Choosing the best bed in a box mattress can be the most convenient way to improve your bedtime. Buying a new mattress used to mean going out and testing all the options, but these days, you can simply order online and get it vacuum-packed, rolled, and delivered directly to your door, in one easy-to-move box.
Need to see absolutely all the options? Plenty of the models in our best mattress (opens in new tab) and our best memory foam mattress (opens in new tab) guides qualify as a bed in a box, but this is where you want to be if you absolutely want a boxed option. Here, we'll explain how to go about choosing the best bed in a box for your needs, as well as sharing some useful tips on how to go about shopping for it. It's important to note that most brands will not only deliver for free, but also give you a trial period of 90 days or more, with the option to return your mattress if it's not the best fit for you.
As with all things mattress-related, bear in mind that it's a competitive market in which you should never have to pay full price; our roundup of the best cheap mattress deals (opens in new tab) can help you ensure that you don't pay over the odds. And one final thing: when you order your new mattress, be sure to grab a mattress protector (opens in new tab) at the same time. That way you'll keep your bed in a box mattress in top condition for a whole lot longer.
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 just a heavy-duty plastic bag), and expands back into its original shape once opened.
While many mattress in a box options are made from memory foam, it's also suitable for mattresses that include springs – and indeed, there are some hybrid models in our ranking. If you're still deciding between the two, our spring vs memory foam mattress guide (opens in new tab) can help you make your mind up.
Once it’s unfurled, your bed in a box might take some time to fill out to its full depth – some manufacturers advise up to 72 hours; others say just four. It's also worth being aware that some memory foam gives off a slightly chemical odour when the package is first opened. There doesn't seem to be a way to predict if this will affect you and your particular mattress (it's not even consistent for different samples of the same mattress model), but if you do experience that, rest assured it should dissipate within a few days.
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 there are plenty of other options to consider too, which you can find below.
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. If you have regular back pain, we have a guide to the best mattress for back pain (opens in new tab) for more tailored options.
Bed in a box mattresses are often 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 reliable 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 picks for the best bed-in-a-box mattresses you can buy today.
- Complete your bed set-up with the best mattress toppers (opens in new tab)
The best bed-in-a-box mattresses 2022
Made in the UK, the Emma Original memory foam mattress doesn't just get the thumbs up from us, it's also a Which? Best Buy, 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 designed to keep sleepers cool (in practice, this works okay, but be aware this mattress does trap heat a bit, so might not suit those who tend to sleep hot).
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 generous 200-day trial period. It's priced very reasonably, but be aware there are regular Emma mattress discount codes that take the price down even further. 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 Original mattress review.
Our absolute favourite hybrid mattress at the moment is the Simba Hybrid Pro – the proud winner of a 2021 T3 Award in the mattress category. This luxurious model offers a winning combination of foams and spring layers. Despite being a luxurious 28cm thick, it still packs down into one neat box that's easy enough to move around. A softer top layer provides dreamy comfort and pressure relief on your joints, while firmer lower layers offer security and support. We were especially impressed by the temperature regulation on offer here, as well as the movement isolation. It's not cheap, but there are regular Simba discount codes and deals that mean you shouldn't have to pay sticker price. Head to our five-star Simba Hybrid Pro review to find out more.
See how it compares to another luxury hybrid bed-in-a-box in our Simba Hybrid Pro vs Eve Premium Hybrid article.
Sitting at the bargain end of the Eve mattress range, the Eve Lighter (opens in new tab) is a fantastic budget mattress that's essentially a scaled-down and simplified version of the Eve Original. This bed in a box mattress doesn't include a memory foam layer, instead there's a two-layer design that comprises 3cm of 'Evecomfort' foam on the top, then 16cm of high density base foam underneath. The latter has contoured zones for targeted pressure relief. In our Eve Lighter mattress review, our tester called this a 'basic but brilliant budget buy', saying it offered high levels of comfort and support for a very reasonable price (and if you manage to snag an Eve discount code or deal, it could get even cheaper). Bear in mind also that for a bit more money you can get a hybrid version of the Eve Lighter that includes an additional layer of pocket springs.
Our Otty Aura Hybrid vs Eve Lighter Hybrid comparison breaks down the differences between two wallet-friendly hybrids.
Next up in our ranking of the best bed in a box options is the Nectar. This medium-to-firm boxed mattress 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 mattress for 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 deals and discount codes page for the best current price-drops in the UK and the US.
- Read more: Casper vs Nectar faceoff
OTTY's Pure bed in a box mattress range makes use of some pioneering materials: rather than regular memory foam, there's a foam made from bamboo infused with charcoal. These materials claim to offer a whole range of properties that make them a good choice for a mattress – they're temperature regulating, anti-fungal and antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and sustainable too.
In reality, to lie on, it just feels like a really good hybrid mattress. The layer of generous 16cm springs add bounce and promote airflow, while the foams feel superbly supportive all over. OTTY rates this a 6.5 on the firmness scale, but we think it's firmer than that (we'd say 7.5). The surface feels plush and soft when you press on it with your hand, and while you'll also sink in very slightly, overall this is a mattress you sleep 'on' rather than 'in'. Head to our OTTY Pure mattress review to find out more, and check our OTTY discount codes and deals page for the best current prices.
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 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 discount code or deal.