What's the difference between US and UK beds? Your expert guide to mattress fit and feel across the pond

Whether you're shopping for a Twin or a Single, a Full or a Double, you need to know the difference between US vs UK beds

The corner of an Emma mattress beside a nightstand against a white wall.
(Image credit: Emma)

There are a few subtle yet significant variations between US vs UK beds that make a world of difference. For one thing, two similar beds could be listed under different names either side of the pod. We're talking Twin vs Single, Full vs Double, and, confusingly enough, Queen vs King. 

Last week, I flew to Arizona to test some of America's best beds by 3Z Brands (the sleep portfolio that includes Leesa, Nolah, Helix, Bear, Birch, and Brooklyn Bedding). This Brit soon learned that US beds differ from UK beds in structure, as well as size. UK beds tend to feel firmer, whereas American mattresses are soft, yet supportive.

As H&G's resident sleep writer, I lead a team of expert testers across the Atlantic. Together, we've sampled the best mattress from all the specialist sleep stores in the US, as well as a healthy handful in the UK. I've learned to tell the difference between US vs UK beds so that I can act as a mattress matchmaker, assigning the right bed to the right tester.

Are US and UK bed sizes the same?

US and UK bed sizes are similar, but they're not quite the same. Below, I've listed the dimensions of each bed size either side of the pond, along with a quick description of the sort of sleeper a particular bed would suit.

US mattresses

The corner of a Birch mattress beside a nightstand.

(Image credit: Birch)

Your standard US mattress sizes are Twin; Twin XL; Full; Queen; King; and California King. US beds tend to come in one of three firmnesses: plush; medium; and medium-firm. The Brooklyn Bedding Plank Firm Mattress is the firmest US bed I've ever tried, and even that felt softer than I expected. 

The best US beds are soft, yet supportive. That's good news for side sleepers, and anyone who likes a mattress with a little give, but stomach sleepers might appreciate the best firm mattress to stop that sinking feeling and maintain the natural alignment of your spine.  

  • Twin (38 x 75 inches): designed to fit into nooks and crannies, a twin-sized bed is a great choice for tweens, teens, and solo sleepers in smaller bedrooms. A US Twin is roughly equivalent to a UK Single, just a little wider.
  • Twin XL (38 x 80 inches): just as wide as a Twin, but five inches longer, a Twin XL bed might make a better fit for taller sleepers in smaller bedrooms. The closest thing to a US Twin XL is a UK Single XL or Long Single. 
  • Full (54 x 75 inches): with sufficient space for two adults, a Full bed is the best bet for couples working with limited floor space or solo sleepers who like to starfish. A US Full is the same width and length as a UK Double.
  • Queen (60 x 80 inches): a little longer and wider than a Full, a US Queen provides plenty of space for couples. It's almost the same size as a UK King, give or take an inch.
  • King (76 x 80 inches): if you share a bed with a pet or partner, or you like to cuddle up with your kids, you'll appreciate the extra width of a US King, which is even wider than a UK Super King. Many US Kings are also available as Split King beds: two Twin XL beds, side by side. A Split King is a great option for couples with different sleep preferences.
  • California King (72 x 84 inches): not quite as wide as a King, but four inches longer, a US California King is a good fit for taller couples. It's a close equivalent to a UK Super King and would make a serious statement in a master bedroom.

UK mattresses

The corner of an Emma mattress on a bed.

(Image credit: Emma)

UK beds tend to come in Single; Double; King; and Super King sizes. In my experience, UK beds are shorter, narrower, and firmer than US beds. That's not to say that UK beds are uncomfortable: if you sleep on your stomach, or you'd like extra support to lift your lumbar region and lengthen your spine, then a UK bed could be for you.

  • Single (36 x 75 inches): this is the UK's answer to the US Twin bed. Long and thin, a UK Single is designed for tweens, teens, and shorter solo sleepers. 
  • Double (54 x 75 inches): with sufficient space for two sleepers to lie, and one adult to sprawl, a UK Double is equivalent to a US Full.
  • King (60 x 79 inches): this is your best bet for bigger families and master bedrooms. Confusingly, the closest equivalent to a UK King is a US Queen. 
  • Super King (71 x 79 inches): about as wide as a US California King and as long as a US King, a UK Super King is a seriously big bed. It's the sort of mattress I'd expect to see in a hotel, rather than a home.

What about European mattresses?

European mattress sizes are different, too: closer to UK beds than US beds, but still not identical. Whether you're buying a mattress online or in-store, I'd encourage you to double-check the dimensions of the bed in question against your bed frame. Getting the right size is one of the first, and most important, mattress buying rules.

  • EU Single (36 x 79 inches): long yet narrow, the EU Single sits squarely between a US Twin and a UK Single. 
  • EU Double (55 x 79 inches): an EU Double is wider and longer than a US Full or a UK Double. This is where it pays to double-check your dimensions so that you don't end up with an outsized mattress.
  • EU King (63 x 79 inches): this is a close equivalent to a US Queen, with enough space to comfortably accommodate several sleepers.
  • EU Grand King (71 x 79 inches): an EU Grand King is the exact same size as a UK Super King. Both beds are designed to make a statement in master bedrooms.

Final thoughts

Once you've invested in the best mattress that meets your needs (US, UK, or otherwise), it's important to take good care of it. It's worth picking up the best mattress protector to safeguard your mattress against spills, sweat, and stains. 

If you know you need a new mattress, but you're working with a tighter budget, I recommend narrowing the search to the best affordable mattress. You'll still find plenty of options from specialist sleep stores, including Nectar and Emma, that stock US and UK bed sizes. You could also shop the mattress sales to try and find a luxury bed for less. 

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.