The Emma Original mattress isn't actually the original mattress from German manufacturer Emma; in fact it's its second model. Following on from its first mattress, the Hybrid, the Emma Original ditches the layer of pocket springs and instead use three layers of pressure-relieving foam.
The thinking behind it is that this arrangement provides plenty of support, comfort and durability while being suitable for all kinds of sleepers and body types; it also brings the Original in at a more affordable price than the Hybrid, which is good news for cost-conscious mattress hunters.
So does it live up to the hype? We thought so. The Emma Original sits comfortably at the top of our best memory foam mattress guide and has the number 2 spot in our hard-fought best mattress guide. For this review, we tested the Emma Original for 12 months to find out how good it really is.
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What is the Emma Original mattress?
The Emma Original is the second bed in a box foam mattress from Frankfurt-founded company Emma. You can only buy it online, and it arrives at your door – rolled-up and vacuum-packed in a compact and easy-to-move box – from the company’s UK manufacturer. Simply remove the packaging and the mattress expands into shape within two hours.
Inside the 25cm-deep mattress, there's a 3cm breathable Airgocell foam layer, followed by 2cm of visco-elastic memory foam to relieve pressure, and 19cm of supportive cold foam at the base – the latter is grooved to help distribute your weight for extra pressure-relief. On top, there's a removable, machine-washable and temperature-regulating cover.
Unlike some of its rivals, the Emma Original has handles on the sides, making it easier to move. This isn’t a mattress you need to flip, or even turn; but they're handy to have during the initial set up.
According to the company, the new Emma mattress is suitable for people weighing between 50kg and 130kg, will work with any bed base and can be used with an electric blanket.
In early 2020, Emma brought back its first ever mattress, the Emma Hybrid. This mattress features the same award-winning makeup as the Original, but adds a spring layer for a little extra bounce. If you think you might prefer that mattress, check out our Emma Hybrid review.
Emma mattress: firmness
So what’s the Emma Original mattress like to lie on? According to Emma, it’s a medium-firm mattress – and we’d agree, rating it a 6.5 for firmness (with 10 being the firmest). It’s surprisingly soft on top, with a little bounce, letting you sink in initially before pushing you back onto the surface of the mattress. That's where you remain, beautifully cushioned and supported for the rest of the night.
This coincides with the findings from our sister site Real Homes, which recorded the mattress sinking around 7.7cm when the team positioned a 56lb weight in the middle. That isn’t much sinkage at all (some sink below 9-10cm), and it's all thanks to that buoyant Airgocell foam and high-density poly foam at the base of the Emma mattress.
Firmness is relative, of course. Our reviewers ranged in weight between eight and 17 stone (112-238lb): most rated the new Emma mattress as medium-firm, but our heaviest tester felt it was closer to a medium mattress, while our lightest tester judged it to be on the firmer side.
How comfortable is the Emma mattress?
Sleeping on the Emma Original is exceptionally comfortable. We found the new Emma mattress to be very supportive, whether you’re sleeping on your front, back or side. Side sleeping was particularly luxurious thanks to that lovely foam, which cushions your shoulders and hips, and helps keep your spine straight. But front and back sleeping were also a joy, with the material pushing back to keep us positioned on top of the mattress, while creating a supportive, cushioned environment.
We also found motion transfer to be minimal. The Emma Original is very good at absorbing movement, so if you have a restless partner you’re unlikely to be disturbed by tossing and turning.
The only minor complaint came from one of our reviewers, who occasionally found the Emma Original to be a little warmer than hybrid mattresses like the Simba or Otty. Their sleep was only interrupted once by the warmth (on the hottest night of June, so perhaps not the fairest test) but it's worth noting if you're prone to overheating at night.
That said, if you find the mattress to be either a little too warm or too soft for your liking, Emma will send you a firm comfort layer for free. It slots inside your mattress cover, on top of the foam layers, and prevents you from sinking into the mattress – helping you stay cooler in the process. (Also, if you do overheat at night, it's worth investing in the best duvet for regulating your temperature, too.)
Emma Original mattress: price
As of June 2020, Emma dropped its prices by £120 or more for each size. Given that the Original was already priced extremely competitively within the bed-in-a-box market, this RRP change makes the company almost unbeatable. At full price, it's significantly cheaper than all of its main competitors, across all sizes (scroll down for an at-a-glance comparison).
Here's the current RRPs for each size along with the original price for reference: officially, a single Emma mattress costs £299 (was £429); a small double is £449, a double is £499 (was £649); a king is £579 (was £699); and a super king costs £649 (originally £799).
There's also a chance you'll be able to find an Emma mattress discount code to take that price even lower. For most of 2019, Emma itself reduced the price by at least 25-30 per cent, for example, as did retailers like John Lewis and Amazon. Now there's a lower RRP, it might be the case that the discounts are less regular.
Either way, the Emma Original mattress is outrageously good value, dropping its price below even the best budget mattresses. You'll see today's lowest prices below.
For context, it's handy to compare Emma's official pricing to that of its memory foam mattress rivals:
- Emma Original: £299 (single), £499 (double), £579 (king), £649 (super king)
- Eve The Original: £349 (single), £599 (double), £699 (king), £799 (super king)
- Nectar mattress: £499 (single), £699 (double), £799 (king), £899 (super king)
- Leesa mattress: £450 (single), £650 (double), £750 (king), £850 (super king)
- Dormeo Memory Plus: £529 (single), £629 (double), £779 (king), £899 (super king)
And here's how the Emma mattress compares to its other rivals:
- Emma Original: £299 (single), £499 (double), £579 (king), £649 (super king)
- Simba Hybrid: £549 (single), £749 (double), £849 (king), £949 (super king)
- The Casper: £400 (single), £600 (double), £700 (king), £800 (super king)
- Otty Hybrid: £374 (single), £549 (double), £649 (king), £749 (super king)
Does the new Emma mattress smell?
Some new mattresses can give off a chemical smell at first. Ours didn’t; but if yours does, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s due to a process called off-gassing (it’s the same smell you get with new cars) and it happens when the seal of the vacuum packaging is broken, and organic chemicals in the mattress are released. All you need to do is keep the room aired and the odour will dissipate within a few days.
Emma Original mattress: delivery and returns
Delivery is quick: order your Emma mattress online and it’ll be delivered, free, within one-three working days by couriers DPD, UPS or Parcel Force. You can track progress via a tracking link.
Like most bed-in-a-box mattresses, the Emma Original comes with a 100-night trial: this is much more effective way of testing whether a mattress is right for you than spending five minutes with it in a busy showroom. If you don’t like it within that time, Emma will refund your money and collect it from you for free (you don’t have to repackage it, either – phew).
How other people found the Emma Original mattress
Mattress reviews are tricky: everyone has a different body shape, sleeping style and experience. So to build a more rounded Emma mattress review, we researched a raft of online feedback from customers and expert testers.
The Which? team love it, awarding it a 2019 Best Buy and giving it the highest score of any mattress in June 2019. Consumer review website Trust Pilot records an impressive average of 4 out of 5 stars (from more than 7,500 user reviews); while Amazon shows 4.5 out of five (from over 300 reviews). That’s an overwhelmingly positive response from a large pool of customers.
The main complaints we saw occasionally surface were that a few people found the mattress warm, and some noticed an initial (but not lasting) smell after setting up the mattress.
Verdict: should I buy the Emma Original mattress?
Yes. More than one year on, and we still think the Emma Original is the best mattress you can buy right now. It’s unbelievably comfortable, and provides fantastic support no matter what position you sleep in – making it a particularly good choice for people who move around a lot at night. It’s also very low-maintenance, with no turning needed, and competitively priced.
Plus, Emma will send you a free firm comfort layer to further customise the mattress to your preference, should you wish. Add its competitive pricing into the mix, as well, and we think the Emma mattress is an absolutely fantastic choice.