Skip to main content

What type of hot tub should I buy? Everything you need to know

Hot tub
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Even though we’re in the midst of continuous heat waves, hot tubs are as popular as ever. Is it any wonder when so many of us still spend most days at home and need that all-important time to relax and unwind? 

Contrary to what most believe, hot tubs are actually used throughout the year, whether the sun’s out or snow has started to fall. They’re a great way to socialise or simply to soak your worries away, and with more options on the market than ever before, there’s one to suit every home. 

Having said that, it can be daunting to make such a large investment if you’re not sure which type of hot tub to choose. But, worry not, we’ve pulled a guide together to help you find the best hot tub type for your needs.   

Before we break down the types, it’s important to mention that many states and other jurisdictions require you to child-proof your hot tub with a fence or safety barrier. Check your specific area for regulations and consider this in the space you will need. 

 Inflatable/Portable

Inflatable Hot Tub

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

As the name suggests, this type of hot tub can be inflated or deflated and moved around. The lightweight portability aspect makes them a great choice for travellers, and they’re the best value for money from our list. They generally hold around 4-6 people and feature jets to create the bubbles. Some also come with built-in LED lights for entertaining in the evenings too! 

That said, inflatable hot tubs are naturally not as durable as others, and some don’t offer great comfort, as they lack molded seats. They also don’t look as glamorous as permanent tubs — picture a rubber ring rather than wood. 

However, If you’re new to the hot-tub market  and you’re not sure where you want to position your hot tub or how much use you would get from it, then this is the best type to start with. 

Acrylic/Wooden

Acrylic Hot Tub

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Acrylic or wooden hot tubs are what you would typically picture when you think of a hot tub. They’re a permanent fixture with a hard exterior and they come in an array of shapes and sizes. 

Heated via an internal heating system, this type of tub can offer much more customization with multiple massage settings and lighting options. Some of the latest models can even be controlled via your smartphone using Wi-Fi, or voice control if you don’t want to risk dropping your phone in the water. If that’s not enough, Bluetooth audio is another feature you can get — as well as a waterfall!

Depending on the material and style you choose, these can ‘stick out’ in the backyard though. If you want one which adds to the aesthetics, then opt for wood as it looks more natural and sustainable. 

Bear in mind, you need a hard, level surface to permanently place your hot tub, and you will need to maintain it when it’s not in use. These hot tubs can also get very expensive depending on the size and features, so brace for a hefty price tag. 

Wood-Fired Hot Tub 

Wood-Fired Hot Tub

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A wood-fired hot tub is similar to the above wooden hot tub option, but it is heated via a log-fired stove rather than electricity. It’s great if you want something more traditional or don’t have access to an electricity source outside. These look very rustic and can be a great talking point for guests. 

However, unless you choose one with added bubble jets, which is partly powered by electricity, these won't bubble. You will also need to store the wood to heat it and be prepared to get out occasionally to add more to the stove. Because of its heating source, it can take time to prepare for use and it’s also difficult to maintain a precise temperature.  

Built-in/Custom 

Built-in hot tub

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Built-in or custom hot tubs can also be known as spas. They’re generally built into the ground to your specifications and can sometimes be attached to swimming pools. 

These offer many of the same features as acrylic/wooden hot tubs, but they’re much better concealed and often more luxurious to look at, with stone and concrete finishes. They can be built specifically to your needs, such as providing hydrotherapy to help with easing muscles after heavy exercise.

While a built-in hot tub can offer better customization and comfort in terms of size and design, they may not have as many bubble jets as an above-ground option. You may also require a construction permit as well as professionals to build it out, so naturally these can be very expensive.   

Swim Spa  

Swim Spa

(Image credit: Endless Pools)

A swim spa is essentially a combination of a swimming pool and hot tub. It’s the most expensive option available, but does provide the highest level of luxury. It takes up much more space than a typical hot tub, measuring about 15 feet in length and requires a solid foundation for support, such as decking. Because of the size, you can swim against the current for exercise or you can entertain a much bigger party than other types of hot tub. 

Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieMortram.