How To Choose The Best Inflatable Hot Tub – Reviews & Buyers Guide How To Choose The Best Inflatable Hot Tub – Reviews & Buyers Guide
5400(Last Updated On: July 10, 2017)5400 How To Choose The Best Inflatable Hot Tub – Reviews & Buyers Guide
(Last Updated On: July 10, 2017)

It’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of having an inflatable hot tub at home. Imagine getting in from a hard days work, or a particularly stressful day at the office, and slipping in to relaxing hot tub to gently bubble away the days worries with a glass of chilled wine or cool beer.

Inflatable hot tubs are so much more affordable than their regular hard-plastic counterparts. Plus they can be safely packed away and stored should we need a bit of extra room and for protection during the cold winter months.

With all of these advantages it comes as no surprise that more and more of us want them in our homes and gardens – especially as modern life becomes increasingly hectic and we all need a little time to unwind and relax.

The problem is there’s a lot of choice and finding the right hot tub isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve made this guide. To help you make that choice and demystify some of the jargon you’ll come across when buying. Let’s get started…

This Guide at a Glance:

There is a lot of information in this guide. We’ve made is a comprehensive as possible and have covered everything we think you need to know before you buy. But, if you don’t want to read the whole thing, you can get to the information you need quickly by using the links below:

Inflatable Hot Tub Comparison Table:

Low Price

  • Lay-z Spa Miami


  • Our Rating


  • Capacity:
    2-4 people
  • Dimensions:
    180cm Wide x 65cm High
  • Weight When Full (Inc People):
    1026Kg
  • Massage System:
    Yes – air jet system
  • Max. Water Temperature:
    40°C
  • £

  • Lay-z Spa Vegas


  • Our Rating


  • Capacity:
    4-6 people
  • Dimensions:
    196cm wide x 61cm high
  • Weight When Full (Inc People):
    1100Kg
  • Massage System:
    Yes – 87 air jets
  • Max. Water Temperature:
    40°C
  • £

  • MSPA Glow Luxury Hot Tub M-022LS


  • Our Rating


  • Capacity:
    2-4 people
  • Dimensions:
    180cm wide x 70cm high
  • Weight When Full (Exc People):
    723Kg
  • Massage System:
    Yes – 118 air jets
  • Max. Water Temperature:
    42°C
  • £

  • Intex Octagonal Bubble Spa Hot Tub


  • Our Rating


  • Capacity:
    2-4 people
  • Dimensions:
    200cm wide x 71cm high
  • Weight When Full (Inc People):
    1136Kg
  • Massage System:
    Yes – 120 air jets
  • Max. Water Temperature:
    40°C
  • ££
Our Top Pick

  • Lay-z Spa Palm Springs HydroJet


  • Our Rating


  • Capacity:
    4-6 people
  • Dimensions:
    196cm wide x 71cm high
  • Weight When Full (Inc People):
    1225Kg
  • Massage System:
    Yes – hydro jets
  • Max. Water Temperature:
    40°C
  • ££££

  • Lay-z Spa Monaco


  • Our Rating


  • Capacity:
    6-8 people
  • Dimensions:
    201cm wide x 69cm high
  • Weight When Full (Inc People):
    1937Kg
  • Massage System:
    Yes - 86 air jets
  • Max. Water Temperature:
    40°C
  • £££

Inflatable Hot Tub Reviews

Lay-Z-Spa Miami Inflatable Hot Tub

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If you’re looking for an inflatable hot tub Lay-z-spa are a brand you can’t avoid. That’s why our first review kicks off with the Lay-z-spa Miami. It is the smallest of the Lay-z spa range and measures 180cm wide by 65cm high, making it ideal for any home where space is at a premium. Despite its compact dimensions it can still comfortably accommodate 2-4 people.

Setup plays an important role in when it comes to inflatable hot tubs. If its too complicated or hard work then it is likely that you won’t use it often and it may even become relegated to the shed. Lay-z spa have clearly considered this when it comes to their hot tubs and they have a rather nifty way of helping you inflate the tub. You see, the pump system can be used to inflate the spa. All you need to do is used the supplied hose and connect the air-jet outlet to the tub and switch it on. After 5 minutes your tub will be ready to go – easy!

Once inflated you’ll notice some small indented lines running down the sides of the tub. These are the internal I-beams which have been included for rigidity and ensures the tubs sides won’t collapse when you’re getting in or when you lean against the sides. The outer walls are also coated with rayon which makes them stiffer, more resistant to puncture and more stain resistant. The end result is that, if cared for, your tub should last for many years.

Heat up time does vary depending on the air temperature. On a warm day (20 degrees) it will take around 11 hours to heat up to the maximum temperature of 40 degrees. So if you plan on using it in the evening it would be best to allow it to start heating early in the morning.

Although this may seem like a disadvantage it is no different to a regular hot tub. Plus once heated you can set the tub to run an automatic heating schedule at a time you specify. This will help keep the temperature consistent, allowing you to use it anytime you want.

To help with the heating process lay-z spa have included an inflatable lid which can be clipped on top to retain heat and make the heating process as efficient as possible. The lid also serves the obvious advantage of preventing dust and insects from dirtying the water.

Also included is Lay-z spa’s air jet massage system. 81 small openings around the base of the tub blast jets of air into the water, creating a soothing massage effect, which is very relaxing and can help you unwind from even the most stressful of days.

Lastly you will also find a chemical floater included in the box. You’ll need to use this to ensure the water stays clean and hygienic. Placing a small amount of water purifier into the device and placing it in the pool will ensure the chemicals are evenly distributed.

Its easy to see why the Miami is so popular. It’s easy to setup and use and can be used in the smallest of gardens. Plus, its low price point means it is a great tub for anyone who wants to give an inflatable tub a try without spending too much.

Lay-Z-Spa Vegas Portable Hot Tub

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You could call the Lay-z spa Vegas the slightly bigger brother of the Miami. It measures 196cm wide by 61cm high and can comfortably be used by up to 4-6 people, making it ideal ‘social’ hot tub for small get-togethers with friends or family.

It was the UK’s best selling inflatable tub of 2013 and certainly has a lot of positive reviews to back up this claim. We believe this in part is due to its sturdy construction and easy setup and use.

Following a procedure similar to virtually all Lay-spa inflatables the pump unit can be used as a handy way to inflate the device. All you need to to is connect the pump to the tub using the supplied hose and let it do the job for you.

Once inflated the Vegas tub is very sturdy. This is thanks to its quad horizontal ring construction, which is a fancy of way of saying it has has 4 inflatable rings inside its outer casing. Despite our sarcasm on its name this method of construction will ensure the tub stays firmly upright even with 6 people leaning against its sides.

Unlike regular hot tubs, inflatables, for the most, part do not have any controls embedded inside the tub itself. This is why you’ll often see a small, barrel-like device situated next to to the tub. This is the pump and the Vegas’ one is used to heat the water and drive the air-jet system. On top of the pump is a sealed blister-button control panel. This not only makes it safe to use when you’re inside (no need to worry about wet hands frying the controls) but also puts it in your reach, allowing you to turn on the jet system or activate the heating should the temperature drop.

Just like the Miami the Vegas has an air jet massage system. 87 jets produce a torrent of bubbles and creates the jacuzzi-like experience most people love about hot tubs. In order to keep this running effectively the Vegas has a filtration system to catch any debris or dirt which may be brought into the spa. With regular use you should ideally clean the filter every day or two to keep it running at peak efficiency. Lay-z spa have included two filters in the box so you have a spare for when your cleaning the other or if you just can’t be bothered to clean the first one!

Whilst we are on the subject of keeping the spa clean you will also find an inflatable cover is included. This not only helps keep the pool cleaner, and therefore reduces maintenance, but will also help trap heat during the heating process. Plus the cover can be clipped to the sides of the tub – so you’ll never need to worry about it blowing off and into your neighbors garden!

The Vegas has all the benefits of the Miami but is that bit larger, making ideal for social butterflies or for those people who just enjoy a bit more room. If you do decide to buy this tub it is worth remembering that it weighs 1100 kg when full, so if you plan on placing it on your decking or other raised surface, make sure it can take the weight.

MSPA Glow Luxury Hot Tub M-022LS – With LED Lights

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The MSPA Glow M-022LS features an impressive LED lighting system which causes the tub to glow blue, purple, white or green. Whilst this undoubtedly creates a more soothing ambiance there were one or two additional features which caused the Glow to catch our eye and, which made this inflatable tub, a worthwhile addition to this guide.

To begin with lets look at the basics. The Glow measure 180cm across by 70cm high and puts it at roughly the same size as the Lay-z Spa Miami. As such, it has room for 2-4 people making it the perfect sized tub to relax in after a hard days work.

You cannot escape that, at some point, you are going to need to not only setup but also pack away your tub. The easier this process is the more likely you are going to use it. This is where MSPA’s small innovations make a big difference.

Not only can you use the pump to automatically inflate the tub (as we would expect) but there is also a system which prevents you from accidentally over inflating it. A small Manometer is attached to one end of the inflation hose. During the inflation a small plug will pop out of the side showing one of 3 colours: Green is shown all the time while the tub is in use. Yellow is shown if you have inflated to tub to sufficient level and red is shown if you have over-inflated the tub. A simple, yet effective mechanism which can help prevent damage and prolong the life of your hot tub.

Another feature which caught our eye was the control panel which is mounted on the side of the tub – making it incredibly easy to access should you want to activate the air jets or adjust the temperature. Plus the panel is water proof and will resist splashes and wet hands, so there’s no need to worry about breaking it if you use it whilst in the spa.

When you’re done using the Glow Spa a cover can be placed over the top to prevent debris from being blown into the water. The cover is backed with foil (which is similar to the foil blankets long distance runners use) and this not only helps reduces the energy required to keep the water warm but will also help speed up the warm-up time on your first use. Plus the cover is securely zipped in place and can even be locked using the supplied 3 digit combination padlock. The default code is 000 but this can be set to any sequence of your choice.

Typically we’re most comfortable in water of around 38 to 40 degrees. However the MSPA Glow can heat the water in the tub up to 42 degrees thanks to its PTC ceramic heating system. Obviously you can set the temperature to your choosing but, this slightly higher temperature than the norm of 40 degrees has 2 main advantages: The first is that people who are more sensitive to the cold are going to be more comfortable. And, the second is it will help keep the pool warmer in cooler weather because the heating system is able to work harder to maintain the water temperature.

The MSPA Glow is a fantastic value inflatable tub which not only looks great but comes with all the features you’d expect – such as the self inflating system and massaging air jets – plus some you wouldn’t – like the Manometer and padlock.

Intex Octagonal Bubble Spa Hot Tub

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Measuring 200cm wide by 71cm high the Intex Octagonal Spa is certainly very roomy. Intex states it can hold 2-4 people but we think it might be possible to squeeze another 1-2 people inside. Especially considering the similarly sized Lay-z spa Vegas can hold up to 6 people.

With this increase in capacity it is important the Intex Octagonal Spa is strong. This will not only ensure the unit is sturdy enough to be used, without the sides collapsing or being too soft, but also to ensure it lasts a long time too.

To meet this end Intex have used Fiber-Tech technology in its construction. We did some digging and found out that this technology uses thousands of high strength fibers that are woven into the construction material. This increases the structural stability of tub – without compromising on comfort. Intex have also used 3ply laminated material in the construction, which further makes this hot tub durable and resistant to punctures.

Setup of this tub is very simple and follows a similar procedure to most inflatable tubs and can be achieved using the air jet system – which means you won’t need to get out a foot pump and manually inflate it! Once inflated you can fill the pool and start heating the water. The heating unit can raise the temperature of the water by around 1.5 – 2.5 degrees per hour – which is about average. So, for your first use you will need to plan in advance and allow around 10 hours for the tub to heat up, depending on your selected water temperature, which you can set from as low as 20 degrees up to 40 degrees.

To help keep the tub clean and reduce heat loss when its not in used an insulated ground cloth and cover are supplied. The ground cloth is a very nice touch because it will also act as a protective barrier between the base of the tub and the floor and will help reduce the chance of punctures and general damage caused by wear and tear.

Lastly using the controls on the tub are very simple and allow you to do anything from activate the air jet system to turning on the heating system or adjusting the target temperature of the water. Not only that but the control panel features a flip down cover to help protect it from the elements and from generally becoming dirty.

The jet system is a feature we’re sure most people will love and 120 small holes around the base of the unit help froth the water into relaxing jacuzzi-like experience.

If you live in a hard water area you’ll probably already be familiar with some of problems it can cause. To prevent hard-water related problems this Intex Spa features an in-built hard water treatment system which changes the structure of minerals present in the water. This reduces limescale build-up and helps make the water crystal clear.

If you use your hot tub outside it will need protecting during the winter. Many manufacturers recommend that you do not leave the tub outside in temperatures below 4 degrees and this one is no different. So, it is good to see that Intex have supplied a very convenient storage bag to safely stow everything away when the days get colder.

Despite featuring a run-of-the-mill controls and heat up time, the Intex Bubble Spa impressed us with some of the smart ‘tech’ built into the device. All of which is designed to prolong its life by dealing with common problems such as limescale and wear and tear. If you’re looking for a durable unit which gives you a comfortable hot tub experience whilst being able to withstand the some of the heavy use family life, and kids, can throw at it the Intex Bubble Spa might just be what you’re looking for.

Lay-Z-Spa Palm Springs HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub

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The Palm Springs HydroJet is one of Lay-z Spa’s premium models and comes with two features which you will not find in their mid range and entry models: an in-built salt chlrorinator and their hydrojet system.

Before we move onto those we’ll take a quick look at the ‘core’ requirements so you know what to expect from the HydroJet tub. To begin with this tub is rather roomy, and measures 196cm wide by 71cm high. It can hold 4-6 people making it the ideal party tub or cozy get away for couples who appreciate a bit more room to stretch out in.

As with some previous models the interior of this device is reinforced with I-beams for increased strength and rigidity. These provide superior stability. So much so that people can sit on the sides of the tub without them collapsing.

Setup of this tub is relatively straight forward. It comes with an air pump for inflation, although the only downside is that you need to manually finish pumping the unit by hand. The reason for this is to prevent over-inflation. It is a bit of a shame. However, because the pump will have completed most of the hard-work it isn’t too much of a problem. Once complete the SPA pump and hydrojet nozzles are connected. These are twist-locked into place and should be easy to install for most people. Although there is a supplied setup DVD should you need it.

The warm up time for this tub is around average and it will take about 10-12 hours depending on the ambient temperature and your target temperature (this device can heat the water up to 40 degrees).

To help make the heating process more efficient Lay-z spa have supplied an ‘air-pad’ floor mat to sit underneath the machine and an inflatable cover to sit on top. These act extra insulation layers and the lid will also help keep debris from getting in to the water. Once heated the auto-heat system can be configured to keep the pool at a temperature of your choosing – so you can use it whenever you want!

Keeping the water hygienic is a real must when you own a hot tub. Often chemical floaters are used which distribute cleaning solutions into the water to kill bacteria and keep the water clear. However, the Palm Springs features a very cool of cleaning the water: a salt chlorintator.

This nifty little device is inbuilt into the SPA pump and turns salt water into natural chlorine. All you need to do is add 2kg of salt into the water and activate the hydrojet system. Once the salt has dissolved you can switch on the salt chlorinator which will begin to transform the salt solution into chlorine. This nifty solution is a way you can cut down on the maintenance of your pool and spend more time enjoying it.

So far, we’ve covered the more ‘functional’ aspects of the tub. But one of the ways it really differs from previous models in this guide is that it uses a hydrojet system to create a relaxing, massaging sensation. Instead of pushing air into the water to create bubbles, 8 powerful water jets circulate water into the tub for a more soothing experience. The jets can be pivoted in any direction and you can even control the flow to for a customised massage experience to your preference.

The Palm Springs Hydrojet is a truly exceptional unit. It certainly isn’t the cheapest around but it still far cheaper than a ‘traditional’ hot tub and its low maintenance, sturdy build, HydroJet system and spacious size more than compensate for the slightly larger price tag. We believe you would be hard pressed to find a better inflatable hot tub.

Lay-Z-Spa Monaco Inflatable Portable Rigid Hot Tub

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Despite appearing very much like a hard-plastic hot tub the Lay-z Spa Monaco is still an inflatable unit. It’s solid appearance comes from its specially reinforced walls which become rigid when inflated. The walls are constructed using a drop-stitch material which effectively tethers one side of the wall to the other using thousands of threads. The end result is an incredibly study material.

This type of construction also means the walls are much thinner when compared to other inflatable hot tubs. This allows you to fit more people in the tub and have a more spacious spa experience – without the tub taking up extra room. This is why even though the tub shares similar dimensions to others we have reviewed (measuring 201cm wide by 69cm high) it can hold 6-8 people instead of 4-6 as you might expect.

If you’ve read any of our reviews above you’ll already have a good idea on how easy it is to setup this kind of tub. The SPA pump can can be attached to the side of the unit for automatic inflation. The only difference here, when compared to some others, is that the Monaco requires you to finish inflating the tub by hand. This is a minor inconvenience however, they do supply the hand pump so you wont need to buy one yourself should you choose this unit.

The lid of the unit also needs to be inflated and this acts as a heat trap to help keep the tub warm and to speed up the initial heat time. It can also be securely clipped to the sides to prevent it being blown away on windy days and it also stops leaves and other garden debris from getting into the water while you’re not using it.

The control panel of this tub is mounted on top of the SPA pump and this can be easily accessed from the pool. The controls are very easy to use and you can switch on nearly of the Monaco’s functions with a single press. The temperature of the pool is also adjustable and you can configure it to heat the water up to a balmy 40 degrees. You can also activate the AirJet system which forces a steady 86 streams of bubbles from the bottom for soothing, relaxing experience.

The Monaco is clearly designed to be the closest thing to a regular hot tub you can buy whilst still offering the excellent value provided by inflatables. It comes with all the advantages you would expect from Lay-z Spa such as the AirJet system, easy setup and simple controls. However, it also comes with the added bonus of providing you with a more spacious hot tub experience without taking up extra, thanks to its thin walls. It is ideal for those who want a big a tub as possible without it taking up extra room.

Tips On Using & Caring For Your Inflatable Hot Tub

A few simple tips will help your tub last for a long time…

 

Having a few simple rules in your arsenal can help make sure you don’t run into avoidable problems later on. Here are our top tips we think everyone who owns an inflatable hot tub should know:

Make sure you set it up in the right place

Location is important when setting up your tub. If you pick the right place you could set it up and ideally leave it outside for most of the summer and have it ready to use anyone you want to.

But, make sure you ask yourself these questions before you choose your ideal location:

  • Can it take the weight? Your hot tub might look better on your decking or in your summer house, but are you sure it can take the weight? If you’re unsure don’t setup your tub.
  • Could anything surrounding it puncture it? Hedges grow fast in the summer. And, ones with thorns could begin encroach on your tub or drop thorns which may cause punctures. Keep your tub a sensibly safe distance from prickly or thorny bushes.
  • Have I cleaned the floor thoroughly? Take a few minutes to make sure you have removed anything which might puncture or dig into the bottom of your tub. As soon as you fill it with water the pressure pushing down on anything underneath it is going to increase many fold increasing the risk of punctures or tears.
  • Is the floor level/even enough? Hot tubs can be unsafe on uneven surfaces make sure anywhere you place yours is as level as possible.

Don’t leave it outside in the winter

Your inflatable tub won’t like the winter…

Inflatable hot tubs, just like most items made from rubber or plastic, won’t appreciate the cold. Frosty and chilly air can cause the material to become brittle and more prone to splitting or punctures.

At the end of the summer, of if you don’t plan on using it for a while, pack it away securely. This will ensure your tub stays in fantastic condition for longer and will help it last for many years.

Regular maintenance

Unfortunately there’s no such thing as a magic self cleaning hot tub – yet. So you will need to make sure you give yours a little TLC. Especially with heavy use.

Regular cleaning of the filters and putting the appropriate chemical cleaners will not only keep the water fresh and clean but it will also prevent the build up of grime around key areas such as the air jets or inside the SPA pump.

If you want a little more hands-off cleaning you might want to look at tubs which feature a water chlorination system (such as the Lay-z Spa Palm Springs) this ingenious devices creates natural chlorine to keep the pool clean and hygienic. All you need to do is add salt to the water and the machine will do the rest.

Remember the cover

If you don’t like idea of cleaning stray leaves, dirt and even the occasional bird feather from your spa (yes, some birds will try to bath in your tub) then you’ll need to use the cover when you’re not using the hot tub.

It will keep the maintenance as low as possible and remove the need to frequently change the water. Plus it will also help keep the water warm and ready for you to use anytime you want.

Buyers Guide – What To Look For

Weight when full

Do you plan on placing your hot tub on raised decking or in a summer house?

If you do you’ll need to make sure wherever you place can take the extra weight. Many hot tubs weight about 1000Kg (that’s a metric ton!) when full and many surfaces aren’t designed to take this extra strain.

Before you setup your tub on decking or in out buildings with raised floors make sure it is sturdy and check underneath for rotting or split beams. A few simple checks, and repairs as necessary, can save upset later on.

If you’re unsure get a local builder to quickly check everything is ok.

For most other surfaces such as grass and patios you should be fine.

Illumination

Some hot tubs come with LED light strips which create a wonderful ambiance when dark. If you plan on using your tub late into the evening having good lighting is essential – relying on your security lamp won’t create the best ambiance!

However, if the hot tub you decide on doesn’t come with lighting built in, you can buy specially designed floating lights which illuminate your spa softly with coloured or plain lights.

Hydro jets or air jets?

Typically only the more expensive tubs come with hyrdo jets. These provide a more ‘smooth’ massaging experience as jets of water are forced around the tub. They also allow you to customise the experience more as the jets can be angled in different directions and the flow adjusted to suit your taste.

This does not mean air jets are any less effective at creating a relaxing environment. The steady stream of bubbles still gently massage the body and creates a jacuzzi-like experience. However these typically only have one setting and are basically on or off. The advantage is that tubs with this technology are often much cheaper to buy.

Maintenance

Overall inflatable tubs are relatively low maintenance. But there are a few things you can do to help things along a little.

Before you buy make sure you know what water cleaning chemicals your manufacturer recommends. You should also check to see if these arrive with the tub. If not, we recommend you buy the appropriate solutions when you order your tub. It can be easy to forget with the excitement of getting a new tub and after only a few days the water can start to become a bit unpleasant. So, its better to make sure you get these right from the start.

You should also check to see how often the filters need cleaning. Usually this is every day or two (with heavy use). Most can be cleaned by giving them a good rinse with a garden hose.

Size

We really hate to state the obvious but… make sure you get a tub which is:

  • Large enough for your needs
  • Can fit comfortably in your property.

There’s no point in getting a smaller tub only to find some of your friends or family are left lingering at the side because they can’t fit in. Or, you buy a hot tub so big it is wedged against the side of your shed because that’s the only way it will fit in your garden.

Next steps…

If you’ve made it this far you should have a pretty good idea about what makes a good inflatable hot tub and how to pick one which best suits your needs.

But, we know this is a lot to take in.

So, if you’re still unsure why not check out our comparison table for a quick overview of our top pick of hot tubs available today or read our buyers guide for again for a refresher on the key points we think you need to know before you buy.

If this guide has helped you please don’t forget to share it.