The City Mattress Blog

What Is the Best Pillowtop Mattress?


happy couple sleep in bed

Source: Antonio Guillem/

When it comes to getting a restful night’s sleep, the debate between plush vs. firm can be a confusing one. However, pillowtop mattresses may just be the solution you’re looking for. Melding the best of both worlds, these mattresses come with a soft, cushioned layer sewn onto the firmer core mattress. They can come in a range of firmness levels, depending on the materials used in the core mattress and pillow top layer. This makes them a popular choice for those who crave cushiony comfort without sacrificing essential support.

What Is a Pillowtop Mattress?

If you’ve ever found yourself yearning for a plush sleep surface that marries comfort with support, pillowtop mattresses might be the answer you’ve been searching for. Essentially, a pillowtop mattress is a standard mattress — whether innerspring, memory foam or latex — topped off with a luxurious layer of soft cushioning material that’s sewn directly onto the mattress. This pillow-like layer is typically between two and four inches thick and is crafted from plush materials like memory foam, polyfoam, fiberfill, latex or cotton.

Now, let’s delve into what makes a pillowtop mattress unique. At its core, you have the main mattress that can be made from various materials — such as innerspring coils or high-density foam — for foundational support. Then, the pillowtop layer is permanently stitched onto this core. This top layer is what gives the mattress its sumptuous, cloud-like feel. It’s designed to conform to your body, relieving pressure points while still providing the firmer support of the core mattress underneath. This dual nature makes pillowtop mattresses a favored choice for those who don’t want to compromise on either comfort or support.

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Who Is a Pillowtop Mattress Best Suited For?

If you’re a side sleeper or someone who weighs less than 130 pounds, a pillowtop mattress could be a heavenly match for you. These mattresses are crafted to offer a luxurious sleeping experience, with their soft upper layers contouring closely to the body. According to experts, this feature is invaluable for side sleepers, as it offers pressure relief on critical points like the hips and shoulders. And if you’re on the lighter side, you won’t have to worry about sinking too deep into the mattress — the core support will keep you comfortably aligned.

But it’s not just about comfort and contouring. Investing in a premium pillowtop mattress can also come with health benefits. The additional cushioning works in tandem with the core support to offer optimal spinal alignment. However, be mindful when making your pick. Not all pillowtop mattresses are created equal, and some luxury models may have durability concerns. So, while a pillowtop mattress could very well be your key to nightly bliss, it’s crucial to choose wisely to ensure your comfort translates into long-term well-being.

young man choosing orthopedic mattress

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Key Features of a Pillowtop Mattress

When you’re on the hunt for the best mattresses, it’s crucial to delve into the specifics of what makes a pillowtop mattress tick. To start with, the material plays a vital role. You’ll find innerspring, memory foam, latex and hybrid types. The innerspring variety provides that traditional coil-based support, whereas memory foam conforms closely to your body. Latex is known for being bouncy and responsive, and hybrid mattresses give you the best of both worlds, combining innerspring with foam or latex layers.

Layer construction is another defining factor — at the top, you have a plush pillow top layer, followed by the core mattress that provides the needed support. When it comes to firmness levels, pillowtop mattresses offer a range, from soft to firm, based on the construction materials. 

But be cautious: The lifespan and durability can vary, with some pillowtop mattresses compressing over time. Temperature regulation is yet another consideration. Some memory foam pillowtop mattresses might retain heat, so opt for cooling features like gel-infused foam or breathable fabrics to sleep comfortably. Keep these key features in mind, and you’re well on your way to selecting a pillowtop mattress that checks all your boxes.

Pair It with the Perfect Pillow

Pillowtop Mattress Buying Guide

Ready to invest in the sleep of your dreams? As you explore your options, there are several factors to consider to make sure you’re choosing the best pillowtop mattress for you. Start by deciding between a standard or Euro-top pillow style — the former has a separate but affixed layer, while the latter is more seamlessly integrated into the mattress. Pay attention to fill material. It could be memory foam, latex, wool or fiberfill. 

You’ll also want to select the mattress type, either hybrid or innerspring, that suits your support needs. Don’t overlook edge support and temperature neutrality, especially if you sleep near the edge or tend to get hot at night. Finally, check the quality of the materials to ensure durability and longevity.

man testing mattress

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Warranties and trial periods are another crucial aspect of your decision. Aim for a warranty of at least 10 years, and carefully read the terms to know exactly what is and isn’t covered. Similarly, look for a trial period of at least 90 days to give yourself ample time to adjust to the mattress. Understand the terms of the trial — can you return it for a full refund or are there fees involved? Taking the time to get to know these specifics can save you a lot of headaches (and sleepless nights) down the road.

How to Take Care of Your Pillowtop Mattress

Once you’ve found your ideal pillowtop mattress, you’ll want to ensure it serves you well for years to come. Regular maintenance is key to keeping your mattress in tip-top shape. First things first, rotate your mattress regularly to prevent uneven wear and sagging. Additionally, invest in a quality mattress protector to shield against spills and stains. It’s also advisable to use a sturdy bed frame for adequate support — you want that mattress to keep its form.

When it comes to cleaning, a little regular upkeep goes a long way. Use a vacuum to clear away dirt, dust and allergens from the mattress surface. If you find yourself dealing with a stain, spot-clean it promptly using a mixture of water and dish soap. To tackle any lingering odors, sprinkle some baking soda on the mattress, let it sit and then vacuum it up. 

If your mattress could use a deeper clean, consider using a dry-cleaning powder that attracts dirt and makes it easier to vacuum away. Follow the care instructions on your sheets as well. For stubborn stains, a Consumer Reports-recommended laundry stain remover can be your best friend. Following these steps diligently will prolong the life and comfort of your mattress.

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, the best pillowtop mattress is one that aligns with your specific sleep needs and preferences. From luxurious comfort to support and durability, pillowtop mattresses offer a wide range of options. Whether you’re a side sleeper or need spinal alignment, investing in a high-quality pillowtop mattress with a solid warranty can make all the difference in your long-term well-being.