For those who like feeling as if they’re sleeping on a pile of feathers, or in a Ritz-Carlton penthouse suite, nothing will bring you there like a plush mattress topper. An extra (literal) layer of softness can be all the more necessary in this age of computer-generated comfort from bed-in-a-box brands like Casper and Tuft & Needle, which aim for a median level of comfort so that you don’t need to test out your mattress beforehand; you can feel relatively sure, based on their extensive research, that it will feel “fine.” But what if you want to feel not just fine, but like you’re sleeping on a cloud?
If you’re looking for plush, there are two options: down and alternative down, which mostly feels the same, but has no allergy-causing potential and is often much more affordable. What makes one cushiony fabric really stand out from the pack is the way it distributes the fluff. While in some cases a down filler will shift or bunch up, the best toppers are able to maintain an even distribution throughout the night. Others run into problems when the outer shell has a synthetic feel, which can seep through and affect overall softness, even when it’s beneath sheets.
The happy medium here is Parachute, which is, of course, another sleep start-up. Instead of focusing on the mattress, though, Ariel Kaye founded Parachute two years ago to sell sheets and duvets she designed to mimic a hotel bed she first slept in during an Amalfi Coast getaway. I was turned on to the brand during an informal survey of interior-designer friends and bedding experts. Two of them, interior designer Danielle Arps and home-goods designer Aelfie Oudghiri, said that Parachute’s down-alternative fiber bed, filled with a hypoallergenic microfiber and released this August, was the most natural and luxurious-feeling, like a super-dense comforter from below. So I decided to try one out.
They were right. I sunk right into the Parachute and it shaped to the form of my body, following my every move throughout the night. While a memory-foam topper might act similarly, this felt light, airy, and cool, instead of thick. And there were no hot vibes like I get from foam. Kaye and her team developed this topper to solve the problem of down alternative often flattening quicker than real feather down; Parachute’s stands at three inches tall (they also offer a duck-feather option). And instead of bothersome synthetic coating, Parachute uses an Oeko-Tex certified cotton shell that’s both soft and free of synthetics and chemicals. But most important, the Parachute has a box construction with stitching throughout the topper to make sure that the fiber filling stays evenly distributed throughout any tossing and turning, so you’ll never have to shake it out. I felt myself gently melting and folding into the topper, while it enveloped me from beneath. I woke up feeling lighty sandwiched between layers of plushness.
Or if you prefer more support…
Three other interior designers and one bedding designer make the case for their favorite firm — but not too firm — toppers.
“I’m a Tempur-Pedic girl. I just love memory foam. So when my boyfriend and I moved in and we decided to keep his mattress, I convinced him to get the Tempur-Pedic topper. Something people don’t realize when they’re buying a new bed is that their old mattress might be too short for the new frame. Or maybe they had a box spring before and didn’t realize that a box spring is no longer required and now their mattress sits too low in the bed. They might think, Oh, now I need to buy a new $1,000 mattress. Instead of doing that, buy a Tempur-Pedic topper that’lll add three inches and look so much better than a low mattress.” — Brittany Marom, interior designer
Wool-Fleece Mattress Pad
“Before we made our own mattress pad I used a wool fleece one from Garnet Hill. It gives this natural loft, so it won’t mat down as much, and the fiber allows air to move around. That’s another reason you might want a layer between you and your mattress — to keep you cool and give you some air. Wool provides a natural breathability and it wicks away moisture. A mattress pad absorbs the shock of all the bodies being on it, so you want to be able to throw them in the wash. The only thing with this one is it’s tough to clean. It’s just a lot to put in the dryer.” — Annie Selke, owner of Pine Cone Hill linens
“Buy a topper that’s free of any chemicals or flame retardants. My current favorite, and it’s on my wish list, is the Coco-Mat Iviskos. It’s made of natural rubber wrapped in a cotton and a wool-quilted cover, and it feels elastic, so you get a little more elasticity without that featherbed feel. It’s really comfortable; firm, but not so firm. A bit of give but not a really plush experience. Plus, you can just unzip the cover so it’s easy to clean. ” — Zoe Mac, interior designer
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