Buying a mattress online

You don’t need to try a mattress in a shop to get the right mattress. You don’t need to endure busy shopping centers and showrooms to get the right mattress. In fact, it is in your interests not to. This article will ensure you set off with the right criteria when searching for a new mattress online, making sure you know exactly what to look for and how to avoid costly mattress mistakes.

Origins Pocket spring 1500 mattress

Buying a bed from a retail store can leave you sorely out of pocket

You really don’t need to try a mattress in a showroom.

Don’t believe us? Let us explain.

It is a well known and accepted statistic that most people (80%) try out a mattress in a shop for less than two minutes.

This is not long enough at all. There is no better way of finding out if a mattress is suitable for you than to try it over at least 2 weeks in your home environment. Obviously, you do require the correct guidance and information before being presented with a list of ‘Suitable’ options, but getting this is so unlikely. You don’t need a showroom to buy a mattress, in fact, it’s in your best interests not to.

Here are three scenarios to explain exactly why.

1. Try a mattress it in a bed shop

After 2 mins of bouncing on and off mattresses, a sales person tries to upsell you whatever has the biggest markup, you pick, get it home, find you don’t like it and then have to pay to return it or choose another from that store or the alternative. You’re limited by whatever ever they have and you always have to pay to rectify. Have you ever noticed that there are no specifics about the fillings, the grams per square meter or any other details?


What level of Bed detail you should see


The only way a salesperson can accurately recommend a suitable mattress model is by knowing, exactly, your height and weight. However, they hardly ever ask this question. Without this information there is no way to choose the correct spring tension, it’s just guesswork. The only other questions they will ask are what your budget is and how does this one feel?

Luxury mattress retailer

Retailers will never tell you the GSM of their mattress. If they did it would allow you to correctly compare them.

There is no way that in 2 minutes you’re going to get an accurate representation of how you will sleep on that mattress. Meaning you’re going to have to gamble and then get stuck in their tricky returns or exchange process.

2. Buying a bed in a box online

You may have seen the influx of ‘bed in a box’ sold online from different companies such as Simba, Eve and Casper. The issue with these mattresses that arrive boxed is that they are a one size fits all these companies only offer one model, no spring tension options just a few different foam options. There again is no consideration for your bodyweight or height. Most of them just state a ‘medium feel’ with a ‘softer sink’. So unless you’re the ideal weight for the foams contained within these beds you have no idea whether it will be suitable until you get it home.

Of course they won’t give you the exact data sheets of the foam making it impossible to know or compare to other mattresses. How frustrating!

Boxed mattress

We’ve written extensively about why you should approach these models with caution. A high-quality pocket spring mattress simply can’t be crushed and rolled like cheaper foam alternatives. It’s worthwhile also noting that boxed mattresses are nearly always one-sided. Which means they have a considerably shorter lifespan than a two-sided mattress as you can only ever sleep on side of them.

Boxed rolled mattresses are crushed then boxed. You need to let them unroll and return to shape when they arrive over time.

3. Buy a mattress online from John Ryan By Design

Let our friendly experts advise based on weight, height and your tension preference, using our in-depth knowledge of mattress upholstery and spring counts/tensions. Then your mattress is delivered and you have a 60 day love it or return it guarantee. If it is unsuitable you can either exchange for a different tension/model or return it free of charge. No ifs or buts. It is a risk-free option.

Artisan Bespoke

You should always match your weight to the spring tension then choose the comfort layer preferences such as soft, medium or firm

Your bodyweight should dictate what mattress is right for you. An 18 stone man needs support, an 8 stone woman doesn’t. So how on earth a mattress that is described as “medium” for example, be suitable for the individual requirements of these two people? Spring tensions change dependant on your weight and this is the first area you need to consider.

Spring TensionWire diameterWeight Range
Soft1.2mmUpto 8 Stone
Medium1.4mm8-16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus

The next area to consider is how you want to comfort layers to feel and this is based on the fibres and layers on top of the spring unit. Our team can provide a number of options based on your height and weight to get your prefered feel.

What are you comparing these mattresses to? 

Usually, it is the mattress you already have at home. The one that you are looking to replace because it is worn out. Sales staff know this and they also know that anything they show you will infinitely be better than the one you are looking to replace.

In addition to this, the mattresses in the stores are new so will feel different again after they have bedded in. Any new mattress will also take a few weeks to fully get used to and then will bed in over time.  This is why mattress maintenance is vital to ensure that this bedding in is even across the mattress. 

So apart from physically seeing the mattress, the cover and whatnot, your not really trialling the mattress at all. You’re just going through the motions, the awkward lying fully clothed on a show bed, the sales patter about foams, NASA and such.artisan bespoke mattress

By all means, go and inspect the build quality and general feel of mattresses in showrooms but don’t expect them to be completely accurate and certainly don’t just buy the first bed that ‘feels alright’ as you may well regret it after the first few weeks of bedding in.

At John Ryan By Design we don’t have showrooms. We prefer having our small friendly team providing you with tailored recommendations based on your requirements. We don’t have huge overheads of retail stores and marketing campaigns. This means we can offer you significantly more for your money.

We have over 4,000 detailed Q&A’s on this site from people which is a great way to get a tailored recommendation or troubleshoot your existing mattress.

Top Tips for buying a mattress online

  1. Read our best tip about buying a mattress article to get a solid overview of the world of mattresses
  2. Understand how much to spend on a mattress
  3. Know your GSM timestable as its essential to know what those sumptuous layers actually mean
  4. Learn all about the upholstery, materials and foams before you start, there’s plenty to choose from so knowing which materials you’re more suited to will save you much time
  5. Take some advice from our small expert team, to help you cut through some of the sometimes endless detail


Being educated on how mattresses are built and what the established construction methods puts you in a much stronger position when choosing a new mattress. Unless you want to physically check the finish and detailing of the mattress, then spending weekends at busy shopping centres and retail outlets is really pointless. Unless those sales assistants can tell you the exact GSM, the spring gauge and explain how those components will work for you, which we guarantee they can not, you still have to wait until you get it home to properly try the mattress.

Why not get in touch with our small friendly team of experts for guidance on your new bed on 0161 437 4419?


View Comments
  • Rob says:

    Hi, I wondered about headboards that you sell on your ‘by design’ site, do you also sell them or are they compatible with the bases available with the Fusion range of mattresses?

    I am thinking to purchase your Kingsize Fusion 3 with 4 drawer base but cant add headboard style 2 to shopping list

    also what colours are available?, is the base only in plain microquilt white?

    thanks for any assistance.

    Hi Rob, Our John Ryan headboards are compatible with the origins white platform base range. We also offer the Origins platform bases in a range of colours, which we haven’t yet been able to fully upload to the site yet! Apologies if this has caused you some frustration, its work in progress but we can help make it easier for you by setting up a special order so you can purchase it all in one go.

    Can I ask you give us a ring and we can send out some samples and provide advice and prices directly? If you have a look here it shows you some of the potential fabric colours and textures of you want a coloured base.

    The artisan bases it references are our sprung edge premium bases, if you want further advice we can guide you on these over the phone as it’s probably easier rather than baffling you with detail in an email Rob.

    We can then set up a special order on the site for you to purchase your chosen selection. Many thanks – Lee

  • Brian Whitaker says:

    How do know if they have the correct Fire label

    Hi Brian, we have examples of the correct fire labels on the site to assist you in identifying them correctly. Lee

  • Sarah says:

    We are obviously looking to buy a mattress, hence being on your site!

    We currently have an Ikea SULTAN kingsize hand me down and have done for years.

    My husband has always complained of having lower back pain and I get very stiff neck and shoulders. Having both been away for a few weeks we realised that we didn’t have these problems at all and yet being back in our bed they have started again!

    We have concluded that is about time we bite the bullet and get a decent mattress!

    Having tried a couple of beds briefly in a showroom I think we like medium / firm.

    We seemed to be looking at the pocket sprung ones as they felt reasonably comfortable and were just about within our price range. We were looking in Bensons for beds at the Decadence mattress medium / firm and the Cloud sublime.
    Although with two young children tagging along it was not a particularly pleasant
    experience and to be honest we were only in there 10 minutes or so!!

    I don’t know if it makes a difference but we tend to both sleep on our backs or side and both weigh between 11-13 stone.

    Can you advise.

    Hi Sarah, Thanks for the detail it makes it far easier to provide bed recommendations when we know your weight and preferences! Sorry to hear your suffering with your backs with you current Ikea Sultan Mattress.

    Based on what you have looked at I’d be recommending a medium feel mattress rather than a firm. Your aches and pains suggest that for your weight your current mattress is too firm and not providing enough comfort or the right support. Also because you’ve tried a tempur cloud, which is a soft, and liked it, I’m going to base my two recommendations on medium or softer contemporary mattresses.

    If you’re looking for a traditional pocket sprung mattress, in a similar stye to the decadence, then I’d say look at our Artisans 1500 mattress, which has natural fibres and a whopping 4300g of fillings. I can’t see from the bensons decadence mattress whats in it exactly but assume looking at it that its no where near our Artisans range. Also it has a pillow top which we always advise against, making it a one sided mattress. This can lead to quick settlement and potential dips as the pillow top compresses.

    If you are wanting an equivalent to the cloud our Hybrid 4 mattress would be ideal. It will have a very different sensation to say a traditional or Artisan 1500 mattress as it has far softer top layers and more of a sink.

    I’d say either of these would exceed the two models you have tried in terms of components and price. What I would say is that you need to establish whether you prefer the robust feel of a traditional mattress with comfort layers or a progressive sink of a contemporary foam mattress. They are just two very different sensations! – Lee

  • Jane says:

    My husband and I are looking to buy a new mattress. We currently have a sprung mattress and a memory foam mattress cover (about 1 inch thick. ) We do not want a very soft mattress or a very hard mattress. Something soft and comfortable , but not too squashy. The memory foam tends to make us too hot. We do not want to spend a fortune as we are moving house. What would you suggest? Do we need to try it ? We live in Doncaster. We do not mind an outlet or discontinued line .
    Thank you for your help

    Hi Jane, Thanks for getting in touch. We could do with finding out a few more details, such as your weight, height and what you have tried in stores to assist. It would also help to know your budget so we can refine any recommendation.

    You don’t need to try a mattress if you use our advice service, which we provide guidance on what would be suitable from our range given your preferences. We also have our 30 day love it or return it guarantee. You can call us if easier on 0161 437 4419 or reply to us via email at [email protected].

    We look forward to hearing from you.

  • Eve says:

    I’m looking for some help choosing an appropriate mattress for my sixty six year old mother. She is a slight and delicate 7 to 8 stone (variable) and 5’4″. She suffers from osteoarthritis and back pain. She describes wanting a soft mattress, but she says memory foam is uncomfortable because she finds herself very hot and sweaty in the night on that type of mattress.
    My mother, like me, has very broad shoulders for her frame, and as a side sleeper I’ve always suspected that this necessitates a softer mattress?
    My budget is basically zero, but with some idea what to look for, I hope to be able to find save and borrow enough to get her something that’s suitable for her needs. Perhaps you have something in your outlet area that’s suitable?
    many thanks for your time

    Hi Eve,

    Apologies for the delay it seems this message went into our spam folder by accident!

    Given your mothers weight, height and ailment we would recommend a soft mattress. Given our dislike of memory foam I’d recommend looking at our origins comfort in the John Ryan By Design range which is a perfect fit for the requirements you have provided. if you can let us know the size you require we can look at our outlet stock to let you know if there are any in stock. Here is the full price listing with all the detail for a further look.

    I hope that helps Eve, if you need any more advice please give us a call on 0161 437 4419. Lee

  • Laila says:

    Hi, interesting website. I recently bought a comfy night mattress for a spare room. It is the most comfortable mattress I have ever slept on, although it is non turntable and is reportedly memory foam and orthopaedic. Not sure if you know of the mattress?

    I now need a mattress for myself, maybe something similar, I have a lot of back and neck pain and sleep very badly, following a car accident. I’m around 9.5 stone and female. What mattress and price could you recommend in light of this?
    Thanks very much

    Hi Laila, The comfy night mattress that I’ve found is memory foam and cage sprung mattress. There are no details on the density of the foam or depth which makes comparisons really difficult. The cage sprung mattress is the worst construction method of all sprung mattresses I’m afraid so I wouldn’t have a direct comparison as all my mattresses utilise high quality pocket springs. You can see our video on what an open coil/ cage sprung / bonnell sprung system looks like here.

    If you wanted something along those lines but a much higher quality please have a look at our Hybrid 6 which is a deep pocket sprung based hybrid foam mattress with matching topper. For your weight this will give you a softer top layer with a medium overall support. I wouldn’t recommend a firm support or orthopedic mattress for your weight at this will be punishingly firm, especially if you have a previous injury. The prices for each size are on the listing Laila. Thanks – Lee

  • Simon says:


    Stumbled across your website and have found it really useful and imformative.

    We are just about to start looking for a new mattress as I am not sleeping well on our newish memory foam mattress.

    My wife is 5ft 4in and around 9 stone, I am 5ft 11in and 13.5 stone. My wife gets shoulder and back pain from sleeping. We currently have a double slated bed frame so would need a double mattress. I don’t want memory foam and am looking for some guidance on a replacement.

    Our budget is around £800, do you have any recommendations?

    Thanks for your help.



    Hi Simon, Based on your weights and back complain I’d recommend looking at our solid core latex range. They are excellent for progressive comfort, ie letting you sink in before providing support. This usually helps with pressure points and allows for moulding to countours but without the heat or slow response rates often found with memory foam. latex is lightening fast in the way it bounces back meaning you never get stuck in a rut to speak! I’d recommend looking at the Fusion 1 or 3 for a medium feel solid core latex mattress. – Lee

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