The Best Air Mattresses for an Instant Guest Bed
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They say that there’s no place like home, but if you can’t be in your personal quarters, the very next best thing you can do is seek out a place that’s warm, inviting, and downright cozy. As a host, offering such a space to guests as their home away from home is the ultimate goal. That’s exactly why investing in a great air mattress is a win-win for everyone: Guests can achieve a good night’s sleep while hosts can welcome them in, even if they don’t necessarily have a designated guest room. But with so many options out there, finding the best option that won’t deflate in a matter of hours or actually deliver some semblance of comfort is easier said that done. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best air mattresses that’ll have your guests resting peacefully all night long. Whether you’re on the hunt for a space-efficient Twin, a roomy Queen, or something that can charge smartphones (yep, that exists), there’s an air mattress on our list for every shopper.
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What to Consider When Buying an Air Mattress
At the risk of stating the obvious, shopping for an air mattress is very different from looking for a traditional bed. While you won’t have to decide between spring coils and memory foam — ICYMI, your bed will be filled with air — there are some other features to keep in mind. Check out these few key factors you’ll want to consider when shopping for the ultimate air mattress.
If there’s one thing air mattresses and traditional mattresses have in common, it’s that size matters. While a Twin bed is well-suited for children or single snoozers, a Queen is a solid size for couples or guests who love to spread out mid-slumber. A versatile Queen-sized air mattress may cater to more people at one time, but think about who typically sleeps over and their specific needs. At the end of the day, listen to your host intuition and err on the smaller side when shopping for an air mattress.
Plush comfort or practical convenience? Well, that’s the decision you’ll be making when selecting the height of your air mattress. Not only are taller air mattresses generally more comfortable — the more volume capacity, the more you’ll feel like you’re floating on air — but they’re also easier to get in and out of. (If you’ve ever had to contort your body to get out of a beanbag chair, you know this is kind of a big deal.) On the flip side, shorter mattresses can inflate and deflate quickly — not to mention, they can be folded up and stored in your closet in a snap. Of course, it’s buyer’s choice, so pick out what’s best for your preferences.
Simply put, nobody wants to lie down on a bed and feel their bum touch the floor. That’s exactly why it’s so important to find an air mattress with a generous weight capacity. Because, in most cases, multiple people will be sleeping on your air mattress over the years, opting for one with a higher weight capacity will make everyone feel at home.
Behind every good air mattress is the pump that inflates, deflates, and makes the bed what it is. While manual and foot pumps do exist, most brands have adapted to modern times and opted for an easy-to-use electric pump. (After all, getting ready for bed should be a relaxing experience, not a laborious one.) What you will want to decide, however, is whether you want an air mattress with a built-in or an external pump. A built-in pump (versus an external one) can keep an air mattress inflated throughout the night or even over several days, but it’s not as easy to replace if it breaks. But, while replacement external pumps tend to be more cost effective, they also can make the pumping process take longer. And if you are bringing your air mattress on the road, it’s one more thing you’ll need to remember to pack. Take stock of your preferences and needs, and choose a pump that ticks off all of your boxes.
Of course, it’s important to factor your budget into all of your shopping decisions — and an air mattress, being something of an investment, is no exception. It’s totally possible to find a great air mattress at a low price point (psst — check out our third pick!), but you’ll notice that most higher-end models are built to withstand wear, tear, and punctures. When in doubt, prioritize the features and functions that are the most important to you to get the best bang for your buck. While ordering a cheap air mattress might seem like the more economical move, it’s possible that you’ll wind up spending more money on replacements every few months or years. The good news is we’re here to help you determine the ones that are actually worth your money.
What We Look For in an Air Mattress
We tested a range of air mattresses, judging them on the following criteria:
Intex’s Comfort Plush Elevated Dura-Beam Air Bed, which features a built-in electric pump, has more than 15,000 positive reviews on Amazon and received top notes from Apartment Therapy founder and CEO, Maxwell. “While I grew up with Aerobeds and thought that the prize would go in this direction,” he says, “I was surprised by how crowded the field has become and how similar so many of the beds are. The Intex Comfort Plush walked away from the competition a winner, scoring the office vote as well, because it slept just as nicely as all the others and costs less than half as much.”
This 22-inch-high, Queen-sized mattress is, according to another reviewer, “better than many standard beds.” Adds Maxwell, “The quality of the construction (while we didn’t attack it with sharp instruments, but did throw it around the room during the week) felt tough. And, personally, I found the flat top surface the most comfortable of the lot.”
Who It’s Best For: Hosts who want to give their guests a good night’s sleep without breaking the bank.
Good to Know: This air mattress can inflate in under five minutes, which relieves users from what can typically be the worst part of sleeping on an air mattress.
Whether your in-laws frequently visit or your house is the house for slumber parties, you might be willing to spend a little more on an air mattress to ensure the sweetest of dreams for all. Though Brookstone’s Perfect Air Bed may elicit some sticker shock initially, AT commerce manager Mackenzie has used it for years and says it’s built to last. “It never deflates, and you can use it for days without needing to [inflate again],” she says. “You can also inflate it to be as hard or squishy as you like!” At 24 inches high, this luxuriously full mattress can inflate in a little over one minute. And, once you’re done using and deflating it, this bed folds up nicely and fits into its accompanying case. (Mackenzie notes it is a little heavy when packed, but it’s a small inconvenience with a big trade-off.)
Who It’s Best For: Avid hosts who want to give their guests a five-star experience.
Good to Know: The plush pillow top of this air bed contours to your guest’s sleep positions, offering a super cozy slumber.
Conversely, those who are new to the air mattress game or only really need one for a brief period may not want to spend a small fortune on one. That’s where Intex’s Dura-Beam Standard Pillow Rest comes in. Available for under $40, this option seems almost-too-good-to-be-true cheap, but staff writer Sarah assures us that it doesn’t skimp on quality. “I bought two of these Twin-sized air mattresses when I first moved to my apartment and had no bed yet,” she says. “I now have a bed and a mattress, but these remain great for guests [to] inflate themselves in no time.” The mattresses have even “stayed inflated (no air leaking!) throughout entire weeklong friend visits,” says Sarah. “Plus, they’re fairly easy to fold up and take up very little room in my closet.” To sweeten an already enticing (and affordable!) deal, Intex’s air mattress comes with a built-in pillow headrest so guests can kick back, relax, and clock in all the dreamy hours of sleep they need.
Who It’s Best For: Rookie hosts who are looking for a budget-friendly entry point; those who need something simple for a limited amount of time.
Good to Know: This Intex model has special Fiber-Tech construction, which uses thousands of polyester fibers to create an ultra-durable exterior.
It’s all rest and relaxation until your air bed mysteriously and disappointingly deflates by the time you wake up. Made with a patented, built-in pump, Serta’s Raised Air Mattress is here to save the day (and night). “This air mattress has two pumps,” says Best List writer Kendall. “One for making inflation and deflation easy as well as choosing between soft, medium, and firm feels. Another pump silently monitors the air pressure in the mattress and maintains my preferred firmness all night long.” Unlike the altogether too many air mattresses out there that lose their volume and luster in a few hours, this one lasted a whole week on a single inflation, without making Kendall or her guests “wake up in an air mattress puddle or fully flat on the ground.”
Who It’s Best For: Those hosting long-term guests; those who prefer to hit the snooze button once or twice; those who want a bed they can set-and-forget.
Good to Know: This Serta air bed incorporates coil construction in order to provide an ultra sturdy and supportive sleeping surface.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but getting out of bed shouldn’t be a full-blown abs workout. Start your day on the right foot — pun intended — with SoundAsleep’s Dream Series Air Mattress, an air bed so nice it won twice. At a whopping 19 inches tall, it lets you get in and out of bed with incredible ease. “I have slept on this air mattress and had many guests sleep on it,” says AT editor Megan. “It’s the most comfortable air mattress I’ve used, and I like that it’s tall… you sort of feel like you are sleeping on a real bed.” Freelance editor Amy is also a fan of this model for its super-fast setup time. “I was using it in my living room during construction in my bedroom, so I had to deflate and inflate it every day — deflating it was super easy and took just a few minutes.” SoundAsleep’s one-click automatic pump makes setting up this air bed simple and quick while the 40 internal coils give you actual support the way a real mattress can. This one’s got all the bells and whistles, making falling asleep and rising in the morning as effortless as it should be.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want to give guests an easy, comfortable air bed experience from start to finish.
Good to Know: Megan’s air mattress sprung a leak after a few years, which is worth noting if longevity is as important to you as height and saving time.
Anyone who spends their nights tossing and turning might worry about rolling right off their air mattress. (Um, ouch.) Fear not: The Shrunks’ Air Mattress is here to give you peace of mind. Perfect for kids, travelers, and active sleepers, this air bed has strategically placed bumpers to keep you put from a.m. to p.m. “I’ve owned a few of these mattresses for several years and have ordered extras to keep at my in-law’s house,” AT contributor Patty explains. “The mattress inflates in two separate sections: The main mattress and the lower, bumper level. It stays inflated for several days at a time without having to re-inflate. I use these most frequently for traveling with my kids and hosting sleepovers; they’re comfortable enough for adults as well.” Though this air mattress comes with an external pump, travel bag, and extra patches, Patty says its 0.3 millimeter construction and reinforced seams hold up nicely over time.
Who It’s Good For: Solo sleepers; those who move around a lot during the night; those with kids or guests who benefit from additional reinforcements.
Good to Know: The Shrunks air bed has a hidden tuck-in feature that’ll keep your sheets in place.
Decked out with bonus functions to spare, SLEEPLUX’s air mattress caters both to guests and their generous hosts. “This air mattress is perfect for guests, especially two,” says Sam, AT’s social media manager. “We had two couples recently stay on visits to New York, and both said the bed was extremely comfortable and better than expected. You always get nervous hosting guests and hoping their sleeping arrangements are satisfactory, but this mattress actually stood up to the task. It was also super easy to set up and deflate to put away to store. Now I’m not nervous to have guests stay over!” In addition to hitting that sweet spot between comfort and durability, this air mattress has a USB port so your guests can charge their devices while they get some shut-eye. There’s also a built-in pillow, which will give visitors plenty of head and neck support. Ahh… the life!
Who It’s Best For: Those who want to give guests a full-service experience; those who want something with impressive high-tech features.
Good to Know: The top of the mattress uses a Tough Guard material to protect against stretching, abrasion, and punctures.