Simba vs Emma: which boxed mattress offers the best value for money?

Simba vs Emma mattress: image shows the Emma Original on the left and the Simba Hybrid on the right
(Image credit: Emma Sleep, Simba Sleep)

When it comes to boxed mattresses, Simba Sleep and Emma Sleep are arguably the two brands most people think of first. They feature highly in our guide to the best mattresses for all types of sleeper, and with such competitive pricing and top-rated features, how do you pick between them? Well, that’s where our Simba vs Emma comparison comes in.

Specifically, here we’re comparing the Simba Hybrid against the Emma Original. These popular mattresses in a box are quite different on paper, so you’re essentially choosing between a hybrid mattress and a memory foam mattress. As such your personal sleep comfort preferences, and the feel of bed you like best, are going to dictate a large part of which one you end up with (if either).

In our Simba vs Emma mattress comparison, we’re looking at both options in terms of price, design, support and user reviews to help you make a decision. 

Simba vs Emma mattress: At a glance

Simba – best for:

  • Back and side sleepers
  • Relief from overheating
  • Back support

Emma – best for:

  • Side sleepers
  • Deep pressure relief
  • Excellent motion isolation

You won’t find bigger names in mattresses than Simba Sleep and Emma Sleep. Each manufacturer sells online and ships direct to your door, which is why the prices are much cheaper than what you’d pay for comparable models in store.

Simba vs Emma: The Simba Hybrid Mattress photographed on a light wooden bed frame

(Image credit: Future)

As we explain in our Simba Hybrid mattress review, this bed has a firmer feel than the Emma Original. We’d still rate it as a medium-firm (the sweet spot between comfort and support for most people), compared to the sink-in softness of the Emma.

That’s because the Simba Hybrid is made with memory foam and coils, and offers more bounce and responsiveness than the all-foam Emma. Because it uses coils in addition to foam, the Simba also sleeps cooler than the Emma. That makes it the better choice for people prone to overheating at night yet. You might also want to combine it with Simba's own base; see our Simba Sirius bed base review for all the details.

In something of a stark contrast, the Emma is much softer, much cosier to sleep on, and offers sink-in comfort. All of that feels wonderful on aching, painful bones and joints, but, as we explain in our Emma mattress review, the downside is that the Emma does retain more heat. It isn’t unbearable by any stretch, but while the Simba remains cool to the touch, the Emma will quickly warm to your body temperature and mold itself accordingly. And as with the Simba, you can get an Emma base to complete the experience; our Emma Divan Bed review can tell you what you need to know..

Simba Sleep offers a much wider range of mattress sizes on its Hybrid compared to Emma Sleep, and you can even find EU sizes. Let’s take a closer look at both models now…

Simba vs Emma mattress: Side by side

Simba Hybrid:

  • Price: £499 - £1,329
  • Firmness: Medium Firm
  • Trial: 200-night trial
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty
  • Height: 25cm depth
  • Sizes: Kids to super king
  • Standout features: Graphite infused foam for cooler sleep
  • Materials: Simba-Pure foam, graphite Simbatex foam, Titanium alloy

Emma Original:

  • Price: £499 - £999
  • Firmness: Medium
  • Trial: 200-night trial
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty
  • Height: 25cm depth
  • Sizes: Single to super king
  • Standout features: Contouring foam to relieve pressure on achy joints
  • Materials: Memory foam, HRX foam, polyester

Simba vs Emma mattress: Price and trials

In terms of price, both mattresses are what we’d class as mid-range. However, regular monthly mattress sales makes the Emma Original one of this year’s best cheap mattresses. You can get a double size for just £379 most months, which is an extremely competitive price for the UK’s top-rated foam bed. Especially with 50% off in the Emma mattress sale.

Emma Sleep also offers a key workers discount, giving you an extra 6% off any of its mattresses. That’s super-generous and can quickly reduce the price of your Emma Mattress even further.

So how much does the Simba Hybrid cost? In the Simba mattress sale a double size is regularly reduced to £599 (was £999), and when you consider that it packs in a lot more materials and sleep technology than the Emma, it’s also very competitively priced.

Here’s the official pricing for the Simba Hybrid:

  • Kids - £499 (normally sold for £299.40)
  • Single - £749 (normally sold for £449.40)
  • EU single - £829 (normally sold for £497.40)
  • Small double - £999 (normally sold for £599.40)
  • Double - £999 (normally sold for £599.40)
  • EU double £1,149 (normally sold for £689.40)
  • King - £1,149 (normally sold for £689.40)
  • EU queen - £1,299 (normally sold for £779.40)
  • Super king - £1,329 (normally sold for £797.40)

Here’s the official pricing for the Emma Original:

  • Single - £499 (normally sold for £249.50)
  • Small double - £699 (normally sold for £349.50)
  • Double - £759 (normally sold for £379.50)
  • King - £649 (normally sold for £424.50)
  • Super king £999 (normally sold for £499.50)

Both brands offer a 200-night risk-free trial and a 10-year warranty, with free shipping and free returns if you decide the mattress isn’t right for you. Simba Sleep also offers the option to have your old mattress removed for a small fee, saving you from having to learn how to dispose of a mattress.

Simba vs Emma winner: Emma. If you’re looking for the cheapest mattress of the two and one with a high rating (4 out of 5 stars), the Emma Mattress wins. When you can buy a double size for under £380, and you get free shipping and returns, there’s little to quibble over. However, if you sleep hot and want a bouncier bed, choose the Simba instead.

Simba vs Emma mattress: Build and materials

The main difference between the Simba vs Emma Original models is that the former is a hybrid model, while the latter is foam-only. At the risk of overcomplicating things here, if you like the sound of one particular brand but would prefer the other mattress type, Simba also makes foam-only mattresses, and Emma has a hybrid (read about it in our Emma Premium mattress review).

Simba Sleep says it went through 70 prototypes and utilised the body data of 10 million sleepers to come up with the Simba Hybrid. So this isn’t some thrown-together hybrid designed with little thought to your sleep comfort.

The Simba is built over five layers, and the star of the show is the Aerocoil microspring comfort layer. These tiny springs are made from titanium, and there are up to 2,500 of them in the Simba Hybrid depending on the size of mattress you buy. The springs are there to flex in response to your in-bed movements, and to boost airflow through the entire bed to help you sleep cooler.

Elsewhere you’ll find a layer of open-cell, graphite-infused Simbatex foam, designed to enable 30 times more airflow than standard foams. There’s better edge support in the Simba compared to the Emma, with a multi-zoned foam base to ensure the base adjusts to your movements to keep your body aligned during sleep.

The Simba Hybrid is also made from 100% recyclable materials in a zero-waste factory, making it the more environmentally friendly choice of the two (the brand also has a specialist eco-friendly model, which you can read about in our Simba Go mattress review.) The Hybrid we're talking about here isn't the brand's most advanced model, either – if you have a bigger budget, you can upgrade to the Pro or Luxe versions (head to our Simba Hybrid Luxe review for more information on that one). 

Simba vs Emma: The Emma Original mattress photographed from the side

(Image credit: Future)

There’s less materials and technology in the Emma Mattress compared to the Simba Hybrid, but don’t write it off just yet as the Emma is an exceptionally comfortable bed for the money. While the Simba has five layers, the Emma has four and there are zero springs here - it’s a pure memory foam mattress. 

Like the Simba, the Emma places a focus on cooler sleep with a temperature-regulating and removable cover designed to wick away moisture. It also uses a material technology called Point Elastic Airgocell to better regulate temperature and absorb sweat. Out of the two technologies though, we found Simba’s cooling foams and airflow-boosting springs to be much more effective at reducing overheating.

However, if you love a softer bed, one area where the Emma trumps the Simba is its Halo Memory Foam layer. For us, the Emma Mattress quickly adapts to your body shape for instant and deep-lasting pressure relief. If you love body-hugging comfort, this is absolutely heaven. One of our team slept on it during the third trimester of her pregnancy and noticed a big reduction in Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). 

The base layer is made from HRX Supreme Foam to reduce premature sagging and to distribute your body weight evenly across the mattress.

Simba vs Emma winner: Simba. The Emma is a great mattress for the money, but when comparing the two on materials and build alone, the Simba Hybrid outpaces the Emma Mattress with ease. You’ll pay more for all of that cooling, more responsive comfort, but we feel it’s worth it if you are a back or stomach sleeper prone to overheating. For a softer bed that hugs aching hips and shoulders, consider the Emma instead.

Simba vs Emma mattress: Support and comfort

The Simba Hybrid is rated as a medium firm mattress. From our experience of sleeping on it, if you’re of a lighter than average body weight it will feel firmer than a medium-firm. We think the Simba is well-suited to stomach and back sleepers who need to remain on top of the mattress for better spinal alignment, as opposed to sinking in too much.

Simba Hybrid Mattress with a pillow and sheet over the bed

(Image credit: Simba Sleep)

That said, plenty of side sleepers rate it for firmer comfort and pressure relief, especially around the shoulders and hips. An abundance of tiny springs flex and react to your changing movements in bed, which is good news for restless sleepers who toss and turn and don’t want a mattress where they’re wedged in. From our testing experience, the Simba transfers a little more motion than the Emma but this isn’t a deal-breaker.

From these two, if you want the best mattress for side sleepers then we’d recommend the Emma Original. We slept on it with pregnancy hip pain and noticed a big reduction in discomfort. The Emma quickly molds itself to your curves, placing ample contouring cushioning around shoulders, hips and knees to support your body while relieving pressure. It’s a fantastic mix. 

We don’t recommend the Emma Mattress for heavier than average body weights though as you’ll sink too far into the bed and then your body will be out of alignment. The Simba is the better choice for heavier bodies.

Simba vs Emma winner: It’s a draw. Both mattresses offer a great deal of comfort and keep sleepers well supported but they do say in different ways. If you want a slightly firmer mattress that keeps you on top of the bed and dishes out plenty of responsive, cooling comfort, go for the Simba. For a softer mattress that’s kind to hip pain, pick the Emma.

Simba vs Emma mattress: User reviews

As we explain our mattress testing methodology, we look at user reviews to help us pinpoint any potential trends or problems. This ranges from durability to the returns process and how hard or easy it is.

There are currently over 85,000 reviews for the Simba Hybrid on Simba’s website, so nearly three times as many reviews as the Emma. Together those reviews generate an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 stars, and there’s a fair amount of praise for the cooling comfort on offer. A lot of customers also commented on how the Simba Hybrid relieves sore joints, which helps them sleep for longer at night.

The medium-firm feel was too firm for some users though, who returned the Hybrid because it didn’t offer the contouring comfort they expected. We also spotted some complaints about delivery issues, but those are universal to every mattress brand on the planet still dealing with the shipping fallout from the pandemic.

The Emma Original mattress shown on a light wooden bed frame next to a jute rug

(Image credit: Future)

Emma has nearly 30,000 user reviews on Trustpilot, generating an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. The difficulty here is that all Emma Sleep products are lumped in, so it’s more difficult to sift through to user ratings of the Emma Original. From our analysis, the Emma is highly rated by most customers who focus on its instant comfort. Unsurprisingly to us, a lot of sleepers praised it for pressure relief to reduce pain.

There are complaints too, with some sleepers saying that the Emma is simply too soft to be supportive, but we have no insight into how those reviewers sleep (the position they sleep in), their body weight and how many people are sharing a bed. We’d also point out that Emma Sleep offers a free Comfort Layer to make the mattress either firmer or softer to suit you better. In some ways this acts much like a mattress topper that can quickly change the feel of your mattress.

Simba vs Emma winner: Simba. Both Simba and Emma have a high number of positive user reviews, as well as a strong overall rating. It’s worth looking through a selection of these to see if the feedback addresses your concerns. The Simba Hybrid has more reviews to analyse and they are much clearer than those attached to the Emma, so you’ll have an easier time unpicking feedback on the Simba.

Simba vs Emma mattress: Which should you buy?

Comparing Simba vs Emma is in some ways an impossible task because these are quite different mattresses. The feel is different and so is their performance - we slept on both for over three weeks so we know this from first-hand experience.

From our testing, the Simba Hybrid is the firmer, cooler and bouncier of the two and that’s thanks to its combination of coils and foam. It’s also a great environmentally friendly mattress that provides lasting support for back, side and combo sleepers. Edge support is better on the Simba than on the Emma, so you’ll find getting in and out of bed easier. Much lighter than average bodies may find it too firm though, so if you love softer beds, go with the Emma.

A couple lie on an Emma Original mattress while drinking tea in the morning

(Image credit: Emma Sleep)

The Emma Original is a classic memory foam mattress, providing that unique ‘body hug’ feel while keeping your spine aligned and relieving all pressure points. We love it for side sleeping in particular, but would caution stomach sleepers with a much heavier than average body weight to think twice as we don’t think the Emma would offer the necessary support. We also like how you can request a comfort layer from Emma Sleep to adjust the feel of the mattress. 

Motion isolation is exceptional but the edge support is weak, so choose the Simba if you need stronger support when getting out of bed and sitting on the edge to get dressed. But even without a sale or discount, the price of the Emma is really hard to beat, so if you’re on a tight budget, this is the one to go for. 

Both brands will give you a 200-night mattress trial, so you’ll have ample time to make sure the one you pick is well-suited to your sleep style and body. If it isn’t, return it for free and get a refund. Don’t forget to cover it with a good quality mattress protector to keep it safe from stains and spills throughout the trial period as you may void your returns policy if not.

Claire Davies
Senior Sleep Editor, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Claire Davies is Tom's Guide's mattress expert and main sleep product tester with over 15 years' product review experience, and she is responsible for all mattress and sleep coverage on the site. A qualified journalist, Sleep Editor and Certified Sleep Science Coach, Claire writes about all things related to sleep, from mattress reviews to the latest sleep techniques and research. Claire has interviewed a wealth of experts, from mattress designers and innovators to neuroscientists and doctors of sleep medicine. Before taking on the role of Sleep Editor, Claire worked as Health & Wellness Editor at Top Ten Reviews, and before that was a Senior Content Editor at T3. Claire is super-passionate about how consistent, good quality sleep can boost our physical and mental wellbeing, and would love to hear from PRs and brands regarding sleep products, services and research that can help our readers sleep better than ever. 

With contributions from