best in class

The Very Best Lap Desks

Courtesy Retailer Photo-Illustration: Courtesy Retailer

In this article

Let’s face it: A rainy day spent working from home can often become a day spent working from bed. But if you’re planning on working (or scrolling or streaming) semi-horizontally, you need to save your back from aches and buy a lap desk. They’re portable, so you can make a desk of any spot, and can be used for reading, eating, and jotting down notes from the comfort of, well, anywhere that’s comfortable. To find out the best lap desks to buy, we spoke to people who regularly type, scroll, and write physical notes using a lap desk.

What we’re looking for


Laptops come in different sizes for varying needs. I’ve noted the width and depth of each one below so you can easily see which desks will fit your device. After comparing the sizes of the most popular Apple, Google, HP, and Lenovo models, I’d say the average laptop has a screen between 13 and 15.5 inches wide; each desk on this list can comfortably accommodate those. If you have a slightly bigger device (one that’s closer to 17 inches, like an HP Pavilion) or want space for a notebook alongside your device, you’ll also find a couple of options below.

Cushioned or standing

The two main kinds of lap desks either sit directly on your lap or have little foldable legs attached to them so they can also be used as tray tables (think classic breakfast-in-bed tables). All of the straight-on-lap desks that we heard about are cushioned for extra comfort.

Best lap desk overall

Dimensions: 21 inches wide, 12 inches deep | Cushioned

This has been the Strategist’s go-to lap desk for over four years, thanks to the recommendation of former Strategist tech writer Jordan Bowman. He used the LapGear for years, “and it’s especially nice to have while watching YouTube videos or working while lying around the house,” he wrote. The desk’s built-in cushion nestles on your lap and keeps everything balanced. Bowman particularly likes the cell-phone tray, which props your phone up alongside your laptop. For me, the best feature is the mouse pad. As someone who’d often just grab an old magazine to use as a mouse pad, it feels like a luxury. I have the espresso shade (to match my desk’s color scheme), but the lap desk is available in six shades, from silver carbon to a pretty pink. It’s big enough to comfortably fit a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

Best lap-desk tray

Dimensions: 17 inches wide, 13 inches deep | Cushioned 

Issy Sampson, deputy digital showbiz editor at News UK, always dreamed about a job for which she could work from bed. “It turns out in practice, it’s actually really hard. Issues include my overheating laptop burning my legs or sliding off my legging-clad lap as I furiously type on deadline,” she wrote. After using a makeshift lap desk (i.e., perching her laptop on a breadboard), she decided to invest in the real thing. Her pick — which like the LapGear desk also comes in a marbly option — leaves enough room for a laptop with a screen between 13 and 16 inches wide, and the entire thing is cushioned for extra comfort as you work. “When I first waved my new ‘desk’ down the camera at a team catch-up meeting the following week, everyone mocked me,” says Sampson. “But since then, 7 out of my 14-strong team have secretly contacted me to admit they’ve done the same thing.”

Best cushioned lap desk


Dimensions: 17.75 inches wide, 13.75 inches deep | Cushioned

This is the lap desk that I’m currently using daily. I’ve relaxed by journaling for years, and I like to look through my camera roll as I’m writing to jog my memory. With this desk, I can slot my phone in the corner and glance up at my pictures as I write. It’s also handy for when I’m jotting down ingredients I need to buy while watching TikTok recipes (regrettably where all of my limited cooking ability comes from). At times when I’m working from my couch, my MacBook fits nicely on the surface, but there’s no room for a pen and paper, so if I want to scribble anything down, I do have to go back to my desk. It’s also nicely cushioned, and comes in a nice enough gingham pattern that I keep it perched on my bed with my other cushions and teddies when I’m not using it throughout the day.

Best memory-foam lap desk

Dimensions: 18.5 inches wide, 14 inches deep | Cushioned

“Even if you’ve got a plush office setup at home, I recommend getting a lap desk because there are going to be those times you feel like working in bed or on the couch,” says Sarah Brown, Violet Grey’s executive director. The desk she uses from Sofia + Sam has all the bells and whistles: an LED lamp, a memory-foam cushion, a cushioned rest for your wrist, and an extending slot that can hold a phone and a mouse. But there’s no opening to feed a phone charger through, so you’ll have to make sure your device is charged before getting comfortable. It’s big enough to fit a 13- or 15-inch laptop and has a little slot for a tablet in case you’re more of an iPad worker.

Best lap desk with legs

Dimensions: 21.8 inches wide, 13.9 inches deep | Cushioned 

Architectural designer and blogger Sade Akinsanya has been using a version of this classic lap tray for years. It’s a multitasker that she says she reaches for “when I want to work from bed, when I want to eat and watch Netflix, when I want to photograph something.” The desk’s 3-inch legs slot comfortably over your body when you’re lying down, and at 21 inches wide, the desk can fit larger laptops or smaller models along with a notepad. It has a stand for propping up a phone and a tablet, so you can stream on your phone as you snack in bed — but, again, there’s no slot through which to feed a phone charger.

Best lap desk to prevent overheating

Dimensions: 15.5 inches wide, 13.8 inches deep | Standing

Meredith Talusan, author of the memoir Fairest, uses a similar wood lap desk with legs. Her favorite of them all, which she takes with her on holiday, is from Songmics. “I like that it tilts and has that piece of wood that stops your laptop from falling down and even has a little drawer to keep your stuff in,” Talusan says. The desk has a few cutout holes to prevent your laptop from overheating. Also, the tiltable desk brings your laptop or tablet up to eye level, saving you some neck strain.

Best extra-wide lap desk

Dimension: 20 inches wide, 15 inches deep | Cushioned

Stevie Remsberg, New York Magazine’s senior art director and visuals manager, says her laptop gets so hot when she’s working that she can’t put it on her lap directly. Instead, she perches it on this laptop support desk from Ikea. “I needed something to sort of prop it up, and it just seemed crazy to bring a whole table. It made more sense to have my laptop on my lap. This thing works great. It has a beanbag cushion on the bottom, so it’s comfortable too,” she says. And if you’re wondering how to keep it clean, the cushioned cover is conveniently machine washable.

Some other desks we’ve written about

Our experts

Sade Akinsanya, architectural designer and blogger
Jordan Bowman, senior editor at The Goods
Sarah Brown, Violet Grey executive director
Stevie Remsberg, New York Magazine’s senior art director and visuals manager
Issy Sampson, deputy digital showbiz editor at News UK
Meredith Talusan, author

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatmentsrolling luggagepillows for side sleepersnatural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

The 7 Best Lap Desks