Once upon a time, buying a mattress was something you could only do in store. But now the rise of the bed in a box means those of us with busy lives can have them brought straight to our homes, at minimal or zero delivery charge. For our definitive ranking of all your options, you'll need our best mattress guide, but if it's just bed-in-a-box options you want to consider, read on. In this article, we'll explain all you need to know to choose the right bed in a box for you, and we'll share some tips on how to go about it too.
If you fancy a bargain, head to our roundup of the best cheap mattress deals first. And one last tip before we start: along with your new mattress, pick up a mattress protector at the same time: it's a great way to keep your bed in a box mattress in prime condition for longer, as well as adding an extra layer of hygiene and comfort.
What is a bed in a box?
A bed in a box is a vacuumed-packed mattress that you order online – yes, despite the name, it's not actually a full bed, but just the mattress. It arrives at your door rolled up in a small, conveniently sized box (or sometimes a plastic bag), and expands back into its original shape once opened.
Right now, we think the Emma Original is the best bed in a box you can buy, because it's so comfortable and supportive. But it's not the only game in town, and there's a lot of other great bed in a box mattresses that are worth considering too.
Mattresses in boxes are constructed in one of two ways. They may be made up of layers of advanced memory foam; these are known, unsurprisingly, as memory foam mattresses. Alternatively, they might be made of a mixture of foam and other materials, such as latex or springs: these are known as a hybrid mattresses.
Once it’s unfurled, your bed in a box will take some time to fill out to its full depth – some manufacturers advise up to 72 hours; others say just four. Just be aware that some memory foam gives off a slightly chemical odour, so you might want to open a window while your bed in a box is inflating.
Why buy a bed in a box mattress?
Bed-in-a-box mattresses tend to be designed for every type of sleeper, but they're an especially good choice for allergy sufferers. They're also helpful for people who suffer from back or joint pain, because when it’s warm the mattress moulds to your body, relieving pressure on joints.
Bed in a box mattresses are usually cheaper, because you're cutting out all the expense of operating mattress showrooms. You might miss being able to try about a mattress in store, but is that really such a bad thing? Trying out a mattress in a matter of minutes, under pressure from a salesperson, isn't the most scientific way of deciding whether it's right for you. In contrast, most bed-in-a-box mattresses give you between 90 days and a whole year to test whether it's right for you, and let you return it if it isn't. Here's our pick of the best bed-in-a-box mattresses you can buy.
The best bed-in-a-box mattresses right now
Made in the UK, the Emma Original memory foam mattress doesn't just get the thumbs up from us, it's also one of the highest scoring mattress Which? has ever tested, and comes highly recommended by Amazon reviewers as well. Delivered in a compact, easy-to-move box, it boasts three layers of foam, including an Airgocell layer to keep sleepers cool, which we found works well in practice. One of our reviewers tends to overheat at night and doesn't usually get on with memory foam, but they found the Emma Original kept the night-time sweats at bay.
A 25mm pressure-relieving layer means there's little or no sign of creaky-knee syndrome in the morning, while the foam base is supportive for both shoulders and the lower spine. There's a machine-washable cover that's soft and breathable. And to top it all, there's a super-generous 200-day trial period. It's priced very reasonably, but an Emma mattress Black Friday deal could make it even cheaper. Overall the Emma Original is extremely comfortable, supportive in all the right places and we think it's the best bed in a box you can buy right now. Find out more in our five-star Emma mattress review.
The Simba Hybrid mattress offers a winning combination of memory foam and traditional spring construction, and best suits people who are unsure whether a full memory foam mattress is right for them. We found this bed in a box to be quick to inflate and it didn’t initially smell overly, either, which is a plus. Inside, a Simbatex synthetic latex layer contains charcoal extracts to keep you cool, while a layer of 2,500 pocket springs below help cradle you. Underneath that, a thick layer of responsive memory foam provides support, although this won't be suitable if you prefer a really firm bed. Overall we found the Simba to be a very good, all-round mattress, particularly for our restless side sleeper. And we're not alone: it wins plaudits from Amazon buyers, too, as well as being a Which? Best Buy. Head to our Simba Hybrid Original mattress review for the full low-down, and check out the best Simba Black Friday deals now.
The Eve Original bed in a box mattress hits the medium-firm sweet spot, which means it’s a good choice if your partner is a very different kind of sleeper to you. On top, there’s the usual moisture-wicking material we’ve come to love in our favourite memory foam mattresses, followed by pressure-absorbing memory foam, and below that a base layer with ribbed support zones that are designed to target specific areas such as shoulders, lower spine and hips. Online reviews talk of improved back and neck pain, and the Eve Original is another Which? Best Buy. Restless sleepers report sleeping sounder than usual, which has a knock-on effect of them not disturbing their partners: everyone’s a winner! Our reviewers felt the top layer made this bed in a box feel softer than our usual mattress at first, but found it still to be supportive nonetheless – head to our Eve mattress review for more info, and check our Eve mattress Black Friday deals guide to make sure you don't miss a bargain.
The Nectar bed in a box offers a medium-to-firm support level. It boasts three layers of memory foam below the outer cooling cover, with different zoned areas to target particular trouble areas. As it’s firmer than some we tried, we felt it was more suited to front and back sleepers who require more spinal support, but probably isn't the best choice for heavy side sleepers. As with some of the other bed-in-a-box mattresses we tried, there was a faint, lingering odour initially, but it wasn’t noticeable by day two and certainly didn’t trouble our sleep. Read more in our Nectar memory foam mattress review.
Nectar is so confident you're going to like it, you get an entire year to decide whether it’s right for you. The company is also climate neutral, offsetting all emissions by various global schemes, including an Amazon forest protection programme. Head to our Nectar mattress Black Friday page for the best current price-drops in the UK and the US.
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If you share your bed with a tosser – OTTY’s words, not ours – then the 2,000 pocket springs (14cm deep) in this bed-in-a-box mattress might be just what you need. They're sandwiched between layers of memory foam to significantly reduce motion transfer, ensuring a good night's sleep for all concerned. The OTTY Hybrid comes with ‘white glove service’, which is a nice touch and means you won't have to lug it upstairs yourself. Once out of the plastic, it fills to its full height in just a few hours. The memory foam panels at the side and on top add structure, and prevent ’side sag’, which is something that can happen with solid memory foam mattresses. Our back and side-sleeping reviewers liked the medium-firm comfort level, which provided good support and just enough give without that sinking feeling. Head to our OTTY Hybrid mattress review for more details. And if you're looking for a bargain, check out our guide to the OTTY black Friday deals.
We like the fact that the Morgedal memory foam mattress is a 'bed in a roll' and ditches the box, meaning less packaging. It comes with Velcro carry handles that are easy to store away, and are reusable, too. Once on the bed base, we found it took a while to fill out to its full 18mm depth. It's also thinner than some other mattresses we tried, which generally measure around 25cm. The Morgedal probably won’t suit heavy side sleepers as it’s the firmest we tested, and the single layer of memory foam doesn’t feature zoned support areas. However, our back sleeper found it perfectly comfortable, although did note a slight chemical smell that lingered for a day or two. The low price means this mattress is a good choice if you’re trying memory foam for the first time, or need a mattress for a spare room. There’s a 90-day return window, and it was also one of the few we tested that can actually be tried in-store as well as ordered online. If you're on a tight budget, the Morgedal represents great value.
You might think that 'luxury' and 'bed in a box' are two words that don't go together. But this high-end hybrid mattress really does deliver a luxury experience. It's constructed from five layers that work together well for a comfortable and supportive night's sleep. This begins with a top cover made of quilted foam and cashmere, followed by two thin layers of gel memory foam and poly foam respectively, an innerspring layer made of individually wrapped coils, and finally a poly foam base layer. Plus whichever size of mattress you opt for, each is 14 inches deep, which really helps to deliver a 'cradled' feel when sleeping on it.
In use, our reviews found it kept cool during hot nights, felt supportive whether back- or side-sleeping, and was generally low on motion transfer. All of this doesn't come cheap, but neither is it super-expensive – and there are fairly regular offers to take the price down (check out the current DreamCloud Black Friday deals to start with). Plus it comes with a generous one-year trial and a lifetime guarantee against damage from normal use, which shows just how much confidence DreamCloud has in this premium quality mattress. For more info, head to our DreamCloud mattress review.
One of the pioneers of the bed in a box mattress, Leesa has now ceased operations in the UK, but for those on the other side of the Atlantic, its Original Mattress offers a lovely mixture of softness and support. Constructed from three layers proprietary foam, memory foam, and high-density poly foam, with a thick polyester cover, this medium firm mattress never gives you that sinking feeling that have historically plagued memory foam products. And our reviewers found the cooling layer at the top really did make a difference to guarding against overheating. For a mattress, it boasts a pretty stylish design too. The only real downside we can point to is that it can smell a little for the first week or so (head to our Leesa mattress review for more info).
Overall, there's nothing revolutionary about this bed in a box mattress. But it is solidly constructed and gives a good sleeping experience, so what more could you really ask for? And the best news is that you can knock the price down with a Leesa mattress Black Friday deal.