Placemats always cut a dash at the dining table. They add style to your place settings and can be a talking point for your guests.

They’re ultra-practical too, preventing your table from getting scratched, stained or damaged.

There’s a wealth of choice on the market so before you make a decision on the best placemats for you, check the occasion you’ll be using them for, the size of your table and the temperature of your serving dishes.

We’ve tested a host of placemats – to suit different styles, tastes and budgets. Materials range from melamine-coated MDF and cork to the finest linen and cotton. In other words, there’s something here for everyone.

London Transport Museum brightest London and home by underground placemat: £12.99, London Transport Museum Shop

What a great idea. The London Transport Museum sells a range of placemats, all inspired by vintage London Underground posters, and this one brightened up our table no end. First published in 1924, Horace Taylor’s cheerful poster design depicts a party of sophisticated London diners watching a group of dancers. The placemat, which measures 32cm x 22cm, has a gloss finish, a cork base and is wipe clean only. There are nine other designs in the collection so you can mix and match them. Every sale supports the museum’s charitable work.

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Nkuku avani etched placemat: £14.95, Nkuku

We were entranced by this pretty glass placemat. The mat looks like a prized antique but is a brand new item, hand-etched in silver by skilled artisans. Devon-based Nkuku (the name comes from a hut in Zambia) sells handmade home and lifestyle products from around the world, combining top-notch design with traditional skills and natural materials. These circular mats measure 20.5cm in diameter and come in two designs – a spiral pattern and a flower design. We loved both styles but the mats look equally dazzling on their own.

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Neptune ellis stripe placemats, set of six: £50, Neptune

For a relaxed, laidback vibe, look no further than these soft, unbleached placemats from Neptune. Made from 100 per cent linen, with a heavier yarn and dark navy stripes, they are perfect for all occasions, whether you’re grabbing an everyday breakfast or planning a more formal supper. They are generously sized – 49cm x 34cm – and are enduring and versatile. The design is timeless so we reckon you’ll be using these for years.

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Tate Hockney bigger splash placemats, set of four: £30, Tate Shop

Art lovers will appreciate laying the table with this stunning set. The four matching placemats feature David Hockney’s iconic painting, A Bigger Splash, 1967, and bring a dash of California sunshine to mealtimes. A Bigger Splash is one of Hockney’s best-known artworks, depicting a sun-drenched swimming pool in Los Angeles, a pink modernist building, an empty chair – and a big splash. As well as being great to look at the placemats are ultra-practical. They measure 23cm x 23cm, comprise a melamine coated hardboard base and cork backing and are heat resistant up to 145 degrees celsius.

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Puddin’ Head animaux placemat, elephant: £14, Amara

Robust and eye-catching, this purple placemat attracted loads of compliments. At 38cm x 29cm, it is suitable for an individual place setting or for placing serving dishes on. Made from eucalyptus board and coated in melamine, it’s heat resistant to 160 degrees celsius and has a non-slip backing. It features a whimsical illustration of an elephant by Puddin’ Head, alias Sydney-based printmaker and illustrator Richard McAdam. There are 12 other animal placemats in the collection, including a rooster, a squirrel and a hare, so you can mix and match the designs.

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Eat Sleep Doodle colour & learn world map placemats, set of four: £22.95, Eat Sleep Doodle

This ingenious set of four placemats from Wiltshire-based company Eat Sleep Doodle will make mealtimes fun for younger diners. The placemats come with a pack of ten wash-out fabric pens so children – and adults too for that matter – can colour in the different parts of the world, then fit them together like a jigsaw. The 100 per cent cotton placemats, which measure 47cm x 33cm, are great for parties and family occasions. Once you’ve finished with them they can be bunged in the washing machine and hey presto, the ink disappears, ready to colour in all over again.

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Liga star cork mats, set of four: £19, Not On The High Street

If you want your table setting to be environmentally friendly then cork placemats are perfect. Cork is a sustainable, natural and highly practical material and goes with every kind of place setting, from casual to formal. Handmade and designed in Cornwall, this set is good value and comes in a host of designs – festooned with stars, snowflakes, pine cones or trees. The diameter of these circular mats is 24.5cm – and you can buy matching coasters too.

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Emma Bridgewater black toast placemats, set of four: £35, Emma Bridgewater

Sleek and stylish, these 29cm x 21.5cm placemats from Emma Bridgewater will perk your table up in a flash. As well as being practical, they are great to look at. With cork backs and melamine-coated MDF, they are heat resistant to 90 degrees celsius and can easily be wiped clean with a damp cloth. There are several other designs to choose from, including garden birds, polka dots and hens, and matching coasters too.

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Maik blue criss cross round placemats, set of four: £36, Not On The High Street

Handmade in a family-run UK factory, this set of four from Maik combines style and substance. The contemporary navy and white criss-cross design is pleasing to the eye but the mats themselves are tough and hard-wearing. Made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus board and with protective melamine coating, they measure 28cm in diameter and are heat resistant to 140 degrees celsius. They also come in a rectangular shape and matching coasters are available.

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TillieMint Loves pastel pattern placemats, set of four: £35, Not On The High Street

Add a dash of colour to your dining table with this chic set of four geometric placemats. TillieMint Loves is a Lancashire-based family business that makes everything from personalised cushion covers to throws, shopping bags and aprons. These 23cm x 19cm placemats are made from glossy unisub MDF and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth to keep them looking like new. Matching coasters are available.

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The verdict: Placemats

There are so many gorgeous placemats on the market that we were spoiled for choice. Our favourite is the London Transport Museum’s brightest London and home by underground placemat, which is timeless and original. Meanwhile children loved using Eat Sleep Doodle’s colour & learn world map placemats. They’re fun to colour in – and educational too.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.