Anything less than the best pillow can absolutely ruin a night's sleep. Pillows might all look more or less the same, but beneath that promising-looking exterior you can find something that's ever so slightly too thick or thin, or just the tiniest bit too firm or soft. Get it wrong and that's it, no sleep for you tonight. Or at best, awful sleep and waking up in a bad mood with a stiff neck.
Alongside finding the best mattress and the best duvet, kitting yourself out with the best pillow is an bedtime essential. Because we all have our own particular pillow preferences, our guide includes a wide range of options for different tastes. For instance, if you're after traditional down, we think the best pillow is the Scooms Hungarian Goose Down pillow (it's a T3 Award winner, too), but if you fancy trying the cradling feeling of memory foam, you might prefer the Panda Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow. Our guide includes both of these, and more.
We've found the latest hi-tech pillows packed with memory foam and temperature regulating fabrics, as well as more traditional offerings stuffed with goose and duck feather and down (see our guide to down vs memory foam vs feather pillows to understand the differences). Most of them offer dust mite allergy protection, so whatever you choose you'll be in for minimal irritation. First off, though, here's what you need to know about finding the right pillow for you.
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How to buy the best pillow for you
Side sleepers will find that a firm pillow is likely the best choice; it'll give you plenty of head and spine support. If you sleep on your front, however, you'll probably need a much softer pillow if you want to avoid a stiff neck in the morning. Tend to sleep on your back? You'll want something in-between. In the end, though, you should go with what feels most comfortable to you.
There are still some great natural pillows on offer that provide thick and fluffy sleeping aids at prices from cost-effective to 'how much?!'. However, synthetic is a popular choice for those with allergies and for a pillow that will bounce back even after a run through the washing machine (for the avoidance of doubt, here's how to clean a pillow). Memory foam is bang on trend right now and is ideal if you find you're waking with a stiff neck.
Confused about sizing? Head to our mattress and bedding size guide, which covers US, UK and EU sizing and naming conventions.
The best pillows to buy, ranked
If you want feathers, we think the best pillow is the Scooms Hungarian Goose Down pillow. The chamber design, with an inner core of 15% down and 85% feather, plus an outer chamber that's 90% down and 10% feather, retains its shape remarkably well. It feels a little firm at first but quickly settles down to a lovely soft yet full pillow that rarely needs plumping. The down and feather filling is certified ethically sourced (a by-product of the food industry), too.
One of the benefits of down over memory foam is that it's naturally breathable, but a down-side is that it can trigger allergies. Scooms has thought of this, and encased its pillow in a tightly woven, cotton sateen cover that's dust mite-proof – this pillow is Nomite certified (this reviewer suffers from a dust allergy, and had no issues with this pillow). Note that while it's suitable for those with dust mite allergies, it's not fully hypoallergenic, so if you really struggle with allergies, you may be better with a memory foam option, such as our #2 pick.
The Scooms pillow is pricier than your average down pillow, but it's excellent quality for that price – and it's full enough that you can just use one at a time, rather than doubling up. There are some nice added extras to make it even more appealing: free next day delivery, plastic free packaging and a 3-year guarantee. In fact, we're such fans, we've given it the gong for Best Pillow in the T3 Awards 2021 Home Living category.
Memory foam mattresses have gained popularity for their pressure-relieving, supportive properties, and this pillow from Panda aims to bring the same benefits to your head and neck. Using it for the first time is a little daunting, as it initially seems to be a massive and solid block of unyielding plastic. However, in just a few seconds, you feel your head gently sinking into its Bamboo-fabric-clad form. The end result is very comfortable and very supportive.
The outer casing also has a remarkably cool feel to it – and who doesn't love the cool side of their pillow? It zips off for easy cleaning, as well. While it's not the cheapest pillow around, it does come with a 10-year guarantee and a no-quibble, money-back promise. We were so impressed with this innovative design we awarded it Best Pillow in the T3 Awards 2020 – head to our Panda Memory Foam Bamboo pillow review to find out more.
Next up in our best pillow ranking is the REM-Fit 500 Cool Gel Pillow. Another memory foam option, this time infused with gel to add cooling properties. This pillow is an absolute dream to rest your head on, with a soft yet supportive feel and outstanding temperature regulation. In our REM-Fit 500 Cool Gel Pillow review we had very few complaints with its performance or comfort. However, the Panda just edges it out based on the lower price point and sustainable materials.
The Simba Hybrid Pillow comes in several varieties, this is the one with the brand's Stratos temperature-managing fabric. It uses small cubes of open-cell foam (note, not memory foam) rather than one big wodge. Interestingly, as well as having the option of a cooling side and a standard one – you flip the pillow as the seasons change, presumably – the Simba Hybrid Pillow also lets you adapt its height. How? The core of the pillow has a zip, so you can remove the stuffing as you see fit – which means it's suitable for everyone, regardless of firmness preference (and handy for anyone who's found their definition of 'medium' doesn't match the pillow brand's). Whether or not you actually use all those options, there's no denying the Hybrid Pillow is a very comfortable thing to rest your head on. Head to our Simba Hybrid Pillow review to find out more.
Umi.'s white goose feather pillows earn a place in our best pillow guide for being great all-rounders and good value for money. Sold as a two-pack, they come vacuum-packed, ready to expand on opening. The cover is breathable and soft brushed cotton, and the three-chamber design with a microfibre inner stops any feathers escaping and poking you in the face in the middle of the night. They're classed as medium-firm and are suitable for any sleeping position, although as with any down or feather pillow, they will start to flatten over time, and require re-plumping.
As with Panda's pillow, the Eve Memory Foam Pillow uses state-of-the-art synthetic pillow tech to try to guarantee the ultimate night's sleep. Suitable for most sleeping positions, Eve's pillow keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. One of our testers would have preferred it to be a little plumper, and another noted an initial chemical smell, but overall it's still an excellent option if you're looking to try memory foam. Head to our Eve memory foam pillow review for more info, and check our Eve discount codes page to make sure you're not missing a deal.
If you're looking for a traditional down pillow, we think this Ultimate Hungarian Goose Down Pillow from Soak & Sleep is one of the best you can buy. It's filled with 90% Hungarian goose down, which is "washed in thermal spa water to preserve the delicate nature of the naturally large down clusters". There's some inconsistency on the website when it comes to the different firmness options on offer here, but we tested either the 'soft' or 'soft/medium' version. It was noticeably lighter than other feather pillows we've tried, the filling is full and airy, and it feels fresh to lie on. Over a few months we did notice it started to lose its fullness a little, and needed re-plumping.
You might think feathers are a poor choice for allergy sufferers, but Soak & Sleep says this pillow is considered hypoallergenic "due to excellent oxygen and turbidity ratings". Our tester's allergies weren't triggered by use with this pillow. It's cased in NoMite certified fabric, but it's worth being aware you can only wash this pillow at 40 degrees. Our only other niggle is that the double hemmed edge means this pillow doesn't fit every neatly into a standard pillow case. However, overall, we were impressed with this offering from Soak & Sleep.
If you want all the comfort of the duck feather and down pillow but know it’ll set you sneezing, then this synthetic pillow comes with all the same softness, and a lower price tag. This pillow is extremely cheap and has been made to simulate the feel of down using a hollowfibre filling. It may not be the exact same feel as down, but it’s hypoallergenic and easily machine-washable.
The Tempur Original Support Pillow is not like your standard pillow. This pillow has a curve that sits perfectly under your head for ultimate comfort and support. If you often wake up with a stiff neck then this pillow will provide uninterrupted sleep but the sizing is a little unusual and it may be difficult for some to get along with at first. However, if you’re one of those sleepers that folds their pillow in half or constantly moves to find the right position, then this is the best pillow for you.
This Scandinavian Duck Feather & Down Pillow by Snuggledown is super cosy. Filled with 85 per cent duck feather and 15 per cent down, it is a soft pillow that keeps you warm on those cold nights. It needs a good plumping every now and then but can be manipulated to your desired shape, making it ideal for any type of sleeper.