I went mattress shopping recently and was stunned to see that some of the mattresses in the store had price tags upwards of $2,000. So imagine my surprise when I saw one selling for $175,000.
The item in question is the Royal Bed, a creation of luxury mattress maker Savoir Beds. Only 60 of the custom beds will be made to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation; Savoir Bed CEO Alistair Hughes told me that he's already taken the first order, for a Chinese client.
For that price, you get a bespoke bed that includes a box spring, mattress and topper, as well as an ornate canopy emblazoned with a crest of your choice. Savoir justifies the cost by pointing to the 700 man-hours required to handcraft it, and the exotic materials that go into it, including curled Latin American horse tail and Mongolian cashmere. I had a chance to try out the Royal Bed while it was on display in New York (check out the video below) and can confirm it was extremely comfortable. I can't speak to whether it's worth $175,000, because I've never had that much money.
But it got me thinking: How much should you pay for a mattress? My last one cost $600; Savoir's non-"Royal" beds start at $10,000 and go way up from there. Where is the happy medium?
To find out, I talked to Nick Robinson, founder of mattress-review site Sleep Like The Dead.
"Generally speaking, I would probably say that anything less than, let's say, $600 is often best used on a temporary or occasional basis," he says. "Mattresses at the bottom of price range aren't suited for permanent regular use."
Oops. That makes my new mattress just barely within the acceptable range. Plus, Robinson warns that spring mattresses of the sort I purchased tend to hold their quality less well after years of use when compared with latex, memory foam and airbed mattresses.
At the other end of the spectrum, Robinson says it doesn't make much sense to drop five figures on your mattress. While it's true that you'll spend a third of your life in bed, overspending doesn't tend to result in significantly higher quality, as his research shows that "ultra-high-priced mattresses" don't rate significantly higher than the average mattress.
"There is a misconception that the more you pay, the better the mattress you get," he says. "Above a threshold, there really isn't an advantage in terms of comfort, support and longevity."
$175,000 is certainly above that threshold, and $20,000 probably is, too. But if you're filthy rich and you're willing to overspend to get the absolute best night's sleep possible, we won't begrudge your indulgence.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.