Pillow top vs Euro top mattresses: What’s the difference?

Pillow top vs Euro top mattresses image shows the WinkBed Mattress on the left and the DreamCloud Hybrid mattress on the right
(Image credit: WinkBeds / DreamCloud Sleep)

If you're looking for a quality mattress that's ultra plush and luxurious, you may want to consider bed with pillow top or Euro top. These tops are sewn onto the mattress to provide an extra tier of cushioning for a softer, luxury feel, but when it comes to pillow top vs Euro top, which is better? 

Many of 2024's best mattresses for all sleepers are made with either pillow tops or Euro tops, and they each provide additional padding. However there are some key differences between pillow tops vs Euro tops. Here we'll compare them both, discussing what they are, the pros and cons of each, and which top is right for your sleep needs (and budget).

We'll also look at some of the biggest Euro and pillow top mattress deals ahead of the Presidents' Day mattress sales, so that you can enjoy one of these opulent mattresses for much less than normal.

What is a pillow top mattress?

In short, a pillow top mattress is any bed with an additional padding top, almost like a mattress with plush bed topper sewn on top of it. Pillow tops add a couple of inches to a mattress and can be made of different materials, but most use memory or latex foam for an instant dollop of softness. 

A pillow top rests visibly and directly on the surface of a mattress, which gives it a distinctive, prominent look – similar to a large pillow covering your mattress. They are usually used with firmer mattresses, such as innerspring and hybrid, to give the bed a softer feel. 

What is a Euro top mattress?

Saatva Classic euro top mattress on a beige bedframe in a sunny pool rom

The Saatva Classic hybrid uses a Euro top for instant comfort (Image credit: Saatva)

A Euro top is actually a type of pillow top, which is why some brands refer to their Euro top mattresses as just plain pillow top mattresses. A Euro top offers an extra layer of comfort, but it isn't directly sewn on top of the mattress. Instead, they are built under the mattress cover, so it seamlessly blends in with the rest of the mattress for a discreet look. They are typically made out of foam or fiberfill.

Pillow top vs Euro top mattresses: Key differences

The most noticeable difference between pillow tops vs Euro tops is their appearance. While Euro tops are discreetly hidden under a mattress cover, the pillow top is sewn visibly on top, with a noticeable gap between the mattress cover and the pillow top. 

Another key difference is feel. Pillow tops are designed to sit upon firm beds, so they have a sink-in softness and cloud-like plushness. Meanwhile, Euro tops tend to be firmer around the edges (these tops have excellent edge support) and feel a lot plusher in the centre. 

Euro tops are also considered to be more luxurious and expensive than pillow tops thanks to their durability and great edge support. Also, as the layer fits inside the mattress, there's no gap or indentation to dip into, making it a better option for people who prefer a firmer, more supportive feel. The best luxury mattresses often feature a Euro top.

Pillow top vs Euro top mattresses: Brands and prices

Stearns & Foster Estate Mattress with euro top photographed with a blonde-haired woman lying on top, reading a book

(Image credit: Stearns & Foster)

Euro top mattresses are becoming the more popular type of pillow top, surpassing the traditional, cheaper pillow top mattresses. Because of this increasing popularity, you'll find that most luxury sleep brands sell Euro top mattresses and often refer to them simply as pillow top mattresses. 

Euro top mattress are considered premium beds, and often means they come with a premium price tag. Some of the luxury mattress brands that sell the best Euro top mattresses are Saatva, Helix, DreamCloud, and Stearns and Foster.  

Pillow top mattresses are harder to come by nowadays, but they are a lot more affordable than their Euro counterparts. A lot of brands that sell the best cheap mattresses offer traditional pillow top mattresses. You can find many pillow top mattresses online, from such places as WinkBed, Walmart, Amazon and Mattress Firm.

Pillow top vs Euro top mattresses: Pros and cons

While both pillow tops and a Euro tops add that extra touch of comfort, they also have their own advantages and drawbacks. Here are some of the main pros and cons of each kind of top.

The pros of a pillow top mattress:

They're more affordable. Pillow tops tend to be less expensive than Euro tops, as they focus on providing comfort rather than a tidier, seamless look. 

They provide a softer sleep surface. As they sit on top and provide a direct sleep surface, pillow tops provide great pressure relief, plushness, and a sink-in soft feel.

They provide consistent comfort and support. A pillow top covers the entire surface of a mattress, like a giant fluffy blanket. This is great if you're looking for complete, uniform softness.

The cons of a pillow top mattress:

They don't have the best edge support. While Euro tops are seamlessly built underneath the mattress cover for a polished look, pillow tops are not always aligned with the mattress's edges. 

They aren't long-lasting. As sleepers come in direct contact with them, pillow tops bear the brunt of movement and can start to sag and flatten quite quickly. They have an average lifespan of eight years.

They can sleep hot. While they tends to sit upon breathable innerspring beds, pillow tops may actually restrict the airflow and cause the bed to sleep hot. 

DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid mattress in a bedoom, with a dog lying on it

(Image credit: DreamCloud)

The pros of a Euro top mattress:

They have superb edge support. Due to its flush stitching, Euro tops have great edge support and can stay stable with movement. 

They provide a firmer, more supportive sleep surface. While pillow tops provide a sink-in softness, Euro tops offer sturdier support and a firmer feel with minimal sagging. 

They are more durable. As they are made from high-quality materials and sit under the mattress cover rather than coming into direct contact with the sleeper, Euro top mattresses tend to last longer than surface pillow tops. On average, they tend to last 10 years (sometimes even more).

The cons of a Euro top mattress:

They're expensive. The downside of a Euro top mattress's premium materials and durability is its price. They tend to have a luxury price tag and aree sold by high-end sleep brands. 

They don't directly provide a plush surface. As they sit under the mattress surface, a Euro top's plushness and pressure relief can sometimes be buffered by the mattress cover. 

They're not great at providing consistent comfort or firmness. While its edge support is fantastic, a Euro top can sometimes be firm on the outside and cushy in the middle for an inconsistent feel. 

Pillow top vs Euro top mattresses: Which should you buy?

Buy a pillow top mattress if…

You're a lightweight or side sleeper: Pillow top mattresses provide contouring support and great pressure relief for side sleepers and those who weigh under 130lbs, so the pressure points in your hips and shoulders will feel soothed. 

✅  You’re on a tight budget: These mattresses tend to focus on cushioning rather than a clean, discreet look, which makes them great budget-friendly beds.

You're looking for a mattress with cloud-like softness: There's no cover to buffer the additional padding of a pillow top, meaning its plush cushioning isn't muted.

Buy a Euro top mattress if…

You're a back or stomach sleeper: Euro top mattresses are much firmer and are less likely to sag over time, meaning they'll make sturdy sleep surfaces for back and stomach sleepers (along with those who are heavier than 250lbs).

✅ You’re looking to invest in luxury bed: While they may be on the expensive side, Euro top mattresses are made out of high-quality materials for a luxurious feel. 

You want a bed that's long-lasting: As there's no gap between the cover and the padding, Euro top mattresses are more durable and less prone to sagging thanks to being hidden under the cover. 

Top 3 pillow and euro top mattresses on sale now

Cool Gel Mercer 12" Hybrid Mattress$223 $185 at Walmart

Cool Gel Mercer 12" Hybrid Mattress: from $223 $185 at Walmart
If you can't afford one of this year's best hybrid mattresses yet you want a hybrid with a traditional pillow top, try this 12" inch medium-feel bed. While pillow tops are known to sleep quite hot, the Cool Gel Mercer Hybrid uses open-cell memory foam for a more breathable sleep. Currently, you can get a queen size for $268 (down from $324) at Walmart, and it comes with free shipping, a 10-year warranty, and a 90-day return policy.  While the 10-year warranty is more than sufficient for this type of mattress, there is no official sleep trial.

Saatva Classic mattress: $1,295$1,101 at Saatva

Saatva Classic mattress: from $1,295 $1,101 at Saatva
Not only is this our most top-rated mattress, but it also has a 3" Euro top. This comes in three different firmness levels, has a breathable anti-mold cover, and excellent pressure relief. Currently, there's a 15% off sale in place, knocking a queen size down to $1,696. However, we have seen a lot more generous Saatva mattress sales from the brand recently, so you might want to see what the Presidents' Day sales have in store. Generous extras include a 1-year sleep trial, lifetime warranty, and free shipping and returns.

DreamCloud Premier Rest Memory Foam: $1,849 $924 at DreamCloud Sleep

DreamCloud Premier Rest Memory Foam: from $1,849 $924 at DreamCloud Sleep
The best memory foam mattresses offer great pressure relief and comfort, and this all-foam Euro top mattress from DreamCloud is designed to produce exactly that. The Euro top is made from a breathable cashmere blend for a cooler sleep, and tops 5 internal layers of comforting foam. Right now, there's a 50% of flash sale, splitting a queen to $1,249. This is one of the best DreamCloud mattress sales we've seen, as its 10% cheaper than is evergreen 40% off discount. You'll also get a lifetime warranty, 365-night sleep trial, and free shipping and returns. Flash sales are where we see DreamCloud's biggest savings, so we don't recommend waiting for the Presidents' Day sales.

Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.