Frequently Asked Questions About Mattresses and Beds

If you’re looking for something to help you sleep, have a scroll through our mammoth list of questions that people asked about mattresses and beds.

For example, what type of mattress does the Queen use? What mattress do five star hotels use? And what’s the biggest size of mattress you can buy in the UK?

What size is a single mattress?

In the UK, a standard size single mattress is 90cm wide and 190cm long. That’s 3 foot wide and 6 foot 3 inches long.

But which are the best single mattresses? Take a look at our selection of the best mattresses

You can also buy a Euro Single Size mattress which is usually 90cm wide and 200cm long. It’s also known as a long single mattress and is 3 foot wide and 6 foot 6 inches long. If you’ve got a standard super king size frame in the UK, it will be 180cm wide and 200cm long. So, that means that you can squeeze two Euro Single Size mattresses side by side. That’s a good option if you and your partner want to have different firmness levels in your mattress – you could have a soft mattress on one side and a firm mattress on the other side.

Single mattress and divan by Vispring
A standard single mattress is 90cm wide and 190cm long

What mattress do 5 star hotels use in the UK?

Posh hotels in the UK use a variety of different mattresses, but here’s what I’ve found out:

  • Several posh hotels in the UK use Hypnos mattresses. There’s a map on the Hypnos website which shows off which hotels use their beds. At the time of writing that includes St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London (the big curved hotel near the railway station) and Corinthia Hotel. 
 St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London uses Hypnos mattresses

  • One guide I read said that Sleepeezee mattresses are used in 5 star London hotels such as Claridges and The Ritz. Again, it’s not clear which models are used but Sleepeezee is another good quality brand which has a Royal Warrant (they supply Prince Charles’ household). Popular mattresses in the Sleepeezee range includeWool Supreme 2400 (£539, medium tension) and Mayfair 3200 (£859, medium).
Sleepeezee mattress
Lots of 5 star hotels use Sleepeezee mattresses

  • Vispring are a posh mattress brand which are used in lots of the world’s best hotels. They invented the pocket spring mattress and continue to be one of the best and most prestigious brands. According to the Vispring website, luxury hotels which they supply in the UK include The Dorchester in London and Coworth Park in Ascot. You can see our top 5 Vispring mattresses here.
Vispring regal mattress
Vispring are another posh mattress brand which supplies luxurious hotels
  • The Savoy in London uses mattresses made by Savoir, which is an ultra expensive brand. According to the official website it has been ‘slept on by such luminaries as Winston Churchill, Giacomo Puccini and Marilyn Monroe’. Of course, they’ve changed the mattresses since then.
  • Marriott has their own mattress, which is called (wait for it) the Marriott mattress. You can buy it from Marriott or on Amazon.
  • Although it’s not a 5 star hotel, it’s worth mentioning that Premier Inn use a Hypnos mattress in all their hotels. You can read more about it in our guide to the Premier Inn mattress. It’s fascinating stuff and exactly what I thought I’d be writing about when I watched All The President’s Men and decided I wanted to be a journalist.

Does mattress thickness matter?

The short answer is that mattress thickness does matter but it’s certainly not the only thing to look out for, so don’t get obsessed over it.

As a very general rule, thin mattresses are cheaper than deep mattresses. By a thin mattress, I mean one which is less than 20cm deep. 

Once you get past the low twenties (in cm), you’ll find that there is less of a correlation between how thick a mattress is and how much it costs. 

Let me give you some examples, as I can see that you’re still reading this despite it being perhaps the least interesting blog ever written.

The Silentnight 3 Zone Memory Foam mattress is a popular mattress which costs about £200 and it is 18cm deep. For an extra £50 or so you can get the Silentnight 7 Zone Memory Foam mattress which is 2cm deeper. Or you can get the Silentnight Studio mattress for about £500 which is 26cm deep (an extra 6cm deep). They’re all memory foam mattresses, but the deepest one is the most expensive by some way.

However, several mattresses by ultra posh brand Vispring are 21cm deep despite them costing £1000+. Meanwhile, some mattresses by mid-priced Rest Assured are more than 35cm deep, because they’ve got top layers for added comfort. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a £500 Rest Assured mattress but if I had to choose then I would rather have a 21cm deep Vispring mattress than a 35cm deep Rest Assured mattress.

My conclusion is that once you get into the low twenties, it is more important what a mattress is made of rather than how deep it is. If it’s a pocket spring mattress, the more expensive ones tend to use posh natural materials rather than synthetic materials. 

If you’re buying a memory foam mattress then perhaps a more important thing to look at is the thickness of the layer of memory foam. Mattresses are made from layers of different materials and it might just be a thin layer on top which is memory foam. The other layers might be cheaper types of foam. 

For example, the Silentnight 7 Zone Memory Foam mattress has a 3cm layer of memory foam whilst the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress costs about three times as much but has a 9cm layer of memory foam.

18cm deep silentnight mattress
Thinner mattresses tend to be cheaper – but it’s not always that simple

​What size is a double mattress in the UK?

A standard double mattress is 135cm wide and 190cm long. For my mother’s benefit, that is 4 foot 6 inches wide and 6 foot 3 inches long.

You can also get a European double mattress which is 140cm wide and 200cm long, so an extra 5cm of width and an extra 10cm longer. That’s a better size for taller people, but you will find that it’s more difficult to find a bedframe or divan base which fits a European double mattress.

A mattress which is slightly smaller than a UK double mattress is a small double or a queen size mattress. Rather confusingly, a queen size mattress is completely different in the USA. Anyway, within the UK a small double or queen size mattress is 120cm wide and 190cm long. That is 4 foot wide and 6 foot 3 inches long.

​If you’re looking for a double mattress check out our guide to the best mattresses or our guide to queen size/small double mattresses.

Double bed which is 135cm by 190cm
A standard double size mattress is 135cm wide x 190cm long

What mattress do chiropractors recommend?

You might have heard that chiropractors recommended a very firm mattress. That’s not really true – at least, it’s not true for most people.

I’m not a back expert, but the best advice I’ve heard on this topic comes from the British Chiropractic Association. In a 2016 guide they said:

The best mattress is a ’supportive one‘. A 16 stone person sleeping on a mattress may not get the same support as a 10 stone person sleeping on the same mattress.

British Chiropractic Association

The idea is that you want a mattress which matches your build and weight. A seven stone flyweight boxer will probably need a softer mattress than a 16 stone heavyweight boxer who sink into the mattress more. The same article from the British Chiropractic Association explains that you want to end up in a ‘supportive’ position:

​If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your spine should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). 

So, that rule about firm mattresses being good for your back would only apply to some people.

Finally, there is another piece of advice from a 2015 blog post from the British Chiropractic Association:

“We recommend you spend as much time as possible choosing a new bed or mattress – and try it out before you buy it!

Of course, that’s easier said than done particularly if you can’t travel or if there’s a pandemic.

Option one is to visit a showroom and try out several mattresses for a few seconds. You’ll gain a lot from this but you’ll be fully clothed (hopefully) and you won’t know how it will feel after a few nights.

Another option is to buy a mattress with a risk free trial period. Some of these will allow you to try a mattress for several months and then collect it for free if it’s not comfortable for you. Others are not quite so generous and will just offer you a swap for another mattress or a partial refund. Still, it’s better than not being about to try a mattress at all.

Popular mattresses with trial periods include ErgoflexEve Sleep, Simba SleepEmma Mattress and Nectar Sleep.

Read this guide for more advice on mattresses with trial periods.

Simba sleep hybrid mattress
How firm should a mattress be, according to chiropractors?

What is the biggest size of mattress you can buy?

In the UK, the biggest size of mattress you can buy is known as an emperor mattress. An emperor mattress is usually 200cm x 200cm but I’ve also seen mattresses which are described as being emperor size which are 210cm x 210cm and about 215cm x 215cm. For example, mega-posh mattress brand Vispring sell emperor mattresses which are 200cm x 202cm and they also sell a ‘large emperor’ mattress which is 215cm x 217cm.

However, the vast majority of people who are after a very large mattress in the UK go for a super king size mattress (see our pick of the best mattresses here). Nearly all mattresses come in super king size and there’s a much better choice of super king bed frames and bases. 

If you go for the ‘standard’ size emperor mattress then you’re getting a mattress which is the same length as a standard super king size mattress but which is 20cm wider. 

Assuming you can get an emperor size mattress through your door, you also need to check that you can get a bedframe or divan base and bedding which is big enough. 

You’ll find emperor sized bedding is much less common than king size or super king size but you can find it at online shops such as Amazon or Soak & Sleep

If you’re looking for an emperor sized bedframe or bedstead then you may need deep pockets. Posh bed brand And So To Bed sells 200cm x 200cm emperor bedframes and they also sell 215cm x 215cm large emperor bedframes. You can choose from wooden bedsteadsmetal bedsteads and upholstered bedsteadsPrices range from £1500ish up to £7000ish. Yikes!

There are some cheaper emperor size bed frames at Wayfair. When we checked, prices started at about £700.

Check out our selection of the best emperor mattresses you can buy in the UK.

Vispring emperor size mattress
Posh bed brand Vispring sell emperor size versions of some of their mattresses

What should I look for when buying a mattress?

  • Is the mattress made from springs, foam or a combination of both? Posher sprung mattress use ‘pocket springs’ whilst cheaper sprung mattresses use ‘open coil’ springs which aren’t as supportive. Foam mattresses use layers of different types of foam and usually include ‘memory foam’ which has a hugging and supportive feeling. A hybrid mattress combines the two. See our guide to memory foam v pocket springs for more on the pros and cons of memory foam and pocket sprung mattresses.
  • Once you’ve chosen which type of mattress you want, there are various things to look out for such as the number of springs in a pocket sprung mattress and the way it is put together. Other things to look for are the depth of the mattress and whether it can be turned over, which can help it last for longer. See our guide to memory foam mattresses and pocket sprung mattresses for more on what to look for.
  • How firm is the mattress? Choosing a mattress which is the right firmness for you is important, so check if it’s described as soft, medium or firm (or something in between). The general rule is that you want a mattress which is supportive for your weight and your sleeping position. If you weigh more than average then you will probably need a firmer mattress than someone who weighs less than average. This is because heavier people sink into a mattress more. Another factor is your sleeping position, as people who sleep on their sides most of the time tend to need slightly softer mattresses than people who sleep on their front or back most of the time. I’m not a back expert, but according to the British Chiropractic Association ‘If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your spine should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard)’. See our guides to the best soft mattressesfirm mattresses and medium/firm mattresses.
  • Can you try the mattress before you are stuck with it for the next 10 years? It’s really useful if you can try out a mattress in a shop or showroom so you can get an idea of what it feels like. Alternatively, go for a mattress with a home trial period. Some of these will allow you to send a mattress back after several weeks and get a full refund if it doesn’t feel right to you (e.g. ErgoflexEve Sleep, Simba SleepEmma MattressNectar Sleep). See our guide to mattresses with a home trial.
  • How long is the warranty? You may never use a warranty, but it can be a good indication of how much confidence the mattress seller has in its own products. Some cheap mattresses only come with a one year warranty whilst better quality pocket spring mattresses come with 5-10 year warranties. Posh brand Vispring offer a 30 year warranty with some of their mattresses, although you’ll pay £1000+. Memory foam mattresses tend to come with longer warranties – several offer a 10 year warranty (e.g. ErgoflexEve Sleep, Simba SleepEmma Mattress) whilst a few offer 15 years (REM-Fit) or even a ‘forever’ warranty (Nectar Sleep). Check the small print of a mattress warranty, as there are usually clauses about an acceptable amount of wear which won’t be covered.
Rem Fit mattress
A mattress such as this one comes with a longer warranty than most

What mattress do orthopedic doctors recommend?

You’ll find that some orthopedic doctors and experts recommend specific mattresses. For example, the Ergoflex 5G memory foam mattress is ‘recommended’ by someone called The Back Doctor who is ‘a leading expert in the treatment of spinal and musculoskeletal conditions’.

However, I’m going to focus on advice from the British Chiropractic Association which ‘represents the majority of chiropractors in the UK’ according to its own website. 

I’ll mention at this point that I have no expertise in back care so I am just quoting from other experts.

There are several guides on the website of the British Chiropractic Association about beds and mattresses. They don’t tend to recommend specific brands or models but they do give some useful advice to the question of whether a chiropractic doctors says you should buy a soft, medium or firm mattress:

​The best mattress is a ’supportive one‘. A 16 stone person sleeping on a mattress may not get the same support as a 10 stone person sleeping on the same mattress. 

British Chiropractic Association

So, it isn’t the case that any one mattress will be perfect for everyone. Instead you need to find one which is suitable for your body. 

​Let’s have a think about what makes a ‘supportive’ mattress. According to the National Bed Federation (which is a trade body for mattress sellers):

A supportive and comfortable mattress is the best option – it doesn’t matter what type of construction it is’.

National Bed Federation

My personal experience is that a pocket sprung mattress is more supportive than an ‘open coil’ mattress. A lot of people also find memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses supportive – but again, it would be a bit of a sweeping statement to say that any one type of mattress will be the most supportive. Quality mattress is the key.

The National Bed Federation also has some useful advice on technical sounding terms that you see on mattresses:

Any reference to beds being orthopaedic – or similar medical sounding terms – does not automatically mean that the bed has been professionally assessed or recommended – it is a term loosely used by manufacturers to refer to extra firm models in their rang

National Bed Federation

So, a mattress which is described as ‘orthopedic’ probably hasn’t been given the thumbs up by an orthopedic doctor. In fact, if you’re light as a feather and the mattress is as hard as a park bench then it would probably be given the thumbs down by an orthopedic doctor. Confusing eh?

Finally, let’s return to some advice from the British Chiropractic Association. They also offer some valuable thoughts on getting a mattress which is the right firmness for you:

​If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your spine should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). The longer you can spend lying on a mattress before you buy it, the more accurate this feeling will be. 

British Chiropractic Association

If you want to try out a mattress for several nights with committing to it then there are several which offer a trial period with the option of a refund, including Nectar SleepEmma MattressOTTYEve Sleep and Simba Sleep.

Read more in our guide to the best mattresses for back pain. 

Ergoflex 5G which is recommended by an orthopedic doctor
The Ergoflex 5G has a recommendation from ‘The Back Doctor’

Do mattresses have a weight limit?

Some mattresses specify a weight limit, whilst others don’t mention it in the product descriptions. However, here’s a list of several popular mattresses which do provide a bit of guidance.

  • Nectar Sleep Memory Foam Mattress – 46 stone limit (292kg). Mid-priced. It’s a memory foam mattress which comes with a ‘forever’ warranty and a 365 night trial period. Made from layers of foam including memory foam, so there are no springs.
  • The Simba Hybrid mattress – 36 stone limit (228kg). Mid-priced. This one says that the limit is two uses of 18 stone each. It’s an award winning mattress which uses foam and mini springs to keep you comfy. You get a trial period, so you can send it back if you don’t like it and a 10 year warranty.
  • The OTTY Hybrid mattress – 22 stone limit (139kg). Mid-priced. This one uses springs and foams also comes with a trial period and a 10 year warranty.
  • Vispring Imperial Pocket Sprung mattress – 20 stone limit (127kg). One of the poshest and most expensive mattress brands. They invented the pocket spring many years ago, which is what most of us are now sleeping on.
  • Tempur Sensation mattress – 23 stone weight limit (146kg). Most expensive and original memory foam mattress brand.
  • The Ergoflex 5G memory foam mattress – 18 stone weight limit. Mid-priced. Highly rated memory foam mattress brand.

One other factor to consider is that some bedsteads and bed frames have a weight limit. As a general rule, cheaper metal beds have a relatively low weight limit whilst divan bases have a very high weight limit or no limit at all. Some wooden beds have a weight limit.

Nectar memory foam mattress with 46 stone weight limit
Do mattresses have a weight limit? This one has a maximum weight of 46 stone.

What is the most comfortable mattress in the world?

Comfort is a little subjective, but mattresses which make it into our top 10 because they’ve won lots of awards and positive customer reviews include: 

However, to find the most comfortable mattress for you, you need to take your weight, build and sleeping position into account.

People who are below average weight and people who sleep on their sides tend to find softer mattresses more comfortable. Award winners and models which are popular with customers include:

People who are roughly average weight tend to go for a medium tension mattress.

People who are above average weight or who sleep on their back or front tend to find medium/firm or firmer mattresses more comfortable.

The complication is that mattress brands don’t exactly agree on how to measure firmness – one company might call a mattress ‘firm’ whilst another would call it ‘medium/firm’. For that reason, I would recommend either visiting a mattress shop or trying a mattress with a risk free home trial. ​

Woman sleeping in a bed

 What mattress does the Queen use?

The Queen uses a mattress made by luxury brand Hypnos. 

Well, to be more accurate, Hypnos has a Royal Warrant to supply mattresses to the Queen’s household. It’s not 100% confirmed that the Queen sleeps in a Hypnos bed or which model she sleeps in. Of course, she has several properties so it could be that she sometimes sleeps in a Hypnos bed.

Another reports suggest that The Queen uses a bed made by Savoir which costs £125,000. 

If you don’t have £125,000 or want a Hypnos mattress, see our selection of five of the best Hypnos mattresses which includes The Hypnos Premier Luxury (£1060, soft) The Hypnos Swinton (£799, medium tension) and The Hypnos Orthos Elite (£759, firm).

Buckingham Palace
One enjoys a comfortable mattress

How much should you spend on a mattress?

Vispring mattress closeup
The best Vispring mattresses cost several thousand pounds

My personal opinion is that you should spend somewhere between £300 and £800 on a double mattress – unless you’ve recently won the lottery or sold your shares in Amazon.

The National Bed Federation’s annual report looked into this and found that the ‘overall mean’ cost of a mattress is £583 (end of 2019 data). Just under half of mattresses cost £100 – £399, whilst just over a quarter cost £400 – £799. About one fifth of people spend more than £800 on a mattress. Those prices seem to be a mix of different sizes of mattress, so it’s a bit confusing.

However, you will obviously be affected by what you can afford and whether the mattress is going to be for your main bedroom or a guest room.

Here’s my thinking:

  • Mattresses with springs which cost less than £300 tend to be made from cheaper materials. There are some exceptions, but cheap sprung mattresses are usually made from ‘open coil’ springs which aren’t as supportive as pocket springs (I will save you the boredom of a diagram but this is a widely accepted view). Also, some of the cheapest pocket spring mattresses have only got about 600 or 800 springs. Most guides I’ve read suggest that 1000-2000 springs is a better range and you will benefit from a number nearer to 2000 if you are heavier than average. It’s worth saying that there are several mattresses with a good specification which cost less than £300 such as some made by Happy Beds. 
  • Mattresses which cost less than £300 don’t tend to have as many of the other key signs of quality that you get on more expensive sprung mattresses. For example, a sprung mattress which can be turned over tends to last longer. A mattress with ‘hand side stitching’ is more labour intensive but will be stronger around the edges. A sprung mattress which is very thin probably won’t offer adequate support to someone who is heavier than average.
  • Meanwhile, foam mattresses which cost less than £300 are usually quite thin, or just have a thin layer of 2cm or 3cm of memory foam on top of cheaper layers of foam. If you can stretch to somewhere nearer to £500 you can get a memory foam mattress with a generous 9cm layer of memory foam, such as the Ergoflex 5G or the Nectar Sleep memory foam mattress. 
  • Mattresses under £300 usually have warranties of one or two years whereas slightly more expensive mattresses often have a warranty of 5-10 years or more. Again, there are exceptions such as Inofia mattresses which cost about £200 and have a 10 year warranty. There are several foam mattresses around the £400-£800 mark which come with 10 year warranties (e.g. OTTYSimba) or even a ‘forever guarantee’ in the case of the Nectar Sleep memory foam mattress. Check the small print of a mattress warranty as there’s usually a clause about ‘normal wear’. Also, check how long the company has been trading for as your warranty is less than valuable if the company ceases trading.
  • There are lots of double mattresses around £400-£700 which are made by award winning brands which have got many signs of quality. For example, Sleepeezee has a Royal Warrant and high quality specifications on many mattresses – yet they have several models for about £500Silentnight also has lots of mid-priced models which have plenty of signs of quality such as the  Silentnight Classic 1200 Pocket Deluxe which is about £400.
  • Once you are spending more than £1000 on a mattress, you are looking at luxurious mattresses made by brands such as Vispring or John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection. These are undoubtedly better quality mattresses but the differences are perhaps subtler and will make a more modest difference to your comfort. The closest comparison I can think of is with hi-fi equipment in the 1990s. If you bought the cheapest own-brand Hifi from Dixons for £59 then the audio quality was pretty awful compared to a £500 Hifi made by Technics. However, the difference between a £500 Hifi and a £5000 masterpiece Hifi would be quite subtle unless you put them side by side. Please don’t misunderstand me – a £5000 mattress is better than a £500 mattress but you still can get a lot of the key features of a quality mattress on a £500 mattress.​
  • For example, a lot of John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection mattresses have 5000+ pocket springs. However, that includes a layer of full size pocket springs (usually somewhere around 1500-2000) along with one or two layers of mini springs which increase the number significantly. The mini springs add extra comfort but most of the hard work is being done by the larger springs. Also, a lot of very posh mattresses use expensive natural materials such as cashmere whereas mid-priced mattresses made from natural materials will use cotton or a cheaper type of wool. ​
  • Finally, it’s worth mentioning a curious piece of research carried out by scientists in Italy. They gave 32 people new mattresses – some used latex mattresses, whilst others were given an ‘independent spring mattress’ which is another name for a pocket sprung mattress. They monitored people using ‘several actigraphic sleep parameters’ which means they studied things such as how quickly they fell to sleep, how well they slept and their ‘motor activity’. The study found that ‘Both kinds of mattress led to a significant improvement in…sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency and motor activity’. However, ‘no significant improvement in subjective sleep quality was detected’. The conclusion seems to be that the participants didn’t feel that they had slept any better on the new mattresses but the science suggests a notable improvement (see Tonetti, Martoni an Natale, 2009).