Love them or love them, a hot tub is an undeniable guilty pleasure, one which you can enjoy solo or in the style of a Real Housewives of Salt Lake City cast member—that is, with scintillating gossip and a glass of Champagne. While the pandemic has confined many of us to our homes, it’s also created a welcome excuse to finally invest in a hot tub—it might just be the welcome distraction you’ve been looking for, and at the very least, it can help transport you to that magical wintertime getaway you had so hoped to take this year. Here are the best hot tubs to buy at every budget right now, plus some tips for first-time buyers.
What to know before you buy a hot tub
When it comes to buying their first hot tub, a mistake most make is buying the wrong size, says Tracy Dick, Vice President of Leslie’s Pools, a retailer of swimming pool and spa chemicals, supplies, and accessories. “First-time buyers need to ask themselves what purpose the hot tub will serve in their backyard entertainment area,” she says. “Think through how many people are usually at your house — do you like to spend time with a select few, or are you more of an entertainer?” Generally, hot tubs can come in a variety of sizes, from the very small—which might fit a single person—to the truly palatial, which can fit up to 17 people.
The health benefits of hot tubs
“Hot tubs help to vastly enhance your backyard and also provide countless health benefits,” says Dick. “These include relieving the pain of arthritis, improving cardiovascular health, relieving stress and tension, and promoting better sleep. Since they’re also moveable, it’s a great investment even if you eventually decide to relocate,” she adds.
Installation cost and average monthly maintenance cost of a hot tub
When shopping for hot tubs, you can expect to pay an installation fee, which Dick says varies based on your specific electrical needs but are typically in the $500 to $1,500 range. “For maintenance, you’ll also want to see how much energy your hot tub will consume—whether it’s 240V or 120V. A 240V hot tub will heat up faster than a 120V hot tub and will have power to support more jets. You can expect monthly energy costs to be around $20 to $30,” she says, noting that a local representative can provide a more accurate estimate. “You’ll also need to factor in water, chemicals and other accessories that will help the longevity of your hot tub experience.” All things considered, Dick says you should budget $50 to $60 a month for total relaxation.
How to create an outdoor hot tub oasis
Whether you decide to place your hot tub on your deck, in your yard or on your rooftop (it’s possible, but you’ll need a crane and the ability to consult an engineer!), you can make it feel like a special, spa-like sanctuary in a few easy ways. Blythe Yost, co-founder of Tilly, an affordable online landscape design service, recommends elevating your hot tub with a pergola over it and some vines creeping up. “This adds some shade for comfort, plants and/or flowers for color, and helps create a feeling of an outdoor ‘room’,” she says.
Not fond of a hot tub’s exterior or the way one will look in your backyard? There’s an easy solve for that, says Yost. “Partially sink the hot tub or build a wooden platform around it so it feels more integrated into the backyard. You can also use planters to screen the exterior siding. This is a great, inexpensive way to camouflage the side of the hot tub and will look beautiful from all areas of the yard,” she says.
The 10 best hot tubs to buy
Best classic choice
While as of press time they’re shipping in four to six weeks, yes, you totally *can* order yourself a hot tub on Amazon Prime, score the free delivery, and never leave your house. The highlights of this five-to-six seater are interior and exterior LED lights, ergonomic seating, and Bluetooth connectivity for your latest playlist or podcast.
$7,729 at Amazon
Best all-around deal
The top pick on Wayfair, it’s hard not to like this standard option that has 31 bubbling jets, fits six of your crew and comes in a fashionable opal mahogany color. Currently almost 30-percent off and offered with free shipping, we’d click quick if we were you.
Buy it ($3,800)
Best for the social butterfly or swim buff
Just imagine after the pandemic ends, you and 15 (!) of your closest friends packed in to celebrate in this gigantic “swim spa,” complete with LED lighting modes and Bluetooth speakers to get the party started. If you’re using it solo, a dedicated swim lane with resistance will let you do laps in tight quarters. Oh, and there’s even a larger, 17-person version which has dual zones for a hot tub and separate swim spa experience. Pretty major.
Buy it ($26,000)
Best for the nomad who wants a wood-burning soak wherever they go
The old-school nature of this hot tub alone will have you intrigued. Heated by fire which naturally produces steamy, caliente water for you to soak in, a bonus of this tub is that it does not need to be plugged in or connected to a drain. It’s also portable, meaning as long as you have a couple strong bodies, you can transport it where it needs to go.
Buy it ($4,595)
Best for cutting back on the harsh chemicals
We’re a fan of this one for the color alone, which resembles a warm marble you might expect to see in a fancy hotel lobby, or a palace in France. It’s also listed as having an ozone water purification system, which reduces the need for harsh chemicals. Nice.
Buy it ($7,359)
Best for lovebirds
This is the ideal setup for cozying up with bae, sipping Champagne, feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries—all that lovey-dovey stuff. Also great for those that need a smaller footprint, this two-person, 130-gallon hot tub and its 28 jets are adjustable for individual pressure flow.
Buy it ($4,999)
Best natural design
Sophisticated and stylish, this cedar wood-fired hot tub will blend in nicely in any natural setting. It’s available in three diameters, with the smallest option fitting a single bather and the largest fitting five adults comfortably.
Buy it (from $5,045)
Best energy efficient option
With 41 jets that will massage everything from your upper back to your toes, plus two LED fountains, pillows to rest your head on, it’s hard not to like this option. Did we mention it is energy efficient? Greta Thunberg would be proud. MyLife is also a brand Dick says offers consumers a wide array of today’s technology, features and luxurious innovation. Check your local Leslie’s Pools for availability.
Buy it ($9,141)
Best for packing up and taking with you (or putting away)
Hear us out on this one: It’s like one of those blow-up kiddie pools, except, totally better. Meant to be portable and easy to install almost anywhere, this inflatable hot tub does not let down when it comes to bubbles, can fit a quartet, and heats itself to a scorching temperature of 108 degrees.
Buy it ($684)
Best under-$3,000 option
Reminiscent of hotel rooms from the ‘80s, you don’t see octagon-shaped hot tubs too much these days, but we think that should change. This option has space for four and is available in a few different granite tones. When you consider its sub-$3,000 price tag and plug-and-play nature, it’s hard to resist.
Buy it ($2,599)
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