recast Sofa Bed With Pocket Sprung Mattress – £999 – 2 colour choices
This Innovation Recast sofa bed is more expensive than most simple sofa beds. However, it gets glowing reviews and has a good specification.
It has a ‘pull out base and drop down back’. That basically means that half of the bed bit is hidden round the back. The sofa cushions are then used as pillows.
I reckon this one looks more like a sofa than many sofa beds, so you could get away with having it in your trendy lounge.
The real winner for me is that it has pocket springs, which are what decent mattresses have. Foam can be comfortable but most of us are used to the feel of pocket sprung mattresses.
Once it folds flat, it is 200cm x 140cm. That’s slightly larger than a standard double mattress.
It comes in blue and grey and was getting reviews of 4.7/5 when I checked. Most reviewers consider it a firm mattress.
Pros: trendy design, long warranty, positive reviews, long sleeping area is suitable for taller people, pocket springs
Cons: expensive, small range of colours, no arm rests
Our value rating:***
A note about our value rating. We give each product a score ranging from one star (poor value and unlikely to be featured) up to five stars (exceptionally good value). Three stars represents good value whilst four stars is very good value. We look at factors such as specification and warranty length before giving our ratings.