Emma Original vs Nectar mattress: which memory foam mattress is better?

The Emma Original and Nectar are both excellent mattresses from hugely popular brands. But which memory foam marvel will give you a better night's sleep?

Emma vs Nectar mattress
(Image credit: Emma / Nectar)

The Emma Original and Nectar are two excellent memory foam mattresses. Both feature in our best memory foam mattress UK ranking, but which one should you buy? In this article, we look at the pros and cons of each, for all the things that matter – design, comfort, price and durability – to see which is the best mattress of the two.

The Nectar and Emma Original mattresses were part of the early affordable bed-in-a-box memory foam mattress boom, and remain popular now, despite the shift towards more complex hybrid models. This type of mattress comes vacuum-packed, rolled and delivered in a box to your door, ready to be moved into place and released from its wrappings. While they may take a few hours to fully reflate, and there may be a bit of a chemical smell for a while (but not always), many love the gently enveloping sensation a memory foam mattress offers, and they're often amongst the most affordable options on the market. 

As our Emma mattress review or Nectar mattress review illustrate, these two models look pretty similar, but there are more subtle differences that will guide which one is better for which buyer. In this article, we put the two head-to-head to help you make the right decision for you. Read on for our Emma Original vs Nectar mattress showdown.

Emma vs Nectar mattress: background and overview

Founded in 2015, Emma is a German company that sells mattresses in 17 countries on three continents. Its standard foam mattress is the Emma Original. In the UK, it's one of two mattresses in the brand's lineup, the other being the higher-end hybrid Emma Premium (at one point known as the Emma Original Hybrid, not to be confused with the discontinued Emma Hybrid, which is a different mattress). In the US, the Original is the only mattress available at Emma. The brand also makes sleep accessories such as the Emma Premium Microfibre pillow, Emma Hug Weighted Blanket and Emma Mattress Protector.

Nectar Sleep was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in California. In the UK, as of 2022 is has three mattresses in its range. The Original, which launched in 2018, sits at the cheapest end of the range, with the Nectar Hybrid and Nectar Premier above it. They get more advanced in design, and pricer, as you move up the range. In the US, the range is slightly different: it's the Nectar Original, then the Premier, then the Premier Copper.

Emma vs Nectar mattress: construction

Emma Original mattress

(Image credit: Emma)

Emma Original

The Emma Original mattress is a 25cm thick, bed in a box mattress made from three foam layers, and topped with a removable and machine-washable cover. This cover is made from a special moisture-wicking UltraDry polyester, to regulate humidity. Below that comes a layer of Emma’s proprietary Airgocell foam, which has been developed to encourage air flow. Next comes a layer of visco-elastic memory foam to relieve pressure. Finally, the bulk of the mattress is a base layer of supportive HRX cold foam, grooved to help distribute your weight for extra pressure relief.

Layers of Nectar mattress

(Image credit: Nectar)

Nectar Memory Foam

The Nectar Memory Foam mattress is also 25cm and based on foam layers and a polyester cover. The top layer of viscoelastic memory foam is soft and cradling, while the second layer of transition memory foam provides extra pressure relief. Below that is a base layer of firmer foam to stabilise and support the mattress, which is divided into seven zones. The Nectar’s cover has also been designed to promote cooling, using the brand’s proprietary Adaptive cooling technology. 

The main difference between the two mattresses in terms of construction is the greater amount of memory foam in the Nectar: 9cm compared with just 2cm in the Emma Original. However, that doesn’t make either mattress “better” in any objective sense. It just depends on how much you prefer a memory foam feel (which some people find “cradling” and others “sinking”). 

With that in mind, the other main consideration is the cover. The Emma cover is the only one of the two that's removable and machine washable; a clear benefit for anyone with a busy life who doesn’t want to spot clean their mattress cover. 

Verdict: Emma wins

If Emma’s cover hadn’t been machine-washable, we’d have had to declare a draw in terms of the construction of the two mattresses. But this point of difference makes Nectar the winner in a very close contest.

Emma vs Nectar mattress: comfort and firmness

Emma Original mattress on bed

(Image credit: Emma)

The Emma and the Nectar mattress both offer a medium-firm level of firmness. The Nectar is slightly firmer; we’d describe it as a 7, compared to the Emma, which we’d call a 6.5. However, the difference in construction means there’s a little more ‘bounce’ to the Emma, while the Nectar has has a slightly softer top layer that provides slightly more ‘give’.

Both mattresses do a lot to avoid the problem that has traditionally bedevilled foam mattress: overheating. Both have covers are designed to wick away moisture, and are constructed in a way that’s designed to promote cooling air flow, using proprietary technologies. However, the Nectar’s combination of an adaptive cooling cover and smart memory foam works best out of the two in keeping sleepers cool at night.

Nectar says its mattress can hold up to 46 stone (292kg) whereas the Emma mattress holds up to 40 stone (260kg). For this reason, the Nectar mattress is probably the best choice for people with a heavier build. For those of average or light build, we’d recommend the Nectar for back or front sleepers, while side sleepers and combination sleepers should opt for the Emma.

Verdict: Nectar wins

Both mattress offer a comfortable and supportive sleeping experience. However, the Nectar Memory Foam mattress just edges the Emma Original on the cooling front. That said, if you don’t tend to sleep hot, other factors might be more important, and if you prefer a mattress with a little more bounce, then the Emma mattress is probably a better pick.

Emma vs Nectar mattress: price

Before we start on the price section, it's worth noting that RRP on both of these mattresses changes relatively regularly, and also that there are so many sales that you should never need to pay full price. Rather than looking at ticket price, you should check our best Emma discount codes and deals and the best Nectar mattress discount codes and deals when you want to buy. 

At time of writing, the Emma Original mattress costs £499 for Single, £639 for a Small Double, £699 for a Double, £799 for a King, and £899 for a Super King. Discounts of 40-50% off are very common.

The Nectar mattress costs £569 for a Single, £749 for a Double, £819 for a King and £929 for a Super King. There's almost always around 40% off. 

Verdict: Emma wins

At RRP, the Emma is cheaper at all sizes, and with similar percentage discounts, you'll probably also be paying less when purchased at sale price. Do check on the day though, because this is very much a moving target.

Emma vs Nectar: the small print

Emma Original

Emma offers free delivery throughout the UK except for certain postcodes in Northern Ireland. It does not ship to the Channel Islands. Once your order is received by its partner courier company Rhenus, they will contact you to provide a range of delivery dates to choose from. Deliveries take place within a three-hour window, and as soon as your mattress is dispatched you're sent tracking information via email, to let you know when you'll receive it. 

Emma offers a generous 200-night trial and 10-year guarantee on its mattresses. 

Nectar Memory Foam

Nectar offers free home delivery for addresses on the UK mainland, and will take away your old mattress for recycling if requested. There is an £80 fee to some areas of the Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland and a £100 fee to ship to UK and Channel Islands. 

You can keep track of your order and its status online or via the Shopify Shop App. This will allow you to view your order and be sent push notifications to let you know when it's on the way. You can also track items in app, and it can be used for multiple retailers.

In terms of returns, Nectar beats Emma (and indeed most mattress brands) here by providing an impressive 365-night trial and a ‘Forever’ warranty. 

Verdict: Nectar wins

Both brands offer excellent customer service and generous trial-periods and warranties. Nectar’s one-year trial period and endless warranty, though, stands head and shoulders above its rival’s offering.

Emma Original mattress on bed

(Image credit: Emma)

Emma vs Nectar: what other people thought

Nectar mattress

(Image credit: Nectar)

Emma Original

The Emma Original mattress has an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, based on the 3.7K+ reviews to date. 71 per cent of reviewers gave it five stars, and 10 per cent gave it a one- or two-star review. Emma as a brand, meanwhile, gets 4.4 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot reviewers, based on a total of ~26K reviews.

The Emma Original mattress is popular with mattress experts, including those here at T3.com. Our Emma Original Mattress review earned this mattress four out of five stars.

Nectar Memory Foam 

Nectar has a score of 4.4 out of 5 on Trustpilot, based on ~11.5K reviews to date. It’s also highly rated by mattress experts, including our reviewers on T3.com, where it also earned four stars in our Nectar Memory Foam mattress review.

Verdict: Draw

Both mattresses seem super-popular with the public and reviewers alike, and the only negative reviews tend to be specific to people’s personal tastes and particular situations such as botched deliveries.

Emma vs Nectar: what should I buy?

It's a close-run battle between the Emma Original and Nectar Memory Foam, with both offering reasonable prices and impressive levels of comfort and support. There are small differences between the two that might make you lean towards one over the other. We found the Nectar firmer than the Emma, so that'd be a good choice if you need a little extra support. It's also slightly better when it comes to temperature regulation tech – the Emma can trap heat a bit. However, the Emma comes with a removable and machine-washable cover, and is also typically cheaper to buy of the two. Either way, both come with long trial periods you can use to make sure you've made the right choice for you.

Tom May is a freelance writer and author of the book, Great Ted Talks: Creativity. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.