This question has many answers as it depends on what your priorities are: durability, colour or uniqueness are all factors that come into play.
Below are some of our suggestions, but they are by no means exhaustive and we highly recommend that you speak to us directly about your needs so that we can tailor our recommendations to your personal needs.
For many, the ultimate combination of quality, durability and uniqueness is encompassed by granite. In particular, darker tightly grained granite is known for its durability and is sometimes even used as exterior cladding on buildings. Granite has high stain and scratch resistance, in addition to exhibiting high heat resistance. Acidic products such as lemon juice are also not likely to affect granite. Furthermore, granite can be polished to a very high gloss level.
Quartzite has similar properties to granite and is very durable, if not more durable than granite. Quartzite differs though in that it offers colours and patterns similar to marble and sandstone. This is why Quartzite is an ideal choice for bench tops, particularly when trying to create that wow factor.
Marble is another great natural stone for those looking to create a feature island bench or splash-back with beautiful patterning and colour. However, marble is not as durable as granite and generally has a lower stain and scratch resistance too. It’s worth noting that marble does react with acidic products such as lemon juice, which can cause etching on polished marbles.
Quartz/Composite/Engineered stones are also popular for bench tops. These reconstituted stones are a durable product and because they are man-made the colour of the stone is controlled, offering very uniform subtle patterns in light/white colours, which is not available in granite. Engineered stone is also highly scratch, stain and acid resistant, but being resin based is not as heat resistant as granite. Keep in mind that reconstituted stone is not generally suitable for outdoor use as it is UV sensitive.