Pros: Comfort, health, 100% organic, customer service, warranty
Cons: Cost, weight
"S"-brand mattresses (Sealy, Simmons, Serta, Sterns & Foster, etc.) are not your only options. Mattress chain stores (Sleepy's, 1-800-Mattres, etc.) are not your only resources. It can be so much better!
I had spent my life sleeping on futons and S-brand mattresses, and when it came time to replace my mattress this year, I did MONTHS worth of research. The best I ultimately purchased is the Hastens Naturally, and I cannot say enough about how wonderful a decision it was. The first night I brought it home I slept for 11 hours.
First, let's talk about why you might want to look beyond an S-brand mattress. These mattresses are made with a material known as PU foam. This foam degrades over time. This is what causes these mattresses to sag and/or form body impressions. It doesn't matter how high the coil count or how cushy the pillowtop -- if the mattress has PU foam in it it will degrade over time. It is just the nature of that chemical compound.
S-brand mattresses usually come with a comfort guarantee period during which you can exchange the mattress. However, these exchange periods are usually shorter than the time it takes for the foam to begin to break down.
The S-brand mattresses also usually come with a warranty, which will allow you exchange the mattress if the body impressions exceed 1.5" or 2". But the mattresses compresses more drastically when you sleep on it than it does when the inspector comes to measure in the middle of the day, and I know many people who have tried to take advantage of this warranty clause and been refused.
So what are your alternatives if you want a mattress that does NOT have PU foam in it? You can go latex, or you can go for a high-end mattress brand such as Shifman, McRoskey, or Hastens, the brand we are looking at in-depth in this review.
Hastens is a Swedish company (in fact, bed purveyor to their royal family) that has been family-owned and operated since 1852. The beds are handmade, and either have the mattress and box spring combined in one piece in a wood frame (known as a frame bed) with a removable pillowtopper that sits on top, or have three pieces -- a removable pillowtopper, a mattress, and a boxspring in a wood frame.
Because these beds have wood frames built in, you can simply attach legs (which Hastens sells in different heights and designs) without needing a separate bedframe. However, if you prefer a bedframe, these beds can also be placed into one.
The Hastens frame in made out of Swedish pine, which is allowed to grow at its own natural pace. This makes the material as strong as possible. The stuffing is made out of cotton, horsehair, flax and wool. The springs are made from heat treated Swedish steel of the same quality found in piano wire. The springs are mounted individually in fabric pockets so that they move independently of one another. This means that if your partner moves, you don't. It also means that the springs adjust to the individual curves in your body, without taking the neighboring springs with them. This is especially important for woman is curves!
This also means that the beds can be recycled, or if discarded they will biodegrade.
Beds made with synthetic materials outgas. This means that they release chemicals into the air that you breath while you are sleeping. Hastens beds (as well as those of some other high-end companies) are made out 100% natural materials and do not outgas. They have even patented their own system for fire-retarding that avoids potentially harmful chemicals.
Hastens beds are Swan Certified -- in fact they were the first bed to ever be awarded this prestigious honor -- meaning they passed a series of rigorous tests designed to identify products that have the least impact on the environment. They also qualified for an Oeko-Tex 100 label, a hallmark determined by twelve independant textile research institutes throughout Europe.
Hastens beds come with a 25 year warranty against spring and frame breakage. That is longer than the warranty covering anything else in your home!
There are 6 models of Hastens beds: Naturally (the one I own, although I tested them all extensively), Excel, Superia, Continental, Excelsior, and 2000T. There are also 4 adjustable bed models: Naturally Adjustable, Comfortable, Adjustable and Citation. They come in TwinXL, Full, Queen, King and CA-King, as well as British and European sizes. The Superia and the Excelsior are also available round. (Though be forewarned, you have to have very wide doorways and staircases to be able to move a round bed in.)
The differences between the models have to do with how many layers of comfort materials are inside, and of course the prices increase as the layers do. The Naturally is the least expensive at $3700 for a Queen, and the 2000T is the most expensive, at around $18,000. (No, there are no extra zeros there!)
I tested the 2000T, and while it was phenomenal, the $3700 entry-level Naturally (the one I ultimately purchased) was so far better than even the highest priced S-brands I was trying at the same time that I have not had one minute of disappointment with my purchase.
You have your choice of sizes, and of three levels of firmness -- soft, medium, firm. The medium is right for 90% of customers. You can also choose to have a split, so that you can have the firmness you like on your side and your partner can have the firmness they like on their. You also get your choice of fabric coverings, and as I mentioned, choice of legs. Hastens also sells accessories (pillows, mattress protectors, sheets, etc.) if you are so inclined.
You can check Hastens out for yourself at www.hastens.com. I recommend you order the catalog -- it is almost 500 pages long and has more information than you could ever ask for, including some very helpful cut-away images of the beds so you get a clear idea of exactly what the layers look like inside.
They have retailers in Arizona, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, NJ, NY and Texas. As with any bed, you should definitely try before you buy. In New York they are available at ABC Carpet & Home, and in LA they are available at HD Buttercup, and specific locations in the other states are available on their website. Unfortunately, there are no hotels that I know of where you can go try one overnight.
Because the topper is separate from the mattress, you can rotate it or flip it without having to move the whole mattress, although they do recommend you rotate the mattress once a month. This also means the topper alone can be replaced if you accidentally spill something on it, without the expense of having to replace the whole mattress. I believe the price to replace the topper alone is in the $1000 range.
Another great thing is the customer service. The people who sell these beds love them. I went back over and over again while I was trying to make my decision and asked the salesman a zillion questions, and he was only too happy to help me make my decision. Sure it's not totally altruistic, they work on commission, but it is a far cry from the attitude you get at a lot of major chain stores.
The only negative about this bed (besides being expensive, but you totally get what you pay for) is that it is EXTREMELY heavy. It took four strong men to get it up my stairs. Please be prepared for this and do not expect to move it without some serious help.
This is probably the most glowing review I have ever written. When I was doing my bed-buying research I was thinking, "Am I really going to spend this much money?!?!" But it was the best purchase I have ever made for myself. I sleep like I haven't slept since I was a teenager...it makes getting out of bed in the morning difficult! My parents stayed over in my apartment the other night and now they are thinking about buying one for themselves.
Please if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section for this review. I will be happy to answer any that I know the answers to!
Thanks for reading, and happy sleeping!! <br><br>
UPDATE AUGUST 2010:<br>After four years of sleeping on my Hastens bed I thought it would be a good time for a brief update to my review. First, thanks to all those visitors who rated it as Very Helpful. It has been four years and I am still loving every night on my Hastens Naturally. A couple of specifics to update about:<br>
I moved apartments, and while it again took four strong guys to move because of it's weight, it was no harded than moving any other piece of large, heavy furniture. I put it in a cloth mattress protector (the kind you would get for allergy protection at a store like Bed Bath & Beyond) and two plastic mattress bags from Uhaul and it survived the move unharmed.<br>
My parents, the former skeptics, purchased one for themselves after sleeping on mine while visiting for a weekend.<br>
After spending that much money on a bed, I followed its care instructions diligently. I rotated the bed and/or flipped the topper every 1-3 months for the first three years. Now, in the fourth year, I have reduced to twice per year. I have experienced no body impressions and no reduction in comfort. Although it is cumbersome and easier as a two person job, I managed the rotating process alone many of the times, and I am a petite, not particularly strong person. On the other hand, my parents have not been rotating their bed and only flipping the topper, and they are experiencing some slight body impressions. So everyone, if you're going to spend this kind of money to get this level of quality, follow the care instructions.<br>
The legs (I chose cherry wood in 9") are still in gorgeous condition, even though I have banged them with the vacuum a few times. I recently inquired with the Hastens store that opened in Soho, NYC, about purchasing a set of the chrome legs, but at over $600 for the set and a set only consisting of four legs when the bed requires six altogether, I passed. Hastens, if you are reading and I can offer some feedback -- while I understand that the center two legs are considered functional and not decorative, that's not really realistic. People can see the center two legs, too, and the legs need to be offered in sets of 6 where all 6 are identical.<br>
Since purchasing the bed I have also become the owner of two Hastens pillows -- the 2000T pillow and the Anatomical Sleeping pillow. I absolutely love them both and have relegated all of my other pillows (from Bloomingdales) to being decorative. I sleep on the 2000T pillow most nights because it is very soft and I am most comfortable on a very flat pillow, but if anything has caused me to experience neck pain, such as a long car trip or too many hours in front of the computer, I will use the Anatomical Sleeping pillow for a few nights and I am so glad to have it.<br><br>
I hope this update is helpful. Happy sleeping!!