Sleep. For many it comes frustratingly naturally, for the other half of us, sleep deprivation is a part of our world. This is why the Emma Sleep Hotel is one of the most unique experiences in the city this week. This is a holistic experiment, promising THE dream sleep through advice, a “sleepgustation” menu paired with melatonin cocktails and the ultimate bed at the end of the day.
Who is Emma?
Founded in Germany by two entrepreneurs Manuel Muller and Denis Schmoltzi, Emma bedding invests in human centred design, that is, they genuinely connect with their customers to understand what they need and want. They run installations, like this one and experiments such as the “cheese dream”, now that would be fun on so many levels, from the cheeseboard to the bedroom – and the weird cheesy dreams that follow – it is a thing!
The Emma Sleep Hotel takeover of The Strand on William St Darlinghurst is a good choice for the sleep experiment. The long-standing hotel has recently undergone a contemporary reno from the street-level French bistro, to the rooftop bar and the 17 boutique rooms in the middle. It’s around the happiest hour of the week when we arrive so we head straight to the rooftop bar for some sundowners to watch the rosy winter hues fade across the cityscape. The hopped vermouth Sbagliato cocktail with passionfruit is a sweeter, softer twist on an aperol spritz. The white Sbagliato features chamomile and honey vermouth to aid restfulness and digestion, an ideal aperitif. Before dinner gets underway a “snooze-ologist” is available for a sleep consultation. Emma (total coincidence) who is a psycholinguistic behavioural researcher with the sleep research team in Germany provides advice on my dream state.
Remember the Simpsons episode where Lisa Simpson is in a float tank to quiet her busy mind repeating “I’m thinking about not thinking, I’m thinking about not thinking”. Know the feeling of busy mind keeping you up all night? Emma’s advice for the uber busy mind is that you have turn off the inner dialog. “Why am I not asleep yet, geez I’m so tired, OMG its 2am already” Doesn’t help. “Thinking about not thinking” isn’t a mantra either, it’s still brain activity. The juice for sleep, silence. Sure, thoughts will come during the night, we can’t control those. We can control what we do with them. Emma explains we are getting into cognitive, even meta cognitive behavioural stuff so without risking turning this review into an advice piece, if the internal dialogue is making you sleepless… CBT-I is something to look into.
The foundation to getting consistent sound sleep Emma reveals, is the rituals we place around it. Yep, we know them, it’s commitment to a regular bed times, limit screens which our sensors interpret as sunshine for a couple hours before bed. Avoid too much booze, thats right, red wine is not an over-the-counter-sleeping pill. Homeopathic’s like magnesium and lavender, chamomile tea and meditation can all be part of a sleep ritual.
The Emma sleep studio
Equipped with some new knowledge about sleep discipline, it’s time to go to our Emma sleep studio. The room is a French-chic space with a separate petite lounge, styled with classic navy and white soft furnishings, rattan furniture and amber glowing table lamps. The compendium provides some room orientation including a selection of playlists from chillout music to guided meditations. There are luxe Grown Alchemist products in the bathrooms and a fully comped gift pack is waiting for us which includes slippers, a waffle robe, satin eye mask, night remedy kombucha and a Kobo e-reader. Spoilt!
This sleep suite is kitted out with the Emma comfort premium mattress, it’s breathable, ergonomic and a top-rating mattress by Choice the last two years in a row. It’s also standout value (especially before EOFY). Mattress choice is an incredibly personal thing; firm, firm-soft, super soft. The Emma comfort is firm but with a mattress topper it transforms into firm-soft. Pillows are also highly individual, we get to test out the foam pillow, which is as it sounds, foam and firm. And the cloud hybrid, made with both microfiber and a removable memory foam insert, it allows a sleeper to adjust to desired level of firm-soft or soft-soft. It’s quite ingenious and our choice. Topping off, literally, the whole thing is the Emma all season duvet, also brilliant value right now. The complete Emma combination is very comfortable and we are eager to road test it in a few hours.
The penultimate event is the 7 course “sleepgustation” menu. The rooftop has transformed into a cosy dining room warmly lit by the cutest lamb lamps. Talented Bistro Rex chef Leigh McDivitt has curated the food and someone poetically clever with content got behind the menu so that each dish was not just a delight to eat it was entertaining. Our host Jonathan welcomes us and fixes us with a great bottle of Farmers Leap shiraz.
The degustation commences with Slumberland Scallop Ceviche served in their shells, they arrive on dry ice for a little drama to open the show. The scallops dressed in chardonnay and chilli- infused vinaigrette are sublime. To follow is the Nightcap Niçoise with delectable seared tuna, and perfectly balanced and seasoned Niçoise salad. Wrapping up the entrees is Snore by the Shore, a melting King Salmon Confit with braised borlotti beans and a smooth parsley oil. All the starters hero great seafood cooked with French bistro flare.
The mains commence with Night-Night Gnocchi. Delicious little pillows (pun intended) of potato gnocchi, floating in brown butter served with potato cloud sauce, it is heavenly. The Lights Out Smoked Trout arrives next. The trout rests on a structured potato hash with a tangy crème fraiche sauce, its plate-licking goodness. The last of the mains the Cluck Cluck Snooze is a heart warming chicken pot pie served with greens. Lots of French influence in this dish, creamy chicken filling with the butteriest ever puff lid.
The sleepgustation closes with Sweet Sheets, a mille-feuille with cherries and pistachios. After all that food, it is light and a great way to close out what has been a totally wonderful dining experience. Every dish was delicious, and if you haven’t guessed by now, amongst the sleep inducing ingredients featured are seafood, potato, cherries and pistachios. The piece de resistance is the melatonin margarita cocktail. It delivers on two counts, a great digestive and it’s loaded with sleep inducing melatonin which we take in right before retiring to the sleep suite.
A Perfect night’s sleep?
There is probably not such a thing. The pursuit of consistently good nights’ sleep is the goal. This bedroom by Emma where the mattress, pillow and duvet have all been accustomed to us, is the best way to set up an environment where you can sleep well, and we do.
The verdict. It’s all about the ritual.
If the Emma sleep experiment has shown us anything, it is to approach sleep from a holistic perspective. Sure, you won’t have access to sleep behavioural psychologist or a decadent 7 course sleepgustation every night but you can curate your diet, bedding and your rituals to be conducive to the best night sleep possible.
What we are addicted to – developing a holistic approach to sleep.
What would we need to be more addicted? For a business that is an online model, the sleep experience is a wonderful way to test out mattresses and bedding, can they be expanded and more regular for anyone to try before they buy?
Learn more about Emma