Best pillow top mattresses for 2021 – CNET

Pillow top mattresses are the industry’s answer to traditional innerspring beds, once a popular choice because of their support and durability but lacking the snuggly comfort of foam mattresses. These mattresses had a thin comfort layer made of wool or cotton and were almost entirely made of innersprings. Pillow top mattresses typically include a small but fair amount of foam, a supportive pocketed coil base layer and a fluffy pillow top that softens up the feel of the firm steel below.

I personally love pillow top mattresses and have been sleeping on one for a few years now. Spoiler alert: It might be listed as one of my picks below. I don’t love the feel of memory foam, but I really enjoy the airy pillow-like cushioning pillow top mattresses provide. In this mattress roundup, I reveal the best pillow top mattresses from my experience as a mattress tester, including the top picks for side sleepers and the best eco-friendly pillow top mattress.

Narrowing down one mattress from a sea of beds can be overwhelming, to say the least — especially if you plan on spending over $1,000. That’s why I’ve done the hard part for you by spending hours upon hours laying on beds (it’s a rough gig, I know) trying my best to describe how each one feels, and if I think it’s worth the money. Wondering what I chose? Continue on to find out.

The prices below are for queen size models, and were recently updated.

Lindsay Boyers

People with back pain can benefit from the Saatva mattress because it offers a ton of support without compromising fluffy pressure relief. In fact, it’s one of the most supportive and durable beds I’ve come across, boasting dual coil layers in its foundation for maximum body support.

On top of the coils is a thin layer of memory foam, and it’s topped with an eggshell colored, organic cotton Euro pillow top. Like a few of the other beds on this list, it reminds me of a fancy hotel mattress you’d sleep on when you go on a nice vacation. The top feels nice and fluffy, but more substantial and supportive than standard cotton fluff because of the pressure-relieving memory foam layer. 

I also love how versatile the Saatva bed can be. It’s available in two different heights and three firmness levels. Choose between 11.5 inches or 14.5 inches for the ultimate body support. The softest option is around a medium or five on my firmness scale, and it only gets firmer from there. This is another reason why I think it’s a great option for back-pain sufferers. Any body type can find a model that keeps their spine from falling into the mattress. My favorite is the “Plush Soft” but heavy sleepers with back pain should consider “Firm.”

I expected Saatva to be more expensive than it is considering its high-end construction, so I’m pleasantly surprised about the price tag. The 11.5-inch model starts at $849 for a twin and goes up to $2,099 for a split California king.

Slumber Yard

If you can’t get that one amazing mattress out of your head that you slept on during a past vacation, you might have a taste for a hotel-luxury mattress like WinkBed Classic. Fancy hotels usually provide you with supportive innerspring mattresses to accommodate any guest’s body type, and of course, they love pillow tops because they add a few extra layers of soft comfort. I think WinkBed is the epitome of a luxury bed.

It looks like a Pinterest-perfect bed almost too pretty to put sheets on. The cover is a bright white color with blue and white polka dot detailing around the edge. The inside, though, is the real star of the show. The Euro pillow top feels like one big airy cloud on top of a supportive and durable system of pocketed coils.

Many beds have solid edge support, but WinkBed incorporates an “Extra-Edge” support system of 13-gauge narrow-diameter coils. For you, that means every edge of the mattress is reinforced with ultra-supportive coils, specifically designed to target the sides of the bed. That way, if you sleep with a partner, neither of you will ever feel like you’re about to roll off.

It’s available in three different firmness levels: Softer, Luxury Firm, and Firmer. Side sleepers should consider the pressure-relieving Softer model and it’s one of the best soft pillow top mattresses I’ve tested. On the flip side, back and stomach sleepers may really like the support offered by the Firm WinkBed. Either way, it will be perfectly suitable for any sleeper position, and also every body type.

Prices for WinkBed start at $1,049 for a twin and go up to $2,049 for a California king.

Brooklyn Bedding

I’m a little biased because this is the mattress I personally sleep on, but I think the Bloom by Brooklyn Bedding is a comfortable, underrated bed and doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves. It’s a heavy-duty, eco-friendly mattress that stands over 13 inches tall. It has a premium quantum-edge pocketed coil layer for maximum support throughout the whole bed, even the edges.

The main comfort layer is a three-inch slab of natural Talalay latex foam, derived from the sap of a rubber tree. It’s more breathable, bouncy and durable than latex foam, and it’s completely nontoxic. Natural latex foam is also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, so it won’t collect dust mites, mold, mildew or other nasty household allergens that can build up over time.

On the top is 1.25 inches of Joma wool from New Zealand and an organic cotton cover. The latex really neutralizes the feel of the coils below, but you don’t sink into it like you would memory foam. Instead, you gently nestle into the fluffy pillow top while the latex foam and coils below keep your back supported. It’s really bouncy, but at the same time, it deadens motion across the mattress so you can barely feel your partner get up in the middle of the night.

The firmness level is right in the middle of the scale around a five or a medium. It’s perfectly supportive when I’m on my back and stomach, but at the same time, the plush pillow top helps bring pressure relief when I’m on my side. It’s also ideal for all body types because of its supportive hybrid design.

Allswell Home

As you might have noticed by the additions on this list, pillow top mattresses aren’t always the most affordable beds on the market. So, it’s only right I add a budget-friendly option so you can get the same cushiony supportive feel at a more accessible cost. Allswell is from retail giant Walmart, and the Allswell Supreme is the brand’s upper-tier model. Still, it’s incredibly affordable especially after discounts are applied.

It doesn’t look as pretty as the other beds on this list, but you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover. It’s a thick 14 inches and contains five different layers. This includes pocketed coils, their special Energex foam, graphite and copper-infused memory foam and a fluffy Euro-top.

This bed has more of a memory foam feel, more so than any of the other beds on this list. It’s not as prominent as a Nectar mattress, but you do feel the layers hug your body as you become nestled into the mattress. It’s also more bouncy than typical memory foam, especially because of the pocketed coil layer in the foundation.

It’s only a hair firmer than a medium on the firmness scale, I’d give it a five and a half out of 10, where 10 is the most firm. Even so, it is pressure relieving enough for side sleepers and supportive enough to keep a back and stomach sleeper’s spine in proper alignment. It’ll also suit any body type whether you are lightweight or plus size.

Prices for Allswell Supreme start at $725 for a twin and go up to $1,245 for a king size.

Bear Mattress

The Bear Hybrid mattress isn’t the most affordable pillow top mattress on the block, but its premium design and uncommon added features make it an incredible bang for your buck. First, it’s one thick son of a gun, similar to Allswell Supreme, and stands at 14 inches tall. It’s a hybrid bed that incorporates a pocketed coil layer, several foam layers, and of course, a thick and fluffy pillow top cover.

The pillow top is really luxurious on Bear Hybrid and is infused with Celliant, a fabric containing certain thermo-reactive materials. It absorbs your body heat and transfers it back to you as infrared energy. In turn, it boosts your blood circulation and oxygen, helping you feel more energized when you wake up. I can’t say this tech works without a doubt, but I can say it’s a really comfortable pillow top mattress.

Even though it contains several layers of foam, it feels like a soft, plush pillow top on top of a supportive innerspring system. It’s like a traditional innerspring bed, only ten times more comfortable. I rate it around a medium firmness level, so it’s suitable for just about any sleeping position. Like the other beds on this list, it’s also accommodating for all body types.

Helix Sleep

There’s a little more work to do when it comes to mattress shopping for two. Couples typically want a bed that’ll accommodate both of their sleeping styles, body types and have exceptional edge support and motion isolation. The beds from Helix Luxe deliver, particularly Helix Luxe Midnight.

Helix Luxe Midnight is 14 inches thick and has six different layers inside. The pocketed coil layer in the base uses lumbar support coils, providing softer relief under your shoulders and targeted support to your lower back and trunk. It’s not super noticeable when you lay down, but in the long run, this construction detail helps promote proper alignment and prevent back pain.

The pillow top on Helix Midnight Luxe is tufted and textured with mini craters, which gives the cover a cool look. Underneath is a thin layer of gel-memory foam, which makes the pillow top slightly more foamy-feeling. It’s not quite as airy and light as other pillow top mattresses. This bed has more of a classic, neutral-foam feel. The pillow-top neutralizes the memory foam feel, while the memory foam takes away the pillow top’s airiness. It’s extremely comfortable, and I think almost any couple will like it since the feel is hard to disagree on.

I rate Helix Luxe Midnight around a medium or five on the firmness scale, making it suitable for any sleeper position. That means you and your loved one will be safe and in the clear if you have different preferences.

Prices start at $1,099 for a twin size and go up to $2,349 for a California king.

More for a better night’s sleep

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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