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Hot Tubs. They’re synonymous with luxury, with decadence, with relaxation. Most of us would adore a Hot Tub fixed in our backyard to retire to at the end of a stressful day (noticed the world is stressful at the moment?), to sup some chilled champagne and let the strains of the world melt away.
The idea is incredibly appealing. That said, for most of us, a fixed hot tub is beyond the budget of most of us.
When you consider that inflatable hot tubs are portable, less expensive, and don't require a permanent space commitment, unlike fixed hot tubs, you can see why many vendors are struggling to keep them in stock.
Traditional hot tubs cost between £3000 to £10,000 for installation, as compared to the £300-£800 price tag for an inflatable one.
Most search inquiries for inflatable hot tubs look for information on Lay-Z-Spa Hot Tubs specifically, as the brand has a reputation for providing high-performing hot tubs at affordable prices. They're also the brand of hot tub we've seriously impressed with.
Tempted? Here's what to know ahead of purchasing an inflatable hot tub.
What is an inflatable hot tub?
As you'd imagine, an inflatable hot tub is one you blow up with air. Most are smaller than traditional hot tubs (though you can get 8-seaters, which are quite large). Pre-formed, they have all the required jets (the number of which depends on the model you buy) and waterways, which are connected to a unit housing a heater and a pump. Instead of being permanently plumbed into the mains, you fill a hot tub from a hose instead.
Once filled, a hot tub will take between 8-12 hours to heat up, depending on size. The heater can keep it warm year-round once turned on, though, although this will incur power costs for usage.
What do you need at home to make it work?
Any inflatable hot tub will come with a pump that circulates the water, as well as a heater to heat it. For some models, you'll need to have an automatic pump to inflate it, though Lay-Z tubs come with one in the set. You'll also need a hose to fill it, and an outdoor power supply or waterproof extension cord to power it.
Along with the tub, you'll need to purchase water filters to help protect the pump and jets from any detritus that falls into the tub.
You need a strong surface on which to place your tub – its going to be supporting both the weight of the water it holds and the people in it.
What to look for?
Find a model that has a reputation for ease of set-up – some inflatable hot tubs can be set up in 15 minutes, but the less impressive models can take hours.
Most have between 70 and 140 jets. Purchase as many jets as you can afford: the boost they provide to air circulation is quite something, and makes for a more massaging effect.
We’ve looked at the best Lay-Z Hot Tubs available, and a couple of the most impressive options from other brands.
We were seriously impressed with the Lay-Z-Spa Milan, which sits at the lower end of the price range for inflatable hot tubs.
Holding up to 6 people (we liked it best when it was just four), it’s small enough to be super-speedy to inflate – it took us 15 minutes, and the pump for inflation comes as part of the bundle.
With 140 jets, we found the massaging effect of this spa absolutely delightful – it works a treat at easing lower back pain.
The outer walls are made of rayon-coated PVC, making for a resilient, puncture-resistant structure that fits easily into tight spaces.
We also loved the energy saving timer, which switches off the hot tub when not in use, but allows you to time it to start heating up so the tub is ready for you at the end of the day.
With a built-in Wi-Fi module, spa can be controlled through a phone app ChemConnect dispenser provides a stable level of chlorine throughout the spa.
Seriously romantic, we'd advise keeping use of the Cancun to two people, though it can squeeze four in (two adults and two kids fit just fine, though).
With 81 jets, it won't prove as therapeutic as other Lay-Z models, but it will keep you bubbly, warm, and happy.
Small and easy to set up, we'd recommend the Cancun for people who want an inflatable spa they can use for a couple of weeks at a time, then pack away for when the urge next takes them. It can inflate in five minutes, making it ideal for 'as and when' use.
A shade more expensive, the St Moritz model offers plenty more bang for your (extra) buck. It provides everything the Miami does in terms of resilience, but it houses up to 7 people (though it's more comfortable with 6).
Despite that, it still requires only 15 minutes to inflate, and is impressively sturdy.
180 jets ensure that at a larger size, the St Moritz will still provide massaging comfort regardless of where you sit. The in-built cup holders are a nice touch, meaning you can enjoy a cold beer while toasting up.
The 'Freeze Shield' means the St Moritz will withstand freezing temperatures, so you can use the tub even when the air temperature hits sub-4 degrees celsius.
We won't repeat ourselves, as the Bali hot tub is the same as the Cancun, with one fun added feature – LED lights.
This makes it great for night-time use, providing the sense of being on a tropical holiday at a glitzy resort.
If you have a larger garden, and perhaps frequently have larger gatherings with friends and family, then this six person hot tub is a great option.
It features a rapid 40 heating system, power-saving timer and colour-changing LED lights to help turn your gathering in to a party. t the touch of a button, surround yourself with thousands of therapeutic bubbles and experience an intense full-body massage thanks to the powerful integrated 140 AirJet system.
It also has the same unique grey rattan design as the small model.
The clever design of this beautiful black hot tub includes a unique built-in pump and heating system so even the smallest of outside spaces can enjoy a CleverSpa® hot tub.
It’s made to fit up to four adults and comes with an insulated top cover with double locking safety clips, Safety locking clip keys, a filtration kit, an inflation hose and a repair patch.
It also inflates in less than five minutes so you can soon be enjoying the delights of a hot tub in your very own back garden.
The Aldi ‘Intex’ person hot tub is THE cult hot tub, selling out two years running - now back in stock.
It’s a good option - at sub-£400, its not too pricey, inflates in 15 minutes, seats four people, and heats beautifully.
For our money though (or rather yours) we’d opt for a Laz-y Hot Tub, as they have a superior jet-stream and make for a better ‘massage’ feel. You can still have a fun time in the Aldi option, though, if you want to be in on the zeitgeist.