What Is a Luxury Mattress?
The sky is the limit in terms of materials and construction.

Last updated on March 20, 2019

Luxury mattresses are about premium and natural materials, expert craftsmanship, a polished look, and attention to detail.

At the low end of the luxury spectrum (around $5,000 for queen size), you’ll find almost every type of comfort and support material, but typically with a few high-end “extras” like extra-tall mattress heights, natural materials, high-density foams, and/or plush pillow tops. Although some of the big traditional brands (Beautyrest, Tempur-Pedic, Stearns & Foster, etc.) offer mattresses in this price range, most mattresses in the luxury category are from smaller, more specialized brands.

“Ultra Luxury” is a term we generally reserve for mattresses that start in the $10,000 range and up. Two examples reviewed by GoodBed: The Hästens 2000T that costs around $35,000, and the Vispring Signatory Superb, a configuration that runs about $30,000. In the ultra-luxury territory, you’re usually looking at hand-stitched construction, often with a unique array of all-natural materials, some of which you may have never seen in a mattress before.

 

Would You Pay $30,000 for a Mattress?

Some consumers make the argument that you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, so spending this much for the most natural, premium materials makes sense. For others, it’s a prestige purchase to match other furniture or appliances in the home. And for a small percentage of people with chronic chemical sensitivities that have tried less expensive beds, a luxury mattress made with 100% natural and organic materials might be one of the few remaining practical solutions.

When the sky’s the limit, you can expect some unusual premium comfort materials intended to perfect pressure relief and support. One of the more usual materials is horsetail. Used as a comfort layer, actual horsetail (the horses are not harmed) is boiled in oil and processed to induce coils/curls. It’s intended to give a natural springiness to a mattress’s comfort layer, as well as pressure relief.

Construction is impeccable at the high end of the scale. Ultra luxury mattresses are often made in a single factory, using highly trained and specialized staff. Materials can be traced directly to the source. Materials are often highly compressed and hand stitched, so there’s no shifting or sagging. As a result ultra luxury mattresses can weigh 200 pounds or more, simply because of high density natural materials and compression.

 

History, Legacy, and Innovation

Many of the companies making luxury beds have long, unique, and storied histories. For example, Swedish bedmaker Hästens started in 1852 as a saddle maker; evolving to making beds when demand for saddlery decreased. The company first introduced the concept of a bed frame to the world; it invented the pocketed coil system, and first used a top mattress, which evolved into the pillowtop. Hästens is still owned by the same family, now in its fifth generation, and is the bedmaker for the royal family of Sweden.

British company Vispring has been making luxury mattresses since 1901 and was the company that outfitted the first-class cabins and suites on the Titanic. Mattresses are made in a single factory in Plymouth, England with English-raised Shetland fleece.

As much as a bed, you are buying a bit of history, investing in the story and heritage of the company itself. Factories are often staffed by second and third generations of highly trained craftsmen and women, and beds are created to last a lifetime.

Below: The Hästens 2000T, an ultra-luxury mattress made of wool, cotton, steel, wood, and horsehair

Bespoke Mattresses, Sewn by Hand

At this price point, you are getting attention to detail, fine craftsmanship, and at least some degree of hand stitching. At the higher end, mattresses can be made almost entirely by hand. Functional tufting, which holds a mattress together without the use of glues, is created by hand-tying a mattress using nine-inch-long needles. Springs are often made in-house, and twisted according to exact specifications. Covers are made with custom-woven fabrics, sewn and trimmed by hand by master upholsterers.

It can take more than 300 hours to make a mattress by hand, at the very high end.

Interestingly, you might expect lots of technology at the highest end of the mattress spectrum, but the opposite it often the case. Rather than the newest and flashiest features and tech, luxury mattresses are made with techniques pioneered a century ago, constructing beds in much the same way, with many of the same natural materials, as generations before.

Many mattresses in the ultra-luxury category are “bespoke” meaning the mattress is made specifically for you, after choosing materials, options, and comfort level. And most can be made as ‘dual comfort’ beds, with a different softness level on each side.

Below: Materials and layers of the Vispring Signatory Superb ultra-luxury mattress

Features of Luxury Mattresses

At the high end of the mattress spectrum, you can expect premium materials, and often a high degree of all-natural materials. Some mattresses might have two or three “extras” on an otherwise standard mattress, but as the price goes up, expect more of these higher-end materials.

Features: Luxury Mattresses

  • High density latex and memory foams (5 lbs. and up)
  • Organic cotton, linen, cashmere, or silk covers
  • Zoned pocketed coils in the support layer
  • Foams infused with copper, diamonds, charcoal and other minerals
  • Natural fire socks of silica or wool
  • Functional tufting to hold a mattress together without glues
  • Extra tall mattress heights

Features: Ultra Luxury Mattresses

Expect some or all of the above, plus additional characteristics including:

  • Hand stitching and functional tufting
  • Use of 100% natural materials
  • Hand-twisted steel coils
  • Organic natural latex
  • Wool, flax and/or horsehair batting and cushioning
  • Dual comfort: A different softness level on each side of the bed
  • Ethically sourced materials
  • Included box support or foundation
  • No use of glues and minimal use of chemicals in general
  • Organic materials
  • Customization: Choice of cover fabrics and colors, monogramming, etc.

Focus on Natural Materials

Luxury, and especially ultra-luxury mattresses typically use a high percentage of natural materials, reducing or eliminating chemicals in the finished product, and providing support and pressure relief without the use of petrochemicals and synthetic foams. Here are some of the less common materials you might see in an ultra-luxury mattress. Natural materials can also be highly breathable, regulating heat and keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.

Horsehair
Made from the hairs of a horse's mane and tail (no horses are harmed since these hairs grow back), horsehair gives mattresses some of their springiness and cushioning. The horsehair is first cleaned by boiling it in water or oil several times, then dried, braided into a rope, and baked. When the horsehair is unraveled, it's left with kinky coils of springy curls. In a mattress, the horsehair creates loft and padding while being almost weightless and highly breathable. In our tests, we were impressed by the pressure relieving qualities of horsehair.

Sheep’s Wool
Mattresses may use layers of minimally processed fleece and woven wool fibers for softness, warmth and temperature regulation.

Cashmere
This fiber comes from a type of goat and is several times warmer than sheep's wool. It’s used in mattress covers and upholstery.

Vicuna, Cashmere, Mohair
Cashmere and mohair (from specific goats) and vicuna (from a relative to the llama) can be used in comfort materials, or can be woven into fabrics used for mattress covers, upholstery, and bedding.

Flax
Made from the flax plant, “flax” refers to unprocessed fibers. Linen is also made from flax. This material can be used for pocketed coil covers, comfort materials, or fabric. Flax is said to have anti-static properties.

Down
Feathers and down from geese are used for padding and warmth. These can be sustainably harvested, without harm to the birds.

Below: Horsehair and fleece used in a luxury mattress

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