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Best hot tubs 2019: What to know before you take the plunge – Expert Reviews

Let’s face it, a hot tub is the kind of thing you’re only going to buy once. And whether you're looking for a budget inflatable hot tub or a luxurious top-end model which costs many thousands of pounds, it’s crucial you get your purchase right. We’ve done lots of searching and scrolling, and found it’s not all about lights and bubble-jets – there are many factors to take into consideration. Here’s our guide to finding your perfect hot tub, along with the best ones out there on the market right now.

How to buy the best hot tub for you

How much should I spend?

Good quality inflatable hot tubs can be had from around £300, but if you want one to take permanent pride of place in your outdoor space, then prices steadily rise into the thousands. Inflatable hot tubs are great for use in warmer weather, but manufacturers recommend packing them away in the winter. If you want to use your hot tub all year round then it makes sense to spend more on a hard-shell hot tub - these are better insulated, and can be used even when the temperatures approach freezing. 

What do I want from my hot tub?

Some might want a hot tub purely as a distraction: a cosy epilogue to a barbecue or al-fresco dinner. Others might find it a daily relief to medical problems such as arthritis and rheumatism. Either way, consider why you’re buying one, and take each product’s features into account based around your needs. If it's just for fun and relaxation, then an inflatable hot tub is a good way to see if hot tubs are for you. If you want a hard-wearing hot tub that's going to last years, though, then spending more on a hard-shell tub means that you don't need to worry about punctures, wear and tear, and dismantling your hot tub every winter. 

Where do I want my hot tub?

Is your hot tub going indoors or outdoors? Getting one installed indoors comes with all sorts of implications, since you’ll be working around issues like humidity (which will require extractor fans to be fitted), slippery floors and electrical connections - it's a job for a professional. For instance, while smaller hot tubs will run from a standard 13 amp mains socket, larger tubs will require their own dedicated mains spur to supply the electricity current required.

Outdoors, you have the elements - rain, leaves, the cold - to contend with, but as long as you make sure to use a tight-fitting, thermally-insulated cover and follow the manufacturer's cleaning and maintenance instructions, it's something most people can set up themselves. 

It's worth considering that inflatable hot tubs often have to rely on external filters and pumps, so they won't always fit as neatly into a corner of a patio. If you want a neater-looking hot tub that you can leave in place all year round, then a hard-shell model may be worth the extra outlay as these routinely integrate the pumps and filters into the outer shell.

What are the costs involved in running a hot tub?

As with anything that uses plumbed-in water and electricity, you’ll be paying for your hot tub long after you’ve bought it. It's necessary to keep hot tubs warm 24/7, so larger tubs will cost more to run - and if you live in a colder part of the country it will also prove more expensive.

It is possible to reduce the temperature when you're not using the hot tub, but this does mean that you'll need to set it back to a comfortable temperature an hour or two before using it. In short, you should budget to spend at around a pound per day on electricity to run a hot tub. Bear in mind, though, that many users have reported costs which are several times higher than that, so it pays to do your homework before splashing out. 

The best hot tubs to buy from £400 in 2019

1. Lay-Z-Spa Vegas Hot Tub: Best budget hot tub

Price: £398 | Buy now from Amazon[1]

The Lay-Z-Spa Vegas is the cheapest hot tub in our list - which you'll immediately notice in the fact that this is inflatable. So while it will never take permanent pride of place on the decking in your garden, having a hot tub that can be tucked away clearly has lots of advantages (you won't have to worry about fishing leaves out of it during the winter, for example). And when you do use it, you'll find it can be set up quickly – there's a DVD set-up and maintenance guide included – and the water in it can be heated to a temperature of 40˚C. It also has a functioning jet system, and is made to fit between four and six people. An excellent choice if you only anticipate using your hot tub sporadically – and if you fancy spontaneously wowing your party guests.

Key specs - Size: 196 x 196 x 61 cm; Weight: 41kg; Max water volume: 935 litres; Capacity: 4-6

2. Outdoor Whirlpool Hot Tub Troy Spa: Best for hydrotherapy

Price: £4,395 | Buy now from Amazon[2]

The Outdoor Whirlpool Hot Tub is definitely a top contender if you want a set of reliable features, and it's a smart-looking tub to boot. Its 44 massage nozzles operate at 2.24 kilowatts per hour, and there's a 3kw heater inside. It’s operated by a very simple, very straightforward LCD operating system, and the ozone disinfection system is definitely a highlight at this price. The synthetic timber exterior, while hardly high-end design, is inoffensive and wouldn’t look out of place in most gardens or terraces. It’s large enough to accommodate four or five people, so keep this hot tub in mind for families or groups of friends.

Key specsSize : 200 x 200 x 93cm; Weight: 290kg; Max water volume: 1300 litres Voltage: 220-240V/50HZ; Capacity: 4-5

3. Whirlpool Spa Corner Bath: ‘Barracuda’: Best for couples

Price: £1,649 | Buy now from Amazon[3]

The Barracuda, despite the intimidating name, is a smaller-scale model that’s better suited for couples. Its corner-fitting design is good for those with limited outdoor space, and its diminutive size is reflected in the price - as are the relatively scant hydrotherapy features: there are just eight large nozzles and four small nozzles. But there’s also an in-built speaker and radio system, which can certainly add to your relaxation, along with a series of LED lights that will give it an intimate glow at nighttime. The black, chrome-plated design will probably divide opinion, but do consider this hot tub if it’s just you and your partner who will use it, and you need to stay realistic with your spend.

Key specsSize : 150 x 150 cm; Weight : 100kg; Capacity: 2

4. Norfolk Theatre Hot Tub: Best for parties

Price: £16,995 | Buy now from Amazon[4]

The highest-priced hot tub on our list. Yes, you may be spending more on the Norfolk Theatre Hot Tub than you did on your last car - but when you see its capacious size and its array of features, you'll understand why. You can fit a whopping total of ten people in this hot tub - or, as the manufacturers say in their product description: 'almost a whole football team'. Should said team fancy watching a game, they have the choice of tuning into the 42-inch, foldout LCD television. It also has 126 jets, four pumps and a circulation pump. And 50 LED lights for some razzle-dazzle. If you're expecting your hot tub to be party central, and you have the money to spend, this is the one for you.

Key specsSize: 380 x 228 x 116 m; Weight: 750kg; Max water volume: 5,000 litres; Capacity: 10

5. Intex Octagonal Pure Spa: Best for bubble therapy

Price: From £575 | Buy now from Amazon[5]

This is another inflatable hot tub, but one that packs more punch in terms of its jet system - a total of 140 heated bubble jets line the interior. The Pure Spa's built-in control panel will allow you to adjust the temperature to anything between 20C and 40C, while its cover will keep the inside protected from the elements. It also has a hard-water treatment system. Thanks to the Fiber-Tech material, it's highly durable and will survive light knocks and scratches, but will also comfortably support you while you're sat inside. 

Key specs - Size: 201 x 201 x 71 cm/216 x 216 x 71 cm; Weight: 40-43kg; Max water volume: 795-1098 litres; Capacity: 4-6

References

  1. ^ Buy now from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
  2. ^ Buy now from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
  3. ^ Buy now from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
  4. ^ Buy now from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
  5. ^ Buy now from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)

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