The 9 Best Hot Tubs for a Spa-Like Feel in Your Very Own Backyard

Updated: Feb. 28, 2024

Whether you need a large option or a portable pick, the best hot tub offers serious relaxation.

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They don’t make the best hot tubs like they used to, which is actually a good thing if you’re in the market for one! Hot tubs today come in a variety of styles and sizes, and you don’t have to spend a small fortune to own one, either. Sure, an in-ground hot tub costs a significant amount of time, labor and money. But according to Alicia Toedter, a Leslie’s pool and spa care expert, there are above-ground and inflatable hot tubs that are more affordable and can be used right away.

“Portable inflatable hot tubs are now more durable than ever, and are the perfect way for people to test out the hot tub lifestyle without breaking the bank,” she says. For those who prefer a more traditional tub, there are plenty of options that don’t require expert installation or tons of know-how. These are commonly known as “plug-and-play” hot tubs and are often significantly less expensive than traditional tubs.

Don’t know where to begin when looking for the best hot tub for your yard? Pair one of our expertly vetted picks with an outdoor TV or outdoor projector and let the good times roll. What more could you ask of a backyard oasis?

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Best Overall Hot Tub

AquaRest Spas Select AR400 Hot Tub

Meet the AquaRest Spas Select AR400, the best hot tub on the market. It has upgraded features, like hydrotherapy jets, multi-colored LED lights and a waterfall—all features we’d expect from a pricier model. Better yet, it won’t break the bank and it’s one of the easiest four-person hot tubs to set up on your own.

While many plug-and-plays aren’t known for their construction, this model features an energy-efficient pump to help you save on energy costs, full foam insulation and a durable polyethylene shell. It also comes in three versatile colors, and the easy-to-clean frame cuts down on the need for hot tub cleaning supplies (which we love).

Pros

  • Costs about half as much as competing models
  • Has hydrotherapy jets and an energy-efficient pump
  • Made of durable polyethylene shell
  • Available in three colors
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Robust footprint requires lots of space

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Best Budget Hot Tub

AquaRest Spas Select AR300 Hot Tub

The AquaRest Spas Select AR300 is a budget-friendly option if you’re looking for a cozy hot tub for two. Reviewers rave about its 20 stainless steel jets set into a therapeutic lumbar support design, convenient cup holders and the light-emitting diode (LED)-backlit waterfall that lights up in nine colors.

It’s easy to set up—just plug it into any electrical outlet and fill it with water. The smaller size also makes it one of the best cheap hot tubs for those working with tight budgets. Ideal for patio corners, this option won’t take up much room in your backyard area.

Pros

  • Wallet-friendly
  • Features an LED-backlit waterfall
  • Takes up a modest amount of outdoor space
  • Works with any standard electrical outlet
  • Ideal for corners

Cons

  • Only fits two adults

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Best Inflatable Hot Tub

Intex PureSpa Bubble Massage Deluxe

This Intex inflatable hot tub proves that buying a hot tub for your backyard doesn’t have to be a costly purchase. The inflatable spa pool filtrates and circulates warm water just like a regular fiberglass hot tub for a relaxing soak. Plus, it comes in multiple color, shape and size options to suit your needs.

This inflatable hot tub runs on standard 120-volt power and reaches a maximum temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s made with heavy-duty triple vinyl, so you don’t have to worry about snags or tears. It also comes with an adjustable thermostat on the heat pump, which has a digital screen to control the system.

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Affordable
  • Made with heavy-duty materials
  • 120-volt electricity (no special 220-volt outlet needed)
  • Includes a ground cloth

Cons

  • Can’t be used in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Takes several days for the water to reach maximum temperature

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Best Plug-and-Play Hot Tub

Ohana Spas Soothe Hot Tub

If you want to create a backyard entertaining space, consider the Ohana Spas Soothe, as it’s big enough for seven people. Programmable underwater LED lights give it a festive feel that can also become a relaxing spot when it’s a smaller, quieter crowd using it. There’s even a built-in ice bucket to hold your beverages! Plus, this large-format piece’s surprisingly modest price point makes it an excellent deal.

The 70 hydro jets, with 30 fully adjustable stainless steel jets, melt away everyone’s tension. And while it holds up to seven adults, it’s still small enough to fit under your pergola. The insulation and thermal-locking cover helps keep your utility bill down when it’s not in use.

Pros

  • Fits up to seven adults
  • Has a built-in ice bucket
  • Features fully adjustable jets
  • Has underwater LED lighting

Cons

  • Only one configuration is available

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Best Energy-Efficient Hot Tub

Lifesmart Spas Curacao DLX Hot Tub

If you’re looking for an all-around winning hot tub with ample seating, amenities and excellent construction, the Lifesmart Spas Curacao DLX is one to check out. This five-seater has a popular lounger seat and 65 therapeutic jets designed to hit your pressure points.

Thanks to a robust mechanical system and easy maintenance, it’s one of the best hot tubs. It also features four cup holders, LED lights, a waterfall, digital controls and an energy-efficient design. All it needs is a few hot tub accessories and you’re set!

Pros

  • Certified to the California Energy Commission
  • Seats up to five adults
  • Has 65 therapeutic jets
  • Features LED lights and four cup holders
  • Has digital controls

Cons

  • Requires a substantial amount of space

Ohana Spas Balance Round Hot Tub via merchant

Best Round Hot Tub

Ohana Spas Balance Round Hot Tub

This round hot tub from Ohana Spas holds more people than it looks like it would—up to seven adults, to be exact. The plug-and-play hot tub has massaging jets, underwater lighting and an easy-to-use control panel. It comes with a filter and a CleanLife filtration system, making maintaining this Ohana hot tub a breeze.

The insulated locking cover keeps water free of debris while increasing safety and efficiency. And if you’re looking to keep operational costs low, this hot tub meets all of the California Energy Standards.

Pros

  • Round design fits up to seven adults
  • Features an energy-efficient heater
  • Made of durable, eco-friendly plastic
  • Weather- and mold-resistant
  • Includes multi-colored underwater LED lighting

Cons

  • On the pricier side

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Best Portable Hot Tub

Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub Spa

A blow-up hot tub is an affordable, easy-to-set-up option, and the Coleman SaluSpa is one of the best inflatable hot tubs on the market (along with the Intex inflatable hot tub). It seats up to six and helps you relax via a bubbly massage system.

Thanks to the fortified exterior material, this hot tub resists punctures and ultraviolet (UV) rays. It’s ideal for those who can’t afford the time or money necessary for a traditional above-ground hot tub.

Pros

  • Only weighs 89 pounds
  • Has built-in lift handles
  • Affordable
  • Seats up to six adults
  • Made to resist punctures and UV rays

Cons

  • Not ideal for extreme climates

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Best Two-Person Hot Tub

Lifesmart Spas Two-Person Plug-and-Play Spa

For a smaller group, the Lifesmart Spas plug-and-play hot tub is the perfect fit. At 6 feet long and shaped like a wedge, it offers ample room for two while still taking up little space in a corner. Smaller doesn’t necessarily mean fewer features, either—a digital control panel offers easy control over the 17 jets.

In addition, a waterfall feature, four cup holders and built-in LED lights offer a relaxing spa experience for two. This intimate, modern addition to the backyard is an easy way to turn up the heat during the chillier months. Plus, there’s no need for hot tub cleaners—an ozone water care system delivers a clean spa experience right at home.

Pros

  • Small, wedge-shaped design fits smaller spaces
  • Features underwater LED lights
  • Built-in waterfall and four cup holders
  • Fully adjustable jets
  • Certified to the APSP-14 National Standard and the California Energy Commission

Cons

  • Doesn’t include steps

Alfi Round Wood Fired Hot Tub via merchant

Best Wood-Fired Hot Tub

Alfi Round Wood-Fired Hot Tub

While building a rustic wood-fired hot tub yourself is certainly possible, “wood-fired” doesn’t have to mean “dated.” This modern acrylic, wood-fired hot tub from Alfi comes in four bright shades, including blue, olive green, orange and red.

Each half-bowl tub fits up to four folks, meaning nobody is left out in the cold. Using the attached wood-burning fire pit and convection heating, the tub hits a cozy temperature without the use of electricity. It’s ideal for use off the grid or for families looking to save on their energy bill.

Pros

  • Doesn’t require electricity
  • Freeze-resistant
  • Modern acrylic design
  • Includes a heavy-duty cover
  • Attached fire pit can be used for leisure while tub is heating up
  • Stainless steel windscreen panel protects soakers from flames

Cons

  • Doesn’t reach maximum temperatures other hot tubs do

What to Look for When Buying a Hot Tub

According to Toedter, people who are new to the hot tub lifestyle may wish to consider an inflatable hot tub as they are less expensive, costing $300 to $1,200, compared to $3,000 to $15,000 for a hard-sided version. “Inflatable hot tubs can be moved from one area of your yard to another much easier than a traditional rotomolded or acrylic hot tub. This allows you to test out various locations around your backyard before committing to a more permanent hard-sided hot tub option,” she notes.

A hot tub is a significant investment, so you’ll want to ensure you get it right. Here are factors to consider, according to Toedter:

  • Location: Where you place the unit in your yard is important, as this often dictates the size and shape of the unit you choose. It should be easy to get to, and with ready access to the hot tub’s components for routine maintenance and repairs. Access to water and electricity should be somewhere nearby, and privacy might be desirable if you have close neighbors. Remember to also consider local zoning laws when choosing where to install the hot tub, and ensure that the chosen location can support the weight of a hot tub full of water and people.
  • Size and space: Consider how many people will be enjoying the hot tub. They come in a variety of sizes to accommodate one or two people, or up to seating six or more. Just keep in mind that more spacious hot tubs will take up more room on your lawn or patio.
  • Budget: Depending on the style you choose, inflatable hot tubs start as low as a few hundred dollars, but more luxurious hard-sided hot tubs cost thousands. Let your budget be your guide for what you’re willing to invest.
  • Energy efficiency: Look for a well-insulated hot tub with a quality cover, but a more efficient cover can be purchased separately. When assessing a hot tub’s insulation capabilities, look for high-quality foam within the spa cabinet. Inflatable hot tubs won’t have this type insulation, but their thick walls are filled with air, which helps insulate the heat.
  • Features: Do you want a hot tub full of powerful hydrotherapy massage jets, or are you looking for more of a relaxing, bubbly soak? Certain hot tubs also offer extra features, like comfortable seating, lights and speakers, to help you relax in style.
  • Warranties: Pay close attention to the warranty when comparing hot tubs. This will help you understand what is and isn’t covered, and how long each component is under warranty—particularly the main working components, like the pump and filter.

Why You Should Trust Us

I’m a shopping editor at Family Handyman with expertise in interior design, home decor, gardening and outdoor trends. My job is to conduct in-depth research on all sorts of products, like the best hot tubs. To make sure that I was considering the right models, my team consulted Alicia Toedter, a Leslie’s pool and spa care expert, to get insight on what to look for when making this purchasing decision.

How We Found the Best Hot Tubs

When researching the best hot tubs, we looked at ease of setup, price point, overall comfort and user ratings to determine the top options on the market. We also looked at design features and considered the overall value of each hot tub, so that you can get the most bang for your buck as a buyer.

Models vary greatly, but the cost of a hot tub doesn’t have to break the bank, especially with more affordable hot tubs coming to the market. Finally, we looked at the mechanical components of each hot tub, highlighting energy-efficient models so that you can potentially save dollars on your utility bills.

FAQ

What is the difference between plug-and-play and standard hot tubs?

Smaller hot tubs that don’t require significant electricity are often sold as plug-and-play, meaning they can be plugged into any standard electrical outlet.

According to Toedter, larger hot tubs with lots of special features require a little more power, so these usually require their own dedicated circuit, wired directly to a breaker box. Plug-and-play models are usually pretty easy to set up and install while other hot tubs may require you to hire an electrician or hot tub technician to get everything running.

How often should you clean a hot tub?

“For most hot tubs, cleaning it once a week is sufficient,” says Toedter. “If you leave it uncovered, or if people enter the hot tub with dirty feet, it may need to be cleaned more often. It’s also a good idea to rinse off the filter cartridge as part of your weekly maintenance routine.”

She says that it’s important to remember to wipe down and condition the hot tub cover every few months, and use an enzyme product to purge any biofilm hiding in the plumbing before you drain and refresh the water.

“Just remember that having a clean hot tub means much more than how clean the hot tub is—the water chemistry and sanitizer levels are equally important,” says Toedter. “To ensure that your hot tub water stays clean, safe and healthy, we recommend testing the water at least two to three times weekly. Proper water balance is also crucial for extending the life of your hot tub and preventing costly damages caused by poor water chemistry.”

Testing your hot tub is easily done by using testing strips purchased on Amazon or for free using Leslie’s in-store AccuBlue tests.

What is the best hot tub brand?

There are several hot tub brands to choose from, and the type of tub you choose will determine which to opt for. Jacuzzi is one of the most well-known brand names available. However, most commercially available jacuzzi spas come built for indoor use only—think whirlpool tubs rather than hot tubs. Most shoppers don’t know that Jacuzzi spas partner with other brands to supply them with Jacuzzi jets. In fact, a majority of Aquarest hot tubs use Jacuzzi brand jets.

When is the best time to buy a hot tub?

According to Toedter, end-of-season, off-season and holiday timeframes can bring opportunities for the best pricing.

What hot tub has the best warranty?

Out of the picks above, the Future Spas eight-person square hot tub has the best warranty at 25 years. It covers defects with the shell structure, however, that doesn’t cover customer misuse. Other covered areas include 15 years for the shell surface, two years for plumbing and electric components and one year for the ozonator.

What chemicals do you need to maintain a hot tub?

“All hot tubs need sanitizer and water balancing-chemicals, but there are some extras that can come in handy for a variety of purposes,” notes Toedter. Here’s a list of her recommended essentials:

  • Daily sanitizer: Hot tubs generally require bromine or chlorine to keep the water sanitary. Some hot tub owners also prefer to use mineral systems to help reduce chemical use.
  • Spa shock: Keep spa shock on hand to give the hot tub a sanitizing boost after using the hot tub. The type used depends on the type of daily sanitizer you prefer. However, non-chlorine shocks like Leslie’s Fresh ‘N Clear are compatible with all sanitizer types, and can be added after a soak to help keep organic contaminants in check.
  • Water balancer: The most common problem for hot tubs is an imbalanced pH or Total Alkalinity level, so it’s important to keep those types of water balancers on hand. If you live in an area with soft water, a calcium booster is another must-have to keep in your storage cabinet.
  • Enzymes: While not required for routine hot tub care, enzymes can help keep your water clean and clear, reduce or prevent biofilm buildup in the plumbing, and reduce sanitizer demand. As an added bonus, they can also break down body oils, sunscreens, cosmetics, and other non-living organics, which can clog up the filter cartridge.
  • Clarifier: Nobody likes swimming in a cloudy hot tub! If water clarity is a chronic problem, or if your filter just needs a little boost to help keep the water clear, adding a clarifier to your weekly maintenance routine can help.
  • Aromatherapy: It’s easy to amplify your soaking experience with a little bit of fragrant aromatherapy to help with relaxation and enjoyment of your hot tub.

How hot should a hot tub be?

“This is mostly based on personal preference, but many hot tubs are between 100 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Toedter. Many therapeutic hot tub users, especially in warm climates, prefer to set their hot tub temperatures from 96-99°F.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a maximum hot tub temperature of 104℉ for healthy adults, but 100℉ is a comfortable, healthier, temperature worth considering. Those with medical conditions may want to consider going even lower to avoid potential problems.

How long do hot tubs last?

The best hot tubs should last at least five years, with some extra-durable and well-cared-for models lasting decades. It’s important to remember that its material and your commitment to regular maintenance and cleaning can impact longevity.

“Several factors play into the longevity of your hot tub, including quality of construction, your local outdoor climate, frequency of use, as well as maintenance practices,” notes Toedter.

“A well-maintained, high-quality hot tub can easily last 10–20 years or longer. To maximize lifespan, we recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and maintenance, regularly test the hot tub water with professional testing, and address any chemistry or mechanical issues immediately once you spot them.”

Are hot tubs good for you?

It depends on who you ask, but many people swear by the health benefits of hot tubs, thanks to the therapeutic effects of warmth and soaking. Hot tub users report muscle relaxation, stress reduction, pain relief and meditative effects.

According to Irina Todorov, MD, an integrative medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic, “Using a hot tub or taking a hot bath helps calm your nervous system and improve your mood.” It’s also a good remedy for mild to moderate muscle pain and can also lower blood pressure in some individuals.

If you have concerns, contact a medical provider. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against pregnant women using hot tubs, and most health providers recommend for children under five years old not to use them, either.

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