The Marlow Pillow review – adjustable comfort at the pull of a zipper

Made for front, back, and side sleepers, the Marlow Pillow offers custom comfort with their ingenious, intuitive design

The Marlow Pillow on a bed with blankets and throw pillows.
(Image credit: Marlow)
Homes & Gardens Verdict

The Marlow Pillow proves that adjustability can be easy. There are no pillow inserts to remove, replace, or store: just two zippers to let air into and out of the pillow. This pillow is hypoallergenic to suit sensitive sleepers and antimicrobial to bust the bacteria that breeds in hot, damp environments, such as bedrooms. I tested it at my parents' place, passing it round my extended family, and almost every single one of us loved it.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Adjustable firmness

  • +


  • +


Reasons to avoid
  • -

    On the softer side

  • -

    Lacks the feel of feathers

  • -

    A little high-maintenance

You can trust Homes & Gardens. Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, helping you choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The Marlow Pillow, from the brains behind Brooklinen, makes for a great addition to a bedroom. As you push and pull the zippers, you adjust the feel and firmness of the pillow to suit front, back, or side sleepers.

Adjustable pillows are the next big thing in bedding. All the specialist sleep stores are putting their own spin on the trend. I've seen plush pillow inserts that you remove and replace until the pillow reaches your ideal height. I've even seen pillows stuffed to the brim with fiberfill, which you can reach in and remove in handfuls. These designs are clever, but they're a little convoluted, not to mention messy. The Marlow Pillow minimizes mess as it maximizes comfort.

As H&G's resident sleep writer, I know what makes the best pillow: premium fabrics, breathable fill, and a careful balance between comfort and support. I tested the Marlow Pillow for weeks before I reached my verdict. I passed it round my family members so that I could gather data from front, back, and side sleepers. I'm happy to report that the Marlow Pillow supported (almost) all of us.

The Marlow Pillow review: tried and trusted

This article should tell you everything you need to know about the Marlow Pillow, from how it feels to who it suits. I've also included a round-up of customer reviews to show a range of experience and determined whether the Marlow Pillow is worth the price.

The Marlow Pillow Specifications

Two Marlow Pillows stacked on top of each other against a white background.

(Image credit: Marlow)
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SizesStandard, King
Dimensions17.5 x 16" (Standard), 17.5 x 36" (King)
FillDown alternative
MaterialsPolyurethane and polyester fill, cotton sateen cover
CareSpot clean only

Who would the Marlow Pillow suit?

Two Marlow Pillow stacked on top of each other against a beige background.

(Image credit: Marlow)

The Marlow Pillow is made to suit every sort of sleeper: that's the whole point of adjustable pillows. Back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers all need something subtly different from a pillow to protect their necks and prevent aches and pains.

Side sleepers should sleep with thicker, plusher pillows that lift their neck and shoulders to maintain the natural alignment of their spine. If you sleep on your side, I recommend zipping up both sides of the Marlow Pillow. This should create the firmest feel to stop your neck from sinking in. 

The Marlow Pillow from above, unzipped.

(Image credit: Future / Emilia Hitching)

If you sleep on your back, you'll appreciate a medium-firm pillow to prop up your head. You could try zipping up just the one side of the Marlow Pillow to get a little more give while supporting your neck and shoulders.

If, like me, you sleep on your stomach, then the chances are that you prefer a flat pillow. Anything too thick will lift your head too high and strain your neck as you try to sleep. For the flattest feel, you should unzip both sides of the Marlow Pillow to let some air out.

Like a lot of memory foam pillows, the Marlow Pillow is soft and responsive, made to mold to the shape of your head. Down alternative pillows are never quite as breathable as the real deal, though the Marlow Pillow is infused with a cooling gel to dissipate heat, and I never once woke up in a sweat.

What is the Marlow Pillow like to sleep on?

The Marlow Pillow in a case on a bed.

(Image credit: Future / Emilia Hitching)

For a down alternative pillow, the Marlow Pillow was surprisingly squishy. This pillow imitates the feel of feathers, and it looks good propped up against a headboard, though it lacks some of the loft of real down. Unlike some of the other adjustable pillows I've tested recently, which strain at the seams of standard pillowcases, the Marlow Pillow slotted neatly and easily into my case.

Since I sleep on my stomach, I made sure to unzip either side of the Marlow Pillow before popping it inside the pillowcase. It didn't feel quite as flat as my own feather pillow, but I found I could rest my head comfortably. I like to sleep right on the side of the bed, on the very edge of the pillow, where it's thinnest. I never struggled to breathe or felt a zipper digging in as I tried to sleep.

A hand pressing down on the Marlow Pillow.

(Image credit: Future / Emilia Hitching)

I wouldn't go as far as to say that the Marlow Pillow is actively cooling. The cotton sateen shell is breathable, and the ventilated zipper gussets do their best to boost breathability, but it didn't feel all that different to my ordinary down pillow. If you suffer from night sweats or hot flushes, you might want something a little stronger. I recommend the Sleep Number True Temp Ultimate Pillow for heavy-duty thermoregulation.

Since I was testing the Marlow Pillow in my family home, I had a whole house full of willing testers. My sister sleeps on her side and found that she could plump up her pillow to her ideal height when she closed both zippers. My dad has a bad back, and tends to wake up in the night with aches and pains, but he slept right the way through on the Marlow Pillow. There was only one dissenting voice. My brother-in-law would sleep on a rock, if he could − that's how firm he likes his pillows − and he felt that the Marlow Pillow was too soft and squishy. His dream pillow is the Soak and Sleep New Zealand Wool Standard Pillow for springy support.

How does the Marlow Pillow rate online?

Two Marlow Pillows stacked on top of each other against a white background.

(Image credit: Marlow)

The Marlow Pillow boasts hundreds of five-star reviews on the Marlow site, praising its comfort and adjustably. One side sleeper was particularly effusive, dubbing the Marlow Pillow 'the best pillow ever'. She must appreciate the firmer feel of the fully zipped pillow, which lifts your neck and shoulders while lengthening your spine. 

Other reviews are more mixed. A few customers note that the Marlow Pillow tends towards the firm side. If you sleep on your stomach, and you like a flat surface, you might find that the Marlow Pillow is insufficiently soft. A handful of reviewers complain that the cooling effect of the ventilated gussets is overstated, but I can't agree. I tend to sleep hot and I appreciated the enhanced breathability of the Marlow Pillow.

Should I buy the Marlow Pillow?

One Marlow Pillow leaning on another against a white background.

(Image credit: Marlow)

The Marlow Pillow retails for around $65, though it's often listed for less during sales season. You could always pick up a set of two or four pillows at a lower price per pillow and use the extras in your guest room. At any rate, I'd be happy to pay full price for the Marlow Pillow. I sleep on my stomach, while my sister sleeps on her side, and we both slept comfortably on the Marlow Pillow, once we'd got our heads around the zipper system. Although it isn't the best cooling pillow I've ever tested, the ventilation was more than sufficient for this hot sleeper. If you're looking for a super-plush pillow, I'd recommend something softer, such as the Saatva Pillow.   

How we test pillows

A hand holding the care tag of the Marlow Pillow.

(Image credit: Future / Emilia Hitching)

We put a lot of thought into how we test pillows. It's more than a matter of sleeping on the job. I test pillows for several weeks, if not months, to monitor their performance over time. I want to see how well the pillow holds its shape after successive nights of sleeping. I'm interested in the cooling properties of the pillow: whether the fill and fabric are sufficiently breathable for hot sleepers. Where relevant, I assess the pillow's special features, from size and shape to zippers and adjustable fills. I also consider the appearance of the pillow in terms of loft: a nice, fluffy pillow makes a better addition to a bedspread than something limp and flat.

You don't have to take my word for it: I compare my own findings against customer reviews to show a range of experience. As a stomach sleeper, I might find a particular pillow too plush, but it could be just the thing for side sleepers. I also document the unboxing and cleaning process to give you the fullest possible picture of what it might be like to use this product.

Emilia Hitching
eCommerce Editor

Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford, where she sharpened her critical writing skills. She also worked on the other side of the aisle writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky. Emilia combines her business savvy with her creative flair as our eCommerce Editor, connecting you with the products you’ll love. When she’s not in the office, Emilia is happiest when entertaining friends al fresco or out in the country.