Our hot tub ideas are just what you’ve been looking for if you’re wondering how to create the perfect garden retreat. I mean, we could all do with a little more ‘me’ time. There’s a million things to do, the house needs a clean, work deadlines loom, the kids are squabbling... Imagine if you could just step outside, jump in and drift away into a bubbling bath of serenity.
If you’re already raring to get your own (because we certainly are!), don't forget to check out our guide to the best hot tubs for your garden.
Besides, it’s no surprise that everyone wants one! The team at Canopy & Stars tells us their ‘Hot Tub’ collection was the most popular choice on their website last year, with ‘owners getting more creative and luxurious with their designs, to make experiences extra special.’
Luxury Coastal adds, ‘In a year where every second outdoors has been treasured, we’ve found our guests craving holiday homes with the added luxury of a hot tub. Hot tubs give people the chance to unwind in indulgent surroundings; the chance to escape the everyday and feel a sense of freedom whilst leaving the screens behind. The emergence of wood-fired hot tubs has seen beautifully crafted pieces dotted throughout the wilderness, helping people to reconnect to the great outdoors.’
From luxurious spas under twinkling lights, seaside versions with breathtaking views, miniature tubs for loved-up couples, to contemporary pools that look seamless with decking, there’s a hot tub look to suit everyone.
We’ve rounded up our favourite ideas for you to peruse. We know it’s not quite the same as being in one, but it’s a good start, right?
1. Create a spa-like seating area
This Somerset hideaway from Luxury Coastal is the perfect retreat for pared-back views. Sun loungers nearby add to the luxurious vibe. When you’re taking a break from the bubbles, just throw on a white robe and some sliders and chill.
For the winter months, why not add a patio heater, and your outdoor area will be transformed into a welcoming spa all year round. Check out our best patio heaters buying guide to get started.
2. Sink it into decking
If you love the idea of a bubbling pool, but don’t want your garden to scream HOT TUB to your visitors, then sinking one into decking is a chic and understated option. It’s also great for outdoor-indoor living, as you can enjoy uninterrupted views of your plot from inside the house.
Plus, decking is all the rage right now. You only have to check out our decking ideas to see why.
3. Surround your tub with trees
Have you heard of the phrase ‘forest bathing’? It's an idea from Japan (and otherwise known as shinrin-yoku), and it’s all about zenning out amongst trees. It’s known to help de-stress and boost wellbeing, in a natural and mindful way. Forestry England has written a handy forest-bathing guide on exactly how to do it, if you want to know more.
But, add in a hot tub, and you’ve got the ultimate forest bathing experience on your hands. Just looking at this oasis of greenery is enough to chill us out!
4. Position to make the most of a view
If you’re lucky enough to have a sea view, then why not position your hot tub to make the most of it? The sight of soft waves and the ocean breeze will certainly help you drift away to calmer lands. Who needs a book?
However, not all of us are oceanside. So, instead, think about where the best views are in your garden and move your hot tub to suit. Your favourite rose bush or border, for example, will make lovely features to look at whilst you relax.
A nearby seating area keeps things social, or is the perfect place for a spot of lunch (before jumping back in, obviously!).
5. Enjoy the ultimate alone time by candlelight
Good garden lighting ideas are a real mood-booster, so just imagine what happens when you combine it with a hot tub! An ultimate zen-out zone, that’s what.
It’s always nice to light candles with your bath for a solo-pamper session, and you can do just the same outside. This beautiful example from Canopy & Stars uses a mixture of candles, lanterns and star-shaped lights to transport guests straight into a fairytale. Enjoy the twinkling reflections and breathe in...and out...
6. Try a super-romantic tub for two
Up the intimacy with a teeny tiny tub! A super romantic option for couples. Check out the peep-hole heart-shaped head-rests too – aren’t they adorable?
A tub this size is also perfect for small garden ideas, providing all of the indulgence whilst taking up less space. Plus, ones that are wood-fired will heat up quickly and are totally low maintenance. You’ll also get to enjoy the hint of woodsmoke on the air, whilst you admire the view.
7. Create your own starry setting
It’s lovely to sit back and look at the stars from the comfort of a hot tub. But not every night is crystal clear – sometimes clouds block the view.
However, with the help of a canopy studded with LED lighting, you can fake your own starry scene. That way, you can bring an extra dose of ambience to your bubbles on any evening.
8. Add side decking for easy access
Natural wooden cladding and a log-fuelled fire is a combo of dreams for those after a laid-back hot tub style. Plus, decking to the side provides easy access and is a useful place to store extra logs nearby.
A hot tub with this look is the perfect way to get back to nature and fits in beautifully with less formal gardens. After all, sometimes simple is best and wild gardens are all the rage right now – just take a look at our garden trends!
9. Go Moorish with tiles
Tropical garden ideas are taking Instagram by storm, especially as, for a lot of us, a summer vacation is currently off the cards.
So, why not add some exotic colours and patterns to your hot tub, for a chill-out zone that looks as great as it feels. Patterned tiles are a great way to make a statement. All you need is a piña colada and a palm or two to complete your holiday-from-home!
10. Make a statement with a theme
Check this out for the perfect example of how to enhance a hot tub using a garden folly. Add glorious arches and columns and be instantly transported to a luxurious Roman spa. Billowing curtains and twirling tendrils of ivy all add to the drama – creating a stunning focal point for any garden.
‘The extra benefit is that the owners also have screening, allowing them to enjoy their hot tub in private. What we can create can easily be retrofitted around an existing hot tub, or as part of a new scheme,’ says Tim Redwood of Redwood Stone.
11. Cover your tub for year-round use
An aluminium pergola is a super-sleek way to enclose your hot tub, so you can enjoy it come rain or shine. Sliding side panels come in handy if you want a touch more privacy, or to welcome in fresh air.
Rain water falling on the watertight roof will add to the experience with a soothing patter, before being gently guided away. A perfect addition for a large, modern garden.
12. Blend together pools with a stunning waterfall
If your garden has a hot tub and a pool then why not combine the two? Using a curve of stone steps and a relaxing waterfall blends them together beautifully, whilst still creating an air of different zones.
It also makes it easy to go from one to the other, for a refreshing (or warming!) boost. There's more inspiration in our backyard pool ideas feature.
13. Consider the convenience of inflatable tubs
If you fancy something portable, practical and affordable, then an inflatable hot tub might be the one for you. These tubs come in various styles and sizes, and often have neat little functions, such as colour-changing lights and heat timers. Quick and easy to set up, they provide a retreat for relaxation without the big commitment of a permanent build.
‘A Lay-Z-Spa inflatable hot tub offers the same relaxation and health and wellbeing benefits as a solid hot tub, but at a fraction of the price. And, there's the convenience of being able to easily set it up and pack it down as many times as you like,’ says the team at Lay-Z-Spa. ‘The versatility of an inflatable hot tub also means you can choose your preferred spot to set it up and, should you move house, you can take it with you.’
14. Take cover beneath a gazebo
A structured wooden gazebo makes a hot tub an outdoor relaxation ‘room’ all to itself. The roof keeps heavy rain and winds away, keeping it a sheltered sanctuary whatever the weather. Lush green foliage surrounding it will up the zen-appeal, too.
Match the materials to the rest of your garden structures for a cohesive feel. The perfect outdoor retreat after a long day.
15. Go for circular shapes
The organic, never-ending curve of a circle is a naturally soothing shape. Plus, pick a hot tub in this style and you’ll be able to view your surroundings comfortably from all angles.
This stunning (and 2020 BISHTA award-winning) example is particularly enticing with its circular surrounding stonework and twinkling lights illuminating the nearby tree.
16. Surround with stone
Stone is one of our favourite garden materials. It’s understated yet always stylish, and varieties in dark hues makes nearby plants pop.
It also works beautifully surrounding a hot tub, and can provide a useful ledge to sit on or place a drink. Opt for smooth but non-slip kinds, for safety precautions. Add containers of neatly clipped topiary for a great way to finish this modern look.
What should a hot tub be set at, temperature wise?
104°F (that's 40 degrees Celsius) is the max you want to ramp up a hot tub. After that, you’re getting into seriously hot territory, which isn’t that relaxing at all. Not to mention it can be dangerous!
Most will find temperatures between 100°F-102°F hits the sweet spot, which is ever-so-slightly above a normal body temperature. Young children (under five years old), should have hot tub temperatures lowered to 35 degrees Celsius (95°F), and only use the tub for 5–10 minutes at a time for safety reasons.
Check with your doctor before using one whilst pregnant, as they may advise against it.
What do you put around a hot tub?
A hot tub can be a cohesive part of your garden, if you pick the right things to surround it with. In terms of hard landscaping, decking and stone are stylish options. To avoid any nasty accidents, don't choose materials that’ll get slippery when wet.
When it comes to plants, ferns and containers full of flowers are lovely to have nearby. Potted trees are also an attractive option (acers will offer sumptuous autumn colour, whilst an olive tree will add a Mediterranean vibe). Or, how about a nearby bed of lavender to fragrance the air with an aromatherapeutic boost?
You could also add some atmospheric lighting – just take your pick from our best outdoor lights.
Basically, whatever you love to look at, move it near the tub. It will only maximise your relaxation experience. You may want to add some screening too, perhaps with a decorative screen or trellis. We’ve got lots of inspiration in our garden privacy ideas for you to have a look at.
What is the best base for a hot tub?
As we've mentioned, you want to place your hot tub around materials that are non-slippery. But, the base itself for your tub also needs to be sturdy.
Concrete is generally your best bet here – but a stone patio or heavy-duty decking can also do the job. Just remember that it needs to take the weight of the water and the people using it, as well as the actual hot tub itself. Another important thing to remember is the surface must be flat. Grass is a no go!
The best hot tubs
Ready to create your very own garden spa? You can check out the latest hot tub deals in our feature, or see below for today's best prices on some of our top buys.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!
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