A few years back, someone worked out how to transport mattresses more easily (vacuum-packed and rolled up in a box), and suddenly a bazillion online mattress companies sprang up out of nowhere.
Casper, Eve, Otty, Simba — they all seemed to have the same 100-night money-back guarantee, similar ads, and no differentiators beyond a signature colour they’d each chosen.
Like a lot of people, I didn’t much fancy the prospect of paying hundreds of pounds to find out if a bed was any good, and half suspected they were all selling the same white-label mattress with a brand name slapped on top.
I tried a double Casper mattress for a few months, and didn’t especially like it. So when Otty offered me the chance to try theirs instead, I took my chance to see if it really is all the same product.
Spoiler: it’s not.
The 100-night trial
It sounds like a medieval ritual to win a princess’s hand in marriage, but the 100-night trial is a fixture of online mattress companies. Basically, you plump for the mattress, and if after 100 nights (three-and-a-bit months) you hate it, they’ll take it back.
Obviously, it’s designed to ease you into what is otherwise a massive, scary purchase. Given how few of us bother to return a pair of shoes, which is small and lightweight and doesn’t have to be hauled out of your bed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the companies are counting on a little bit of laziness too.
I’ve had my Otty mattress for just over 100 nights now, and I’m ready to call it. Here’s what I think.
The Otty mattress arrives like a plastic-covered pancake rolled up in a box. Mine was delivered by an appealingly-named company called Keen & Able, who kept me really well updated on when exactly it would arrive. They also helped me get it to the right room.
From there, you undo the box, and use the included handy cutting tool to slice open the plastic wrapping (note: this is at least as satisfying as sliding your open scissors through wrapping paper. You know what I’m talking about). Then, you leave it in place on your bed to expand.
At first, it smells a bit weird, and you shouldn’t faceplant it until it’s had at least a few hours to breathe. If it looks thin at this point, it’s because it’s been vacuum packed and needs to inflate itself, like a loaf of fresh bread rising in the oven (there are a lot of bread comparisons in this review. Never write when hungry).
Once it’s expanded to its full size (up to 24 hours, but you can get on it any time after 2 hours), feel free to throw yourself face-down on it. I did, several times.
The Otty hybrid mattress costs £499 for a double, which is what I have. That seems like a lot of money to me, mostly because I’m a freelancer renting in London and consider £4.99 a lot for a pint. Like most people, the brand of mattress I’ve mostly had up to now is Landlord’s Choice, otherwise known as “what is the cheapest thing I can buy without actively infesting my buy-to-let flat with bedbugs?”
However, I’m also aware that a brand new double can be had from Ikea for a fair bit less (for instance, we have this one in Zack’s bedroom, and it’s pretty comfy for £120). So, what’s the difference?
Well, most of the cheaper mattresses are full of springs. That’s not in itself a bad thing, but when there are two of you on a mattress, a bed of springs can bow down with the weight and create a ravine in the middle that you both fall into (called ‘roll together’). That’s why people pay more for ‘pocket sprung’ mattresses, where each spring has its own little fabric den and isn’t influenced by the others.
Also, springs vary a lot in quality. Some of them are fine, some will stick through the fabric and poke you in the ribs within a couple of years (or months). You’re also meant to flip them over or turn them round every six months or so, to try and wear them out evenly rather than just where you sleep. I used to be a hotel chambermaid, and believe me, trying to do this on your own is even worse for your spine than a bad mattress.
The Otty mattress is a hybrid, which means it has both springs (the good, pocket kind) and foam. The springs are apparently 5x the size of other brands’ springs, which is a weird metric to get competitive about but I’m guessing it’s considered a good thing since it’s prominently mentioned in the mattress bumf.
On top of the springs is a layer of reflex foam, and on top of that is a layer of memory foam infused with cooling gel. The springs are there for back and joint support, and the foam is for comfort.
The mattress equates to a firmness rating of 7.5 out of 10, which makes it medium-firm. My Casper mattress was rated 6, and I definitely prefer the Otty in terms of support and soothing joint pain (thanks, fibromyalgia).
The cooling gel, however, is somewhat wasted on me. It’s one of the big selling points of the mattress, and I know scientifically a lot of people find a cooler environment helps them sleep better. But not me. I’ve got half a thyroid and Raynaud’s syndrome, so I’m permanently freezing and have my electric blanket on every single day, even in the summer.
You can still use an Otty mattress with an electric blanket, thankfully, because I’d have died by now if not. Despite my need for warmth, the cooling gel isn’t a complete waste — it also helps the mattress not to retain too much heat and get really sweaty, which is apparently a thing with memory foam (grim).
Otty also makes two types of pillow: the Deluxe and the Adjustable. I have two of the Deluxe pillows, and Otty often does offers where you can get two of them free with your mattress purchase.
The pillows are pleasingly firm and rectangular: they look beautifully neat and tidy on your bed.
However, they’re a bit too high for my liking (obviously you only use one: both at once would be way too far off the mattress!), and they don’t quite fit into my pillowcases (although the covers are washable).
While I haven’t replaced my standard pillow for laying down on, I have found the perfect use for the Otty pillows: as backrests against the headboard or wall while you’re sitting up in bed reading. They are perfect for this, and have made my nighttime reading sessions much comfier.
Is the Otty mattress nice to lay on?
Comfort-wise, the hybrid mattress is superb. Whether it’s just me, me and the cat, or me and Zack and the cat in my bed, it stays level and doesn’t bunch up or cause canyons. It doesn’t get too hot, even with my old-lady electric blanket on, and the cover comes off easily for machine washing.
Because of the (soft but supportive) foam layer at the top, you don’t ever have to flip it over, although it is useful to rotate it 180 degrees every six months or so. That feature was a big relief to me: I hate flipping mattresses. (Otty also recommends you rotate it every month for the first few, but effort).
It’s a thick, good-quality mattress to lie on, and can quite happily handle things like you putting all your weight on one knee — doing that on an old Landlord’s Choice mattress once snapped the bed slats, because the mattress was about the thickness of a slice of Tesco Value toast.
I’ve slept on hotel mattresses and very pricey Dreams jobbies that were considerably less comfortable than this. It’s a reliable all-round choice for people who need something that’ll take the strain off their joints, let them sink into a deep, comfy sleep, and feel like they’re floating on a strangely supportive cloud. If you like your bedroom cool, even better.
At the end of my 100-night trial, would I return the Otty mattress? Absolutely not. I knew I wouldn’t from night 1, when I slept so well that my lungs were tired from breathing so deeply the next day (that’s how I know when I’ve been dead to the world).
The Otty hybrid mattress feels like a freshly baked loaf: warm, soft, and with just the right amount of springback when you squeeze it.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Sleep through the 100-night trial yourself, and you can take £10 off with the code GADGETTE10.
Let me know what you think when you wake up.