Everyone’s bedside table is different. Some are stacked with must-read novels, others are home to trinket trays, scented oils, sleep masks or (whisper it) a phone stand. But the thing they should all have in common is a bedside lamp.
A bedside lamp performs three main jobs. The first is to provide a good reading light, whether you prefer to settle in with a book, magazine or tablet. A less obvious function of a bedside lamp is to give the option of soft, diffused light that illuminates the room in the evening – ideal for unwinding before bed, watching TV or after stepping out of the tub.
The last task for a bedside lamp is to look fabulous while fulfilling the other roles. Shades and bases add colour and texture without overwhelming the room and, should you have a double bed or larger, a pair of lamps will frame the furniture perfectly.
Size matters – while some are blessed with surface space galore on a bedside unit, for most, a smaller lamp will be more practical, although we’ve included a few taller and wider options in our edit.
The factors we’ve considered are bulb type – standard bulbs will be cheaper and easier to source over a lamp’s lifespan, while energy saving bulb-compatible lamps are an eco win – as well as sturdiness, ease of switching on and off, and value for money. To help you make the decision about which bedside lamp might be right for your bedroom, our edit includes everything from stylish high street buys to decadent designer lights.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best bedside lamps for 2021 are:
Best for the bedroom and beyond – Next kit one stage touch table lamp: £20, Next.co.uk
Best for a traditional look – Pooky lottie bedside lamp with empire shade: £148, Pooky.com
Best for a retro feel – KD Loves ivy base in scarlet with shade in olivia : £365, Kdloves.com
Best for a glamorous bedroom – Laura Ashley ivy faceted crystal glass pumpkin table lamp with shade: £95, Darlighting.co.uk
Best for simplicity – Habitat lyss glass table lamp: £20, Habitat.co.uk
Best for an industrial feel – Iconic Lights talisman satin nickel table lamp with ribbed glass jam jar shade: £53, Iconiclights.co.uk
Best for a bedroom desk – Cox & Cox deep sage & brass rounded desk lamp: £75, Coxandcox.co.uk
Best for contemporary style – Raft chalgrove table lamp in silver: £75, Raftfurniture.co.uk
Best for tech lovers – Dowsing & Reynolds pearl white asteria table lamp: £279, Dowsingandreynolds.com
Best for sustainability – Dunlem ecomix white table lamp: £25, Dunelm.com
Next kit one stage touch table lamp
Best: For the bedroom and beyond
Waking up suddenly and fumbling for a switch is no fun, which is where Next’s touch lamp comes in. Remarkably affordable for a touch-sensitive lamp, it’s light, compact and short enough (32cm tall) to fit on most bedside tables, and it has a pared-back design that’ll suit a variety of schemes. We tested ours in charcoal but there’s also pretty rose gold, yellow, navy and light grey options, each with a metal band around the top of the base and a matching simple round fabric shade. We loved how responsive it was to switch on and off – only a light touch is needed – although this can be a drawback too. We accidentally turned it on a couple of times when reaching for something else by brushing against it, so it might work best at the rear of a table rather than in the middle.
Our one niggle is the power cable – while it’s fairly generous to be able to reach a socket, it’s white. Attached to a dark grey lamp, this means it stands out if you have it trailing – another good reason to site your lamp at the back. Like many compact lamps, this one takes a screw-in candle bulb, ideally a 4W LED, and we agree – our 5W LED was too bright for a bedroom. It was, however, good for reading by – the light can project out of the top of the lamp a little but not so not much as to be dazzling. For the price, it’s an excellent buy, and one which lends itself to other rooms beyond the bedroom.
Buy now £20.00, Next.co.uk
Pooky Lottie bedside lamp in a cobalt blue and stone glaze
Best: For a traditional look
For those who love classic design with a modern twist, Pooky’s Lottie lamp is sure to appeal, blending the familiar urn shape with a bold stripe. This bedside version – shorter than the original by 13cm but still oozing the same charm that’s made it one of the company’s bestsellers – is suited to those with limited space but unwilling to compromise on style. There’s a choice of shades on offer to complement your bedroom too. We tested it with a simple pleated silk shade, bringing its total height to 45cm.
There’s a lot to like about this lamp – a generous flex wrapped in fabric gives it a premium feel and is practical for those who don’t have a socket next to the bed, while the bayonet fitting makes for quick bulb changing. While you can add anything up to a 60W standard bulb, we used ours with a 5W energy saving bulb, which gave off a bright enough light to read from below the shade. The height of the lamp made sure it was tall enough not to dazzle from the top when sitting in bed. Perhaps the only tweak could be the push bar switch – until you get used to where it is, finding it in the dark when half-asleep could be a challenge.
Buy now £148.00, Pooky.com
KD Loves ivy base in scarlet with shade in olivia
Best: For a retro feel
As one of the larger lamps in our round-up, it’d be easy to dismiss this as too big for a bedside table. However, if you have the space (the base is 22cm at its widest), this works well in a bedroom, its bulbous, squat shape and rich colour bringing an on-trend retro vibe in an instant. We reviewed this with the tall 12in Olivia shade (£195, Kdloves.com) but it’d work just as well with something shorter.
The details are the key thing to love about this lamp, from its clear acrylic base that feels modern and fresh, to its twisted silk-wrapped flex – long enough to reach most sockets and elegant if on show. Its rocker switch control is conveniently located on the flex – great for bleary eyed mornings – about a third of the way down. It’s compatible with bulbs up to 60W but we paired it with a screw-in 4W LED filament bulb. This cast a soft glow from the bottom that was reflected upwards by the glossy base for reading, and, as the shade was tall, there was no harsh light coming from the top. There’s no overlooking the fact that it is pricey but if you can afford to splash the cash, this statement piece is an easy way to add personality. Note that the lamp base and shade are sold separately.
Buy now £365.00, Kdloves.com
Laura Ashley ivy faceted crystal glass pumpkin table lamp with shade
Best: For a glamorous bedroom
Weighty yet compact, glamorous at the bottom but simple linen at the top, this crystal lamp is all about contradictions. Inspired by 1960s glassware, the base has a faceted surface with a flat top and bottom that makes it feel thoroughly modern despite its nod to heritage homeware. It’s the perfect size for a smaller bedside table – just 28cm tall with a diameter of 18cm – and heavy enough (3.5kg) to be stable if knocked.
What’s lovely about this lamp is the details. For example, there’s a notch in the crystal base for the cable so it won’t be squashed and the wire itself is wrapped in clear plastic to echo the clear base. The inline switch is located on the cable too – making for easy operation from your bed. It also looks interesting whether it’s on or off as it sparkles in direct light. As well as a higher price point, the downside is also bulb compatibility. A small fitting means you’re limited to screw-in candle and mini bulbs. We used an energy saving 5W candle but you can fit up to a 40W standard bulb. Plus, as it’s a shorter lamp than some, this one might be best suited to those who lay down in bed to read as its cylinder shade allows light to shine out the top, which could be distracting.
Buy now £95.00, Darlighting.co.uk
Habitat lyss glass table lamp
Best: For simplicity
A limited budget needn’t prevent you from brightening up a bedroom thanks to Habitat’s lyss lamps. Available in four colours – white, smoke, navy and the pretty pink version we reviewed – this is a simple glass lamp with a slight retro feel and plenty of personality for the price. It’s small at just 19cm tall but well made, with a notch in the base for the cable, inline switch that’s easy to reach and a good length of cable so it can be a little further away from a socket.
However, it’s the bulb you choose for it that can make or break it as a bedside lamp. Our pink lamp was more translucent than we expected, meaning that even when off, all the details of the bulb inside were visible. While you can choose a stylish exposed filament bulb, less attractive bulbs, such as the 5W candle we fitted, spoiled the look somewhat. The glass shade also does little to dim the illumination from the bulb – great if you like a very bright light to read by but finding a compatible bulb that emits a soft glow can be a challenge. If you prefer to sit up in bed, you’ll need to budget for a short “golfball” bulb – we found our candle bulb shone brightly out of the top, making reading uncomfortable.
Buy now £20.00, Habitat.co.uk
Iconic Lights talisman satin nickel table lamp with ribbed glass jam jar shade
Best: For an industrial feel
Some people don’t mind self-assembly. Unfortunately, we’re not a fan, which is why this lamp, which arrived as a flatpack, caused some frustration. It was difficult to put together, especially where the stem connected to the heavy marble base, and the provided tools seemed ill-suited for the job. However, once the lamp was wrestled into shape, it made a great bedside partner – its jam jar shade diffuses the light from a bulb beautifully while an inline switch quite far up the cable works well for turning it on and off without too much reaching.
We’d recommend using the optional £7 screw-in warm white filament bulb that Iconic Lights supplies. While pricey, it creates an inviting, bright light to read by in the bedroom without too much glare and looks stylish while doing so. If your budget doesn’t extend to that, you can also use LED and energy saving bulbs. In terms of size, the talisman is best suited to a larger bedside table – the base is 18cm wide while it’s around 52cm tall – although we loved that it’s quite a minimalist design without any visual bulk. This design is good for industrial-style and contemporary bedrooms where a conventional lamp just won’t do.
Buy now £53.00, Iconiclights.co.uk
Cox & Cox deep sage & brass rounded desk lamp
Best: For a bedroom desk
For those of us whose bedrooms double as desk space, this minimal compact lamp is a no-brainer. Not only does it sit neatly on a bedside table, its solid shade prevents any light from shining in your eyes while sitting up reading, and it can happily serve as a desk lamp during the day. Its luscious deep green and brass colours might be a nod to the traditional banker’s lamp, but they also tick the box for the enduring botanical trend. There’s lots to love about its design, including a black fabric-wrapped cord, convenient inline rocker switch and generous length of cable so it can reach a socket easily.
Perhaps the only drawback is that you’ll be a bit limited on bulb choice – this lamp needs a short E14 lightbulb (our LED candle bulb was just slightly too tall) and each time you change it, you’ll probably need to remove the shade. We found its size to be ideal though – at 40cm tall, it’s a good fit for both smaller and larger bedside tables, and the slim flat 15cm base takes up barely any space (plus you can rest trinket pots or books on top, so not an inch is wasted). If compact and cool are at the top of your bedside lamp wishlist, scroll no further.
Buy now £75.00, Coxandcox.co.uk
Raft Chalgrove table lamp in silver
Best: For contemporary style
For a truly contemporary take on bedroom lighting, meet the Chalgrove. It’s one of Raft’s most popular lamps and it’s easy to see why – the metal mesh shade topped with clear glass is the perfect balance of simplicity and style. We reviewed the silver version, though there’s also black and coordinating floor lamps. Much like other ultra-modern lamps, its base is flat – meaning that you can put things on top so barely any bedside surface space is lost – and it has one of the most accommodating power cables of the bedside lamps we reviewed at well over 2m long. This would be especially useful if your bedroom was short on conveniently placed plug sockets.
Bulb-wise, the lamp takes a full-sized screw-in, however, on a bedside table, it’s best to opt for a shorter bulb. The one we added poked out just above the metal mesh, creating dazzle while reading, so a low-watt spiral would be best – it recommends a max of energy saving 12W CFL. Its inline controls are situated towards the top of the cable, so they were handy when turning on and off from the bed. The other element we liked about this lamp was its size – big enough to make a style statement, yet at just under 40cm tall and 16cm wide, far from being a bedside table hog.
Buy now £75.00, Raftfurniture.co.uk
Dowsing & Reynolds pearl white asteria table lamp
Best: For tech lovers
In a lot of ways, this feels like the ultimate bedside lamp – both for those who like to relax and read, as well as people who dislike losing a plug socket for charging devices. It features a built-in LED panel (so no hunting for the right lightbulb) with a diffuser that cascades the light gently below. It turns on and off using a dimmer switch on the base, allowing you to set it to a low soothing light, or a brighter one for reading. And because the shade above is solid, there’s no chance of being dazzled whether you sit up or lay down in bed to read.
However, it’s the built-in USB charging port that sets it apart that bit more. We found it incredibly handy for powering up phones or smartwatches at night, as the light doesn’t have to be on for the USB port to work. The lamp also comes in a dramatic anthracite grey colour but we found the pearl white better suited to a bedroom – combined with the gold stem and base, the effect was modern and elegant. The only downside to this lamp is its price – while not the most expensive in our round-up, this is more of a considered buy for someone who’ll make good use of all its clever features.
Buy now £279.00, Dowsingandreynolds.com
Dunlem ecomix white table lamp
Best: For sustainability
You might not expect to find eco alternatives at Dunelm but the edited life range is a thing of wonder. This lamp, one of its ecomix designs, includes recycled paper in its base. This means that it’s light to carry around yet looks like handmade ceramic. It’s complemented with a cream fabric shade, but less delightfully, has a black fabric-wrapped cord that jars with the artisan feel of the rest of it. While its size works well as a bedside lamp – it’s 44cm tall with a 14cm-wide base – unfortunately, the inline controls are far down the cable, so turning it on and off at night involves some fumbling.
We liked the generously sized shade, though, as it meant light didn’t dazzle from the top when we were reading even with a standard bulb in place. It recommends a screw-in max 9W candle LED bulb, which should provide a bright enough light to read by. All things considered, this is a decently sized, versatile bedside lamp that brings a little bit of feel-good to the table for a surprisingly pocket-friendly price.
Buy now £25.00, Dunelm.com
The verdict: Bedside lamps
While we didn’t like the colour of the power cable, we chose Next’s kit one stage touch table lamp as our best buy as it looks more expensive than its affordable price tag and comes with the convenience of touch control. If money is no object, the asteria lamp from Dowsing & Reynolds is an excellent choice thanks to its variable light, modern styling and handy USB port for charging.
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Head over to our review of the best floor lamps for adding a touch of ambiance to your living space