Unexpected guests? The best sofa beds can make your life a lot easier. You may well have a spare room, but every now and then you might find yourself a situation where you have more guests than beds, and that's where a sofa bed can be an absolute life-saver; much better than trying (and often failing) to sleep on the floor or the couch.
With a sofa bed, you can enjoy a comfy sofa during the day then transform it into a proper bed at night if necessary. It's like a space saving magic trick! In this article, we've rounded up our pick of the best sofa beds around right now. We've covered options for all budgets, as well as a range of types (read on for more on your options there) and styles to suit different decor.
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How to choose the best sofa bed
So you've decided to invest in a sofa bed. Before you start your search you'll need to decide which kind you want. There are three main types to choose from.
First, there's the fold-out sofa bed, where the bed frame and the mattress are folded inside the structure of the sofa by day, then open out to a full bed by night. These tend to be the more expensive kind of sofa bed and they're a little more tricky to put together, but they're also generally more comfortable.
Second, there's the click-clack style of sofa bed, where you simply fold the sofa back down flat to make a bed. This is not the usually most comfortable option, as you're basically still sleeping on a sofa. However, at least there's actually space to fit your whole body, and it's going to be a lot more comfortable than the floor. Plus this type of sofa bed is much easier to set up, and usually cheaper, than the fold-out kind.
Thirdly, there's the daybed style of sofa bed. This is a single, slim sofa that contains a spare mattress. This is the most space-saving type of sofa bed, and many models can be quite flexible in terms of converting to either a single or a double bed.
We'll be honest: for pretty much any sofa bed, there is an identifiable crevice between the two sections, which your visitor is just going to have to put up with. But in the best sofa beds, it's pretty minimal and that's certainly the case with the ones we've chosen here.
The best sofa beds right now
John Lewis & Partners is known for quality products that cost a little more but represent excellent value overall. And that's certainly the case for the Sansa fold-out sofa bed. There's a real firmness and bounce to its construction that provides both a relaxing sitting experience and a cosy night's sleep. There's plenty of room on this L-shaped sofa for three adults to sit, and it would work perfectly in a family living room. Then when it's time to turn in, it's relatively simple to convert into a double-sized bed.
The foam mattress acts like springs, moulding to the body for a supported sleep, but returning to its original shape when not in use. We also love the hidden storage space for blankets and bedding. Finally, there's an option to pick your fabric to suit your decor – there are absolutely loads to choose from (beware, some are in a higher price bracket) and you can request fabric samples to make sure it goes with your colour scheme before you order. You can also choose between light or dark feet.
On the whole, the stylish design, the quality of the materials, the generous size, the easy of use, the handy storage and the 15-year frame guarantee add up to make this our best sofa bed overall.
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If you refuse to compromise on the quality of your sofa bed's mattress and you don't mind paying for it, the Nantucket from Marks & Spencer may be exactly what you're looking for. It comes with a sprung mattress rather than foam, so your guests won't feel short-changed when they're bedding down for the night, and its range of 75 British-made fabric options mean that you'd have to be incredibly picky to not find a look that suits your home. You're more likely to be paralysed by choice.
While it's not cheap – prices start at £1,199 for basic fabric options and you're looking at £1,899 if you want it in leather – it's well worth the money if you want all the comfort and don't mind waiting three months for delivery, and its 10-year guarantee means that you can buy with confidence.
If you want to be sure of your sofa bed's sleeping credentials, go to a bed shop. The Dublin 3-seater sofa bed from Dreams has a sumptuous pillow top for super-comfortable nights, and its clever mechanism gives you three configurations rather than the usual two.
You can set it up as a sofa or a bed, naturally, however if you fancy some good old-fashioned lounging around, you can also lift up the side to transform it into a gloriously decadent chaise.
There are only two colour options – Natural and Smoke – which feels a little limiting, but they're both nicely neutral so at least one of them should fit with your existing décor. And the the price tag – currently £399 at Dreams – plus overwhelmingly positive reviews make this an attractive and versatile option.
Sofa beds don't come much more basic-looking than Ikea's Hammarn, but you have to admire its ingenuity. Based around a simple tubular frame, tense fabric support and an ultra-thin mattress, it's far from luxurious, but at 26 kilos it's super-lightweight, and it's also incredibly easy to fold out and put away again; Ikea estimates about 30 seconds if you really take your time about it.
It's inspired by camping beds, which aren't exactly renowned for their comfort, but Ikea has addressed this by adding easily tightened screws so you can keep the fabric tension at the right level so that it doesn't bow in the middle. It's simple and it works, and there's something to be said for its minimalistic looks; it'd work really nicely as a cheap sofa bed for an office room, and let's be honest, the only way you're likely to find a sofa bed cheaper than this is by fishing one out of a skip.
Looking for a sofa design that will fit into space spaces and yet still serve as comfortable guest bed? Then we'd highly recommend this KOTA sofa bed from habitat. This one comes in a choice of six fabrics – three woven linen mix and three velvet – and you can order swatches before you buy.
The supportive filling, combining foam with fibre wrapped springs, makes it comfortable to both sit and sleep on. As a sofa, it fits up to three adults; then engage the click-clack mechanism to flip the back all the way down, and you can easily convert it to a bed that's the equivalent of a small double. In other words, it's perfect for one or cosy for two, as long as you're a couple (or just very good friends).
This is designed to be an 'occasional' bed, so we wouldn't recommend this for sleeping on every night. But if you have guests round every now and then, and you'd like to offer them the possibility of staying the night with the minimum of fuss, then this affordable and space-saving design will do very nicely.
If you're looking for a daybed-style sofa bed, then this design from John Lewis is our favourite by a country mile right now. First, because of its flexibility. That's because it converts to become two singles, which can be used separately, stacked on top of each other, or placed side-by-side to form a king-size bed. The second thing we like is the mattress itself. The foam filling is very springy, moulding to your body and supporting you in your sleep, but snapping back when returned to its sofa bed form.
As a day bed, it doesn't have a back, so you'll need to push it against a wall to use as a sofa, and add some cushions. But on the positive side, that makes it very easy to move around the house and store anywhere you see fit. And like other John Lewis sofa beds, you can chose between a wide range of upholstery fabrics.
Elegantly designed, super-comfortable and very flexible, this isn't the cheapest daybed-style sofa bed to say the least. But if you care about your the quality of your guests' sleep, then it offers decent value.
If you want to be guest-ready but don't have a lot of space, this fold-out sofa bed is a great choice. It's a real budget-beater, with the 2-seater option selling for just £329 at time of writing. It's comfortable and has a luxurious look and feel: you'd never guess it was a sofa bed when just viewing it as a sofa. And its compact dimensions (H78 x W120 x D86cm) make it ideal for any small room or flat.
It's easy to assemble into a bed and back again, and we love that you can fold the bottom out and leave the back upright for general lounging. For sleeping it's cosy fit for two people to say the least, but that's the compromise you make for its space-saving proportions the rest of the time.
We love the retro stylings of this 3-seater sofa bed, with its angled wooden legs, buttoned details on the back rest, and range of gorgeous colours. And it's not just a good looker. The click-clack mechanism is easy to use, converting your sofa into a bed in just two movements. It's sturdy and comfortable as both a sofa and bed, and the arms are removable for taller guests. It's worth noting that the current delivery time of 10-12 weeks means you'll have to wait a while to get it. But given the super-low price, the value on offer here is truly excellent.