sleep week

We Slept on Lots of Linen Sheets and Found Ones for Every Type of Sleeper

Photo: retailer

Over the past couple of years, Strategist editors have developed a fixation with linen sheets. New and must-try brands keep coming to our attention, especially in the direct-to-consumer space (and often on Instagram) — even mattress brands like Eve entered the fray (although they’ve since pivoted to a linen-bamboo mix). There are brands who prefer Portuguese linen to French (like Linen Shed), brands with an organic and ethical focus (like Ecosophy) and brands who lean into luxury (the monogrammable Linen Me). And as linen bedding is not inexpensive, we spied many brands offering extended warranties — from Bedfolk’s 60-night trial, to Linen Works’ 50-year warranty. But which brand is right for you? We trialled five different sets from five different brands over the past three months to find out. Collectively, we put the bedding through numerous washes, tumble dryer cycles and quarantine naps.

Of course, the universal draw of linen, which is derived from the flax plant, is its inherent temperature regulation, keeping you sweat-free in the summer and snuggly in the winter. But beyond this general quality, we also gained an appreciation for how nuanced the material can be — some sheets stand out for their softness, others for how they cater to different mattress sizes (anyone who owns an Ikea bed knows the annoyance of idiosyncratic sheet sizing), others for simply coming in a unique range of colours (not just the traditional architectural neutrals). We’ve grouped them accordingly here, with some of the options in each category being much splurgier than others (although linen, on the whole, tends to be a bigger, longer-term investment than, say, a bamboo cotton bedding set). And speaking of cost, you’ll see that most prices listed are for a double-size set that includes a fitted sheet, duvet cover, and two pillowcases; some brands, however, only offer dimensions for double beds and up, and/or they sell by the piece. This pick and mix option, we learned, has its merits — sometimes just a single layer of linen atop or below your body is all you need to transform your night.

If you want linen sheets that are especially soft

I have been a Piglet fan since they launched in 2017 — my Piglet linen collection includes their earliest press samples, as well as bedding which I’ve bought with my own money. My three-year-old blush-pink duvet cover has gotten softer with every wash, but still retains its colour, no matter whether I tumble dry it or line dry it. It now feels like sleeping inside a cloud (my U.S. colleagues agree, as does designer and creative consultant Matilda Goad). Meanwhile, my six-month-old and one-year-old white sheets are well on their way to becoming similarly soft. Though the French linens are pre-washed, on the initial sleep, the sheet is pleasingly textured (you might find it less soft than you expect), but not scratchy.

The duvet covers close with medium-size buttons, which are inobtrustive – and the pillow cases are envelope-style. In terms of pricing, compared to other direct to consumer linen retailers in this story (like Soak and Sleep), Piglet isn’t cheap. The bedding bundle (duvet cover, two pillowcases, a fitted sheet) is £261. However, as it’s a small U.K. business, the detailing is impeccable: All orders are shipped from their converted barn in West Sussex, in linen drawstring bags, with thank you note. —Ailbhe Malone, Senior Editor

Like Piglet, Bedfolk launched in 2017. However, if Piglet says “Babington House,” Bedfolk seems like bedding you might see in an issue of Kinfolk. The website is appropriately sparse and clean — their product range is pretty straightforward, with four styles of bedding (linen, cotton, luxe, and classic cotton) and a carefully chosen palette of colours. The curated selection of shades evoke the natural — green is “moss,” grey is “dove,” and so on. I opted for the white (aka “snow”) sheets — I don’t own any white sheets but my bedroom is full of muted tones so I wanted something in keeping with that. The linen bundle starts at £179, and you can add or subtract a sheet from your bedding bundle. The first time I slept on the sheets, I couldn’t believe how it transformed my simple Ikea duvet into something that felt soft, warm, and decadent. Compared to my usual bedsheets (fairly standard H&M Home and Ikea sets), this bedding was noticeably a bit looser, but it looked perfect with my black wooden bedframe and a couple of grey throws over the top. I was even more impressed the longer I kept them. Bedfolk offer a 60 night trial on their made-in-Portugal sheets, but after two months, and at least five washes, these sheets retained their softness and still felt, frankly, like they were brand new. One thing I was less into was the pale wooden buttons at the opening of the duvet cover — something a bit more discreet would have been nice. —Chris Mandle, Writer

If you want linen sheets in standout colours

Online-only furniture and furnishings retailer Loaf have three linen bedding options: a cotton and linen mix, a premium line (“Lordy linen”) and an everyday linen (“Lazy Linen”). I tested a Duck Egg blue set from the everyday collection –there are eight colourways including rose, grey nutmeg and two types of white. The shades are less muted than the photographs suggest — the Duck Egg was a touch more green than I’d anticipated. The sheets are incredibly soft, and washed exceptionally well, but I was left with a few irks. I have a standard king-size mattress, but the fitted sheets seemed to both ride up, and swamp it. I couldn’t get the hang of it, and began to just accept that by the morning, one side of the bed would be scant of sheet. It’s probably worth noting that I toss and turn in my sleep — and the sheets always stayed in place on my husband’s side. Also of note, as the sheets aren’t pre-washed, the fabric sheds slightly (I’ve noticed it sheds less with each wash). The sheets are available in double through to king-size, and pricing is comparable to Piglet: £285 for a bundle (including a sheet, two pillowcases and a duvet cover). You can also buy pieces individually. —A.M.

If you want dip-your-toe-in linen sheets

One of my favourite sensations is getting into just-changed sheets with freshly shaven legs, and sleeping on this sheet is like that feeling multiplied by a thousand. The linen has a tactile softness that isn’t smooth but doesn’t scratch, with a texture so satisfying that I can’t help rub my feet back and forth across it. Unlike standard fitted sheets this one is elasticated all the way around, rather than just at the corners, which makes it more tricky to find the ends but much easier to put on without having to wrestle my mattress to make it fit. Once on the sheet feels quite baggy — I can grab a fistful of spare material — but this was actually a good thing for an active sleeper like me, who often wakes up to find that at least one corner of my fitted sheet has pinged off and rolled halfway down during the night. The material of the sheet also helped both my partner and I stay at comfortable temperatures throughout the night, despite us usually running at opposites with him always hot and me often cold.

My king-size sheet is in the dusty rose colourway with an earthy, romantic hue, but there is a range of colours, textures, and even different mattress depths available on the LinenMe website. I was briefly tempted by their monogramming service but the filters that are supposed to easily find the exact item you want to personalise don’t seem to work, leaving you to scroll through hundreds of products and making it off-puttingly difficult to navigate. Nonetheless, my non-monogrammed sheet was much easier to order and arrived in its own linen bag with tie handles, which I’ve since repurposed as a rather lovely case for my knitting supplies. —Rosie Percy, Senior Audience Development Manager

As the name suggests, Soak & Sleep specialises in bath and bed products. But the website also features a full spectrum of nighttime paraphernalia, like bed frames, cashmere socks, night gowns, and mattress toppers. Everything is laid out clearly, but navigating feels more like wandering around the bedding floor of a department store (even after writing down the details of the sheets I ordered, for example, I struggled to find them on the website several weeks later). I chose a set in “natural,” which arrived neatly in plastic and cardboard packaging. Up close, I’d describe them as somewhere between “butterscotch” and “clay” (natural is a bit of a vague term). Price-wise, this is the cheapest linen bundle we’ve seen: A set with a sheet, duvet cover and pillowcase set is £203. The colours are also a simple palette of neutral tones and occasional navy and pink options, too. Fitting the bedding was easy, although I didn’t like the tie closures on the duvet cover; Soak & Sleep say these are to make ironing easier (eliminating the need to gingerly prod your iron around a button) but I thought they made the end of the bed look a bit messy, even when I tried to tuck the ends away. After several washes, these were still soft and very comfy, but compared to Bedfolk’s Portuguese linen, they didn’t soften as quickly: They remained a little stiff. —C.M.

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We Slept on Lots of Linen Sheets for Every Type of Sleeper