I've been sleeping on a vast range of mattresses and putting them through their paces to bring you a true picture of how comfortable each one is and how much support it provides. I've also roped in my husband Nick to create a balanced view of what each mattress is like for women (so often the purchasers) and men, persuaded friends and family to try them out, and have conducted some semi-scientific testing so that you can buy your mattress online with confidence.
If you're looking to find the best mattress for your needs, you'll find plenty of choice in our mattress guides – but don't miss our deep reviews first. This time, we tried and tested the Emma Original mattress.
Emma Mattress Specifications
Type: Comfort foam/memory foam
Sizes: Single, double and King (in both UK and EU sizes), plus small double and super king
Who will the Emma Original mattress suit?
Anyone seeking memory foam and medium-firm support.
- Need help choosing a new mattress? Let us guide you
What's the Emma like to sleep on?
There are now so many bed-in-a-box foam mattresses out there, mostly with friendly female names, it can be hard to keep track. The more suspicious amongst us (that would be me, then) could be forgiven for wondering if they’re not all made at some obscure mega-foam factory in Norway – the only discernible difference being their jaunty branding. Happily, the Emma has shut these suspicions right down. Not only is it very different in its construction, but it is also produced in the UK – hurrah!
It arrived in the usual compact box, which is genius for getting it up the stairs – particularly if you have a turn in your staircase. Once unrolled, the Emma quickly expands up to its 25cm height. The instructions specify ‘only a few hours’, which is a bit vague – ours was ready to sleep on within two hours. And, glory be, it did not smell. I was stealing my stomach for the chemical whiff that has become familiar when testing memory foam, but it didn’t arrive. Big tick.
So, night one (and two, three, four and five for that matter) went without a hitch. We tested it during a fairly muggy week in August, not heat-wave material but still pretty warm; one of the first things I noticed was how coolly I slept. With a 4.5 tog summer duvet and the window open, I felt cosy but not overheated. Best of all: no puddles of sweat in my belly button at 3am. Soz, too graphic, but my fellow 40+ ladies need to know these things! Nick and I both slept through. Or at least Nick did, because he didn’t stir when our sleepwalking seven-year-old went a-wandering three times. Not even when she came in and dumped her duvet on my face before calmly walking out again (which was a bit too ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ for my liking!). So that’s big ticks on undisturbed sleep for Emma, not so much for Kitty.
To judge how the mattress responds to motion transfer, I got Nick to get in and out of bed, and roll around a few times, with exaggerated effort. Despite his best efforts to bounce me right out of the bed (he takes his role a bit too seriously at times), the Emma did me proud. I won’t lie, there was no denying Nick was in residence, but his movements didn’t reverberate enough to disturb me. It was also easy to move around on the Emma. No getting wedged in one position here. This was almost certainly down to the layers of foam (more on that later) but also because we are in agreement that Emma is a fairly firm lady.
This mattress is nowhere near hard, but I’d rate it more towards firm than medium. To give a more balanced assessment of the firmness rating, I used coffee and cake to bribe my usual crew (three male, three female, ranging from 10 to 17 stone) to have a lie-down. As anticipated, they agreed in the main, and only our heaviest buddy (he’s all muscle, honest) rated it closer to medium than firm (see graph above).
Next came the weight test (below). Hefting my 56lb weight onto the edge of the mattress saw it sink by little more than 7cm, and in the middle it tipped to nearly 8cm. The fairly similar measurements are a good indication of even support across the full width of the mattress, another tick to Emma, and 7 to 8cm is reasonably firm overall. We’ve tested a fair few that sink down to 9cm plus.
Our final test involves spots on Nick’s spine and his trusty laser light. Designed to show how supportive the Emma is, the ideal sleeping posture requires fairly straight spine alignment, with no pressure on the hips and shoulders. As our photo shows (below), Nick’s spine barely dips at all in the middle - tickidy, tick, tick!
How does the Emma rate online?
OMG, there is SO MUCH LOVE for the Emma online. Scrolling past the influencer endorsements to independent reviews, I spot that Which? has recently given it a ‘best buy’ award and enthuses: 'This impressive all-round mattress didn't perform badly in a single one of our tough tests. It's the highest-scoring mattress we've tested in years and more than deserving of our Best Buy seal of approval.'
Over at TrustPilot, the enthusiasm remains high with 83 per cent of 1,808 reviewers giving it Great or Excellent. There’s only one review of the Emma Original on Amazon – a paltry three-star, but the shopper seems a little confused as he or she complained that it didn’t form body shapes like memory foam is supposed to… Hmmm.
What do you get for your money?
A 100-night sleep trial, no questions asked; 10-year warranty and free delivery, usually within one to three working days. There is also a 0 per cent interest option to pay in instalments if you are desperate and don’t have the full whack. Oh, and if you recommend Emma to a friend you get £50 in your pocket if they order, and your friend gets £100 off their purchase – winners!
Is the Emma worth it?
Yes, both Nick and I would be more than happy to keep Emma in our lives for longer. The price is competitive for the bed-in-the-box sector, too. It is designed to suit all manner of body shapes, weights (it’s aimed at between 50 to 130kg) and sleeping positions and we can vouch it worked for us.
In fact I am struggling to think of anything I didn’t like about the Emma Original, besides having to take it off our bed to make way for the next mattress test. Nick loved that it has handles, one of the few bed-in-a-box mattresses with this simple feature, which meant it was way easier to heft about. Saying that, it doesn’t need to be flipped or turned, so those handles are only really required during the first install. I’m used to flipping a (super king) sprung mattress every month or so, usually solo, so this reveal is way more exciting than it possibly should be.
Emma mattress fillings
The Emma Original sports three layers of foam, beneath a breathable, removable top cover (that can be washed at 60 degrees, which should sort out all manner of unmentionable stains). The top layer is an elastic foam they call Airgocell. The blurb says ‘it allows one area to compress without effecting the rest of the mattress’, which basically means this is the bit that gives you a little softness and bounce. Without it you’d sink, maybe not like a stone, but enough to make it harder to turn.
The memory foam layer is next. It has a slower response to pressure so essentially provides your support. The base layer, dubbed the ‘Supportive Cold Foam’, is where the Emma Original is a little, well, more original than the other memory foams in this class. Thanks to specially located grooves in the foam, support is zoned for optimum weight distribution. I tried sleeping on my side, back, and front and can honestly say I felt well supported in each position. They all felt comfortable. Clever.
Air flow and temperature control is at the heart of Emma’s construction, with every layer featuring some natty way to stop you sweating to death every night. Apparently a team of clever scientists at the Emma Sleep Lab performed all manner of alchemy to make this happen. All you really need to know is that it works.
Ordering and delivery
- This is all pretty standard and straightforward. Order online and delivery is free within one to three working days via UPS, which has its own tracking system that’s never failed us yet.
- You will need to stump up £35 for Saturday delivery.
- They don’t currently deliver to the Channel Islands or Ireland, sorry guys.
About our review – and our reviewer
Linda Clayton has been writing about homes and interiors for nearly 20 years, working for publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors, Real Homes, Ideal Home, Livingetc and House Beautiful. Linda (and her husband) spend between five to 10 nights trying out each mattress.