Hot Tub Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best One for You

Hot tubs are a fun and relaxing addition to any household. However, the best hot tub for you will heavily depend on the type you’re willing to go for. Certain designs require more room and maintenance than others as well as a more labour-intensive installation process. 

To help you understand more and to improve your journey to becoming a hot tub owner, we’ve created this in-depth guide that covers everything you need to know about buying a hot tub. 


Types of Hot TubsMaintaining Your Hot Tub
How to Choose a Hot TubBest Hot Tubs
Hot Tub ShapesHot Tub Accessories
Installation and Running Costs Other Buying Guides 

Types of Hot Tubs

Hard Shell Hot Tubs

If you’re after a permanent and durable addition to your garden, then a hard shell hot tub may be the best option for you. These tubs sit on a hard base and are surrounded by rigid side panels, which can be made from plastic, wood, acrylic or recycled materials, like metal. 

Hard-shell hot tubs come with a variety of jets, pumps and lights as well as an internal heating system. Certain varieties have a range of fancy features, which include built-in sound systems and WiFi, as well as full-foam insulation which is designed to seal the heat in your hot tub, improving its efficiency. 

Inflatable Hot Tubs

Lay-Z-Spa Santorini Hydrojet Pro – £934.96

These hot tubs are inflated with air and are light, so they’re easy to install and can be stored away when you no longer need them. 

While they can be moved around, inflatable hot tubs need to be set up on a clean and level base. An external heater will warm the water while an air blower inflates the walls and powers the jets. Inflatable hot tubs are usually round but can come in other shapes too. They don’t have as many features as hard-shell varieties but you can still get lights, drinks holders, headrests and shelters. 

Wood-fired Hot Tubs

Another permanent addition to your outdoor space, wood-fired hot tubs use a log-fired stove to heat the water instead of electricity. This means most varieties won’t have jets and you won’t be able to keep the water at a precise temperature. 

The amount of time it takes to heat the water will vary depending on the size of the hot tub, but it shouldn’t take more than a few hours. You’ll need to stir the water to keep it evenly heated and you’ll need space to store your wood for the stove. Like other hot tubs, it will need to be set up on a level surface. 

In-ground Hot Tubs

In-ground and custom hot tubs are also known as spas. While they appear and perform like a regular hot tub, they tend to have more bespoke features. Most designs will be built into the ground or attached to a swimming pool. 

What you want from your spa will determine the best design for you. For exercise, you should consider counter-current jets. Whereas for medical issues, you should consider a hydrotherapy tub. If you opt for an in-ground hot tub, you’ll need to make sure you don’t need planning permission before you install one. 

How to Choose a Hot Tub

Pros and Cons

Weighing out the pros and cons of the different types of hot tubs is one of the most effective ways to choose the best hot tub for you. 

Hot Tub TypeProsCons
Hard Shell Hot TubVery durable. Comes with a wide variety of features. Insulated so can be used all year round. Can be expensive to buy and set up. Can’t be stored away. Requires a lot of maintenance. 
Inflatable Hot TubBudget-friendly option. Can be moved and stored away easily. Easier to maintain. Not as durable. Usually less seating and features. Some can’t be used all year. 
Wood-fired Hot TubA durable design.Can be cheaper to run. Fewer chemicals are needed. Harder to heat up, keep warm and maintain a precise temperature. Need to stock up on wood. 
In-ground Hot Tub Can be customised to your needs and requirements. Durable and can be used all year. You might need planning permission. Installation is expensive. 

The Cost 

Mapping out your budget is the first step to selecting the best hot tub for you. Fortunately, there is a huge range of options available for people with all kinds of budgets. With certain varieties, the installation costs will have a huge impact on the overall cost of the hot tub. The average price for the different types of hot tubs is as follows. 

Hot Tub TypeAverage Cost 
Hard Shell Hot Tub£3,000-10,000
Inflatable Hot Tub£200-£1,500
Wood-fired Hot Tub£1,500-£8,000
In-ground Hot Tub £6,000+

Available Space

You will need to measure the area where you’d like to install your hot tub before making your purchase. This will allow you to compare models on the market with your requirements. It’s essential to pick a pool that’s the right size when browsing the options that are available to you. 

Common hot tub sizes

The depth of an outdoor spa will vary depending on the model you go for. Below is a table of some of the standard hot tub sizes. 

MeasurementSize and ShapeNumber of People 
78 x 78 inches Small, square 2-4 people
84 x 84 inches Medium, square 5-6 people
94 x 94 inches Large, square 7+ people 

Surrounding space

You’ll need to consider the space you’d like around your hot tub for relaxing and socialising, and for extras and customisable features, which will be determined by the type of hot tub you choose. You also need to consider the natural environment of the surroundings, such as trees, fencing, and other factors that could affect water cleanliness, shade and privacy. 

Type of Land

The type of land you plan to install your hot tub on will influence the best type and style you should go for. 

Owned vs Rented Land

If you don’t own the land that you want to install your hot tub on, then an inflatable hot tub will be the best option for you. These non-permanent additions are easy to install and move if you have to leave the property unexpectedly or fancy and change and they don’t do much damage to the ground they’re built on. 

Sloped Land 

If your outdoor space is on a slope, then levelling the ground before you choose or install a hot tub is vital. You should always install a hot tub on flat, level and smooth surfaces, such as a patio, decking or a concrete pad with or without a floor protector. 

If you’re dealing with a small slope of less than an inch and you already have a concrete pad for installation, then you can use simple shims to even up the flooring. For steeper slopes, you may need to use custom-built pads of wood, gravel or sand or consider a new concrete pad. 

Hot tub shapes


Lay-Z-Spa Helsinki Airjet – £530.95 

A round hot tub is usually smaller than some of the other versions on the market, but it’s still an extremely popular choice. This is because they maximise the space you have available without taking up too much room in your garden, offering generous seating room for smaller parties. Round hot tubs are one of the most popular shapes for inflatable varieties. 


Lay-Z-Spa HawaiiAirjet – £469.99

Square hot tubs are one of the most common shapes. They will usually have an equal amount of jets to seating on each side of the spa, making them perfect for socialising and relaxing. You and your guests will be able to immerse into the deep seating of a square-shaped tub. This shape is available in a variety of sizes without limitations on the configuration of jets or seating. 

Rectangular or Oval

Lay-Z-Spa Mauritius Airjet – £599.95 

Rectangular hot tubs are a fairly common shape. Oval-shaped hot tubs have rounded edges and aren’t the most common shape, but they make stylish additions to your garden. With these shapes, there are more options when it comes to seating and plenty of entry points, making them a great choice for people who want to enjoy their hot tub with family and friends. 


A triangular hot tub is a great option for those who don’t have much outdoor space or if you’re looking to utilise the corners of your back garden. Triangular hot tubs are pointed on a side which allows them to fit snug in a corner. These aren’t the largest hot tubs but they work best for those who want an easily accessible single-person hydrotherapy spa. 

4+ Sides

Avenli Swift Aegean Rigid Foam Wall Hot Tub – £899.95

For those after a unique and stylish hot tub with plenty of space to socialise with friends, then a swim spa with more than 4 sides is recommended. These shapes will include pentagons, hexagons or octagons.  Each side will allow guests to have their own set of jets to sit back on without taking up too much space. 

Installation and Running Costs 

Installation Costs 

Costs vary widely with hardshell, wood-fired and in-ground hot tubs. The size and additional features will have a huge impact on the price. It’s also important to remember that these hot tubs are permanent additions to your outdoor space, so they will need to be set up on a solid and level surface. 

Getting a professional to install your permanent outdoor spa is one of the largest upfront costs you’ll face on your journey to becoming a hot tub owner. The average cost of installation in the UK is £2500 to £6000. This can be less or more depending on the type and size of the tub. 

While professional installation can be expensive, this cost will be worthwhile as a mistake when it comes to installation could be very expensive in the long run. If you’re planning on getting an inflatable hot tub, you’ll save a lot of money on installation costs. All you need to do for this quick and easy job is: 

– Inflate the tub on a flat, clean surface

– Set up the pump unit

– Connect it to your mains

– Fill the tub with water 

Running Costs

Many variables that will influence the cost of your hot tub, such as your energy provider, where you live, how you want to use your hot tub and the type of hot tub. This goes without saying, but the more you use your hot tub the higher your running costs. This is because the more it’s used, the more heating, cleaning and treatment it will require. 

The most energy-efficient spas will cost between 75p and £1 a day at current energy tariffs of around 12-13p per kWh (as of May 2022). With this in mind, the average running costs will be:

Hot Tub Running Costs 
5-6 seater family spa £2-£2.50 a day
2-4 seater or 13A eco-friendly spas £1.50-£2 a day

Maintaining Your Hot Tub 

Dirty hot tub water can cause serious lung and skin conditions that require medical attention. So, treating your water and keeping your hot tub clean is vital when it comes to enjoying your spa experience safely. This applies to all types of hot tubs with filtration systems. 

Things to look out for include:

pH level – Should be between 7.2-7.6; pH 7 is classed as neutral on the acid/alkaline scale. 

Alkalinity – To reduce limescale. The recommended level for hot tub water is 80-120 ppm.

Sanitiser level – To kill organic things. Chlorine concentration of at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

Stabiliser – To keep the chlorine active.  The ideal level of stabiliser is between 30 and 70 ppm.

Daily Maintenance

– Maintain the sanitiser levels by adding a registered sanitiser after use

– Check and maintain your sanitiser levels when the spa isn’t being used

– Check the water temperatures to ensure the system is running properly

Weekly Maintenance

– Test sanitiser and pH levels on the acid/alkaline scale

– Shock the water – this is when a stronger concentration of sanitiser is used to clean and clear the water while killing bacteria at the same time

– Add chemicals to control stains and scale 

– Adjust your water pH and alkaline levels as required 

– Wipe away debris above the water line to reduce contamination

– Rinse the filters if required 

– Wipe down both sides of your spa to prevent mould and mildew 

Monthly Maintenance 

– Give the filters a thorough clean 

– Check that the jets are running properly 

Quarterly Maintenance 

– Empty and clean the entire hot tub, including the pipes 

– Remove and install a clean or new filter 

– Refill your hot tub water 

– Test the levels and add the necessary chemicals 

– Clean the exterior walls of the hot tub 

Keeping Your Hot Tub Water Clear

Nothing is worse than green or cloudy hot tub water. If the colour of your water has changed or you’re noticing green stains in your hot tub, then chances are your pH level is off balance and the water doesn’t contain enough disinfectant. 

To make your hot tub water clear, you should use an algaecide. Treating your hot tub water regularly will keep the water clean and clear as well as safe for us. 

Shop all hot tub water treatment 

Best Hot Tubs

If you have a specific reason a buying a hot tub or you want to know more about what would best suit your needs, then here are some of the best hot tubs for the following. 

Best Hot Tub on a Budget

Lay-Z-Spa Havana Airjet 

RRP: £299.95 

Our fantastic offer on the Lay-Z-Spa Havana Airject makes it the perfect choice for those who are looking for a hot tub on a budget. Perfect for couples and small families, this 4-person outdoor spa features 120 AirJets and a 40-degree rapid heating system, making it ready for you to use in a matter of minutes. 

Most Efficient Hot Tub 

Avenli Swift Aegean Rigid Foam Wall Hot Tub 

RRP: £899.95 

If you’re looking for an efficient hot tub that has low running costs and looks super stylish, then look no further than the Avenli Swift Aegean Rigid Foram Wall Hot Tub. This outdoor spa has been engineered to be 50% more efficient than standard hot tubs. However, with 90 bubble jets and water temperatures of up to 40 degrees, you won’t have to compromise on comfort. 

Best Hot Tub for Parties

MSpa Comfort Starry Bubble Spa 

RRP: £307.96 

The MSpa Comfort Starry Bubble Spa makes the perfect addition to any party. Featuring 138 AirJets, your guests will be able to relax and unwind during your hot tub party. The stylish design also features LED lighting to enhance everyone’s experience even further by creating the best atmosphere possible. 

Biggest Hot Tub 

Lay-Z-Spa Mauritius Airjet

RRP: £599.95

Seating up to 7 people, the Lay-Z-Spa Mauritius Airjet will allow you to give yourself and a large group of others the chance to have a spa-like experience in the comfort of your back garden. This oval-shaped hot tub has been designed with space in mind and is one of the larger spas in our range. It’s also super strong and features a 180 AirJet system. 

Hot Tub Accessories

There are a wide variety of accessories that you can add to your hot. As well as being practical and customisable, they can make maintenance much easier for you too.

Gazebos and Canopies

Lay-Z-Spa Canopy – £39.95 

Installing a gazebo or canopy to your hot tub will offer a form of wind protection and shade. They are very easy to install and they can be put away when they’re not needed.

Drinks Holders 

Lay-Z-Spa Drinks Holder – £12.95 

If you spend a lot of time in your hot tub relaxing or socialising with friends, drinks holders will make a great addition. They allow you to keep your drinks close and are a safe storage solution. 

Insulation Mats and Covers 

ABLO Grey Round Rattan Spa Surround – £499.95

Hot tub covers are designed to save you money and hassle as they’re designed to keep leaves and debris away from the water while keeping in the heat. 


MSpa Filter Cartridge 90 Pleats with Mesh Cover Twin Pack – £16.95 

Hot tub filters and pumps are directly in charge of the quality of your water. Water filters will need to be maintained and cleaned themselves. The information on how to do so will be provided with the filter and pump you buy and install. 


Lay-Z-Spa All in One Tool Set – £29.95 

If you don’t have a hot tub cover or forget to use it, then having nets and tools to give the water a quick tidy up before you take a dunk is highly recommended for convenience and cleanliness. 

Shop all hot tubs

Other buying guides 

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