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Best hot tubs 2020

(Image credit: Sundance Spas)

 The best hot tubs come from reliable and well-loved brands that will cater to your budget, available space and family size. Some want to invest in a top rated hot tub to relax and unwind at the end of a long day, whereas others want a larger tub to entertain friends and family. Even budget hot tub models can be an investment, so you’ll need to find the perfect hot tub brand for you. That’s why we’ve reviewed the best hot tub manufacturers for their variety of models, extra features, and pricing, to help you feel confident that you’re making the right choice. If you’re struggling to justify the expense of the best hot tubs right now, consider the best inflatable hot tubs before taking the plunge. 

The best hot tubs will seat between two and eight people, so if you’re looking for an option which will also give you space to exercise, consider the best swim spas. Like hot tubs, these will come with high-power jets and a selection of health benefits, but they’re designed to give you aquatic exercise. To help you decide what’s right for you, or understand the key differences, we’ve created a guide on swim spas vs hot tubs

What makes shopping for the best hot tubs a bit different is that manufacturers rarely list their prices online. This is because prices may vary depending on where you live, the cost of installation, dealer promotions, any upgrades you opt for, and even seasonal fluctuation. Alternatively, many hot tub brands break down their lines by price bracket. Brackets are often defined as budget, entry-level, mid-level, premium and luxury, and pricing usually will come between $3,000 and $15,000. There are so many hot tubs to choose from, with a variety of features and budget considerations to take into account. We’ve partnered with Buyer Zone to help you find a model that meets all of your needs, so fill out their simple survey below to see a refined selection of the best hot tubs for you. 

1. Sundance Spa: Best hot tub overall 

(Image credit: Sundance Spas)

Sundance Spas

Simply, the best hot tub brand overall, with quality products, premium features and plenty of choice

Price range: Entry level - luxury | Sizes: 2-3 seats - 7-8 seats | Energy efficient models: Yes

UV-C sanitation and water features
More color options
Mostly premium and luxury models
SmartTub subscription fee

Sundance Spas offers the best hot tub features, from standard built-in smart capabilities to its adjustable Fluidix jets. Though most of Sundance’s models fall in the premium and luxury price ranges, the brand does offer a good variety of spas
across the entry- and mid-level price ranges in small, medium and large tubs. Even the less expensive models come with multiple shell, cabinet and cover color options, as well as premium features such as UV-C water sanitation and waterfalls that many other companies charge as upgrades. All Sundance hot tubs are compatible with the SmartTub mobile app, though this requires a paid subscription after the first year - a bit of a bummer. 

2. Master Spas: Best value hot tubs

(Image credit: Master Spas)

Master Spas

A fantastic hot tub company for people who want a budget spa

Price range: Entry level - luxury | Sizes: 2-8 seats | Energy efficient models: Yes

Many entry and mid-priced hot tubs 
Unique bio-magnetic therapy
Made in U.S.
Few customization options

Made in the U.S., Master Spas’ hot tubs offer a good mix of unique standard features and desirable upgrades, especially in the entry-level and mid-level price ranges. The brand has 21 hot tub models, 13 of which fall into the entry- and mid-level price ranges, and all of which are made in the US. 

These spas span all sizes and represent four product lines: Clarity, Healthy living, Twilight and the Michael Phelps Legend series. Master Spas offers several premium features standard in all models, including waterfalls and a unique bio-magnetic therapy system. 

Master Spas also has the best upgrade options, including both UV-C and ozone sanitation options, a Wi-Fi module and Bluetooth audio. 

3. Bullfrog Spa: Best for massages 

(Image credit: Bullfrog)

Bullfrog Spas

A hot tub company that will give you the best massages

Price range: Mid-range - luxury | Sizes: 2-8 seats | Energy efficient models: Yes

 JetPak system with interchangeable jets 
18 types of massage therapy
Many customization options
No salt water or UV sanitation options

Bullfrog Spas’ unique JetPak Therapy System lets you customize your massage with 18 options that each target a different type of massage therapy. Though most hot tubs offer some degree of customization when it comes to color options and even upgradeable features, Bullfrog Spas lets you pick exactly what kind of jets and massage therapy to put in each seat. 

The interchangeable JetPaks, available for most models of Bullfrog Spas, give you sixteen seat back options for each seat in your spa that require less tubing and are more energy efficient than many spas on the market. Though Bullfrog does sell hot tub models without the JetPak system, the interchangeable jets and customization options are really the big selling point of this brand. Aside from the pre-set models, Bullfrog also allows you to design your own completely custom spa, as well.

4. Hot Springs: Best for compact areas

(Image credit: Hot Spring)

Hot Spring

A hot tub company that has some of the best hot tubs for small spaces

Price range: Entry level - luxury | Sizes: 2-7 seats | Energy efficient models: Yes

Five small hot tubs
Energy-efficient focus
Fewer shell color options
No UV-C sanitation option

Hot Spring has 20 hot tub models, five of which are built for two or three people. Most of the hot tub manufacturers we evaluated have only three models, so Hot Spring offers a better selection of small spas. Three of these spas are part of the brand’s Hot Spot collection, which fall into the value price range and have 10-17 jets. 

The other two are premium-priced spas from Hot Spring’s top tier Highlife collection and have 14 or 22 jets. Hot Spring also has 10 medium spas and five large spas with various price ranges, all of which come equipped with energy-saving features and are certified by the California Energy Commission.

5. Cal Spas: Biggest range

(Image credit: Cal Spa)

Cal Spas

A hot tub company with the biggest range of spas

Price range: Entry level - luxury | Sizes: 2-7 seats | Energy efficient models: Yes

51 models and multiple shell colors
Salt water, UV-C and ozone sanitation
Overwhelming options for features and models 
No pricing info

With so many options, the website is difficult to navigate, and Cal Spas does not have pricing guidelines for its products, which makes narrowing down your options without speaking to a dealer inconvenient. However, Cal Spas has the most hot tub models available across its six hot tub product lines. The manufacturer has 51 hot tub models and several color and upgrade options as well. 

Cal Spas is one of the only spa companies we evaluated with a salt water sanitation option, as well as UV-C and ozone options. This spa brand is a great option for different hot tub shapes as it offers oval and triangle spas in addition to the usual square options. All models are made in the U.S. which makes any necessary repairs super convenient. 

Still not sure which type of hot tub is best for you? Fill out this quick Buyer Zone survey to see customized recommendations...

How to choose the right hot tub

A woman relaxing in a hot tub at sunset

(Image credit: Getty / iStock)

Before buying a hot tub, there are some key considerations you need to make to ensure you choose the right one. It’s a subjective process - everyone’s space, taste and budget is different. Here are the key things to think about to make sure you buy the best hot tub for you… 

How big should a hot tub be?

Make sure you choose the right hot tub size by considering, firstly, how many people will be using it, and secondly, the space you have available. Small hot tubs will fit two-three people; larger hot tubs can fit eight or more. Most hot tub manufacturer’s websites list both the dimensions of each hot tub and how many people can sit comfortably within the tub, so you can be sure you're picking the right size. 

How much does a hot tub cost?

The cost of a hot tub can be anywhere from $3,000 for a budget-priced tub to over $16,000 for a top-of-the-line spa with custom upgrades. Generally, inflatable hot tubs are the cheapest; above-ground hot tubs are more moderately priced; and in-the-ground hot tubs are the most expensive. 

Your budget will dictate which options are available to you, so first consider how much you have to spend on your new hot tub. Also, it's a good idea to research how much a certain hot tub might cost to run and maintain (and make sure you choose an option with a lifetime guarantee).  

Hot tub manufacturers rarely list the prices of hot tubs online because there are several factors that affect the price of each sale, including geography, dealer promotions and even the time of year. Of course, this also allows retailers to negotiate a higher price with people who don’t have good bartering skills. 

Many hot tub companies will categorise their selections into price ranges: budget, entry-level, mid-level, premium and luxury. However, some won't provide price guidelines unless you enquire. Bear in mind that the final price of your hot tub might differ significantly from the price of the tub itself, after you've included any upgrades or extras, installation and operating costs. 

Plan where you want to put your hot tub

Where will you hot tub go? This will be a major factor in deciding which type of hot tube to get and the features you'll need, so plan the location of your hot tub carefully. 

If you are placing a hot tub outside, it is best to choose a model that holds heat well, so you’re not wasting energy by constantly reheating it. You might also want to consider the view, the distance from your house, and even how visible you will be to your neighbors. If you are placing your hot tub indoors, you might want to choose an area that is well ventilated so condensation doesn’t damage your home. 

Know the features you want

Do your homework. We’d recommend viewing a hot tub in person, if possible, to do a wet test. It is best to try the hot tub out before buying it, as the moulded seats are designed for an average size person and if you are on the smaller or taller size these seat can become uncomfortable. 

However, there are lots of features to consider when buying a hot tub, from seating style (do you want lounge-style seating, therapeutic seats or cool-down seats?) to jet type, the water filtration system (salt, ozone or UV-C?) and more. Try to choose an energy-efficient hot tub, too. Here are some areas to think about...

Hot tub therapy options

The number of jets in the tub, in addition to the placement and type of hydrotherapy the jets deliver are important features to think about when purchasing a hot tub. Hot tub manufacturers use different techniques to imitate a variety of massage types from deep tissue to light caress. Some use a combination of water and air, some use high-pressure and others use high-flow jets. If you want a full-body massage, look for a hot tub with lounge seats and leg or feet jets. Some spa models combine hydrotherapy and aromatherapy for a more relaxing experience. 

Hot tub filtration & sanitation

The filtration and water sanitation systems in your hot tub keep the water sparking and clean. Spa models use different combinations of chemicals, filters, ozone and UV-C light to make sure your water stays clean. Most of the models we evaluated use multiple filters to remove dirt and small debris from the water. Many also offer ozone or UV-C sanitation options as standard installation or upgrades. These systems eliminate or neutralize bacteria as well. 

Hot tub build quality

When shopping, look into the materials used in the hot tub’s construction. Most hot tubs use an acrylic interior shell supported by a frame made of either treated wood or metal and surrounded by a wood or synthetic cabinet. As long as it isn’t exposed to elements, the frame should last the lifetime of your hot tub, no matter what it’s made of. 

Pay more attention to the hot tub’s insulation, as this directly affects operating costs. A poorly insulated spa costs more to heat because the heater has to run more to keep water at a set temperature, and overworking the components can lead to early malfunction. Getting a well-insulated hot tub is particularly important in locations that reach low temperatures. To this end, look for a full-foam insulated hot tub rather than a model with partial foam insulation or one that just uses a thermal wrap. 

Hot tub upgrades and extras

Most hot tub manufacturers offer a variety of upgrades and extra features. In addition to an amazing soak, most manufacturers offer Bluetooth sound systems, mood lighting and waterfall or fountain water features. Many top-tier models also have built-in coolers and external seating. Some also have smart capabilities, such as an optional Wi-Fi module or companion mobile app. These smart tubs make remotely controlling or monitoring your spa easy, and they have the added benefit of making it easy to contact your local hot tub dealer.

Hot tub appearance

Most of the hot tubs we reviewed come in multiple shell and cabinet styles, with manufacturers offering more options for higher-tier product lines. Though not necessarily the most important aspect of your hot tub, appearance does play a role in the relaxing effects of your spa. Choosing a shell and UV-resistant cabinet in colors that blend in with your backyard creates a more laid-back setting, rather than an eye-sore.