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A Wry Look at Sizes of UK and International Mattresses

Updated on October 30, 2010

We all appreciate a comfortable bed.

"Size ain't important to me!  Jes leave me in peace to dream of the French Poodle next door."  credit the
"Size ain't important to me! Jes leave me in peace to dream of the French Poodle next door." credit the

A Bit of Fun in the Sleep Store

"Did I get lucky, or is that an antler!?"

Businessmen and women who travel regularly between continents are not normally worried what size of bed they sleep on. Most hotels above the flea pit level use queen, king, or at least a pair of commodious double beds in their rooms anyway. Hotels, especially in can-do United States seem to get hold of mattresses forbidden to the rest of us. They are comfort-hard, heavy and thick and look and feel like they would last forever. The UK has about the worst mattresses in the First World and this often applies even if you pay a fortune for one. Even products like mattress-foam costs far too much here. For example, I remember buying one of these new in Mexico a few years back for twenty pounds! Living in England calls to mind the phrase, “Rip Off Britain” about 3 times every waking day. You wouldn’t mind so much if your hard-won pounds bought quality at these prices, but all too often, they do not.

Visitors, students and emigrants intending to live for extended periods or even permanently in another country are often confused as to whether they should ship their bedding (sheets, etc.) as it is an expensive item and you can’t sell it used, so it’s take it or give it to the charity shops (so the executives can increase their fortunes). Hardly anyone uses flat sheets any more do they? It’s fitted bottom sheets and the duvet. Pity, really, because the larger flat sheet is the one that can be spread out or tucked in to fit a variety of bed sizes. (Perhaps that's why the money-crunchers have helped elbow it out!). But most people will want sheets and duvet covers that fit properly; don’t want the new Ozzie neighbors to call us bloody Pommie drongos do we? (I lived in Oz for many years but never found out what a Drongo was, anyone know?). The Americans, on the other hand, are more likely to help and offer advice. I suppose when you have so much it’s easier to be generous.

There is no such thing as a standard bed size internationally speaking. In fact, you can have any size bed you want these days if you can afford it and are prepared to wait. The easiest bed size to accommodate with bedding is the “standard double,” which, indeed, is the same size in the UK, America, Canada and some South American countries, i.e. 54 by 75 inches. I am not going to give metric equivalents, one, because I can’t be arsed, and, two, because the equivalents vary by fractions. When bed or mattress shopping, you should always have a tape measure marked in both systems anyway.

Here are some of the dimension of the four common sizes in UK, E.U., USA (Canada, Mexico, etc) and Australia. Note: This is the mattress size, the beds will vary.


Single 39 by 75 36 by 75 35 by 79 36 by 74

Double 54 by 75 54 by 75 55 by 79 54 by 74

Queen 60 by 80 n/a 63 by 79 60 by 80

King 76 by 80 60 by 78 71 by 79 72 by 80

Legend has it that the US King is the same as the UK Queen - it isn‘t…and the UK Super King is still smaller than the US Standard King - it is. The US also has supers kings, California kings and a huge Alaska king with room for two enthusiastic couples, or you, the missus and a Polar Bear. Actually, it’s probably this large because folks never get undressed there in the winter and jump into bed with the caribou skin coats on. (“Mutluk, did I just get lucky or does your coat hoodie still have the antlers attached!?”)

These days, single beds are mainly for the criminal classes who feel insecure sleeping in a bed bigger than the one they had in the ‘Scrubs or in Huntsville. The UK even has a ‘mini single,” which would be fine for the Mini Schnauzer. I am a big bloke so my opinion is colored. I personally think there has been a red shift to folks sleeping singly on doubles and doubled-up on queen, king or onward. They buy the singles for the kids. You can get round and oval beds, too, in case you want to roll around doing it, or circulating to the next nubile and panting recipient.

Just look at the European measurements. Can’t you just see the parsimonious peckinsniff noses of the Froggies involved here? No…non, 80 inches long is too much for the French, make them all standard 79 inches, d‘acorde?. Like their phalluses I presume, just a little shorter than anyone else’s.

You will find that manufacturers further cloud the issue by squeezing the bottom line on their computers to gain a few dollars on each mattress, which is slightly shorter, narrower or thinner than the standard…or by bad calculations, arrives a few cms longer, wider or fatter. Cynics will say the former is more likely.

Note that Ikea in the UK normally uses EU sizes, gawd knows why except it’s a bit of Scandinavian cunning at work which makes you buy the bed, the linen and even the guzzunda (“jerry,” cousins…it “goes under the bed“) at Ikea to fit the mattress you wish you had never set your eyes on! Frequent or disillusioned customers of this store-unto-itself will know what I mean. It’s hardly worth getting lost in the labyrinthine levels for a week.

I can’t help thinking we all made a big mistake when we exchanged sleeping on the floor for all these complicated platforms. Although my problem is not getting into bed these days it’s getting out of it. Which reminds me I’m on a bloody diet again and can’t have choc chip cookies with my brekky coffee. Durn it, chatting with you I have already eaten 6!



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    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Well...OK...never had acne in my life!


    • profile image

      Kris 4 years ago

      Next time you wash your hair, Shampoo everything above your apmirts.That includes your whole Head, Face Neck, Shoulders and as much of your back as possible..Buy some Selsun Shampoo' for Dandruff. . This is EXCELLENT for all types of skin ailments.and will clear your Acne in about a week. Many of the other treatments are rather mild for serious Acne, so keep them for future use after your face is better. Selsun shampoo, cleans DEEP into the skin pores and is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal cleanser. Take care to rinse your face thoroughly after shampooing to remove all traces of Selsun'(Take a long shower ) because It has a slight drying effect, so alternate with a good quality Lanolin based soap to restore the natural body oils removed by the shampoo

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Sophie. Sorry...I couldn't even put you in touch with peple from England! I don't know a soul in France. I lived in Oz, the States and Mexico since I was 23 and only came back here a few years ago.

      Before you make a final descision to come to Europe, do take advice and a holiday here. You may be unpleasantly surprised. But one man's meat and all that, so don't let me put you off....Bob

    • profile image 7 years ago

      Christ......I've tried to send two messages and they flew off unfinished. If you're still hangin' around yer computer and received some mumbo jumbo from me, I'd like you to know I am sane, just an idiot on some days!

      Anyway, I want to know how to contact expats in France. The five year plan is to move there on a threadbare budget so I'm sure you'll agree this will require excellent planning on my part. So, can you put me in touch with some fairly sane, cheeky, intelligent expats?

      Would be ever so grateful.



      PS I've been to France half a dozen times so know where I want to live.

    • profile image

      sophie hamilton 7 years ago

      I may have sent you a bit of an asinine unfinished email with a request.

      I'm a plucky old broad living in the US but am a Brit and want to retire to France. Actually, I'm on a 5 year plan so can you put

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks HH...How tall are ya? Bob

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      A very interesting point. Being tall myself and my son even taller it does feel a bit short at times. Thank you for a good written hub.


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