Tom's Guide Verdict
The Emma Original is one of the most popular boxed mattresses you’ll come across – and for good reason. It’s comfortable for all sleep positions, and isolates motion well, meaning if you share your bed with a restless sleeper, their movements shouldn’t affect you too much. The biggest selling point is the low price, and while the Emma isn’t without fault (it sleeps a little warm and the edge support could be stronger), this is a brilliant mid-range memory foam mattress that could make a big difference to your quality of sleep.
Superb comfort for all sleep styles
Especially comfy for side sleepers
Relieves pressure points
Excellent value for money
High motion isolation
Removable, washable cover
Sleeps a little warm for some
Edge support could be stronger
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Emma Original mattress: Review in brief
- Superb comfort at a very competitive price
- Body-hugging memory foam feel
- Some of us found that it sleeps warm
The Emma Original mattress offers tremendous support and comfort at a value price, which is why it sits atop our best mattress guide. The all-foam Original is a comfortable option for every type of sleeper, regardless of the positon you doze off in. This was evident throughout our long-term testing process.
Members of our testing panel had been sleeping on the Emma mattress for several months. As such, we feel extremely confident in recommending this as the best memory foam mattress for side sleepers and those seeking all-out comfort without putting a huge dent in their wallet. (Note, this brand also has a hybrid model, which you can read about in our Emma Premium mattress review.)
Best for: All sleep positions; smaller budgets
Type: Mattress in a box
Firmness: Medium (5/10)
Materials: Memory foam, HRX foam, polyester
Weight: 15.6kg - 27.4kg
Sizes: single, EU single, small double, double, EU double, king, EU queen, super king
Trial: 200 nights
Guarantee: 10 years
The Emma Original has an RRP starting from £499, but the mattress is regularly on sale at up to 50% off, netting you a double size for just £349.50 (was £699). You’ll also get a 200-night risk-free trial so you can test the Emma Original thoroughly yourself. If you do change your mind during the trial, Emma will collect the mattress and refund you. And if you're after the full Emma experience, we'd recommend pairing it with Emma's own base; see our Emma Divan Bed review for all the details.
The Emma guarantee is 10 years, which is the average coverage term for most mattresses in a box. For context, competing mattress brands such as Nectar and DreamCloud each offer a Lifetime Warranty and 365-night trials. The Emma also comes in a large range of sizes, which is something we normally only see from premium brands like Tempur-Pedic or Simba.
The Emma Original consists of three individual layers of foam designed to relieve pressure along your hips, back, shoulders and glutes. It's also fitted with an UltraDry Original Cover, partnered with a layer of Airgocell to boost breathability and regulate temperature. However, some members of our review panel found that the Emma mattress still slept a little warmer than they'd have liked so it may not be the absolute right fit if you consistently wake up in a sweat.
But as a mid-range mattress for most sleepers, the Emma Original is a great choice because it's affordable, comfortable and simple to set up. We especially recommend the Emma Original to lightweight and average weight sleepers who enjoy the body-hugging feel of memory foam, especially if you sleep on your side. And with a 200-night trial, you’ll have plenty of time to try it out. Read on for our complete Emma mattress review...
See the Emma Original mattress from £499 at Emma
The price shown above is the RRP, but the Emma mattress is regularly on sale, with a discount of up to 50%. That means you can buy a double size for £349.50 (was £699), making it competitively priced among the more popular mid-range boxed mattresses. The Original suits all sleepers and comes with a 200-night trial, plus free delivery.
Emma Original mattress: Materials
- Made from three types of foam
- Halo Memory Foam for spinal support
- Retains some warmth but doesn’t overheat
The Emma Original is made with three individual layers plus the cover. Starting from the top down, the UltraDry Original Cover is temperature-regulating. While the hot sleepers on our review panel found it warm to the touch during sleep, none of our testers overheated on the mattress. Still, if you overheat, consider a hybrid mattress instead - we walk you through it in our Simba vs Emma mattress comparison.
The cover is also moisture-wicking, which is good news for sweating in bed; something we all do naturally, regardless of whether we are experiencing hot flashes (flushes) or night sweats. If you have the budget and are considering a slightly springier hybrid, then take a look at our Brook + Wilde Lux mattress review for an alternative mattress that excels at temperature regulation.
Stains from sweat, body oils and moisture can cause yellow stains on a mattress cover, so Emma's moisture-wicking design should help stave off much of that. After seven months of use, we are yet to notice any staining on our Emma mattress. That said, we do cover it with an excellent mattress protector and would recommend that you do the same.
Underneath the cover lies a layer of Halo Memory Foam. This contours to your body, dishing out that famous body-hug comfort all-foam mattresses are known for, and keeps your spine aligned. Move to the next layer and you’ll come across temperature-regulating Point Elastic Airgocell, followed by a slab of High Resiliency Extra (HRX) Supreme Foam to boost durability and prevent sagging.
Emma Original mattress: Price and deals
- The cheapest mattress in Emma’s bed-in-a-box range
- Well priced compared to competitor models
- Often discounted by up to 50%
The Emma mattress is one of the cheapest, top-rated mattresses-in-a-box you’ll find, and when it’s half price it really is hard to beat. When discounted, the Emma Original starts from just £249.50 for a single, leaving little room for competitors to manoeuvre.
Here's the ‘official’ pricing and the sale pricing for the Emma Original:
- RRP Single: £499 (usually priced £249.50)
- RRP EU single: £549 (usually priced £274.50)
- RRP Small double: £639 (usually priced £319.50)
- RRP Double: £699 (usually priced £349.50)
- RRP EU double: £759 (usually priced £379.50)
- RRP King: £799 (usually priced £399.50)
- RRP Super king: £899 (usually priced £449.50)
The Original regularly pops up in the Emma mattress sale for as little as £249.50 (that’s 50% off the RRP), meaning you can normally buy a double size for £349.50 (was £699). Even better, a king size is regularly reduced to just £399.50 – only £50 more than the double.
It’s superb value for a quality memory foam mattress and rivalled only by the Nectar Original, which normally has money off and free gifts when featured in the Nectar mattress sale. That one is usually discounted by 40-45%, bringing a double size Nectar down to £411.95. Sometimes you’ll get a free pillow or two with it, other times you won’t.
Emma Original mattress: Firmness and comfort
- Most comfortable for side sleeping
- Supportive for all sleep positions
- Heavier bodies may sink in too much
We loved sleeping on the Emma mattress. This is without question one of the most instantly comfortable beds we have tested, and enjoyed its sink-in softness from Night 1. We asked various members of our testing panel to try the Emma Original and most of them remarked upon the noticeable comfort.
However, one of our testing panel who weighs just over 196lbs and sleeps mostly on his back did find that he sank into the mattress more than he would like. So if you have a heavier body weight, keep that in mind as you need to be more on top of your mattress, as opposed to in it, to keep your spine aligned as a back sleeper.
All of the side sleepers and combination sleepers on our testing panel loved the Emma mattress, as did our 119lb stomach and back sleeper. Another member of our testing panel was 64 years old and dealing with arthritis in both hips. She found the Emma Original to provide ideal amounts of pressure relief and was able to sleep in the same position without having to move around as much (compared to her own mattress) to regain some comfort.
The Emma mattress is rated as a medium-firm 5 out of 10 on the firmness scale, with 1 being soft as a marshmallow and 10 being as hard as a plank of wood. While mattress firmness is very subjective, the majority of us agreed that the Original definitely felt like a 5 out of 10, with our heaviest sleeper saying it was just too soft for them for long-term use.
You’ll have 200 nights to test out the firmness for yourself, and if you find it either too soft or too firm, Emma will send you a free comfort layer (firm or soft) to adjust the feel of the mattress to suit your body.
Emma Original mattress: Performance
- Simple to unbox but larger sizes are heavy
- Comfortable for all sleeping positions
- Edge support is the Emma’s weak point
For this Tom’s Guide review we tested a double size Emma Original mattress over a period of seven months, abiding by our mattress testing methodology to gauge performance to the best of our abilities.
Because mattress firmness and comfort is so subjective, we believe in having a lead reviewer and a testing panel in order to gather a broad spectrum of informed opinions based on real-world testing. In addition, we also analysed a wealth of Emma mattress user reviews to see what customers think.
We tested the Emma Original pressure relief, motion isolation, edge support, cooling, and ease of set up. Here’s what we discovered…
Score: 4 out of 5
The Emma mattress was delivered via UPS to our front door. It arrived in a tough cardboard box that had some scuffing and denting around the edges, with the Emma logo printed on the side. Even though we were testing a standard double, it was still heavy to move upstairs. A double size weighs 23.4kg / 51.5lbs, but a super king size weighs 72lbs. So if you are ordering a larger size, ask a friend or family member to help you move it.
The Emma mattress set-up is a breeze. Lift the lid on the cardboard box and you will find a welcome pack that includes instructions on how to unbox and care for the Original. There’s a small plastic cutting tool that enables you to easily open the reinforced plastic covering on the mattress without damaging the polyester cover or memory foam.
From pulling the rolled mattress out of the box, using the cutting tool to remove the plastic and then getting the Emma Original onto a bed frame, the entire process took a couple of minutes at the most. Emma advises leaving the mattress to inflate fully for two to six hours before using it, but ours was at full height within two hours. If you can’t unbox your Emma on the day of delivery, don’t leave it in the box longer than four weeks otherwise you risk damaging it.
What we didn’t like was the amount of plastic we unwrapped from the mattress, and how much we then had to dispose of. This isn’t a problem with Emma mattresses alone – we see it on many brands – but surely there’s a better way? In America, for example, Avocado Green Mattress is covering its mattresses in paper before boxing them up. We love that.
Score: 4 out of 5
When you buy a boxed mattress and unpack it, be prepared for a certain amount of ‘new mattress smell’. How pungent this is depends on the type of mattress you buy, what it’s made of and how long you leave it in the box.
We purposely left our bedroom windows closed at first to get a good whiff of how stinky or not the smell was. We found the Emma mattress to be pretty average in terms of off-gassing; there was definitely that tell-tale smell, but it wasn’t overpowering and started to fade reasonably fast.
When we opened the windows to get fresh air circulating, the smell died down quickly until only a faint trace remained come the first night of testing. Our top tip? Open your bedroom window before unboxing, and leave it open (if safe to do so) for several hours after.
- Read more: What is mattress off-gassing?
Score: 4.5 out 5
Pressure relief is a buzzword (or buzzterm) among mattress brands, and it refers to how well a mattress reduces pressure points. Common ones are hips, back, shoulders and glutes – all those areas of your body that ache when you sleep on an uncomfortable bed.
We found that the Emma mattress delivers effective pressure relief in all sleeping positions, especially side and combi sleeping. Cushioning is ample around the hips, knees and shoulders when side sleeping, and all down the back, across the shoulders and glutes during back sleeping. The only reservation we have is for heavier stomach and back sleepers - use the trial period to make sure your spine is properly supported.
There are some excellent alternatives for effective pressure relief, and one in particular that stands out is the DreamCloud. As we explain in our DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid mattress review, the pressure relief is excellent in every position and most noticeable around the shoulders and back, making it the better choice of the two if you have neck and back pain.
In addition to sleeping on the Emma mattress, we placed a 25kg (55lb) weight in the middle of the mattress to get a measure of sinkage. We measured it as 3.5”, which is acceptable for a memory foam bed of this design.
Score: 4.5 out 5
Here’s another buzzword, used to describe how much a mattress is able to isolate motion being transferred from one person to another. It’s an important feature for restless sleepers and for couples who have different sleep schedules and, as a result, keep waking each other up with their comings and goings.
Because the Emma Original is made with three thick layers of foam, it isolates motion well so you’ll hardly feel your bed buddy moving next to you. Our lead mattress reviewer for the Emma mattress shares a bed with a restless sleeper and confirmed that the level of disturbance she would otherwise experience was reduced.
Again, we roped in our testing panel to put the Original’s motion transfer skills to the test. All but one agreed that the Emma mattress reduced how much motion was being transferred to them. The tester who disagreed was the 119lb side sleeper who felt a high degree of movement from the 196lb sleeper when they were purposefully moving around next to her.
We also performed a drop test using a smaller 8kg weight and a wine glass. Only when the weight was dropped very close to the glass did we see any movement from the glass.
Score: 4 out 5
The Emma mattress uses Airgocell foam, designed with an open-pore cell structure for better air circulation. This is partnered with an Emma UltraDry Original Cover that has temperature-regulating and moisture wicking properties.
The hot sleepers on our testing panel found it a little warm to sleep on, while those who sleep colder or who have no issues with temperature either way during sleep found the Emma Original to be neither hot nor cold.
In the interests of fair testing, our hot sleepers snoozed on the Emma underneath a 10.5 tog duvet for the first batch of tests, and later with a cooling duvet. The latter proved a more comfortable companion to the Emma, which shows that the mattress isn’t always the sole culprit for excess warmth - your bedding plays a role too.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
In our opinion, edge support is the achilles heel of the Emma mattress, so if you sleep right up to the edge of the mattress, you will notice it starts to dip. This is something for couples planning on sharing a double size to take note of.
The weaker edge support is especially noticeable when you sit on the edge of the Original to get dressed. While none of our testing panel fell off while seated on the edge, the heavier people among our group felt as though they were tipping forward.
The edge support was weakest at the bottom corners of the mattress we tested, so if you do like to sit on your bed to get dressed, we’d recommend sitting in the middle of the Emma along one side and not right on the corner at the bottom.
Score: 4 out of 5
Our Emma mattress review is based on several months of testing, using various members of our testing panel. As such, we can talk confidently about durability based on what we have seen and experienced so far.
Several months in and there is no sagging on our Emma Original, which we would expect from a new mattress. That’s also thanks to a layer of HRX (High Resiliency Extra) Supreme Foam designed to stay firmer for longer and to prevent sagging, and also to provide good body support and comfort for years to come.
The removable cover is also machine washable, and we have washed it a few times already during testing. It hasn’t bobbled or shrunk in the machine, but we did find it easier to remove than to put on again - we’d recommend asking a friend or family member to help.
You don’t need to flip the Emma Original, so the white cover should always remain on the top. You can rotate it to spread out normal wear and tear (see our guide on how often should you rotate a mattress for more). You can use it on any bed frame and even place it directly on the floor too, but if using a slatted frame, ensure those slats aren’t more than 7.5cm apart otherwise you could cause sagging.
The Emma mattress also has a 10-year guarantee that covers ‘dimensional stability and durability of the core materials’ for a period of 10 years from the date of delivery. Read the brand’s terms and conditions for a full list of what you are and aren’t covered for.
Emma Original mattress: User reviews
We analyse user reviews to gain a broader understanding of how others have experienced the Emma Original, and to see how those experiences compare or contrast with our testing panel. Emma Sleep, as a company, has over 24,600 reviews on Trustpilot, but it’s difficult to discern which reviews are talking about the Original and which are talking about the Emma Hybrid.
The summary from Trustpilot is that Emma’s customer service team has replied to 99% of negative reviews, and a lot of those centre around firmness, delivery, refunds and returns. Common complaints are that the Emma mattress is either too soft or too firm - this is something we see with every mattress and it confirms how subjective firmness is.
Some customers seem unaware that they can claim a free comfort layer from Emma to make the Original firmer or softer as suits, so if you find yourself in a similar situation, request a free comfort mattress topper first.
There were also complaints about partial versus full refunds (it’s unclear what happened in those cases), and a few customers said that Emma was slow to collect unwanted mattresses, while others said they experienced poor communication in terms of when their order was being delivered.
Critical reviews are in the minority, with 76% of Emma’s Trustpilot reviews landing in the ‘Excellent’ category. Positive user reviews focus on how the Original helps relieve back pain, how comfortable it is to sleep on, and how well it moulds itself to the body. There’s praise for the customer service, with many explaining they received prompt delivery (most seem to receive their mattress within seven days), and how easy the Emma is to unbox and use. For those who found the Emma mattress too firm to begin with, they requested the free comfort layer which solved the issue.
At Amazon UK, the Emma Original has over 3,600 user reviews, generating a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Again, critical reviews focused on the Emma being too warm, and that the customer service team were slow to respond. Another customer review commented on the poor edge support, explaining how her husband ‘felt as if he was falling off the edge’.
Positive Amazon reviews focus on the high levels of comfort for the affordable price, and how it’s good for anyone dealing with neck and back pain. One customer explained how, ‘Having suffered from a trapped nerve in my neck for 4-5 months, I am finally having uninterrupted nights' sleep again - the Emma mattress must surely be a contributing factor in this improvement.’
Should you buy the Emma mattress?
It's hard to pass up the incredible saving we regularly see on the Emma Original mattress — especially with regular sales at 50% off the RRP. Of course, it's not without fault but for a value mattress that'll suit most types of sleepers, it's an excellent choice.
The Emma Original was the most popular among our side sleepers as it’s beautifully cushioned around the knees and hips, and we found we stayed longer in one position because it was so comfortable. So the restless sleepers among us were enjoying deeper sleep on the Emma, and we'd say this is a great mattress for side sleepers overall.
Our only caution would be to back and stomach sleepers with heavier than average bodies, especially if they are sharing the Emma with someone of a similar weight. You need to ensure that your back isn’t dipping when you sleep as this will cause back pain over time, so you may find that if you do try the Emma Original and it’s too soft, you’ll need the comfort layer to make it firmer and more supportive. If that doesn’t fix it, return the mattress and choose a medium-firm alternative - we’d recommend a hybrid, such as the Simba Hybrid Pro, priced from £1,149 at Simba.
We also found that the edge support wasn’t great, so if you and your partner sleep right up to the edge of your mattress, you may not enjoy this aspect of the Emma. Again, a good alternative would be a hybrid mattress with strong edge support like the DreamCloud, which starts at £999 from DreamCloud UK and is occasionally discounted. This is also a good choice if you sleep hot and find the all-foam Emma Original too warm, as the DreamCloud is quite adept at promoting airflow.
Overall, the Emma mattress is excellent value for money with or without a sale, and we enjoyed our time spent sleeping on it. If you have a smaller budget but want big, body-cradling comfort, and you can live with weaker edge support, the Emma Original should be first on your list.
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.