A hot tub doesn’t have to be a designer luxury. Here’s our pick of the best
With a hot tub, you’re pretty much guaranteed to become the envy of your neighbours, friends and extended family. As one of the last words in home luxury, an inflatable hot tub can be a great addition to your garden or outdoor living area, perfect for relaxing in during the summer and relatively easy to store away in the colder months.
However, a hot tub (even an inflatable one) is a considerable investment that will take up a fair amount of space, time and money – especially as even the cheapest models rarely cost much less than £400. So, if you’re serious about buying a hot tub, you don’t want to make any rash decisions or purchases.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a roundup of some of the best inflatable hot tubs available, as well as a buying guide to help you buy with confidence and find the best hot tub for you.
How to choose the best inflatable hot tub for you
Why choose an inflatable hot tub?
The most obvious advantage is affordability. At the outset, inflatable hot tubs cost much less to buy than their hard shell cousins. They can also be deflated and stored away much more easily.
However, it should go without saying that an inflatable hot tub is not going to be quite as durable or well-insulated as a hard shell one, particularly against adverse weather conditions – which can have an impact on running costs. Many manufacturers also recommend storing away your inflatable hot tub for the winter months.
If you simply can’t imagine the Christmas break without a hot tub to sip mulled wine in, then check out our main hot tubs roundup for some hard shell alternatives.
How much should I spend?
We’ve established that choosing an inflatable hot tub is the affordable option, but how much should you be spending? On average, inflatable hot tubs can cost anywhere between £300 and over £1,500, while you can easily spend over £6,000 on a hard shell tub (such as this one from the Canadian Spa Company).
It’s wise to be cautious of anything below this price range. Although a dirt cheap hot tub might be tempting, you’re running the risk of buying into a false economy.
On top of that, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has given fraudsters plenty of opportunities to dupe consumers, selling fake or non-existent goods such as hand sanitiser and even holidays. As sales of hot tubs have increased throughout the lockdown, it’s very important to be aware of potential hot tub scams that may be circulating online. Always be wary of suspicious listings on online auctions or social media marketplaces.
How much do hot tubs cost to run?
The exact cost of running a hot tub will vary depending on a whole range of factors, including environment, the size and type of the tub, water and electricity bills (according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the average cost of electricity was 17.40p/kW per hour in 2020).
The bad news is that inflatable hot tubs are often more expensive to run than hard shell ones, simply because of their poorer insulation and efficiency. That said, you’ll probably have your inflatable hot tub up and running for much shorter periods than you would a hard shell. That’s yet another variable to consider in the cost of running your tub.
The bottom line is this: be sure to do your research into whether you can afford to run a hot tub, based on these factors, before you make any commitment to buying one.
Anything else I should know?
- Where am I going to put it? This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s important to give it some thought. Do you have enough space to safely accommodate your hot tub? Will it be close enough to a power supply? Will it need protection from the ground? (Some manufacturers such as Lay-Z-Spa sell floor protectors for their tubs.)
- How many people do I want to fit in my hot tub? Is this a family purchase or are you looking for something a bit more private? Many inflatable hot tubs will fit up to four people, but you can find others that will fit between six and eight.
- How do I clean my hot tub? As tedious as it might be, regular hot tub maintenance and cleaning is essential to prevent the build up of mould and bacteria. This is something we go into in more detail in our best hot tubs roundup, although we recommend checking the manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions first.
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The best inflatable hot tubs to buy
1. MSpa Silver Cloud: Best mid-range inflatable hot tub
Price: £453 | Buy now from Amazon
The MSpa Silver Cloud is equipped with a total of 118 air jets and will keep the water bubbling at a cosy 40°C. It’s perhaps not suitable for use in the height of winter, but the good news is that it will inflate effortlessly at the press of a button (and will do so within two minutes according to MSpa). With a capacity for up to four people, it’s a perfect choice for families, and the in-built control box means you won’t need to worry about accommodating space for a bulky external motor that comes with many other inflatable hot tubs.
The Silver Cloud also comes with a zip-on cover which will protect it from the elements such as rain, as well as a garden hose adapter for ease of filling.
Key features – Size: 180 x 180 x 70 cm; Weight: 23kg (unfilled); Max water volume: 700 litres; Max water temperature: 42°C; Capacity: 4
2. Lay-Z Spa Helsinki: Best overall inflatable hot tub
Price: £640 | Buy now from Amazon
We’ve mentioned above that an inflatable hot tub isn’t the best choice for use during the colder winter months. But if your heart is set on a tub for year-round use, and you don’t want to invest in a hard-shell, here’s your next best option.
The Lay-Z Spa Helsinki has been designed with a ‘Freeze Shield’ system, designed to prevent the water in your tub from freezing. This feature keeps the pump running at all times, monitoring the ambient air temperature and ensuring the water temperature doesn’t drop too low, so you can enjoy your Lay-Z Spa throughout winter.
Freeze Shield aside, the Helsinki has 180 jets, which can be easily controlled via a panel attached to the pump, and will fit between five and seven people. What’s more, the wood-effect design gives it a very nice Scandinavian look that sets it aside from other inflatable tubs.
Key features – Size: 180 x 223 x 66cm; Weight: 796kg (filled); Max water volume: 1,123 litres; Max temperature: 40°C; Capacity: 7
3. Lay-Z Spa Miami: Best budget inflatable hot tub for year-round use
Price: £396 | Buy now from Amazon
If Lay-Z Spa’s Freeze Shield technology appeals to you but the price of some of their more expensive options doesn’t, you’re in luck: it comes included in all the brand’s inflatable hot tubs, including the Miami which is far more reasonably priced.
It hasn’t got quite as many “AirJets” as some of the more expensive tubs on this list, and it will only seat between two and four people, but it’s still a great, sturdy and easy-to-use hot tub. If you’re looking for a tub that can be a mainstay the whole year round, and aren’t looking to break the bank, this is a great option.
Key features – Size: 180 x 180 x 66cm; Weight: 696kg (filled); Max water volume: 669 litres; Max temperature: 40°C; Capacity: 4
4. Intex PureSpa Hot Tub: Best hard water-compatible hot tub
Price: £740 | Buy now from Amazon
Hard water (water containing a higher number of minerals such as calcium and magnesium) isn’t great for the skin. It dries it out and, in some cases, can cause conditions such as dermatitis. So, if you live in an area of the UK with hard water (you can check this map if you’re unsure), then you might be wary of filling your hot tub with it.
This is where the Intex PureSpa’s hard water treatment system comes in. If you live in a hard water area, this is undoubtedly a standout feature, which will soften up your spa water so it’s gentler on the skin, clothes and the tub itself. Beyond that, the hot tub has 140 jets, a durable “Fibre-Tech” construction, and space for up to six people.
Key features – Size: 216 x 71cm; Weight: Unspecified; Max water volume: 1,098 litres; Max temperature: 40°C; Capacity: 6
5. MSpa Nest: Best inflatable hot tub for couples
Price: £750 | Buy now from Amazon
Most of the hot tubs on our list will fit at least four people in them. But if you’re after something smaller, this ovular hot tub will seat two people for a more intimate spa experience.
It has 104 air jets and even comes with a side table (should you want to take, say, a glass of wine or a cocktail into the hot tub with you). And like the Silver Cloud above, it has an internal control box so there’s no need for an external motor.
MSpa claims that its tub is the “smartest inflatable spa ever”, thanks to a number of features designed to keep it in working order: its smart filtration system will operate when the tub is in stand-by mode to ensure the water is always clean, and an anti-icing system will prevent the water from freezing. Plus, MSpa’s latest hot tubs come with a UVC sanitiser and an O3 Ozone Generator. This sounds complicated, but the main purpose is to kill off unwanted bacteria, mold, pathogens and other such nastiness.
Key features – Size: 187 x 126 x 69cm; Weight: 29kg (unfilled); Max water volume: 550 litres; Max temperature: 40°C; Capacity: 2