Finding the best pillow isn't always the easiest of tasks. After all, most pillows look pretty much the same. And even when you can see it and touch it in the shop, there's no guarantee that its plush feel will last for ever; you could find that after only a few months, it's limp or lumpy.
Bear in mind, too, that we all approach sleep differently, and what is the best pillow for one person may be totally unsuitable for another. Some favour a soft cushion that feels like floating; others prefer something firmer and more supportive. There are those who crave traditional goose down, others go for memory foam, and synthetic pillows also have their fans. (If you're not sure what the differences are, our guide to down vs memory foam vs feather pillows explains all.)
Then of course, there's budget. You might be tight on cash, and looking for the best pillow for a low price. Or you may be flush with funds, and seeking the absolute best pillow, money no object.
To cover all these bases and more, we've gathered together the very best pillows available today. So whatever kind of pillow you're looking for, you're certain to find your dream purchase here. And why stop there? We also have comprehensive guides to the best mattress and the best duvet.
This guide focuses on UK options. Not you? Jump to the best US pillows instead.
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The best pillows 2022, ranked
For traditionalists, we'd recommend the Scooms Hungarian Goose Down pillow. It has a chamber design, with an inner core that's 15% down and 85% feather, and a softer outer chamber that's 89% down and 10% feather. While it may feel a little firm at first it soon settles down into a soft, full pillow that retains its shape and rarely needs plumping. And as an added bonus, both its down and feather are certified ethically sourced as a by-product of the food industry.
One of the benefits of down over memory foam is that it's naturally breathable, but a down-side is that it can trigger allergies. Scooms has thought of this, and encased its pillow in a tightly woven, cotton sateen cover that's dust mite-proof – this pillow is Nomite certified (this reviewer suffers from a dust allergy, and had no issues with this pillow). Note that while it's suitable for those with dust mite allergies, it's not fully hypoallergenic, as many memory foam options are.
The Scooms pillow is pricier than your average down pillow, but it's excellent quality for that price – and it's full enough that you can just use one at a time, rather than doubling up. There are some nice added extras to make it even more appealing: free next day delivery, plastic free packaging and a three-year guarantee.
Memory foam mattresses have become a popular bedding option over the last few years thanks to their supportive, pressure-relieving properties, so it's no surprise to discover memory foam pillows trying to do the same for your head and neck. The Panda Memory Foam Bamboo pillow can take a bit of getting used to; it feels unsettling solid and unyielding at first, but once your head starts sinking into its bamboo fabric-clad memory foam it begins to feel a lot more comfortable and supportive, and it'll stay that way.
Our main point of resistance to a memory foam pillow is that it doesn't look as soft and inviting as a traditional pillow, but those fears tend to evaporate once you actually try it. The outer casing of this Panda offering has a remarkably cool feel to it – and who doesn't love the cool side of their pillow? It zips off for easy cleaning, as well. This pillow comes with a 10-year guarantee and a no-quibble, money-back promise. Head to our Panda Memory Foam Bamboo pillow review to find out more.
If you like the idea of a goose-down pillow, but either don't want to spend a lot of money, or just want to avoid exploiting animals, then here's a great alternative. Soak&Sleep blends two types of microfibre, carded to create a soft and lofty pillow, and wrapped in a 100% cotton case with a 233 thread count. And while it's cheaper than a traditional down pillow, it's very well designed and feels luxurious in use. It comes in five sizes, and can be machine-washed and tumble-dried.
Expertly made, with quality materials, this is a light, soft pillow, so won't suit anyone looking for firmer support. If you just want to sink into a soft pillow and imagine you're in an expensive hotel room, though, this will do the job just fine... at an excellent price. See our Soak&Sleep Supremely Soft As Down pillow review for more.
There's nothing quite like a pillow that's either too thin or too thick for ruining a night's sleep. If you can never find that sweet spot, the Levitex pillow could be the solution you're looking for; it comes in four size options, and there's a helpful guide on the Levitex site so that you can find the perfect size for your build and sleep preferences.
It's not memory foam but Levitex's own foam, which is wonderfully soft and supportive and, thankfully, doesn't retain heat in the night. It'll mould to your head by just the right amount, and Levitex says that this pillow can ease tension as well as countering neck and back pain, along with other potential health benefits. It can take a few nights to get used to the Levitex pillow (although that said we found it perfectly comfortable from the outset), especially if you're used to feather pillows, and be warned: this isn't the most luxurious-looking pillow around, and it's a little small for the average pillow case. But it delivers where it matters, in terms of comfort and support. Find out more in our Levitex pillow review.
If you're after a cheap pillow, the Silentnight Hotel Collection pillow is well worth a look. It's made in the UK and has a hollowfibre fill, and while we might not recommend it as your main pillow, it's just the thing for a spare room. It's cheap and hold its shape pretty well, and you can wash and tumble-dry it, and it's hypoallergenic too. The understated cover design makes it look less like a budget option, too, although it is polyester, so not quite as breathable as a natural fibre. Silentnight has given it a firmness rating of 4/10, but it comes in packs of two so you can easily double up if you prefer more height. There's also a 2-year guarantee for added peace of mind.
There are a few Simba Hybrid Pillow options to choose from; this one feature's Simba's Stratos temperature-regulating fabric to keep you cool at night. Rather than being constructed of a solid slab of foam, it's made of small cubes of open-cell foam (not memory foam), and has a cooling side as well as a standard side so you can flip it over in summer for a cooler night's sleep. As an added bonus you can adapt its height by unzipping the core and removing excess stuffing.
Whether or not you actually use all those options, there's no denying the Hybrid Pillow is a very comfortable thing to rest your head on. Head to our Simba Hybrid Pillow review to find out more.
Another memory foam pillow that tackles the problem of overheating head on, the REM-Fit 500 Cool Gel Pillow stands out for being infused with cooling gel. In general, we found this pillow delightfully soft and supportive with great temperature regulation, and in our REM-Fit 500 Cool Gel Pillow review we had very few complaints with its performance or comfort.
Different people like to have different heights of pillow, which is why high-priced hotels have started to offer pillow menus. And following similar logic, the Emma Premium Microfibre Pillow allows you to customise its height by removing one or other of its inner layers.
So what exactly do you get? Well, the pillow as a whole measures 50 x 70cm, weighs 990g, and made up of a zipped pillow case. Inside are two cushions, filled with siliconised micro elastic fibre (100% polyester). One of these cushions is flat and the other is more bulky. Plus the case itself – which is made of 100g/m3 microfibre woven from polyester – is plush enough to be almost considered a layer in itself.
We found this soft pillow to be light and cloud-like, in a way that's comparative to a down pillow. Removing the cushions to adjust the height is easy, and provides you with a good amount of customisation. Whether you actually want that is another matter: most people know already what height of pillow they prefer. This, however, would be very useful in a guest bedroom, as a way of covering a range of possible guest preferences. See our Emma Premium Microfibre Pillow review for more.
Do you like the feel of memory foam cradling your head, but find that foam pillows tend to leave you overheated? It's a common problem, as memory foam does have a tendency to retain heat. But the clever design of Nectar's Premium Nectar pillow goes a long way to overcoming it.
It's encased in a thick, quilted cover made from polyester that incorporates Tencel cooling fabric. Tencel, which is extracted from eucalyptus trees, is naturally breathable and wicks moisture away. There's also a mesh border to the cover to improve airflow. And inside the pillow itself is not a block of memory foam, but strips of the stuff. This contributes further to ventilation and coolness.
In use, we found this pillow lovely and comfortable, and would recommend it for side and back sleepers, although its loft will probably be too high for front sleepers; get all the details in our Premium Nectar Pillow review. If you're in the market for a mattress, note that there are fairly regular Nectar mattress deals that will bundle in pillows and a Nectar duvet.
Want to go properly high-end with your pillows? Brook + Wilde has already made a name for itself with its luxurious mattresses (see our Brook + Wilde Elite mattress review for just one example), and its pillows come up to its high standards too. We're looking at the Marlowe pillow, right at the top end of its pillow range, and it definitely lives up to expectations.
Available in medium or firm, this pillow comes with three goose feather-filled chambers. The triple-chamber design is sumptuously soft yet full, and rarely seems to need plumping. And as you'd expect, the quality is impeccable. The only down-side we can find is that the pricing really is premium – these aren't pillows for your spare room. Check our Brook + Wilde discount page for any deals you can take advantage of (be aware, discounts are usually on the mattresses only, though).
One thing to be aware of when it comes to memory foam pillows is that you might have to put up with a weird synthetic smell for the first few nights when you unpack it, and that's something we've noticed with the Eve Memory Foam Pillow. If you can live with that, this is a great option.
It uses state-of-the-art synthetic pillow tech to try to guarantee the ultimate night's sleep, it's suitable for most sleeping positions and it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. One of our testers would have preferred it to be a little plumper, but overall it's still an excellent option if you're looking to try memory foam. Head to our Eve memory foam pillow review for more info, and check our Eve discount codes page to make sure you're not missing a deal.
Tempur's Original Support Pillow isn't your average pillow; it has a curve to it that's designed to give your head and neck maximum comfort and support. If you often wake up with a stiff neck then this pillow will provide uninterrupted sleep but the sizing is a little unusual and it may be difficult for some to get along with at first. However, if you’re one of those sleepers that folds their pillow in half or constantly moves to find the right position, then this is the best pillow for you.
This Scandinavian Duck Feather & Down Pillow by Snuggledown is super cosy. Filled with 85 per cent duck feather and 15 per cent down, it is a soft pillow that keeps you warm on those cold nights. It needs a good plumping every now and then but can be manipulated to your desired shape, making it ideal for any type of sleeper.
How to buy the best pillow for you
Side sleepers will find that a firm pillow is likely the best choice; it'll give you plenty of head and spine support. If you sleep on your front, however, you'll probably need a much softer pillow if you want to avoid a stiff neck in the morning. Tend to sleep on your back? You'll want something in-between. That's really a rough guide though – at the end of the day, what you find comfortable is really mostly down to personal preference.
There are still some great natural pillows on offer that provide thick and fluffy sleeping aids at prices from cost-effective to 'how much?!'. However, synthetic is a popular choice for those with allergies and for a pillow that will bounce back even after a run through the washing machine (for the avoidance of doubt, here's how to clean a pillow). Memory foam is bang on trend right now and is ideal if you find you're waking with a stiff neck.
Confused about sizing? Head to our mattress and bedding size guide, which covers US, UK and EU sizing and naming conventions.