* Prices may differ from that shown
Four years ago we brought a new cream leather three seater sofa and armchair. The plan was that we would buy a 'stressless ' type of reclining armchair to make up the required seating for our living room. However, four years on we still hadn't managed to justify spending the £800 plus for this piece of furniture. As our children grew older and were choosing to sit more often on our comfort seating rather than bean bags on the floor the need to do something about this became more urgent. The final straw came when visitors arrived at Christmas and we again apologised for not having enough seats!
We headed back to the showroom that sold 'stressless' chairs and visited other furniture shops, but could find nothing that matched our existing furniture and fell within budget, so the next step was to trawl the internet. On a mobility store website we saw a picture of the Napoli massage chair and it looked perfect. We rang Mobility Zone in Leighton Buzzard who agreed to order one in, in the colour scheme we required, cream leather with a mahogany frame, so that we could see if the cream leather was the same as the cream we already had. I can't believe how difficult it is to match colours - many of the creams that we had seen were way to yellowy. Within a couple of weeks the chair was in and we took my husbands' van to the showroom. I can't praise mobility zone enough as they let us bring the chair home to colour match properly and then took the credit card payment over the phone; not a service that many stores would offer.
I'm pleased to say that the match is pretty good, not 100% but close enough for us and the chair is now filling that empty space in the living room and we have enough seats for us all.
The cream leather of this chair is not the softest leather available, but is comfortable and feels like it will be durable. The back is divided into three horizontal sections, for the lumbar area, thoracic spine and the neck and head with two outer vertical panels to provide maximum contouring to the body's natural posture. The armrests are padded leather with no gaps in the side for things to fall through. The top of the footstool is also a well padded leather with stitching detail dividing it into aesthetic segments. The framework of the chair is constructed from sculptured ply wood that is stained in a deep red mahogany colour. The base of both the chair and footstool are in the shape of a hollow circle with interesting upside down question mark shaped pieces of wood providing the framework on which the seat itself is mounted. I really like this shape and feel that it is stylish and fits in well with my classic leather suite. Below the padded armrests are black metal curved shaped tubes with round twisting knobs which form the recline mechanism of the chair. A black coiled electrical cable links the chair and footstool as the footstool is included in the massage features of the chair, but it can be unplugged if the stool is moved away from the seat. I keep meaning to buy some Velcro so that I can fasten this up out of sight as it isn't pretty to look at.
Alternative colours of leather upholstery are available - cream, black, dark brown and burgundy and a lighter wood base can be requested.
Generally I find this chair fantastically comfortable to sit in. It works particularly well when used in a semi reclined position with knees bent and feet resting on the footstool, to sit and work on my laptop, as I am doing right now. I also like to sit in it when watching television and will again then use a semi reclined position, with the footstool placed several inches away from the front of the seat so that it fully supports my calves and feet. If I am using the massage facility I like to recline the chair fully and lie back and relax. One slight niggle that I have is that ideally I would like it to recline back further for this purpose; the maximum recline angle is about 135 degrees, but I am getting used to this now. We tend to leave the recline knobs loose so that we can vary the angle of recline, but it is possible to lock them off to keep the angle consistent. This may be good if you had children visiting and didn't want them playing constantly with the recline. It does feel quite robust, but I don't think leaping in and out of it would be good for it, especially if the back was free to move.
As I brought this chair from a mobility centre I thought that I should consider the comfort a little more fully, as for many people with disabilities maintaining a good posture is extremely important. I find that the neck / head support section is a little too low for me and I'm only 5'2" and this causes me to slide down in the chair until my neck is well supported and comfortable. The consequence of this is that I then have a 2 - 3" gap behind my bottom and the lower part of my spine is therefore unsupported and my posture is slumped. This places extra stress on my lumbar spine and means that I am not taking up the lumbar support that the chair should be offering. I will often bend my knees to compensate for this. Ideally the neck support area of the chair would be height adjustable, as it is in a car, and then I would be able to be well supported throughout my spine. This is not too big an issue for me as I can regularly move and adjust my position, but for people with a disability or with back pain, any existing problems with their posture could be exacerbated. The armrests are a good height for me to rest my arms on and relax.
The base of the chair has a 360 degree swivel facility to enable you to change the direction that you are facing. On our chair this is quite stiff and could probably do with a bit of oiling, although I can't see where you would access this to do this. I find that if I try to swivel while sitting in the chair I need to bend my knees so that my feet contact the stool and twist my knees outwards, pushing on my feet. This really twists the mid part of my spine and feels that it could cause damage, so I don't bother and keep the chair facing in the same direction.
**The massage facility**
Having the massage facility on the chair was a complete bonus for us. It was not something that we had looked for at all, but it is proving very popular with all of us, adults and teenagers alike. The massage function is controlled from a control box that is attached to the back of the chair by yet more wires, and of course a mains lead is also needed. A really naff leather bag is provided to keep the controller in; another place where velcro could probably do a better job, if I could just get around to buying some!
The controller measures 6 x 16 cm and has a red on/off push button. All the buttons take minimal pressure to use. A diagram of the body shows which of the six vibrating points are active at any time. There are massage points at the neck, upper spine, lower spine, back and front of seat and in the footstool. Most often we have used the chair in an auto setting which is what will operate when first switched on; a light identifies that this is the programme in use. This takes you through a sequence of all of the different variations that the chair offers, for a time of 1 minute on each combination, although during this minute the speed and intensity will vary. In total the programme runs for 30 minutes after which it will automatically switch off. I guess this is in case you've left it on by mistake after getting out of the chair. Just one press of the on/off button turns it back on again if needed, but after 30 minutes of massage I am often ready for a break anyway. Each of the ten functions can however be used individually and a mode button enables you to scroll between them as required. The types of massage provided are a constant vibration of all segments with just one switching off in rotation, a gentle rolling up and down the spine with just one segment active at a time, with a varying speed and intensity (my favourite programme by far and one that I could happily sit for ages while listening to music). Other examples are three alternate segments being active, a vigorous pulse of all segments, a fast or slow wave repeatedly up the spine or the neck can be deactivated. I think it is just personal preference of what each individual likes, but there is enough variety that most people will find something to suit. Personally I find some of the settings too harsh and I like the gentle ones the most. As someone who easily gets sea sick I find that those that rapidly alternate between lower and upper body massage, just leave me feeling all at sea and I'd be reaching for the sick bag if I used them for any length of time. There is an intensity button, but I'm yet to notice any difference if I press this.
I've used the chair a couple of times when I've been poorly. I had really nasty stomach pains one day and the gentle undulating massage programme worked brilliantly to stimulate my gut and provided excellent pain relief. On another occasion I couldn't breathe well at night lying in bed, so I came and sat in the chair and allowed the massage to help clear my chest, which it did well. Unfortunately I didn't find that I could drop off to sleep in the chair as there is not enough side support, so ended up going back to bed. I haven't experienced back pain in the two months that we've had the chair, but I think the heat facility and massage would be helpful, as long as I insured that I sat with my bottom right back in the chair to fully support my spine.
One of the best functions of the chair is the heat pad, also activated from the control box, but maddeningly only when the massage functions are also in operation. Especially in the winter it has been perfect to lie back with the same effect as a hot water bottle in the base of your spine. The heated area is in the lumbar spine section. After switching on it takes about three minutes to feel warmth and by 8 minutes it is bliss. I could tolerate it being slightly hotter, but for safety reasons it is limited to a temperature that will not burn. I would love to be able to use this feature alone and would probably have it on most of the time if I could.
We paid £310 including VAT which felt like a bargain for us in comparison to the stressless chair that we'd planned, even though they look virtually identical and especially as it has the additional massage features. It feels like a lot of chair for the money. For people registered with a disability the chair would cost £52 less if purchased from a specialist disability provider as they will be able to complete a VAT exemption form. On Amazon the same chair retails for £360.
This adjustable chair is well deserving of 4 stars, but due to the few niggles I have with headrest height, insufficient recline and stiff swivel function, I am taking away one star.
This review may appear on both ciao and dooyoo under the same username.