If you’re off to university, or buying for someone who is, bedding is one of the things that can really help a student feel that bit more at home – or at least make sure no one is going to spend the first term sleeping on a bare mattress.
Cotton is by nature more breathable than polyester, so we’d say if you can afford it, it’s worth stretching to a cotton-rich set. That said, a bit of polyester in the mix means that covers will be less susceptible to creasing (we’re realistic, sheets probably will not get ironed). Cheaper sets tend to have a higher polyester percentage but that doesn’t mean they won’t do the job.
Thread counts can be confusing, and probably something most students aren’t too bothered about. A high thread count doesn’t necessarily mean better quality as the number can be inflated. As a rule, if you want something that feels a little bit more luxurious, go for a thread count of 200 or more that feels soft against the skin.
Kitting someone out for halls can be expensive, so this lot – most of which include a duvet cover and at least one pillowcase – are all good value for money, starting at under £10. Most fall under standard British bed sizes (200cm x 135cm), unless where specified.
1. Zara Home Basics Printed Duvet Cover and Pillow Case Set: £17.99, Zara
From Zara Home’s basics range, this is really good value for 100 per cent cotton. The paisley design is pretty and at 150 x 220cm, it’s both wider and longer than most on the list so ideal for those taller freshers who don’t want cold feet. Just make sure your duvet is the right size for the cover (Zara also stocks those in the same dimensions).
2. Emma Bridgewater Blue Patchwork Duvet Set: £24.99, TK Maxx
This brand, best known for country kitchen-style ceramics, also makes bedding incorporating the designs – just the thing for making a stark student room feel a bit more homely. This patchwork design, using a number of Emma Bridgewater’s popular patterns, is 100 per cent cotton and as it’s from discount store TK Maxx, you are getting a great deal on a quality set that will last a whole degree course.
3. Ikea Malin Rund: £15, Ikea
Ikea pieces might feature heavily in student flats, but that’s for good reason: the Swedish homeware store’s designs are great value for money and appeal to those wanting a clean, modern look. There are also loads to choose from. We like this purple, green, blue and black set that’s an impressive price for 100 per cent cotton. Plus, unlike most on the list, you get two pillowcases and at 200 x 150cm, it’s wider than most.
4. House By John Lewis Elevation Duvet Cover and Pillowcase Set: £22.50, John Lewis
John Lewis’s House range is its most affordable, but you get the quality you’d expect from the department store. The collection has a contemporary feel – expect geometric patterns and Scandi-inspired designs in inoffensive shades – and our pick for students is this reversible grey and white set with an all-over pattern (so they can flip it over if they want to change up the look of their room). You get a soft-feeling 200 thread count.
5. Marks & Spencer Hadley Striped Bedding Set: £29.50, Marks & Spencer
Good old M&S, it has a range of striped bedding sets in clean-feeling colours that will freshen up the dingiest of student rooms. You get a quality product for your money: 100 per cent cotton with a 180 thread count that’s soft on the skin and looks the same after ten washes as it does after one. Choose from four colours, all of which are relatively neutral.
6. Debenhams Home Collection Basics Grey Checked Hugo Bedding Set: £20, Debenhams
This inexpensive slate grey set has small checks on one side and large ones on the other, so it feels like two different designs in one. The polycotton is softer than some, too. The neutral colour will work with any colour scheme so is ideal if you have no idea what your student halls will look like yet.
7. Argos ColourMatch Highlight Stripe Bedding Set: £13.99, Argos
Argos’s own home range is a bit of a bargain. These subtle grey stripes in comfy polycotton are lifted by the bright trim, which will add some colour to a dreary student room. As it is part of the store’s ColourMatch collection, you can get sheets in the same “crystal blue”, as well as blinds if you’re decking the whole place out.
8. Dunelm Beautiful Birds Grey Duvet Cover: £16.99, Dunelm
Dunelm has become a student favourite thanks to its well-priced homeware. We think this bird and floral print on a soft-grey background has a bit of a vintage feel. It’s made of ultra-soft polycotton, and if you love the look, there are matching curtains and a bedspread.
9. Wilko Plum/Mauve Revers Duvet Set: £8, Wilko
Here’s another good-value reversible set. One side is a deep purple, and on the other, you get a soft lilac shade. As you would expect for this price, it has more polyester than some (52 per cent) but it will crease less than the more cotton-rich options and you can buy an extra drink with the change from a tenner.
10. Next Triangle Geo Bed Set: £15, Next
Next has long been a reliable go-to for kitting out student rooms. This triangle-patterned set in muted pinks, yellows and greys is bold without being too over-bearing. Next also does curtains and fleece blankets in colours that match or tone-in with the design.
11. Matalan Floral Printed Duvet Set: £20, Matalan
Matalan is another Fresher favourite and this is a great price for 100 per cent cotton. The plum, pink and grey design will tick all the boxes for anyone into bold florals but there are other cotton sets in the collection, including 200 thread count options for an impressive £16.
12. George Home Geo Block Print Reversible Duvet Set: £10, Asda
The geometric patterns on this reversible set are eye-catching without being too in-your-face and while it’s on the higher end of the polyester count (52 per cent), it’s a very decent price for a set that really is like having two designs to choose from.
13. Habitat Red Stonewashed Single Duvet Cover: £35, Pillowcase £10 Habitat
If you want to look like an old hand even in Freshers’ Week, this set has a stonewashed finish that gives it a lived-in look before it has even come out the box. It is super-comfy, 100 per cent cotton and if you don’t like red, there is a blue option in the single size. Pillow cases are sold separately and there is also a fitted sheet to match.
14. Urban Outfitters Heather Grey Jersey Duvet Cover: £55, Urban Outfitters
Jersey might be a fabric you associate with clothing, but it also makes for seriously soft, cosy bedding. We wish we’d had a set like this in our freezing student flat. Unlike most in this edit, it comes with two equally comfy pillow cases.
15. Heals Herringbone Navy Duvet Cover and Pillow Case: £50 for single duvet; £8 for pillow case, Heals
This is one to get your parents or grandparents to treat you to. Made from 100 per cent cotton with a 210 thread count, this textured set gets a first for style from us and yes it’s pricey, but it will last beyond graduation day and the intricate herringbone pattern mean spills or stains aren’t a disaster if they have to wait until wash day.
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