Testing mattresses in a showroom sounds fun, but in reality it can be an overwhelming experience. A good mattress is an investment that should last you up to ten years, so deciding whether one you lay on for ten minutes is the perfect fit – while the shop assistant hovers awkwardly beside you – is enough to give anyone sleepless nights, without even mentioning fresh, coronavirus-related hygiene concerns.
Sweeter dreams can easily be achieved however, as many online companies such as Simba, Nectar Sleep, IKEA and Duvalay now offer roll up or ‘bed in a box’ mattresses that simplify the whole process. The financial health of mattress startups, in particular, is the source of much industry speculation but research from the National Bed Federation indicates that the market share of bed in a box mattresses is currently around 25 per cent.
When buying a mattress online remember to check the small print before you click to pay. Most companies should offer a guarantee and a trial with the option to exchange or get a refund should you decide it’s not right for you. It’s a good idea to have a rough idea of what type of firmness and material you like to sleep on too – some companies offer one type of feel that promises to suit all, while others will let you choose from soft, medium or firm support. And if you tend to get hot while you sleep, look for materials with cooling properties. Roll-up options can be easily placed on a range of traditional frames and slatted, divan or platform bases.
“The construction of these roll up mattress in a box is similar to many standard ‘flat’ mattresses sold in the UK,” says Simon Williams of the National Bed Federation. “Initially, these mattresses were made mostly from different layers of foam, using combinations of standard foam, memory foam and latex foam. They gradually started introducing a choice of hybrid models with the additional filling of a layer of pocket springs added to the foam, which are also now popular too.”
With the promise of deep sleeps ahead, we put the latest bed-in-a-box style mattresses to task. We rated the mattresses on packaging and presentation, how well they unravelled after being so tightly rolled up in a box, materials and ergonomics in use and customer benefits, such as guarantees and returns policies.
Duvalay Easysleep Three
Best for breathability
Dimensions: L190 x W140 x D23cm (double) | Materials: Freshtec foam and pocket springs | Trial period: 100 nights
One of the most popular mattresses in the Duvalay Easysleep range, the Easysleep Three (from £240) is a hybrid design that comes in a standard medium firmness to suit all types of sleepers. The mattress claims to be particularly good for those that tend to get hot when they sleep, and features a breathable ‘open-cell Freshtec foam’ – instead of traditional memory foam. It also has a 3D mesh covering to keep you cool at night and provide ventilation and its S-Line pocket springs help with pressure relief while you sleep. The Easysleep Three comes with a 60-day comfort trial in four sizes including small, small double, double and kingsize.
The mattress turned up rolled in plastic and boxed. It wasn’t as tightly packed as other mattresses we have received – such as the Nectar, for example – and is quite bulky when rolled up. Upon slicing opening the plastic packaging, the mattress unravelled to reveal a thick hybrid form.
The base of this hybrid mattress features nested pocket springs, which gives the mattress a nice, but firm, bounce to it. On first feel we thought the mesh border that covers the Freshtec cooling foam above the springs felt a little flimsy, making the mattress feel less solid at the sides and therefore easier for you to roll off at the edge. After sleeping on it for a week however, we enjoyed the support the foam top provides without the mattress feeling too solid and without our body temperature raising during sleep.
Pros: Breathable materials and design; foam top supportCons: Bulky on delivery; mesh top a little flimsy at the sides
Price: £240 (single)/ £320 (double)/ £450 (kingsize) | Duvalay
Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
Best for spinal alignment
Dimensions: L190 x W135 x D25cm (double) | Materials: 3-layer foam construction | Trial period: 365 nights
The Nectar Memory Foam mattress (from £349) has a three-layer foam construction. It includes two layers of Certipur certified viscoelastic foam for minimum motion transfer and also has a base layer of support foam and a polyester cooling cover.
The company describes the mattress as being a medium-firm memory foam mattress that is in the middle of the firmness scale, to give the best comfort and support to your back and body. And in our testing, we really felt the benefit of the balanced feel this mattress provides.
We were impressed at how well the mattress is presented on delivery – tightly rolled and packed in a branded box. Each mattress also comes with two free pillows in the box included in the price. Pay a little more and you can opt for the mattress, pillows, protectors, duvet and bedding as a bundle set (from £473). The company also offers an impressive 365-night home trial, which provides you with more than enough time to decide whether it’s right for you.
The Nectar mattress fills out to an impressive 25cm in depth, compared to Duvalay’s 23cm, for example. This thick design bodes well for those who like to sleep high up with ample space between you and the bedframe. On first impressions, we were impressed at how luxurious and soft to touch the material of the mattress feels.
While the memory foam pillows are a great added extra, they felt a little too solid for us to sleep on all night. They’re great at propping you up while you read in bed, however. The main body of the mattress has a cooling cover, which is designed to draw away heat from your body and circulate fresh air as you move around – we consistently felt a comfortable temperature while we slept on the Nectar.
If you’re not used to sleeping on memory foam, this mattress can feel a little solid at first, but this is something we quickly got used to and really enjoyed sleeping on. The mattress is also great if you or your partner are restless sleepers, as the structure is designed to let you fidget around freely on your side without waking the other person up.
Pros: Impressive depth; finish feels premium; two free pillowsCons: Quite a solid feel which won’t suit everyone
Price: £349 (single)/ £449 (double)/ £549 (kingsize) | Nectar
Simba Hybrid Pro Mattress
Best for thickness and depth
Dimensions: L200 x W150 x D28cm (double) | Materials: Foam, micro pocket spring, wool | Trial period: 200 nights
Like the Duvalay, the Simba Hybrid Pro (from £628) pairs layers of foam with pocket springs. Seven layers, to be exact, with 5,000 micro pocket-springs, a soft breathable sleep surface and a layer of wool to create a luxurious feel and finish.
At 28cm, we instantly noticed the depth of the Simba Hybrid Pro. It’s a hefty mattress, so you’ll most likely need a hand when lifting it on to your bed frame for the first time, or when turning it round periodically. There are some added handles, which help however, plus the unzippable machine-washable top layer is a nice little touch.
The springs have been added to create greater airflow within the mattress and offer good weight distribution while you’re laying on top. During our trial, we felt that the Simba felt a little squishy at first, and found ourselves having to jiggle around a little to find our ideal sleeping spot. But despite Simba having a bit of bounce, you’ll barely feel your partner moving around during the night.
Pros: Wool layer keeps you cool; luxury feelCons: You’ll pay a little extra; heavy
Price: £628 (single)/ £776 (double)/£887 (king) | Simba | Amazon
Eve Premium Hybrid Mattress
Best for regulating temperature
Dimensions: L190 x W135 x D28cm (double) | Materials: Foam, pocket springs | Trial period: 100 nights
The Eve Hybrid mattress (from £899) mixes ‘floatfoam’ technology with 1,500 full sized springs to provide weightless support. Eve claims that each coil in the mattress responds to your movement and sleeping position, meaning that all sleeping positions – from normal back and side sleepers to deviant front sleepers – are covered.
Set up is simple. The hybrid comes vacuum packed – once set free it expands to its thick 28cm depth in just four hours. On first lie, the hybrid feels hard, but it quickly moulded to our body, mixing softness in with this initial firmness like advice from a loving grandparent. Our back and legs felt noticeably well supported.
We think the hybrid is particularly great if you sleep with, or are, a wriggling insomniac. Our partner was unaware as we writhed in bed next to them, besieged by groggy night terrors. Eve also claims that its comfort foam layer is thirty times more breathable than normal memory foam, and it’s true that on an unnaturally hot night we remained comfortably cool.
Pros: A fine mix of firm and soft; memory foam isolates movement so your partner can’t feel you fidgetCons: Single not available
Price: £899 (double)/ £1,049 (king)/£1,199 (superking) | Eve | Amazon
Additional testing by Maria Mellor, Alex Lee and Will Bedingfield.