Hot tub vs Jacuzzi – what’s the difference?

Wondering about the merits of a hot tub vs Jacuzzi? Here’s what you need to know about them

hot tub vs Jacuzzi - people sitting in an inflatable hot tub on a patio
(Image credit: Lay-Z-Spa)

Hot tub vs Jacuzzi? If you like the idea of bathing in warm water in your own backyard whenever you want, this might well be the question you’re asking yourself. 

After all, you’ll be keen to make the right purchase when realizing the hot tub ideas you’ve been considering, so you can relax tired muscles, chill out alfresco all year round, and entertain friends.

But what is the difference between a hot tub and a Jacuzzi, and which one is best for your garden? Discover what you need to know in our guide, and tap into the experts’ advice, too.

Get the lowdown on hot tub vs Jacuzzi 

Find out exactly what you’re considering when you line up a hot tub vs Jacuzzi in our complete guide so you can make sure you're choosing the best hot tub for your outdoor space. 

What is a hot tub?

Warm water and bubbles are what most of us think of when we think hot tub. ‘A hot tub is a self-contained body of water used for relaxation, hydrotherapy or pleasure,’ says Tom Drakett-Cain, brand marketing manager at Lay-Z-Spa. ‘They typically heat the water and have jets that create a bubble massage.’

Hot tubs are large enough to share with other people – they might be more compact with room for two, have space for four or five, or be sizeable, fitting six or more bathers at once. And when combined with the latest hot tub shelter ideas, they can allow you to create a luxurious spa-at-home space. 

As for the massaging bubbles? While, as Tom notes, hot tubs typically have jets, this doesn’t have to be the case, and you can select a design with jets or without.

You may have discovered already that the definition of ‘hot tub’ varies a little around the globe. ‘In some parts of the world (such as Scandinavia), the term hot tub is only used for wooden equipment (with a stove),’ explains Sallie Leslie-Golding from BISHTA (The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association). ‘In contrast, in parts of the world such as North America, spa or hot tub means any type of equipment, whether made of wood, acrylic or other materials.’

‘The UK uses hot tub as the generic term for all hard-shell acrylic (self-contained portable) hot tubs or wood-fired (Scandinavian) hot tubs,’ she adds.

As Sallie says, in the US, the terms hot tub and spa are often used interchangeably. However, there’s a distinct meaning for the word spa. ‘A spa is a place where mineral-rich spring water is used to give medicinal baths,’ explains Tom.

two people sitting in a hot tub on a patio

(Image credit: Lay-Z-Spa)

What is a Jacuzzi?

In weighing up hot tub vs Jacuzzi, you’ll also need to know exactly what the latter is. ‘Jacuzzi is a trademarked brand name of one of the world’s leading manufacturers and is often used generically in error,’ says Sallie Leslie-Golding. In other words, it’s like using the word Kleenex when it’s tissues you’re talking about or, in the UK, saying Hoover when you mean vacuum cleaners generally rather than the specific brand.

Jacuzzi has a long history of hydrotherapy products for the home. The family came to the US from Italy in the early 1900s, and Candido Jacuzzi first developed a hydrotherapy pump to provide relief for his son’s rheumatoid arthritis. A home version of the pump that turned a tub into a hydrotherapy spa was developed by the company’s engineers soon after, and the J-300 pump was first marketed in 1956. The first integrated jet whirlpool bath was created in 1968. 

Fast forward to the 1980s, and the company introduced models that functioned as hot tubs, whirlpool baths, or both, and could be installed indoors or outside. Today, Jacuzzi offers a wide range of hot tubs, as well as bath tubs and more.

Like hot tubs generally, Jacuzzi’s jetted hot tubs come in a range of sizes to suit all sizes of yard, different numbers of bathers, and can be incorporated into your hot tub deck ideas and hot tub surround ideas in the same way.  

Hot tub vs Jacuzzi, which is best for my yard?

Now you know more about hot tub vs Jacuzzi, you can see that because Jacuzzi is a brand of hot tub, this isn’t the comparison you should be making to choose the best model for your yard.

Where do you start instead? ‘Which hot tub is right for you involves assessing lots of factors and ultimately comes down to preference,’ says Tim Snelling, sales director at Hot Tub Hub. ‘Thinking about how many people you want to be able to fit, the space you have for the hot tub and your budget is a great starting point to narrow down your options.

‘Then it’s comparing details like the seating arrangement, the cover, air jets, filtration system, lighting, and media options.’ 

hot tub on a deck in garden

(Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies/Future)

Sallie Leslie-Golding agrees. ‘Before deciding on which style to buy, give some thought to how you will use it,’ she says. ‘If you want to entertain a large group of people, a family-friendly model with plenty of seating might be the way to go.’

‘If relaxation is your goal, look into products with lots of varied, massaging jets and comfortable ergonomic seating. Also, consider installing a convenient cover removal/storage system (cover lifter) and easy water-care methods to assist with hot tub maintenance and servicing.’

Which added features do you like the sound of? ‘To create a truly bespoke relaxation and entertainment space, various additions can be added to the hot tub set-up to suit personal choices, such as an attractive deck surround, an enclosure, special lighting, and if so desired, an audio, TV and DVD system,’ says Sallie.

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.