Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best pillow 2021: Sleep easier with Black Friday deals on our favourite pillows

Gareth Thomas
26 Nov 2021
Advertisement

Discover the best pillow for your sleeping style with our buying guide and bite-sized reviews

Many people don't realise that finding the best pillow for your body shape and size – as well as your style of sleeping – is critical to a good night’s sleep. If you don't take care when buying the right pillow, chances are you'll wake up with a crick in your neck.

Even if you did put time and effort into getting the right pillow the last time around, chances are it needs replacing. Even the best pillows don’t tend to last more than a few years, eventually failing to provide the level of support they used to – and that’s before you even think about the hygiene factor. You probably won’t want to hear this, but within two years of use, a third of a pillow’s weight is made up of dead skin, dirt, oil, dust mites and their droppings.

Not sure where to start on your pillow shopping spree? Our buyer’s guide at the bottom of this page will help you find out what filling, level of firmness and cover fabric will suit you best.


Best pillows: At a glance

  • The best pillow under £15: Silentnight Just Like Down Microfibre Pillow | Buy now
  • Best for affordable luxury: Scooms Hungarian Goose Down pillow | Buy now
  • Best adjustable pillow: Nectar A Whole Night's Sleep | Buy now
  • Best memory foam pillow: Tempur Cloud Pillow | Buy now
  • Best money-back guarantee: The Emma Pillow | Buy now
  • Best 'cooling' pillow: Brook and Wilde Everdene | Buy now

The best pillows to buy

1. Silentnight Just Like Down Microfibre Pillow: The best pillow under £15

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

You’ll have no problem drifting off with this cushioning your head and, as its name suggests, you could easily be fooled into thinking the soft and fluffy filling is down, whereas its mere microfibre. The result is a well-insulated, warm pillow that comes in at a fraction of the price of a real down one.

Moreover, you get two in the pack, making the saving even greater. The pillow spells good news for people with allergies as it’s hypoallergenic and we also like the fact that the whole thing is washable. Unlike down pillows, though, it’s relatively big and bouncy, making it better for side and back sleepers than front ones – and it won’t last as long as real down. Still, given that you can pick up a pair for under £15, these are only minor moans.

Key specs – Filling: Microfibre; Cover: 100% cotton (machine washable); Sizes: Standard size only


2. Slumberdown Allergy Protection Pillows: The best pillows for allergy sufferers

Price: From £12 | Buy now from Amazon

If you suffer from allergies or are simply in search of a more hygienic night’s sleep, we highly recommend this affordable two-pack of pillows from Slumberdown. Their polyester filling is specially formulated to help reduce dust mites and the buildup of bacteria and they come with a seal of approval from the country’s leading allergy charity, Allergy UK.

There are three options available: soft support for front sleepers, medium support for back sleepers and firm support for side sleepers, all of which are available as two-packs for under £20.

We tested the firm version, which feels springy to the touch and still offers a decent amount of give. Indeed, we found the pillow strikes a keen balance between supporting your neck and head and providing enough cushioning to help you snooze serenely.

Key specs - Filling: 100% Polyester; Cover: 100% cotton; Sizes: Standard size only (74cm x 48cm)


3. Panda Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow: Best value memory foam pillow

Price: £45 | Buy now from Panda

Making the move to a memory foam pillow can be a big step for some, and the initial prospect of resting your head on a wad of foam isn’t always the most appealing. However, this memory foam pillow from Panda is both supportive and very comfortable indeed.

It’s a little bit firmer than the Otty Deluxe, but it’s not so firm that it feels clinical, instead landing somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It comes with an inbuilt protector, plus a soft, breathable and hypoallergenic bamboo cover (which can be washed at 40°C), which helps you to keep things fresher than washing your pillowcase alone .

The Panda pillow offers great value for money, beating bed-in-a-box rivals such as Eve, Emma and Otty on price. A single pillow will cost you £45 direct from Panda, although you might find it cheaper on Amazon. And while the claim that bamboo is the last word in sustainability is open to dispute, Panda prides itself on its eco-friendly credentials, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides, while introducing its own ‘Circle of Life’ recycling initiative.

Key features – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: Bamboo (machine washable); Sizes: Standard size only

Save 20% on a Panda Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow

In Panda's Black Friday sale, you can save up to 25% sitewide, with 20% off the brand's memory foam bamboo pillow. Ordinarily, one of these will cost you £45, but now you can get it for just £36.
Panda
Was £45
Now £36

4. Nectar A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow: Best adjustable pillow

Price: £89 | Buy now from Nectar

One of the challenges of buying a new pillow is that one person’s idea of perfection can leave someone else tossing and turning all night. Nectar’s A Whole Night’s Sleep pillow is one of a number of new pillows that aims to overcome this problem by letting you adjust its height.

We found it just right straight out of the box, offering fairly firm support with a soft comfort layer on top. However, should you find it too high, you can unzip its cover and remove one of its three layers of memory foam.

Despite being made from foam, we also found that the A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow did a great job of stopping us from getting hot and clammy. This can likely be attributed to its plush Tencel cover, which is filled with technofibre microfibre to offer a down-like feeling.

If that’s not enough to convince you, the fact Nectar also makes a donation to mental health campaign #IAMWHOLE for every unit sold may do the trick.

Key specs Filling: Memory foam and microfibre; Cover: Tencel cover; Sizes: Standard size only

Save up to 30% on Nectar bedding

In Nectar's early Black Friday sale, you can save up to 30% on bedding (as well as 45% off Nectar mattresses). The brand's adjustable pillow is currently down from £89 to £76.
Nectar
Was £89
Now £76

5. Scooms Hungarian Goose Down pillow: A luxury pillow that won't break the bank

Price: £75 (each) | Buy now from Scooms

If you’re in the market for a truly luxurious pillow, Scooms' Hungarian goose down pillow ticks pretty much every box. Made from a goose feather and down core surrounded by a 90% down outer chamber, it delivers emphatically on the company’s claim that it’s simultaneously supportive and soft.

Scooms' “perfect” pillow is surrounded by a 300 thread count, 100% sateen cotton case and it’s machine washable – which the company recommends you do so every 6-12 months. The down and feathers both adhere to the Responsible Down Standard, meaning they’re sourced from geese that have been treated well and never suffer from live-plucking.

The only significant caveat is that to keep the pillow feeling its best, you’ll need to plump it up daily – something that’s not necessary with the foam pillows in this list.

Key specs Filling: Goose down and feathers; Cover: 100% cotton cover (machine washable) Sizes: Standard size and king size

Buy now from Scooms


6. Tempur Cloud Pillow: The best luxury memory foam pillow

Price: £105 | Buy now from Tempur

Memory foam pillows are the Marmite of the sleep world but don’t jump to conclusions about this unconventional and firmer choice, which can be life-changing. In particular, people suffering from allergies, back and neck pain report feeling almost instant relief from the memory foam that moulds itself into the natural curvature of your neck and head, avoiding pressure points for added comfort.

And while there are plenty of rival pillows on the market, we've not found one that comes close in terms of comfort, malleability, support and longevity. Plus, it’s made from extra-soft material and responds to body temperature, so there's no need to wake up to a damp pillow if you get clammy at night.

Key specs Filling: Memory foam; Cover: 100% cotton cover (machine washable); Sizes: Standard size only

Save £10 on the Tempur Cloud Pillow

If you're after luxury memory foam, you can't go wrong with Tempur. In the brand's Black Friday sale, you can save £10 on the Tempur Cloud Pillow - down from £105 to £95.
Tempur
Was £105
Now £95

Buy now from Tempur


7. Simba Hybrid Pillow: Most versatile pillow

Price: £99 | Buy now from Simba

The Simba Hybrid Pillow with Stratos is one of the most expensive pillows on this list but it's also one of the most sophisticated. Just like the company’s hybrid mattress, it's made using a combination of different materials: on one side of the pillow, there’s Aerelle fibres encased in "astronaut-inspired" material Stratos; on the other is a soft, anti-allergy microfibre filling below a layer of premium cotton. You can lay your head on either side but the pillow’s party trick is its “nanocubes” – small memory foam cubes in its core that can be added or removed to adjust both the height and firmness according to your preference.

Despite the high-tech credentials, the Simba Hybrid feels surprisingly like a traditional pillow – much more so than some all-foam competitors. Unlike microfibre and feather pillows, which tend to be either soft or supportive but rarely both, the Simba Hybrid finds that sweet spot right out of the box. It's worth noting, however, that unlike the Simba Hybrid mattress, there's no trial period with its bedding products.

Key specs – Filling: Down, memory foam and microfibre; Cover: Cotton and Outlast; Sizes: Standard size only

Get a Simba Hybrid Pillow for £75

In Amazon's Black Friday Week sale, you can save £25 on Simba's Hybrid Pillow, a versatile pillow made from a range of materials including microfibre, foam and the brand's own astronaut-inspired 'Stratos'. Ordinarily, it will cost you £99, but now you can get it for just £74.
Amazon
Was £99
Now £74

8. Silentnight Eco Comfort Pillow: Best for side sleepers

Price: From £28 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re a side sleeper (statistically, most of us are) then you’ll want a pillow that can provide a decent amount of support to help keep your spine aligned. Silentnight’s Eco Comfort Pillow comes in a choice of two firmness options – soft and medium/firm – so we’d recommend the latter as a more supportive option for side sleeping.

The Eco Comfort is a sustainable and affordable alternative to many memory foam pillows. Its spiral shaped ‘Eco Comfort Fibres’ are made from 100% recyclable materials which, Silentnight claims, includes 17 plastic bottles. This filling gives the pillow a buoyant feeling and helps it to spring back to shape when you aren’t using it – just like memory foam.

It’s worth noting that, if you’re a side sleeper, we have a separate best buy roundup of pillows just for you, which you can check out here.

Key features – Filling: Recycled polyester ‘Eco Comfort Fibres’; Cover: 98% Polyester, 2% Elastine (machine washable); Size: 74 x 45cm

9. Dormeo Octasmart Pillow: An outstanding breathable memory foam pillow

Price: £49 | Buy now from Dormeo

The Dormeo Octasmart pillow uses 24 memory foam “springs” to deliver a high level of support and breathability. The manufacturer claims this design is up to eight times more breathable than regular memory foam. Pushing down on the pillow with my hand, I could feel the individual springs and worried it wouldn’t be particularly comfortable. However, the reality was entirely different. If you’re looking for a memory foam pillow that’s supportive without being excessively firm or sweaty, this fits the bill admirably. It’s not as high as the Eve memory foam pillow, which arguably makes it better suited for back and front sleepers than side sleepers, but overall it’s a great all-rounder. The Octasmart’s cover is also machine washable.

Key specs – Filling: Wellsleep fibres and memory foam; Cover: Polyester; Sizes: Standard size only

Buy now from Dormeo


10. Eve Memory Foam Pillow: Best firm pillow

Price: £59 | Buy now from Eve

It might be made from memory foam, but you shouldn't expect your head to sink into the Eve pillow as if it were a giant marshmallow. Instead, it’ll keep your head propped up all night long – week after week, month after month – making it a great choice if you always find yourself shaking and beating feather and microfibre pillows back into shape to find the support you need.

The Eve pillow not only offers a surprising amount of push back, but it’s quite thick too, meaning it’s perfect for people who can’t choose between using one or two pillows. Sure, the firm feel won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the pillow comes with a 30-day trial, so if you don’t get on with it, you can simply send it back for a full refund. Its cover is hypoallergenic, and it can be removed and washed at 40°C. The pillow also has a three-year warranty against manufacturing defects.

Key specs – Filling: Memory foam; Sizes: Standard

Save 20% on an Eve memory foam pillow

In Eve's Black Friday sale, you can save 20% on the brand's memory foam pillow (as well as 20% on bed frames and up to 35% on mattresses). It's a great pillow if you prefer a firmer feel, and now you can get it for £47 (was £59).
Eve
Was £59
Now £47

11. The Emma Pillow: The best money-back guarantee

Price: £119 | Buy now from Emma

Featuring three layers of removable foam, the Emma Pillow can be tailored to suit your personal sleeping preference. Each layer possesses different qualities: the Airgocell foam layer is open-pored, improving breathability and heat transfer away from your head, the memory foam layer contours to your head and neck, and the HRX layer provides firmer support for your head and neck.

Emma suggests side sleepers use all three layers, while those who sleep on their backs are encouraged to remove a layer, with front sleepers recommended to pick just one of the trio of foam inserts. We tested various combinations and found two layers to be the sweet spot in terms of comfort, support and breathability when sleeping on our side. Your experience may well differ, of course, but we’re confident that no matter your sleeping preference, you’ll find a configuration that works for you.

Emma is equally confident and offers a 200-night trial on the pillow. So, if you find it’s not helping deliver the sweet slumber you’re craving, simply return it and get your money back, no questions asked.

Key specs - Filling: Airgocell foam, HRX foam, Visco-elastic memory foam; Cover: 98% Polyester, 2% Elastane; Sizes: Standard size only (70cm x 40cm)

Save BIG on an Emma pillow this Black Friday

In Emma's Black Friday sale, you can save 50% on the Original memory foam pillow. Even better, when you use our exclusive discount code 'Expert' at the checkout, you can save an extra 10% on the marked-down price. This brings the cost of an Original pillow down from £119 to just £54.
Emma
Was £119
Now £54

12. Brook and Wilde Everdene: Best ‘cooling’ pillow

Price: £98 | Buy now from Brook and Wilde

Filled with tiny polyester microfibre balls, and with a smooth quilted outer cover (which can be unzipped, removed and washed at 60°C), the Everdene is a soft and breathable pillow, perfect for ‘hot-headed’ sleepers who want to keep cool at night.

At £98, it narrowly falls short of being the most expensive product on our roundup (a position currently occupied by the Simba Hybrid pillow at £99). That said, it’s the cheapest of Brook and Wilde’s three luxury pillows (which also includes the Cavendish Duck Down pillow at £109, and the Marlowe Goose Down pillow at £229). And as plump, comfortable and supportive as it is, we can only complain so much about the price. If you can afford it, the Everdene is a lovely pillow indeed.

Key features – Filling: 100% polyester hollowfibre balls; Cover: 100% Egyptian cotton (machine washable); Sizes: Standard size only

Buy now from Brook and Wilde


13. Otty Deluxe Pillow: A cool, comfortable memory foam pillow

Price: £55 | Buy now from Otty

Typical of most memory foam products, the Otty Deluxe emits an “off-gassing” smell for the first few days, but you shouldn’t let that put you off. Nor should the sight of its slightly boxy profile be a worry. We were sceptical of its flat, angular design at first – unlike the Tempur Cloud Support pillow, it doesn’t slope off at the edges – but after the pillow has adjusted to your body temperature it quickly moulds itself around your head and neck, making for a comfortable night’s sleep.

We were really impressed with how well it regulates temperature and never once woke up feeling hot and clammy. Another point in its favour is that it has a breathable cover that’s both machine washable and hypoallergenic, making it an excellent option for those with allergies.

It’s worth noting that Otty also offers a premium version called the Deluxe Pure pillow, which incorporates bamboo and charcoal for their moisture-wicking, antibacterial and temperature regulating qualities.

Key specs – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: 60% polyester, 40% viscose (machine washable); Sizes: Standard size only

Buy now from Otty


How to buy the best pillow for you

How often should I replace my pillow?

Most of us are guilty of putting up with our pillows long after they’ve lost their original fluffiness. But old pillows can lead to back and neck pain, as well as allergies. Some pillows may need replacing after as little as six months, while others will give you two years. Down pillows last longer – up to five years – and a feather pillow might even give you eight years.

Not quite sure whether your pillow needs replacing or not? If it’s lost its shape and/or you’re waking up with a sore neck or a blocked nose, chances are it’s time to invest in a new one.

What difference does my sleeping position make?

A good pillow, according to the Sleep Council, is not just about personal preference, but alignment. So whatever kind of sleeper you are – back, front or side – your pillow should hold your head in relation to your shoulders and spine as if you were standing up with perfect posture, with the cushioning of the pillow nicely tucked into the neck and shoulder area to fully support your head.

  • Side sleepers should ideally choose a medium-high thickness pillow (high-fill down, memory foam or medium-high synthetic are all good) to support the shoulders, neck and head.
  • Front sleepers should go for a softer pillow (down or low-fill synthetic are both good).
  • Back sleepers need a medium-thickness pillow (high-fill down, orthopaedic memory foam or medium synthetic are good).
  • People who sleep in a mixture of positions should go for medium thickness (for example, high-fill down or medium synthetic).

What type of filling should I go for?

There’s a whole world of pillow fillings out there, so we've summarised the pros and cons of the various types below.

  • Combined feather and down pillows are good for comfort and support, eliminating pressure points and avoiding face squashing. But if you suffer from allergies, they’re a no-no.
  • Pure feather pillows – as luxurious as the idea of pure feathers may sound, we'd avoid this type as those pesky feather quills seem to have a way of escaping and stabbing you in the face. It’s also worth noting they don’t offer the support and height needed for side sleepers. Plus, they can be noisy and don’t suit allergy sufferers.
  • Pure down pillows, on the other hand, are the ultimate in luxury, particularly if you like your pillow soft and fluffy. They’re lovely and light, as well as being airy and quiet – and they last well. But side-sleepers, be warned they often lack support and height so you may need a firmer pillow underneath. Other downsides are that they can be expensive and they are high maintenance, needing lots of shaking to get them back into shape. And once again, they’re no good for allergy sufferers.
  • Synthetic pillows are usually made from polyester. As they’re hypoallergenic, they’re great for allergy sufferers and also affordable, lightweight and easy to care for. They’re good if you sleep in a variety of positions throughout the night too. But they aren’t as malleable or breathable as other pillows and they have the shortest lifespan of all pillows – with the filling often prone to clumping.
  • Memory foam pillows mould your neck and head, creating a comfy and smooth cradle while you are in the land of nod, making them a great option for pain relief and strong support. They are also quiet, as well as being easy to care for and temperature-sensitive. But they are dense and firm, which makes them a poor option for restless sleepers and they can start off with a rather chemical smell, as well as being pricey.
  • What other types are there? More niche pillows include micro-bead, buckwheat and water pillows (again, good for pain relief as they’re mouldable), but they can be noisy and have that certain smell.

What about pillow sizes?

If you have a single or double bed, choose a standard-size pillow. If you have a king or super-king bed, you may want to consider a super-king pillow. Square pillows are typically used for decoration.

  • Standard: 50cm x 75cm (20in x 30in)
  • Super-king :50cm x 90cm (20in x 35in)
  • Square: 65cm x 65cm (26in x 26in)

What if I have allergies?

If you're an allergy sufferer, you should consider a latex pillow. These pillows are made from the sap of rubber trees, not only making it elastic and resilient but good to fight against allergies as they are mold-resistant. It's worth noting, however, that they tend to be cooler than memory foam and can form to fit your head and neck but don't offer as much give. They can also be quite heavy and expensive.

Does the cover fabric matter?

It’s easy to assume this is irrelevant as you’ll have a pillowcase covering it. But it’s worth noting that natural cover fabrics such as cotton have much more breathability than polyester and other man-made fibres, which can make for a far more comfortable night’s sleep if you’re prone to getting hot at night.