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Portable vs in-ground vs inflatable hot tubs (Pros, cons, prices and more)

January 31, 2023

Estimated read time - 6 minutes

Author – Fin Green – Content Creator UK, Jacuzzi Group

Making your first steps towards finding your dream hot tub and simply trying to figure out what type is best for you? Are you feeling overwhelmed with choice and looking for some clarity?

If you need some insight into portable, in-ground and inflatable hot tubs then this article could be a useful read for you.  

Inground hot tub in deck

By reading simple explanations, getting an idea of pricing and learning the pros and cons of three tub types, you'll have a better idea of which one may tick the boxes.

From here, you'll be on your way to taking the next step in your buying journey!

Disclaimer - In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Jacuzzi Group. You can see the list of the brand owners at the bottom of this article. All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (January 31, 2023) and may change without notice. 

What is an in-ground hot tub? 

An in-ground hot tub is defined by the type of installation. When the hot tub is partially or fully placed within a pit in the ground, it is considered an ‘in-ground hot tub’.

How much does an in-ground hot tub cost?

The average price of a hot tub is between £7,000.00-£13,000.00 in the UK.

Depending on price, size, design, brand, materials and many other factors, an in-ground hot tub could cost anywhere between £16,000.00-£28,000.00 on average. 

It's worth noting that you can buy hot tubs that are specifically designed to be installed in-ground. These options tend to be more commercial and tend to be priced from around £16,000.00.

You can of course place any portable hot tub in-ground. Bear in mind there are extra costs (which can equal around £5,000.00 or more) on top of the retail price to prepare the site for installation.


-Aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Can blend well with your garden and outdoor space with just the lip and cover sticking out just above ground level. 

-Customisable to suit your needs the best e.g., partially submerged/fully submerged and you can make the decisions on what materials are used for installation. 


-Arguably the most invasive installation you can have. Your garden, patio or yard will have to be dug up in order to create space for the hot tub. 

-In-ground options may lean towards the pricier and more timely side due to labour and materials required for the installation. (For example -digging a pit, filling with concrete and drainage)

-Can be harder to get in and out of, particularly for people who face mobility challenges and may need to rely on a hand rail or set of steps.

In-ground hot tub pros and cons

What is a portable hot tub?

A portable hot tub is a fully self-contained, freestanding spa that can be taken from one location to another. Important components such as heaters, pumps and plumbing are housed inside the cabinet. 

How much does a portable hot tub cost?

The price range of a portable hot tub is quite wide-ranging as you can tailor one to your own specific needs.

Entry level hot tubs are generally made with lower quality or less durable materials for a low price and can start from anything around £2,700.00.

The higher end premium hot tubs can be as much as £25,000.00 and above, however these hot tubs are made with the best materials at the better to best end of the market.

There is no right or wrong about which part of the price spectrum you choose, as long as you pick one that meets the needs you are looking for, then it will be money well spent. 

Relaxing in a J-400™ Hot Tub


-You may have to get people to help you move it, but it is movable and can be taken with you if you ever decide to relocate.

-Straightforward to install. In many cases they can be rolled in on a moving dolly through to the back of your garden. 

-Flexible pricing.There are hot tubs available at different price points to suit different budgets.


-Heavier than an inflatable hot tub. You may end up requiring a crane or a HIAB to place it into your garden if it needs to go in a difficult place. 

-A tub that ticks the boxes for energy efficient features, quality hydrotherapy, comfort durability are more likely to be at the higher end of the purchase price range... But are more likely to cost less to run over time.

Want to learn more about portable hot tubs including size, brands available, common asked questions and more? Read this article - What is a portable hot tub and should I buy one? 

Inflatable hot tub on grass

What is an inflatable hot tub? 

An inflatable hot tub sit above ground and is essentially, a hybrid between a paddling pool and a portable hot tub. They are soft sided blow-up tubs like a paddling pool but also have air jets to create a bubbly element like a regular tub would have.  

How much does an inflatable hot tub cost? 

Inflatable hot tubs have the cheapest retail price of all tub types on the market. Prices range from around £200.00 to £1,500.00 and above in the UK. 

The price ultimately covers the quality of the product and its longevity in comparison to a hard shell, robust portable hot tub. 

If you are looking for short term seasonal fun, or wanting to take make a cheap, short term investment before taking the next step, an inflatable hot tub could be an option to consider.


-Affordable luxury, with brands such as ‘Lay-Z-Spa’ you can have some of the features and quality that some regular hot tubs offer, with only a fraction of the price tag. (Adjacent image is not a Lay-Z-Spa™ model).

-Completely portable. Inflatable hot tubs can go wherever you go, whether it be to visit a friend for the weekend, holiday home or moving house.

-Straightforward to use. They are easy to inflate, deflate, fill and empty. 

-Feature air jets which create bubbly looking water.


-Limited features such as hydrotherapy jets, self-cleaning water filters, contoured moulded seating. Some accessories they do offer are cushioned floors, backrests and pillows.

-Softer, multi-layer materials makes it less durable than a hard shell hot tub and don't have the life expectancy you would expect from a portable hot tub.

-Limited hydrotherapy If you're looking to purchase for health reasons, inflatable hot tubs aren't equipped with moulded seating and hydromassage jets that provide comfort and relief to the body.

You can learn more about inflatable hot tubs by reading this article. 

Inflatable hot tub pros and cons


If you are edging towards a short term, affordable and movable option- then an inflatable hot tub could be the best fit.  

Anything more permanent, higher quality build and features, such as hydrotherapy jets, could make an in-ground or portable hot tub an ideal option for you.

Whether you are choosing to buy a hot tub for hydrotherapy to help ailments, to relax and unwind, or purely just for a sociable space, there are options out there will tick the boxes for you.

Want to learn more about hot tub costs? Have some more questions around hot tub price ranges, what makes a good quality hot tub and hot tub running costs? We recommend you read this article. 

You can also download our Hot Tub Buyer's Guide to gain more valuable knowledge that will help you make the right steps on your buying journey.

Disclaimer: The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Jacuzzi Group. LAY-Z-SPA™ is a trademark of Bestway Inflatables & Material Corp

Affiliations: Jacuzzi® is a registered trademark of Jacuzzi Group. All rights reserved.