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9 Different Types of Hot Tubs: All the Styles [with pictures]

Most people would love a relaxing hot tub in their garden, but what type of hot tub to choose is a whole other minefield. In this short and sweet guide, we break down the different types of hot tubs available in the UK and where you should be looking, depending on the old purse strings!

But what other options are there? What about costs and what on earth is an Ofuro hot tub? Fear not; we’ll answer all these questions and more.

Read on for the ultimate guide. 

group of women sat in a hot tub laughing

Types of Hot Tubs For Sale

You may be surprised by the number of different hot tub styles currently on the market. We’ve all heard of inflatable hot tubs and hard shell models, but the joys of water-based relaxation actually stretch far beyond these popular products. 

couple sat in a hot tub smiling

1. Conventional/hard shell

These hot tubs use a solid foundation and a hard shell to form a permanent spa installation. They’re often packed with features like internal heating, massaging jets and even Wi-Fi functionality. 

If you mention hot tubs, most people will picture one of these models, whose prices can vary wildly depending on the construction materials and additional features included.

2. Rotomolded spas

Rotomolded spas get their name from their manufacturing process, in which a polyethylene resin is poured into a mould and slowly rotated to produce a solid hot tub body.

These hot tubs are made from high-density thermoplastic, making them more eco-friendly and energy-efficient than standard acrylic hot tubs. The trade-off is that rotationally moulded hot tubs usually feature fewer jets and a smaller capacity.

3. An inflatable hot tub 

There is no doubt that the best portable spa should offer good value as well as comfort and durability as this is what many people go for, even though it’s still far less money compared to a permanent hot tub.

Portable hot tubs refer to any above-ground spa that can be easily moved. Still, we reckon an acrylic model that can technically be shifted by four people hardly counts as a truly portable hot tub!

The more realistic type of portable hot tub will generally be a small capacity inflatable tub; these models feature a pump unit, an inflatable shell with an air valve, and enough space to hold at least 2-4 people.

All of the sizes are different and are kitted out with a slew of features, from hot tubs with jets and rapid heaters to inflatable seating and built-in drink holders.

We’ve reviewed countless models since we started this site; here are a few of the best reviews.

4. Wooden tubs 

wooden hot tub on decking overlooking a lake and fields

Wooden hot tubs are often viewed as a more traditional spa style; you’ll likely have seen these models taking up the outdoor space of many holiday homes and air BnB rentals.

Whether they’re cedar hot tubs or made from spruce or oak, you’ll usually find a heating system powered by an electric, wood-fired or gas heater and a range of modern features like air jets, lights and possibly powerful hydro jets.

5. Ofuro / wood-fired tubs. 

These stylish hot tubs are inspired by traditional Japanese soaking baths and generally come in the form of deep, bathtub shaped spas with a high-quality timber shell. 

Traditionally, you’ll find that these models are warmed by a wood fire heater, though modern versions will use some electrical components and commonly include a few massaging jets.

6. Swim Spas 

Most of us won’t have come across a swim spa; these expensive hot tubs are essentially a cross between a jacuzzi tub and a swimming pool, with seating at one end and an open area of water at the other These are usually found in resorts, hotel spas and destination spas. Many of these types of spas are used for pampering sessions, day spas and hydrotherapy treatments.

The open section faces a wall of powerful water jets, which allow bathers to swim against the current, making these hot tubs very popular for swimmers in training! 

7. In-ground hot tubs 

An in-ground hot tub will be installed in much the same way as your average swimming pool, though these units are much smaller and will be packed with fancy features like powerful jets and a heating source.

These hot tubs are a permanent installation and will need to be professionally installed by digging out an area of your garden and fitting the hot tub flush with the ground.

8. Bespoke hot tubs 

These spas are made to match any unique preferences, from the size and shape to the number of features bundled in.

Many manufacturers provide a “build your own hot tub” service, where you can pick a general style (like a circular or square hot tub) and choose your heating system, number of jets and any other features you want to include. 

indoor swimming pool with seats down the side

9. Commercial hot tubs 

Commercial hot tubs are specifically designed for health clubs, hotels and other public environments, in which conventional home hot tubs will not meet the rules and regulations required for commercial use.

These hot tub types are generally larger than personal hot tubs, and you’ll usually find that they feature automatic chemical and heat sensors for added safety.

an empty inflatable hot tub

Features to Consider

Where will it go?

Are you dreaming of relaxing under the stars? Or would you prefer to enjoy your soaks in the shelter of your home? 

You’ll be best off choosing an outdoor inflatable tub or an in-ground hot tub for outdoor use. An inflatable hot tub indoors such as Ofuro hot tubs and conventional model types are a little better suited if you don’t want a garden spa.


How many people do you intend to fit into your new hot tub? Suppose you’re buying a hot tub to be enjoyed by the whole family or planning on regularly entertaining guests. In that case, you’ll want one that can seat up to seven people to ensure you’ve all got room to recline comfortably. We list the Lay Z Spa models by size and dimensions here. This will give you some ideas.

Massage jets 

This is often the most crucial feature for hot tub owners, as you won’t be able to increase the number of massage jets once you’ve pulled the trigger on your purchase! 

We reckon it’s best to shoot a little higher than you’re thinking in terms of jets, but you should also be aware that the more jets you have, the noisier your hot tub will be! Many customers use a hot tub for healing treatments on the joints after doing fitness activities, so it’s better to get more jets than less!


What type of hot tub is best? 

This depends on your needs. Inflatables are cheaper and more portable; hard-shelled models will provide more durability during daily use. You’ll need to consider how you intend to use your spa before settling on which style is best for you.

Are hot tubs high maintenance? 

You should be performing daily maintenance on any style of spa, though by keeping the chemical levels topped up and regularly cleaning the interior, you’ll save yourself some effort in the long run.

Outdoor tubs generally require more cleaning than indoor tubs, but the key to this is “little and often” all hot tubs should be drained and deep cleaned once every three months to prevent the water from becoming unsanitary and allow the components to be cleaned appropriately.


So there you have it, it turns out there are many different types of spas and hot tubs available, from a cheap and cheerful inflatable hot tub to a bespoke wood-fired hot tub, each with its own distinct pros and cons! 

Whether you’re looking to keep the kids entertained or a feature-filled luxury model to help you unwind after a stressful day, there’s certainly a spa out there that can scratch your specific itch!

If you’re unsure about which type of spa style to choose, remember you can always rent a model to test it out, and if you are choosing to take the plunge into hot tubbing, consider reading some of our latest jacuzzi tutorials.

John Devlin

Hello, Welcome to my website. I’m John, and I created the InflatableHotTubGuide while researching these spas nearly a decade ago. Since its creation, the site has become the leading UK resource for many models. As a passionate hot tub user, I love to test and explore all the latest machines this industry keeps creating. I hope you find our content helpful.