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The best mattress in a box 2021: top bed-in-a-box brands reviewed

best mattress in a box 2021: Nectar Memory Foam
(Image credit: Nectar)

Mattresses in a box are a quick and easy way to upgrade a major part of your bed. So if you want the best mattress for your sleep style and budget, a bed-in-a-box (as they are also known) is a great option. You’ll find plenty of big-name brands behind these vacuum-packed foam and hybrid models too, and they normally come on a trial basis (100 nights is the average) so that you can test out your new mattress in a box to ensure it’s the best choice for you.

So, how do they work? Thanks to a range of cutting edge materials and packaging methods, a bed-in-a-box can be compressed with a very heavy weight, then rolled up tightly and shipped in reinforced plastic and a tough cardboard box. Once you have received it, your job is to unbox it and let it compress (inflate) in your room of choice. Some of the best mattresses in a box can be very heavy, especially the hybrid models. You may want to consider using a white glove delivery service (where the brand sets up the bed for you) if you don’t have anyone to help with the unpacking process.

Even at full price, a mattress in a box is usually cheaper than a traditional model sold in stores. That’s because these manufacturers don’t have the costly overheads of physical stores so they can offer the same high quality for much less. Here we have rounded up the best mattress in a box for every budget, as well as top picks for different types of sleeper.

As we’re approaching that time of year when the Black Friday mattress deals start rolling in, you may find some early discounts going live later this month. That said, we expect the juiciest deals to arrive in November. If you can’t wait that long, we’ve displayed today’s best prices below each mattress in a box pick, and we’ve also rounded up the latest cheap mattress deals on our favorite brands.

The best mattress in a box in 2021

best mattress in a box: Nectar Memory Foam Mattress on a light wooden bed frame

(Image credit: Nectar)

1. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

The best mattress in a box for most people - it's incredible value

Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Material: Memory foam
Height: 12 inches
Sizes: 6 (twin - Cal king)
Availability: Online, and in 1,500 retailers
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: Lifetime
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $798 - $1,598
Reasons to buy
+Comes with $399-worth of free gifts+Outstanding value for money+Comfortable and supportive+One-year trial period
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks bounce

Nectar’s incredibly popular five-layer memory foam mattress has nabbed the top spot in our best mattress in a box guide because it’s exceptional value for money, delivering premium materials at an extremely competitive price. 

We tested the medium-firm mattress for two months and loved it. The memory foam offers a fantastic balance of softness and firmness, providing luxury comfort without the feeling of sinking into the mattress. When our reviewers lay down, the mattress contoured to their bodies, providing full, tailored support and helping align their spines, while cushioning pressure points like shoulders and hips. We also noticed good edge support and very little motion transfer - making it a particularly good choice for couples.  

You're unlikely to overheat at night too, because this award-winning mattress has a quilted cooling cover on top, followed by a gel memory foam layer to help you sleep cool. There's then a layer of hi-core memory foam for extra support so you don’t sink into the mattress. Finally, a base layer helps stabilize the sleeper, and a bottom mattress cover keeps it from slipping on your bed frame or floor. 

Where the Nectar Memory Foam mattress really stands out, though, is value for money. It’s often generously discounted, making it considerably cheaper than rivals including Casper and Purple. Right now, there's up to $400 off - and it comes with $399-worth of free sleep accessories too (luxury pillows, a mattress protector and sheets). There's also a generous one-year trial period to decide whether it's right for you, and a lifetime warranty. When it comes to sheer value for money, we think it's the best memory foam mattress you can buy. 

Nectar mattress: Save $400 + get $399 of FREE gifts at Nectar
This continues to be Nectar’s biggest-ever offer on the Memory Foam Mattress, and it’s fantastic value for money. Not only will you save up to $400 on any size, you’ll also get $399 worth of free gifts added to your mattress purchase. That’s two free pillows, a mattress protector and sheets set. Deal ends: soon
View Deal

best mattress in a box: GhostBed

(Image credit: GhostBed)

2. GhostBed Luxe mattress

The best luxury mattress in a box

Firmness (1-10): 5.5
Material: Memory foam
Depth: 13 inches
Sizes: 7 (twin - split king)
Availability: Online
Trial length: 101 days
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $1,345 - $3,100
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally high quality+Superb pressure relief+Sleeps cool
Reasons to avoid
-May be too soft for some 

The GhostBed Luxe mattress is a premium all-foam mattress that's jam-packed with cooling tech, making it one of the best mattress in a box options for anyone who overheats at night. GhostBed call it 'the coolest bed in the world' - and plenty of industry reviewers agree, voting it as the best mattress for hot sleepers. 

The cooling happens in two stages. On top, a luxurious quilted cover is made from cool-to-touch 'Ghost Ice' fabric and cooling fibres, with one-inch of gel memory foam to promote airflow and breathability. Under this, a two-inch layer of thermo-sensitive foam responds to your body temperature and adjusts to keep you cool all night long. The rest of the mattress is made up of responsive, contouring memory foam and supportive foam layers, which soothe pressure points and alleviate back pain, making you feel like you're floating.

According to user reviewers, the Ghostbed Luxe has good edge support, so you can maximize every inch of the mattress, making this bed in a box feel wider than it actually is. Recurring comments include that the mattress feels extremely comfortable and luxurious, has helped with back pain, and is good at reducing motion transfer - so you won't feel a partner moving around.

Bear in mind that the Ghostbed Luxe can take up to 24 hours to fully expand and adjust to your bedroom’s temperature. It's also slightly softer than the original GhostBed, so if you prefer a firmer mattress you may wish to choose that version instead. (Like the sound of this but out of your budget? Try the Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress further down the page.)

GhostBed Luxe mattress: Save 30% and get two free pillows
This deal gives you a luxe cooling mattress for less. There’s 30% off all sizes, and like the Nectar you’ll get two free pillows (but Nectar offers more free gifts). A queen size GhostBed Luxe now costs $1,572 (was $2,245), saving you $843. You also get a 25-year warranty. There's a 101-night risk-free trial too.View Deal

best mattress in a box: Helix Midnight Luxe

(Image credit: Helix)

3. Helix Midnight Luxe mattress

The best hybrid bed-in-a-box mattress

Material: Memory foam and coils
Firmness (1-10): 5.5
Depth: 14 inches
Sizes: 6 (twin - Cal king
Availability: Online and in show rooms
Trial length: 100 nights
Warranty: 15 years
Best for: Side sleepers
RRP: $995 - $2,249
Reasons to buy
+Zoned coils support hips+Great for side sleepers+Bouncier than all-foam mattresses
Reasons to avoid
-Some find it too firm

The Helix Midnight Luxe mattress is a top-rated bed in a box that's been designed with side sleepers in mind. It provides pressure relief to shoulders and hips, to help you sleep comfortably throughout the night on your side. (Like most bed-in-a-box mattresses though, it's good for sleeping in all positions.) 

The Helix Midnight Luxe is two inches taller than the company's standard mattresses. It's a medium firmness, with zoned lumbar support for enhanced contouring, and a premium quilted pillow top with an ultra-breathable Tencel cover that aims to help aids airflow, so you sleep cool throughout the night. This hybrid bed-in-a-box mattress also boasts a layer of 1,000 wrapped coils for optimal spinal alignment and increased pressure relief. 

Users like that this premium mattress feels bouncy and balanced, and does a good job of contouring to the body. The Helix Midnight Luxe also gets high marks for its lack of motion transfer, and the extra support makes it a great choice for heavier people too. It isn’t cheap but users report that it is durable, so it should be a good investment. 

Alternatively, if you can't stretch to the Luxe, try the standard version instead. It's almost $400 cheaper and we loved it when we tested it - you can read our Helix Midnight mattress review for more.

Helix Midnight Luxe: Save up to $200 + get two free pillows
You can save $200 on the queen size (now $1,749), with $150 off the full size (now $1,499) and $100 off the twin (now $999). You’ll get two free down-alternative pillows with your mattress order too, but GhostBed is offering the biggest savings so take a second look at that deal if you’re undecided.View Deal

best mattress: Cocoon by Sealy Chill

(Image credit: Cocoon by Sealy)

4. Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress

The most affordable cooling mattress in a box

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6
Material: memory foam
Height: 10 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: all sleepers
MSRP: $730 - $1,310
Reasons to buy
+Great temperature-regulation+Luxury contouring+Fully supportive
Reasons to avoid
-Some may find too soft

The Cocoon Chill Memory Foam is easily one of the best budget cooling mattresses around. This mattress in a box is made by industry giant and household name Sealy - and it's the perfect option for anyone who liked the sound of the luxury Ghostbed above, but couldn't justify the cost. 

Designed to adapt to your body to provide tailored support all over, this medium-firm mattress has three different foam layers, including luxury memory foam for deep contouring, responsive comfort foam to reduce motion transfer and prevent you sinking into the mattress, and a durable support layer. 

However, the headline feature is Sealy’s advanced phase-change material, which is infused into a high-end, stretch-knit cooling cover. This does an excellent job of regulating temperature throughout the night - we slept on it for two weeks, and even our hot sleeper didn't overheat once - and helps this mattress stand out from similarly priced rivals. Its high performance is also confirmed by many of the over 5,000 customers who have given it five-star reviews on the Cocoon By Sealy website (it averages an impressive score of 4.7 out of 5 from over 9,000 user reviews). 

At 10-inches deep the Cocoon Chill is a decent height, but bear in mind that its memory foam layer is one inch thinner than the Nectar Memory Foam mattress above - if you weigh more than 230lbs you may sink through to the firmer support layers. For most people, though, this won't be an issue. Overall, we were impressed with the comfort and cooling abilities of the mattress, and gave it superior marks for motion isolation. There's no denying you get a lot for your money here. If you're looking for an affordable medium-firm memory foam mattress, there's a lot to like about the Cocoon Chill. 

Cocoon Chill mattress: save 35% + get free pillows and sheets
Seal’s Labor Day sale is basically the same offer that we saw last month, saving you 35% on all Chill mattresses. You’ll also get two free pillows and a sheets set worth up to $199 thrown in, increasing your overall savings up to $739, depending on the size you buy.View Deal

best mattress in a box: Zinus Pressure Relief Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress

(Image credit: Zinus)

5. Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress

The best cheap mattress in a box for tight budgets

Firmness (1-10): 5.9-6.6
Material: Memory foam
Depth: 6-12 inches
Sizes: 7 (twin - split king)
Availability: Online
Trial length: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $151 - $464
Reasons to buy
+Best-selling mattress on Amazon+Charcoal particles minimize odor+Four different thickness options+Excellent value
Reasons to avoid
-Some find it too firm

We'll make this clear from the start: the Zinus Green Tea isn't the best mattress in a box in our guide - it has few of the bells and whistles found in the other options here, and there are questions over its long-term durability. However, if you're looking for a budget option, it's one of the best low-cost mattresses out there.

The Zinus Green Tea is the top-rated memory foam mattress on Amazon, with an average score of 4.4 out of 5 from over 100,000 user reviews. It uses green tea-infused memory foam and purified charcoal particles to neutralize odors, and comes in a range of different thickness options: 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches. 

The cheapest is the 6 inch: you could get a queen-size delivered to your front door for around $200. We tested the 10-inch version - which starts from $217 - for three months and found it to be very comfortable and supportive, with good edge support and minimal motion transfer, so you won’t be disturbed by a restless partner. (In case you’re wondering, no, it doesn’t smell of tea…)

There are a few questions about long-term durability: we don’t know how this mattress will perform after a few years of use. It’s not the best choice if you overheat at night, either - a few of our reviewers became uncomfortably warm. But the fantastic price is, of course, where this mattress really stands out. It isn’t often you can buy a quality king size mattress for under $300. If you're looking for a budget mattress in a box, the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress is worth considering.

best mattress in a box: Purple

(Image credit: Purple)

6. The Purple Mattress

The most innovative bed-in-a-box mattress in the US

Firmness (1-10): 6-7
Material: Foam
Depth: 9.25 inches
Availability: Online and in store
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP : $699 - $1,798
Reasons to buy
+Super responsive+Excellent temperature regulation +Ultra durable 
Reasons to avoid
-Cover not machine washable 

The Purple mattress is one of the best-known mattresses in a box. It's extremely popular, thanks to its innovative 'Purple Grid' technology, which is designed to flex under your body’s pressure points, providing tailored support right where you need it most. The Purple grid doesn't just offer high-end support though. This hyper-elastic, gel-like grid (which looks like an empty ice cube tray) has thousands of air channels inside it, helping you sleep cool

Inside the Purple Mattress there's two inches of the Purple grid, followed by a dual-layer comfort base for support. Many users comment that it took them some time to get used to the unique feeling of the Purple mattress - especially if they were previously sleeping on an innerspring mattress. Purple itself advises giving the mattress 21 days to get used to it.

Still, the Purple mattress has an excellent average score of 4.4 out of 5 from over 25,000 user reviews on the Purple website. It’s rated similarly on Amazon, with 4.3 out of 5 (from a much smaller user review pool). Many people report that it relieved their pressure points and eased joint pain, and lots of people say that since switching to the Purple mattress they've been sleeping far better than they were before. We think for couples, especially, and anyone who overheats at night, the flagship Purple mattress is one of the best mattress in a box options out there.

Purple Mattress: Get free gifts worth up to $139 at Purple
In the current sale, Purple’s best-selling mattress comes with a free set of Complete Comfort bed sheets when you buy a full-size or larger mattress. These luxurious sheets, worth up to $139, are made from premium cotton and will amp the coziness of your bed this fall. This isn’t the best offer we’ve seen on the Original, but the price is reasonable for a mattress of this quality anyway, making that free gift a real bonus.View Deal

best mattress in a box: Amerisleep AS2

(Image credit: Amerisleep)

7. Amerisleep AS2

The best mattress in a box for back pain

Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Material: Memory foam
Depth: 12 inches
Availability: Online and in store
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 20 years
Best for: Back and stomach sleepers
RRP : $1,049 - $2,198
Reasons to buy
+Very responsive+Ultra durable+Cooling
Reasons to avoid
-Side sleepers may prefer the AS3-Some say edge support could be better

The AmeriSleep AS2 is our go-to mattress for back pain relief. This 12-inch medium-firm mattress is designed for back and stomach sleepers, and blends targeted, responsive support with contouring comfort to deliver enhanced pressure relief. 

Underneath a soft, ultra-breathable and cooling cover, the AS2 mattress uses a plant-based Bio-Pur foam to relieve pressure points. This open-cell foam is more breathable and responsive than traditional memory foam, so it’ll keep you cooler through the night while it supports your body. Next comes a layer of ‘Hive’ foam - lots of flexible foam hexagons grouped into comfort zones that ease tension and deliver extra support and cushioning under your head, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and lower legs. Finally, a durable base foam is designed to prevent sagging and keep you from sinking in. AmeriSleep puts its money where its mouth is here, with a 20-year warranty. 

The AS2 is highly rated on the Amerisleep site, with an average of 4.7/5 stars from over 3,000 user reviews, and 97% of respondents say they would recommend the mattress to a friend (March 2021). Some customers comment that they no longer have chronic back pain and many agree that it’s a high-quality product. 

If you’re a side-sleeper with back pain, you may find the AS2 doesn't offer quite the right targeted support - we'd recommend the Amerisleep AS3 or AS4 instead. And if you prefer a softer mattress, the AS2 may be too firm - again, the AS3 will be a better choice. But if you’re a back sleeper, or suffering from back pain, the Amerisleep AS2 could be just what you need.   

AmeriSleep AS2 mattress: 30% off at Amerisleep
From $734
- Save up to $660 on AmeriSleep’s popular memory foam AS2, or $900 if you pick the hybrid version. This eco-friendly mattress in a box has been designed to suit most sleep styles, but we'd recommend it mostly to back and stomach sleepers, as well as people with a heavier body weight that needs more support. The AS2 frequently comes out on top in terms of back support too, and with a hefty 30% discount, you're getting a great bed in a box here for much less.View Deal

best mattress in a box: Avocado Green

(Image credit: Avocado)

8. Avocado Green mattress

The most eco-friendly mattress in a box

Firmness (1-10): 7
Material: Organic foam and coils
Depth: 11 inches
Availability: Online
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP : $899 - $1,799
Reasons to buy
+All natural materials+Very little motion transfer
Reasons to avoid
-Some side sleepers find too firm-Expensive materials

If you're looking for an eco-friendly, all-natural mattress, we think the Avocado Green is the best mattress in a box you can buy. The company uses quality, organic ingredients - there's no polyester, polyurethane foams, or toxic fire retardants - to produce a premium mattress that's GreenGuard Gold Certified, which means that it meets high standards for low emissions. 

Made from 100-per cent certified organic latex, wool and cotton, the Avocado Green mattress offers plush cushioning, and ranks highly amongst users for its strong support. A zoned, pressure-point support system gives proper back support, while recycled steel coils help align your back and distribute your weight. Plus, an optional organic wool pillow top version will help regulate your body temperature.

If you've got a higher budget and eco-friendly credentials are particularly important, then Avocado's Latex mattress is the company's most sustainable - it isn't just 100% organic certified and non-toxic, but it's biodegradable too. However, it's more expensive (a queen costs $1,799 - that's $300 more), which is why, on balance, we recommend the Avocado Green as the best bed in a box in the all-natural category.

Avocado Green: $100 off mattresses at Avocado
Save big on premium mattresses, bedding and throws in Avocado’s new Fall sale. There’s a $100 discount on latex and hybrid mattresses, which is a deal we have seen before from the brand but it's still a decent discount. Plus there’s 10% off bedding and pillows to see you through the colder months. Use the code AUTUMN at checkout to bag your eco-friendly sleep kit for less.View Deal

What is a mattress in a box?

A mattress in a box is a memory foam or hybrid mattress that has been compressed and rolled tightly to fit into a cardboard box for shipping direct to your door. There are some latex models available, but these aren’t as common. While they are the same as regular mattresses once fully decompressed, a mattress in a box (also known as a bed in a box) takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days to be ready to sleep on. 

Emma mattresses, for example, are ready to sleep on in a few hours, while Nectar mattresses take up to 72 hours. Most mattresses in a box can be used with any type of bed frame, from divan to box spring. They are super-convenient to buy too, as you simply purchase them online and have them delivered to your door – shipping times vary by brand, but you can get them as fast as within two working days if you have an urgent need.

In terms of warranty, coverage ranges from 10 years to a Forever Warranty (Nectar and DreamCloud), but we’d advise you to check the small print before buying so that you know what will and won’t be covered. For further guidance, read our feature on how do mattress warranties work.

Caring from your mattress in a box is exactly the same as with a standard model. They will need to be flipped or rotated according to the manufacturer’s instructions – read our feature answering how often should you rotate or flip your mattress for guidance – and either spot-cleaned or steam cleaned. Again, read the brand’s advice on how to care for your chosen model.

How do mattresses in a box work?

Bed-in-a-box mattresses are relatively new compared to traditional mattresses sold in stores. Casper has been credited with making the sector more popular since its launch in 2014, and since then a load of ace sleep brands have stepped into the bustling mattress in a box space. Now we have the likes of Purple, Layla, Nectar, Helix and so many others. 

But first, how does something as big as a mattress get into such a small-ish box? It’s an impressive mix of manufacturing and packaging magic, with each mattress machine-compressed (flattened) into a smaller size, tightly rolled, then packed into a tough cardboard box for shipping. 

Once that box arrives at your door – and assuming you haven’t paid for white glove delivery service (where someone unpacks the mattress for you) – your job is to unbox it. Each mattress in a box is covered in a reinforced plastic cover, and many brands give you a little tool to slice through that covering more easily. 

Once the mattress has been fully unpacked, pop it on your bed base where it will begin to decompress and regain its full shape. You may notice a bit of a smell at first, but this is called mattress off-gassing and it’s normal. Just open the windows and it should soon pass, leaving you to enjoy your comfy new bed.

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