Emma Original vs Nectar mattress: Which memory foam mattress is best?

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, but which is better? We look at the pros and cons of each, for all the things that matter – design, comfort, price durability – to see which is the best mattress of the two. 

If you're looking for a mattress that provides a good level of comfort and support without completely emptying your bank account, then bed-in-a-box memory foam mattresses are a good option. Because they can be rolled up and delivered in a box or bag, they tend to be very affordable, and while you normally have to wait a day or two for them to fully reflate, and there may be a bit of a chemical smell for a while (but not always), those are compromises most of us are willing to make. 

The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress and Emma Original mattress are two popular models in this competitive market, that are similar in many ways. So how do you choose between them? For more info on each model individually, head to our standalone Emma mattress review or Nectar mattress review, or read on to see the two go head-to-head.

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. The brand also produces a more expensive and premium mattress, the Emma Hybrid. All of the mattresses it sells in the UK are made in the UK.

Nectar Sleep was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in California. It has just one mattress, the Nectar Memory Foam mattress, which is priced at the higher end of the ‘bed in a box’ market. It launched in the UK in 2018, where it sells mattresses that are British made and produced.

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

The Emma Original mattress costs £359 for single, £499 for a small double, £549 for a double, £629 for a King, and £699 for a Super King.  

The Nectar mattress costs £704 for a single, £884 for a double, £1,029 for a King and £1,154 for a Super King.

Verdict: Emma wins

The Emma Original is significantly cheaper than the Nectar mattress at standard prices. However, both companies regularly offer discounts, so it’s well worth checking the best Emma discount codes and deals and the best Nectar mattress discount codes and deals on any given day.

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 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, based on 1,893 reviews to date. Seventy-three per cent of reviewers gave it 5 stars, with only 7 per cent giving it a one- or two-star review. Emma as a whole, meanwhile, gets 4.6 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot reviewers, based on a total of 16,312 reviews.

The Emma Original mattress is also popular with mattress experts, including those here at T3.com. In our Emma Original Mattress review, we wrote: “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.”

Nectar Memory Foam 

Nectar has a score of 4.6 out of 5 on Trustpilot, based on 15,097 reviews to date. It’s also highly rated by mattress experts, including our reviewers on T3.com. In our Nectar Memory Foam mattress review, we wrote: “Many foam mattresses come with claims of cooling technology attached, but few deliver on those promises to the same extent as the Nectar, which uses a breathable upper foam and temperature-regulating fabric cover to keep your temperature down in hot weather.” 

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 difficult to proclaim an overall winner between the Emma Original and Nectar Memory Foam mattresses. They both offer impressive levels of comfort and support, and the small ways in which they score over the other (such as Emma having a machine-washable cover, or Nectar offering better protection against overheating) probably won’t be a deciding factor for most people. 

Which leads us to the fact that the Emma Original is significantly cheaper than the Nectar. So for that reason, we'd recommend the Emma out of the two.

That said, there may be circumstances that make the Nectar Memory Foam mattress a better buy for you. Firstly, if there are any big discounts on the Nectar, then that should definitely put it back in the running. Also if you prefer a slightly firmer mattress, if you’re of heavier build, if you’re a side-sleeper, back sleeper or tend to run hot at night, then the Nectar may well be worth paying the extra for, even at the standard price. Finally, if you're not sure you'll like either mattress will suit you, then Nectar gives you a whopping 365 days to decide, at no charge at all, and you can't say fairer than that.

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.