When it comes to choosing between the two types of waterbed mattress, hard side and soft side there are several aspects that should be taken into account.
A hard side mattress needs to be supported in a wooden frame. This frame adds significantly to the total weight of the bed.
Hard side - Getting onto and off of a hard side waterbed can be uncomfortable if you move too quickly or without thinking. The wooden frame that surrounds the mattress tends to stand a little higher than the top of the mattress so even rolling in the bed could bring you up against a painful obstruction. Even with a padded profile the wooden frame is not exactly designed for sitting on.
Soft side - Getting onto and off a soft side mattress is almost the same as getting onto or off a standard mattress. Certainly sitting on the edge of the bed is pleasant and comfortable.
Hard side - A hard side waterbed is constructed of wood and represents the major feature in the room. No matter how well disguised, a hard side waterbed looks more like a stage or podium than a bed. The appearance can be improved by breaking up the outline but the top frame can not be disguised or hidden from view. Unless the rest of your bedroom furniture has the same appearance as the frame, it is not going to blend in.
Soft side - A soft side mattress looks just like an ordinary mattress and is in a mattress case. The lack of the frame has the effect of lowering the apparent height of the bed and reducing the impact of the bed on the room.
Making the bed
Hard side - It is more difficult to make a hard side bed because the mattress is boxed in and the wooden support structure is so inflexible. The weight of the mattress can make it hard to fit the sheets properly and to tuck the rest of the bedding in securely.
Soft side - Although the mattress is just as heavy it is much easier to fit the sheets correctly because you have better access to the corners thanks to the foam edging support. It is also much easier to tuck in the rest of the bedding if required.
Hard side - If there is a leak in a hard side mattress and it is in the sides or the bottom it is very difficult to repair a hard side mattress without having to empty it enough to be able to access the problem area.
Soft side - A leak in a soft side mattress in the sides is easy to access and repair and even a leak in the bottom could be accessible and easier to repair.
Although it is a question of personal choice the contest between hard side and soft side mattresses is hardly a contest at all. The soft side is far more attractive, comfortable and convenient.