The Best Hot Tubs and Hot Tub Reviews
Delivering to you the most in-depth and best hot tub reviews and guides of 2016. Find out everything you need to know about buying your perfect hot tub ready for the perfect moment.
The problem we are trying to solve here is the problem of choice. There are hundreds of different hot tub variations and customizations – so many that it can easily become overwhelming when trying to decide on which is the perfect one to buy.
Our solution to you is creating a place where you can compare dozens and dozens of different hot tubs from multiple manufacturers, with every advantage of disadvantage of each product displayed in as simple terms as possible. The best part of it all? We’ll guide you to the cheapest place available for your chosen product.
Why buy a hot tub?
Everybody has their own ideas in mind when it come to buying a hot tub, below are a few of the main reasons behind customer purchases:
Probably the number one reason why hot tub purchases are made. What better way to end your hard day at work than to slip into an outdoor 104F bubbling bath of heaven in the depths of winter? Spend 30 minutes in a quality hot tub and all your worries will just float away. The powerful jets will massage deep into your tense muscles, loosening up multiple tight areas and improving blood circulation throughout your body while the mood-lights will set an amazingly relaxing scene.
This is tied into the relaxation section above – hydrotherapy is the term coined when using water for pain relief. The amazingly warm temperature of a hot tub coupled with the multiple perfectly-placed power jets around the inner shell can do amazing things to your body.
The heat from a hot tub causes several bodily processes/changes to occur within your body. Blood flow starts to increase as your core temperature warms up, this in turn causes your blood vessels to dilate, helping to lower your blood pressure in as little as 20 minutes. Your core will start to relax in the hot water as the heat transfers into your deep muscles.
Although a standard bathtub could theoretically do the same, unlike hot tubs, baths can’t maintain the high temperatures for long periods of time, not allowing the blood to circulate through your muscles at temperatures perfect for relaxation. For this reason, hot tubs are a perfect option for soothing acute and chronic back pain and other muscle/joint pains if used regularly.
In addition to the benefits above, regular hot tub use can also help with: Diabetes, Arthritis and getting good quality deep sleep.
I can’t think of many alternative romantic settings that can beat sitting in a private hot tub out of sight from everybody, under the stars, steam being thrown off the surface, red mood-lights shining through the water layers with a glass of champagne, a few strawberries and a perfect soundtrack playing in the background. Can you? A perfect way to get some often much needed time together when the kids have gone to bed. Bliss.
To be an amazing party host
Who wouldn’t want to go to a garden party in the heights of summer when there’s a 4-8 person hot tub just waiting to be stepped into? Definitely every party host’s best weapon of choice when it comes to putting on a BBQ for friends and family. Beers in hand, great party music blazing out – and a hot tub to help you put on a party to remember.
Just to say you have one
And of course, at the end of the day, who wouldn’t want a hot tub? Just get one!
What to look for in a hot tub
As mentioned above, there are so many different hot tub variations that you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. There are probably hot tub configurations and types that you didn’t even know existed.
Although any hot tub you decide to buy is going to be both fun and relaxing (depending on its purpose), I know that if I can help you chose the one that you really want, then you’re going to be twice as happy as you would have been if you just picked out the cheapest, or the ‘bubbliest’, or the one with the nicest coloured lights. Let’s see what you should be looking for when deciding on what’s the best hot tub for you:
There are a few main types of hot tub – each built to serve a specific purpose and price range. The most popular hot tub variations are:
Inflatable Hot Tubs and Portable Hot Tubs
Inflatable hot tubs are the cheapest and smallest available. They’re designed for the low budget customer but also for the customer who requires the most portability. These products are very light compared to their bulkier square cousins and can be moved around a garden or from a house into a garage at will, which is why they are also commonly called portable hot tubs.
With portability and price being the upsides, the downsides are the fact that these variations are normally smaller and less durable that hard-cased hot tubs.
Hard-Cased / Plug and Play Hot Tubs
The stereotypic hot tub. These are the ones that you are likely familiar with, commonly square and with steps leading up to the waterline. These hot tubs are more expensive but are a lot more durable and keep the water warm for a very long length of time if equipped with a well insulated cover. Although a lot heavier and bulkier than an inflatable hot tub, they can still be transported to a reasonable extent if needs-be.
In-built Hot Tubs
These are either custom built hot tubs or are variations of a standard hard-cased hot tub. These are built into the ground, normally within a garden or outdoor spa and can look amazing with the right enclosure and surroundings. Obviously these are not portable at all so you better be sure the you like that hot tub where it is!
Probably the most important thing in this list for the majority of people. When it comes to buying a hot tub, the price range is huge.
At the lower end you can pick up a well made and reliable inflatable hot tub for around $300 – like this Coleman Lay-Z Spa. Inflatable hot tubs are the cheapest and generally regarded as low-range hot tubs, but they definitely serve their purpose. Inflatable hot tubs go up to around $1200 in price.
After a bit of a price jump after inflatables, Plug and Play hard-cased hot tubs begin at around $2500 – these are definitely the most popular choice for the average buyer. Depending on size and customisation. These can go up to around $20000 for the luxurious, super powerful 8-12 person monsters.
And then we hit dreamland. For between $20000-$30000 you can land yourself a multi-tier, 20 person, TV-laden hot tub that when you sink into it, you’ll never want to climb out again – ever. Of course then there are custom-built hot tubs for the perfectionists, but that’s a whole other article. you can make these as cheap or expensive as yo please.
Another important factor – you’ll know straight away the rough amount of seats required in your new purchase. This is going to vary widely between buyers. Will you be using your purchase mainly for a relaxing romantic night in for two? Or will you be hosting huge garden parties with the aim at squeezing 8-10 people in at any one time?
My recommendation is to decide how many people will normally be using the hot tub, and then add on at least another 2 seats. If your family increases, or you suddenly have a big influx of friendly gatherings, you can’t just add another seat or two into your hot tub, you need to decide before you buy and play it safe.
To tie in with the section above, hot tubs have many different floor-plate shapes with varying seating plans:
These are the seats you will normally see in an average hot tub – they are usually placed in each corner and allow you to sit upright as if you was sitting in a normal chair. If there are jets added to the back/bottom of the seats these are sometimes referred to as therapy seats due to the massage effects that these closely-placed jets produce in relation to the seated user.
These are exactly as they sound – like sun loungers they allow you to stretch out and normally come with good lumbar support for extra comfort. They can come either with or without inbuilt jets. The obvious benefit to these seats are that they allow you to stretch out and can be extremely comfortable – the downside being that they are space-hogs and having a lounger in your hot tub normally means that an extra seat or two will probably be sacrificed.
These seats are normally shaped similar to a standard seat, except they are raised higher within the hot tub. The idea of these seats is that in the high water temperatures, you are able to better perch your upper body out of the water so your core body temperature is able to cool down.
Think of these as corner-sofas. Love seats are flat-bottomed, right-angled and more spacious than a regular seat so that two (or more) people are able to snug up next to each other – if that’s what they’re into.
Obviously another important factor. It is definitely a requirement to scope out your preferable hot tub placement within your home/garden before you buy and to make sure that measurements have been made to guarantee that the hot tub will in fact fit where required.
Keep in mind that the average round/inflatable hot tub can vary in size between about 6-7 feet, while square products can range from 7-9 feet depending on the capacity they are designed to hold. If you’re planning to build your hot tub into the ground, consult a specialist landscaper to ensure the hole measurements are perfect and allow for electrical input and access to filters/motors.
Jets are not important as long as your hot tub bubbles right? Wrong! A quality hot tub with huge numbers of powerful jets will tell you otherwise – trust me, you can tell the difference. Jet numbers can vary greatly between hot tubs depending on brand, size, shape and quality.
Cheaper/smaller plug and play hot tubs can have as little as 12-20 jets built in, while more expensive/larger products can have as much as 80 jets. Although inflatable hot tubs can claim to have up to 150 jets, these are ‘air jets’ and are completely different to the crafted adjustable power jets found in other hot tubs.
Although I have just written a whole paragraph on jet numbers – the amount of jets in a hot tub isn’t the be all and end all as far as the discussion goes. Some of the best hot tubs on the market have lower jet numbers – it all comes down to quality. Do you want 72 jets that flow out like a straw? Or 40 jets that blast out like water cannons (if you wanted them to)?
Jet placement is also important, and be assured that market research has been carried out by the various top hot tub brands to ensure that jet placement is perfect for each individual manufactured product.
In terms of flow and power, many hot tubs have control panels allowing you to customize which jets are running at any given time, and most jets can normally be turned on and off manually by simply twisting the nozzles – not to mention that many jets also have movable nozzles to adjust flow direction to suit the placement of each user.
At the end of the day jet placement all comes down to personal preference. Do you want a powerful back and bottom massage while sitting in your seat? Or do you want well placed jets to sooth the feet? This is what this site was made for – to help satisfy your requirements.
A common misconception is that a 220v hot tub will increase the power of the jets when compared to a 110v. This is wrong – having a supply of either 110v to 220v has no effect at all on jet power/performance. This extra voltage will however help increase pump efficiency and decrease heating time.
To follow on from above – you could have the best jets in the world, but they’re not going to work very well at all if you have a shoddy underpowered pump… Hot tubs can come with one, two, or sometimes even three pumps. The average two pump hot tub will use one for water circulation/filtration, while the other will power the jets.
Some hot tubs come with pumps with variable speeds so they can fire up and give you a lovely jet stream while in use, and when you’re out, they can slow down and keep the hot tub gently bubbling away, keeping it crystal clear at the same time. Summary: The better the pump – the better the filtration and the stronger the jets.
Many of the best hot tubs these days come with at least a few different heating/jet modes, below are a few of the most common modes you will likely find configured on your new hot tub:
This, obviously, is the bog-standard hot tub mode that you’ll likely be using the most. When this setting is activated your hot tub will warm up to the desired set temperature and remain there until you either change mode or the hot tub switches off.
Economy mode, as the name suggests is designed to save power. To save power the hot tub will normally (depending on make and model) only heat up to the desired temperature during filter cycles. Once up to temperature, the water will very slowly drop until the next filter cycled takes place.
This mode will save you money on power in the long run in exchange for a slightly cooler hot tub experience once the temperatures start to drop off.
This mode is normally set when the hot tub is not in use for prolonged periods of time. When set to sleep mode, the water temperature will heat up to within about 20° F (11° C) of the configured temperature during each filter cycle, using less energy and costing less money than economy mode.
As well as the above modes, most good hot tubs normally have at least two jet settings, generally allowing you to shift between low speeds and high speeds. Some hot tubs have a ‘pulse’ setting which cycles through slow jets and fast jets.
If you are a friend of the planet, you are likely to want to ensure that your hot tub is as eco-friendly and energy efficient as possible. There are multiple factors to consider when trying to pick a hot tub with a good energy rating. Check the type and amount of insulation used around the hot tub – the more insulation, the less heat that will escape and therefore the less amount of work the heater will have to do to keep the water up to temperature.
Many hot tubs have multiple foam layers, so check foam density before buying if you want to best insulation. Of course, the surrounding insulation is useless if the is nothing stopping the heat from escaping above while the hot tub is not in use.
You will want to make sure that you invest in a good quality hot tub cover if one isn’t initially supplied – they can make the world of difference. A good average thickness to aim for is around 4 inches for a cover, although some covers can come in at up to 6 inches thick! Check here to see some of the best hot tub cover reviews.
Hot tub manufacturers
As with pretty much every single product on the market today – there are good brands and there are bad brands, and this market is no different. Please be aware that some manufacturers are better than others, and we will of course point you in the right direction and help guide you towards the best hot tub brands currently available within your price range. See here for a full list of the best hot tub brands.
Hot tub maintenance
As I’m sure you are aware, owning a hot tub comes with the responsibility of ensuring that it’s correctly maintained. Worry not – this is in no way as difficult as you probably think. These products are designed to be customer maintained between services and are therefore designed to be as easily maintainable as possible. Although I won’t go too in-depth here, below are a few of the maintenance procedures that would be required by yourself:
Regular cleaning of hot tub shell and cover
An obvious one here – as with most things placed around the house/garden, it does unfortunately need to be cleaned regularly, especially when there is water and humidity is concerned – this type of environment is a breeding ground for bacteria and algae so ensure that you give the outside, inside and cover a good scrub regularly.
Cleaning the filter
Once every 2-3 weeks you will need to check and clean your filter to ensure that it isn’t clogged up and is running optimally. There may be times when the filter becomes loose or rips/tears and the filter will need to be changed. Filters should also be changed at least once a year anyway regardless of damage.
Checking and replenishing of chemical levels
In order to keep the water sanitary and bacteria/algae-free you will likely need to use some sort of chemical additive such as chlorine or bromine. You will need to monitor the PH levels regularly to ensure that chemical levels aren’t too low are too high. Too low and the bacteria/algae will still be able to grow – too high and the acidity will start to corrode the hot tub and potentially cause skin irritation.
Although it is relatively easy to do all of the above yourself, it’s still highly recommended that you get a hot tub service at least once a year (and more often with heavy usage) – this ensures that your hot tub is always running as optimally as possible, and also greatly helps in preventing problems (and costs) further down the line.
Many brands only honour certain warranties if the product has been regularly serviced by a professional, not to mention – if you’ve just thrown down $5000+ on an amazing hot tub, surely you’ll want it to remain in the greatest condition possible?
Depending on make and model, hot tubs can come with many many additional features depending on the price you’re willing to pay and the manufacture you choose. Hot tubs can be highly customisable to suit each customer’s specific needs. Many additional features greatly increase usability and enjoyability during hot tub use – and others, well, they’re just cool to have!
There are so many options when it comes to lighting, and I’d be shocked if you haven’t ever seen a hot tub with at least half a doesn’t color changing LED lights shining through from the bottom of the hot tub.
Lights can change the whole setting depending on what circumstance you are in at the time. Dimmed red LEDs set the perfect mood when you’re bubbling away with the one you love under the stars. Multi-colored LEDs flashing crazily under the waters surface, moving to the beat of the music are perfect while hosting the greatest garden party – or just some simple bright white LEDs beaming through the depths for a classy look.
If you’re planning on a long hot tub session then you’ll probably want a bit of head support. Many hot tubs come with various types of headrests in many different densities and materials – definitely recommended for ultimate relaxation.
Very handy at a party for holding a beer or resting your champagne glass in when having a romantic night with your better-half.
Built-in speakers can be an amazing addition to your hot tub if you’re a music lover – no need to drag your sound-system across the garden or risk getting your phone wet – who would want to listen to tiny speakers being drowned out by the roaring jets and bubbling water when you can have high quality speakers playing our right next to your ears?
To tie in with the speaker section above, some hot tub manufacturers allow you to add a docking station to your hot tub so you’re able play music out through your phone or music device.
Some hot tubs come with a small storage cabinet where you can keep your valuables out of the way – very handy if you enjoy sitting in your hot tub during a rainstorm or in the snow, or even if you have thieves as neighbours!
Some hot tubs can be connected to your home network/ the internet so you can control it pretty much anywhere in the world. Coming home from a business trip in China and fancy slipping into the hot tub when you arrive? No problem – log into the secure web page and tell your hot tub to start heating up! Technology these days…
If you want to look really cool in-front of your friends, some hot tubs can be customised with special waterproof TVs – now you never need to worry about missing that important game of football.
Okay now it’s getting silly… Yes I said waterfalls. Some high-end hot tubs can be customised to the point where you can even have a section raised to have the water pump out from above you – definitely a cool addition if you want to splash the cash.