Hot Tub Buying Guide Consumer Reports

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After a hard day at work or maybe you’ve been running around after screaming kids all day, you need to unwind? Right?

You’ll have cramped muscles and aching joints, with stress making your heart pound uncontrollably at times and perhaps deep inside you are wishing you could just get away from it all, to just sink quietly into your own hot tub and fully relax from the stresses of the day?

Maybe you’ve checked some out with a view to buying one, but they are so bewildering with so many hot tub options available – and what does it all mean? Which one is right for you?

Well, we may just have some answers to help you ease your lifestyle problems.

This hot tub buying guide consumer report produced by lays it on the line for you in a straight-forward manner, giving the facts directly from purchasers of a wide variety of hot tubs and spas to allow you the chance to see what they perform like in the real world without all the fancy ‘car-salesman hype’ that nobody asks for.

You’ll find out near enough everything you need to know about hot tubs, whether sunken, free-standing, hard-shelled, inflatable, camping types like the hot tub hammock or the ones you can take down to the beach, be they wood/charcoal or gas-fired (no electricity whatsoever) as well as the types you can use chemical-free for salt (sea) water or simply using a saline solution in your yard, that way no confusing chemical testing and balancing is needed.

On top of this you may come across the term ‘plug and play’ for hot tubs, but this is not always what you perceive it as, so be cautious – is it more hype to catch the unwary? It is fully explained below.

Bestway 54155E Hawaii Air Jet Inflatable Outdoor SpaBestway Hawaii Air Jet Inflatable Outdoor Spa For 4 Persons

And what about the choice of a square or round hot tub? The square-cornered ones allow more length diagonally for the long-shanks among us compared to round hot tubs, but is that all?

One thing is most hot tub manufacturers tend to overstate the number of people who can use their hot tub in one go comfortably, but what they don’t tell you is it can be a bit cramped in there if you have the higher number sat inside, all bumping knees and feet.

But then, if that’s ok by you???

Never mind if anyone tries to lay down for a soak taking most of the room up, so it is best if you order one allowing extra room as this will give more freedom and for the extra peace of mind the extra cost is negligible both in the purchase price and maintenance upkeep.

From this point of view, inflatable hot tubs and free-standing round ones are the worst offenders, whereas the more expensive versions (the sunken or built-in spas), have much more room as they are the ‘proper’ hot tubs using better materials, including extras providing more comfort and are usually all part and parcel of the original purchase.

But don’t get us wrong – some of the latest inflatable hot tubs are well made and roomy and we’ll make a point of not showing you the rubbish ones.

So let’s begin using the size in ascending order before moving on to other options…

  • Single person hot tub
  • Small hot tubs, 2 – 4 persons
  • Up to 6 person hot tubs
  • Even larger ones
  • Gas fired hot tubs
  • Wood fired hot tubs (and how wood-fired hot tubs work)



Introducing the one and only ALFI brand Fire Hot Tub

ALFI brand  FireHotTub-OR Round Fire Burning Portable Outdoor Fiberglass Soaking Hot Tub, Orange

This hot tub is basically like a large soup bowl made of fiberglass with an external wood or coal fire to heat the water using piping surrounding the fire.

It uses the thermosiphon principle (so no electricity needed for pumps) to circulate the water and is for outdoor use only. This is because the drain (at the bottom of the hot tub) is simply opened and the water flows out where the tub is standing, although a hose can be attached if you wish the water to drain elsewhere.

On top of this, you would not want a wood or coal fire burning in an enclosed space for too long.

It is also known as the Dutch Tub and here is a video showing how to set it up.



Size-wise? It is basically advertised on Amazon showing an adult with two kids in the tub as our picture shows or with two adults, but this is fanciful as the largest inside diameter is a little over 56 inches (1400mm) and being saucer-shaped it is narrower at the bottom with a full depth of water at 16inches (400mm).

It’s great for kids and shorter people.

Consider it photo-shopped as the images show no sign of steps to help shorter ones climb over the sides and the flame looks a bit lop-sided! In the same way, there are no bubbles frothing around the bathers owing to the lack of a pump to provide the air-flow needed for the bubbles and the water looks as if it is tinted anyway in the upper photo.

Heat up time? Filled with cold water it is suggested this hot tub will heat up in two to three hours – assuming your wood is not damp and you have the fire downwind of your hot tub, unlike in the picture above where there is also no unsightly windshield installed for your buyers eyes.


In all honesty, this hot tub would be great for a shorter, single person who likes to let it all hang out in the outdoors.

It is well made, although very basic – temperature requires plenty of attention when in use.

Will last for years – requires no chemicals – can be used with saltwater at the beach or in your own yard and saved – can be drained on the spot easily – relatively easy to move around (by a couple of strong men) – no awkward plumbing to worry about – no electricity needed – has its own lid.

Great for using the fire for cooking while the water heats up too, and can be moved around on a truck for outdoor camping sessions.

ALFI brand  FireHotTub-OR Round Fire Burning Portable Outdoor Fiberglass Soaking Hot Tub, Orange


Very expensive for a simple soup bowl – a bit on the small side – not too popular for obvious reasons. Only four color options.

Generally speaking, fiberglass is very combustible, so this needs the fire well away from the body of the hot tub for safety reasons – the manufacturers provide a barrier between the fire and the body of the hot tub in the form of a metal plate – a heat sink, as can be seen in the image above.

Our review

Great for one person who is a bit on the shorter side where an electricity supply is a problem.

Fits in the back of a truck, so ok for camping.

Most customer views are sarcastic in nature, so maybe give it a miss!


Next we have a hot tub hammock, otherwise known as a hydro-hammock.

This is a sturdy re-enforced double-skinned hammock where heated water is passed between the two skins. As usual, for hammocks, this one can be hung wherever you have supports or trees in the usual manner, but it has a heater coil (gas bottle fired) sat on the ground below with a pump included for circulating the heated water around.

It can also be used for cooling off in the heat of the day when filled with cold water.

It comes in single or double sizes and the company is looking at different heating methods.


Great for outdoor use – Requires very little water so heats up quickly.

Can be used as a standard hammock and does not use much room for stowing or transport.

Can be filled directly from a stream and needs no chemicals, so can be drained freely with no problems for nature.

Gas heated – a well-controlled heat source, although the manufacturers are looking at other heating options.

Adds a little extra comfort to camping trips.

Can be used on a porch, but in that case drainage may be a slight problem.


Climbing in and out may provide difficulties depending on how high the hammock is hung.

A bit on the expensive side considering it is basically a hammock and heater unit.

Production supplies appear to be a bit vague, but it may be offered in the near future.


Next we have a hot tub that is very transportable.


This one is provided by (No commission earned here if you want to check out this link). It is great for the outdoorsy types who want a lightweight hot tub down on the beach or on a camping trip and is a great portable wood-fired hot tub.

This comes as a framed canvass or plastic-type material hot tub and uses an external fire to heat tubes feeding the hot tub itself, much like the ALFI above, but this one would have great trouble being heated by a gas bottle unless a large hole was dug to keep the burner below the heating coils.

The tubes being heated are big enough to allow free circulation of the heated water, meaning no pump is required and that way you only need to consider the size of the fire regarding temperature control.


  • Very light and portable
  • Very easy to assemble
  • It’s a backpackers dream
  • Can be used on the beach using seawater
  • Heats up in a couple of hours using collected wood


You may need a bucket or something similar to fill it with water and you’ll have to find your own fuel – it’s all hands-on.



This is where inflatable hot tubs win hands down on price but in this category we include hard-sided hot tubs giving a more robust build using better insulation and a slightly higher price tag.

Lay-Z-Spa Siena AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub

SaluSpa Siena AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub


This 1 or 2 people inflatable hot tub is ideal for two people as can be seen in the image above, giving lots of room and comfort when you need to relax and take it easy.

It comes with a removable central platform over the top which serves as a shelf for your drinks and nibbles, books or anything else you may want while you enjoy the heat.

On top of that, there are other accessories like a mat to sit your hot tub on for better protection for the hot tub itself and rough pebbles underneath, plus there is a cup/wine glass holder available to sit on the wall if you take a fancy to a cool poolside drink.

It arrives fully complete with no tools needed and it is light enough for one person to move it around and set it up.

Literally, just plug and play!

Nothing could be simpler, and those invigorating air jets work wonders on aching bodies.

Fully filled it weighs around 1200lbs (540kg) and has a cable length of around 23 feet (7m).

Lengthwise it is 98” with a width of 59” and a height of 26” (that’s 2.49m x 1.49m x 66cm), so this means a 7 footer could lay down fully and still have room to spare.


The above video shows the easy setup process for the Lay Z Spa Sienna Airjet Hot Tub by Bestway

Click here to check out the full customer reviews


Extremely easy to set up – heats up very quickly due to the small amount of water compared to other hot tubs at just over 130 gallons (500litres) – simple to use controls – pump provides flow and bubbles together.


Lacks hydro jets for a better massage – no seating included = sitting on the base, although seating can be added if needed. May need a weatherproof powerpoint if away from your home – extension cables not advised.

Our review

With great customer positive review rating, this is a brilliant bit of kit with it being so easy to set up and customers saying it is well made and sturdy, this means it is good value for the money in anybody’s eyes.

Check out the customer reviews  and latest pricing here



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