January 2022

What is a pillow top mattress? Why you should avoid pillow top beds

Pillow top mattresses are the latest craze in bed retailers offering cloud-like sleeping experiences, hotel-style beds and the ultimate in decadence. However, there's a flaw that retails don't want you to know and a pillowtop could mean your dream mattress becomes a nightmare.

Updated 2022: The problem is that pillow-top mattresses can severely reduce the lifespan of your bed and once they compress, that’s it you’re stuck with it. Leading to only one solution which is binning the mattress. Read on to find out how to avoid pillowtop problems with this mattress guide to avoid settling for a poor pillow top mattress choice.

M & S Pillowtop Cashmere mattress
A pillowtop mattress: Image from https://www.marksandspencer.com/l/furniture/bedroom/mattresses

Pillowtop Mattresses Reviewed:

We’re going to detail why you should avoid pillow top mattresses to help you avoid the many problems we hear every day about failing pillowtop beds and mattresses. Let’s take a closer look by reviewing pillow top mattresses.

What is a pillow top mattress?

A pillow top mattress is a bed that has a mattress topper permanently adhered/stitched or glued to the top of the mattress. Therefore making the mattress one sided and subject to serious sagging flaws.

pillow top mattress

Pillowtop mattresses have started to appear more and more often in bed showrooms offering the allure of super soft sleeping comfort. It is a construction method whereby a layer (the pillow top) of sumptuous upholstery is permanently stitched upon the mattress. It gives the illusion of a super deep mattress with a deep soft fluffy topper layer which is on tp of the core mattress.

It is invariably always going to be one-sided. It will invariably be high-loft (28-35cm) They invariably tend to look absolutely glorious. The Premier Inn uses a Hypnos Pillow top mattress that we recently reviewed here. If you can grab the top layer of a mattress in your hand and separate it slightly from the core mattress; then it’s a pillowtop you’re looking at.

Are pillowtop mattresses any good?

In reality, pillow-top mattresses serve very little benefit to you, apart from the initial comfort they have a really short shelflife. They give the impression of a sumptuous soft topper but are permanently stuck to your mattress either by glue or machine stitched on meaning you’re stuck with them especially when they settle which all new mattresses will do.

We struggle to find any argument for using pillow tops, other than to stop toppers sliding off maybe. This would only apply to really restless sleepers or a bed on a moving platform such as a ship. Which we can only imagine would happen at sea and even then it would have to be a very choppy ocean? We did have one thought that maybe it stops retailers for forgetting to bag up the topper with the mattress but this sounds rather ridiculous.

We can really find no use for pillow tops in any type of mattress construction other than to look nice in showrooms.

How are pillow top mattresses/beds made?

Let us start with the construction method of pillowtop mattresses and how they are manufactured. A pillowtop is built in two parts.

1. The support section

The pillowtop is stitched directly to the top of the support creating a two-tier mattress. Up to this point, there is really nothing wrong with this all you have now is a fancy-schmancy one-sided mattress. The support part of the mattress can be any type of pocket springs, foam, suspension springs or even cage springs.

2. The pillowtop section

The Pillowtop can also be comprised of anything from polyester, memory foam, latex, wool etc. This is usually a super soft layer to give that immediate sink feeling to the mattress. A good comparison is a feather or down topper that immediately sinks and lets you snuggle into the topper. More often than not this pillowtop isn’t tufted which leads to issues with fibres migrating leaving a lumpy bumpy sleep surface.

Image from https://www.vispring.com/en-uk/

What is wrong with pillowtop mattresses?

The main objection to pillow tops come into what you are expected to pay for them and the lifespan you will get out of them. Just like a no turn mattress, you will be unable to turn it so when the pillowtop layer becomes indented and worn, you will eventually have to replace the entire mattress even though the spring support will be sufficiently OK.

At this point, I must admit that Pillowtops with a natural latex comfort layer does not fall into this argument although price wise you will be expected to pay a lot more than for a non-pillow top version.

A Pillowtop mattress means you can't turn your mattress
A Pillowtop mattress means you can't turn your mattress
You're better off with a removable topper and 2-sided mattress, so you can turn both.
You're better off with a removable topper and 2-sided mattress, so you can turn both.

What is the alternative to a pillow top mattress?

We would advise there is no need to use a pillow top when you can buy a separate topper that can be turned and rotated. This also means you can buy a decent handmade two-sided mattress which can also be turned. This method ensures you get all the benefits of a pillowtop with zero of the drawbacks. These separate toppers can be turned and rotated like a regular mattress. As and when they require replacing its only this one part and not the entire mattress that you have to replace.

None of our mattress range use pillow tops as they are a serious design flaw when it comes to making a quality mattress that lasts. Where we do use toppers you can completely remove them turn and rotate them.

Topper 7cm0004 2
Buying a separate mattress topper is far better than a pillowtop. As you can turn and rotate the topper to even out wear & settlement.
Best Pillow Top Mattress Alternative
Don't be fooled by the hype & choose a 2-sided bed instead

If you’re looking for a better alternative to pillow top mattresses and their many flaws then take a look at our Artisan Naturals mattress.

It’s two sided so you can use both sides meaning no issues when the pillow top fails after a few months of use.

Upholstery Layer 1: Blended British Fleece Wool & Cotton gives a soft yet resilient top comfort layer. With high loft it provides a mix of comfort and light support.

Upholstery Layer 2: A hair proof cambric cover helps stop fibres from migrating between layers & will be found in all high-end mattresses.

Upholstery Layer 3: 1250GSM Rebound Polycotton helps with both support and rebound with this mattress.

Upholstery Layer 4: We used 1500GSM Mohair as the insulating layer to add a robust property to the forthcoming layer.

This has been specifically built to enable us to say “you just cannot get a better-built mattress for this price”. Support from the 1600 Calico Encased Pocket Springs (which are Vanadium coated) can be tweaked softer to firmer to suit your own individual bodyweight or indeed have half firm and half medium as required and at no additional charge with our split tension offering.

The internal upholstery is amongst the best you can get for this price range and all this combined ensure that this mattress will be exceptionally hard to beat for build, comfort and more importantly, price.

Artisan Naturals Mattress
Artisan Naturals Mattress
4 1500GSM 100% PURE MOHAIR
Total GSM 3950GSM
Depth 27-30CM
Details Chemical Free Damask Cover
Rated Excellent Trustpilot
View the best pillow top alternative

Can I fix a failed pillow top mattress?

Unfortunately in most cases, the answer is no, you can’t fix a failed or sagged pillowtop mattress. This is because the pillow top is usually permanently glued to the top of the regular mattress. You could try to cut it away but with mixed results depending on how much of the original cover stays attached. You may also end up compromising the integrity of the core mattress rendering it useless too.

The best way to fix a pillow top mattress is by avoiding them in the first place, unfortunately!


Our advice on Pillowtop mattresses is to instead purchase a decent pocket sprung mattress and then add a separate 2-3″ deep topper that suits your exact requirements. A decent mattress protector will keep these two parts together. You will then be able to twist, turn and rotate the mattress and the topper separately. Thereby getting maximum use out of both of them.

It’s with a higher probability that the topper part will wear out quicker than the mattress but the replacement cost of the topper will be a lot less than the replacement of an entire mattress. Also, as the mattress will not be taking the brunt of nightly activities it should stay as good as new for considerably longer. If you need tailored advice call our small friendly team of experts on 0161 437 4419.

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