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Home Hot Tubs Hot Tub Reviews Expert’s Review: 4 Best Soft-Sided Hot Tubs for Any Budget

Expert’s Review: 4 Best Soft-Sided Hot Tubs for Any Budget

We interviewed 20 soft-sided hot tub owners and studied more than 800 reviews of different models to choose the four best ones and present them to you in this article.
Soft sided hot tub

When you want a hot tub, it can be challenging to decide which one to choose. This is because they are divided into at least two significant types — traditional hard shells and soft-sided ones. They differ greatly in appearance, price, and some characteristics. Today we’ll take a closer look at soft wall hot tubs to see which ones can compete with the traditional ones at a nicer price.

We’ll look at four of the worthiest models on the market and give you a full review of each. Pros, cons, usage features, price comparisons, and selection criteria — be prepared before ordering your future favorite.

Comparison Table

Our team did research to determine the best models of soft-sided hot tubs. We chose them based on availability, a rating above 4.0 (Amazon), and reviews (800+ reviews analyzed). Finally, we’re ready to present you with our favorites in different categories.

Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub
Winner category:
the sturdiest construction and best design

Why you’ll love it:

- It is the hardest to pierce and ruin
- The design is luxurious (a few colors included)
- The roomiest model and perfect for parties
- Can be used in any season

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Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub
Winner category:
the quickest heating up and best at
maintaining temperature

Why you’ll love it:

- The best temperature control
- The lightest and easiest to move
- The best model for couples
- Will raise your electric bill by 30-50% less
than other hot tubs on the list

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Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot Tub
Winner category:
the most comfortable + relieves pains

Why you’ll love it:

- The best option for comfortable relaxation
- Many optional accessories for a perfect soak [headrests, LED lights, carry bag, etc.]
- Bubble jets relieve mild to moderate pains

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Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub
Winner category:
the most delightful jets

Why you’ll love it:

- The most powerful and relaxing jets
according to owners
- Comes complete with a high-quality cover
- It’s versatile and easy to move
- It's easy to clean and maintain

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How to choose a soft-sided hot tub?

While researching the best models of inflatable hot tubs, we first paid attention to what criteria in them are essential to owners to get a complete picture of what a perfect hot tub should be. We ended up identifying 20+ different criteria, but now we’re going to focus on the five most important ones that over 35% of owners mentioned.

  • Heats up quickly (no more than 20-22 hours if the initial temperature is 50-60°F) & maintains temperature well

I don’t know if this will surprise you, but we have the temperature control qualities of hot tubs at the top of our list. Well, no one wants to get into warm water only to run out of cold water after a few minutes. In this category, our winner is the Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub (review), which maintains the temperature well even in winter. However, the other models are not far behind it in their properties.

  • Easy to install and use

You probably won’t buy a hot tub just because it’s easy to install and easy to use. But you don’t want to buy one if it’s difficult to set up and operate, do you? If you install the hard shell hot tub once and for all, the soft-sided hot tubs will probably be blown away, stored for the winter, and then reinstalled. So keep in mind that point.

Soft sided hot tub
  • Sturdy construction and quality materials

We won’t pause here for long, because everything seems to make sense. Yes, inflatable hot tubs are no match for traditional hot tubs, but there are stronger and lesser ones among them, too. Although most of them are made of PVC (and this is a good one), the quality differs and the only way to check it is to try it yourself or study a bunch of reviews from owners (as we did).

  • Air jets/bubbles are delightful

You don’t expect much from the jets in an inflatable hot tub, but trust me, they know how to astonish. For example, the jets in Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot Tub (review) can relieve you of mild to moderate pain, while the ones in Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub (review) have become a favorite among most owners for their level of enjoyment. 

  • Great value for money

What does value for money even mean? In general, it is a concept whose meaning lies in getting the maximum benefit at the minimum cost. In the case of inflatable hot tubs, they should win (or not lose) to traditional ones in terms of their properties at a lower cost. In other words, the longer your hot tub works properly, the better its value for money. This can only be tested by experience or in-depth research.

Detailed review

Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub — the sturdiest construction and best design

Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub
Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub

 The sturdiest construction and best design

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Ups

  • The most robust hot tub on our list
  • It got the most feedback on the superb design
  • It’s the most spacious hot tub on our list (fits 5-7 people, 4 for max. comfort)
  • You can use it in any season including winter 
  • One of the easiest to assembly and use

Downs

  • The inflatable cover is not high-quality (but you can replace it with another cover if you wish)

If you’re looking for a dependable, beautiful hot tub that you can use anytime for yourself or parties, the Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub was made for you. Not only is this hot tub the most spacious in our top today, but it’s also very durable, according to owner reviews. It also has a few other key features that make you want to love it.

First, it can be used in the winter without a doubt. Of course, it’s better to be prepared for that, but don’t worry about temperatures dropping — that won’t happen. The only thing is that your energy bills are likely to go up in the winter if you use this hot tub. 

Also, this beauty has a great digital control panel that makes controlling your hot tub a total pleasure. It’s in the same place as the built-in cup holders and allows you to heat the water to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, choose between two levels of massage intensity, and set the temperature control timer for a full 40 days.

Of the drawbacks, we identified insufficiently clear instructions and not a very good cover, unlike the one in Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub (review). It’s also a little more expensive than the other hot tubs on the list, but consider that it’s designed for more people than the others.

Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub — the quickest heating up and best at maintaining temperature

Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub
Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub

The quickest heating up and best at keeping the temperature

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Ups

  • The quickest heating up (~3° per hour)
  • Maintains temperature better than others on our list
  • The most lightweight hot tub on our list
  • The most affordable option
  • It’s pretty energy-efficient and doesn’t increase the electric bill much

Downs

  • Fits only 2-3 people so it’s not suitable for big parties
  • Instructions are a bit complicated but YouTube videos can help

In case you like to soak in a hot tub longer and are not going to invite a large company to join you, we advise you to take a closer look at Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub.

With this model, the manufacturers were as honest as possible when determining the number of people who will fit in it (two or three). And it’s true, two people will be quite comfortable in this hot tub, but it will be a bit difficult for parties.

The main advantage of this model, as you have already realized, has to do with heating water and maintaining temperature. One of the reasons is the Freeze Shield function, which automatically adjusts the temperature in case the weather gets colder. It also helps to keep your hot tub parts in good order and keep them from freezing. 

However, if you are looking for a more spacious model, it is better to look at Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub (review) that fits 5-7 people.

Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot Tub — the most comfortable + relieves pains

Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot Tub
Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot Tub

The most comfortable + relieves pains

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Ups

  • The most comfortable hot tub to sit in from our list
  • Bubble jets relieve mild to moderate pains
  • The easiest hot tub to assemble and install
  • Comes with two headrests to improve your soaking
  • Includes color-changing LED lights

Downs

  • A few owners had complaints about pump quality but these are exceptions rather than a system
  • It may take 20-25% longer to heat to comfortable 104°F compared to other options on the list.

If you value above all comfort and nice perks in a hot tub, we suggest you take a look at Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot Tub. In addition to the hot tub itself and everything you need to install it, you get a few nice things included. 

First, an insulated cover and ground cloth for the same purpose — to retain heat in the hot tub. Secondly, you get two cool headrests as a gift — people who buy other brands of hot tubs often buy these particular headrests in addition, but they fit perfectly with this exact hot tub (and others from Intex, but they’re not on our list today).

Other perks include color-changing LED lights, a convenient control panel, 140 bubble jets to help you with different pains, and even a carry bag. Yes, it doesn’t heat up as fast as the Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub (review), but it seats 3-4 people and has a beautiful design that will decorate any home.

Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub — the most delightful jets

Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub
Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub

The most delightful jets

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Ups

  • It has the most adorable jets, as for an inflatable hot tub. 
  • It weighs only 73 pounds (empty) and is easy to move
  • Comes with a cool-quality cover
  • It is easy to clean and maintain
  • It is pretty quick to install and easy to use

Downs

  • Not designed for 4 people (as stated), a maximum of two for comfort
  • An auto-shutoff feature on the controller is annoying for many users
  • The noise level is louder than a standard hot tub

Last but not least is the Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub for fans of terrific air jets. Even though there are only 60 of them, they give a wonderful relaxing massage, which was appreciated even by those owners who were dissatisfied with something else.

In addition, this hot tub is quite lightweight, it is easy to move when necessary, and just as easy and fast to install (we recommend watching the video on YouTube, they are more understandable than the instructions). A nice bonus is a high-quality cover that comes with a hot tub.

Let’s be honest: four people will only fit in this hot tub if you have a very close relationship. However, two people will be quite comfortable and have some personal space left over. As a reminder, for a large number of people, you’re better off orienting yourself to the Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub (review).

Soft-sided hot tub VS Hard-shell hot tub

Last but not least is the Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub for fans of terrific air jets. Even though there are only 60 of them, they give a wonderful relaxing massage, which was appreciated even by those owners who were dissatisfied with something else. In addition, this hot tub is quite lightweight, it is easy to move when necessary, and just as easy and fast to install (we recommend watching the video on YouTube, they are more understandable than the instructions). A nice bonus is a high-quality cover that comes with a hot tub. Let's be honest: four people will only fit in this hot tub if you have a very close relationship. However, two people will be quite comfortable and have some personal space left over. As a reminder, for a large number of people, you're better off orienting yourself to the Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub (review). Soft-sided hot tub VS Hard-shell hot tub

So how do you decide if a soft-sided hot tub or a traditional hard-shell one is right for you? They do differ in many ways, but we are ready to briefly explain in which cases it is better to focus on one or the other type. 

Choose soft-sided if:

  • You want a lightweight hot tub that will be easy to move or transport in case of relocation
  • You want to save thousands of dollars
  • You don’t need jets for therapeutic purposes but for joy
  • You’re willing to accept that this hot tub may only last you 5-7 years (or more if you take care of it)

Choose a hard shell if:

  • You’ve made up your mind about which model to take and you want to take it for years to come
  • You want the most durable option
  • You want a wide variety of nozzles and a lot of power (usually for therapeutic purposes)
  • Ready to spend 5-20 times more money
Check out the best plug and play hot tubs worth considering (hard shell and inflatable options included).

Can I use a soft-sided hot tub in winter?

Can I use a soft-sided hot tub in winter?

Manufacturers usually do not recommend using an inflatable hot tub in the winter (more precisely, when the temperature is below 40°F). There are some exceptions, for example, the Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub (review) can be used in all four seasons. However, many owners like to bask in a hot tub in the cold season, regardless of the model, and successfully cope with this. To do this, you should follow a few recommendations:

🧊 Insulate the hot tub. Create the best possible barrier between the floor and the hot tub to help keep it warm.

🧊 Use a high-quality cover for the same purpose of minimizing heat loss in the hot tub.

🧊 Check your heater — it should work well and properly, it’s vital for your hot tub to be okay.

🧊 Also, insulate the pipes and pump from the hot tub as much as possible. You can use blankets, yoga mats, foam, or something else to keep them from freezing. 

🧊 Turning off the jets until you want to get in the hot tub is another way to keep more heat in your soft-sided hot tub.

If you still won’t be using your hot tub in the winter, read about how to winterize it properly and avoid mistakes.

Summary

So, in this article, we have reviewed with you the best models of soft-sided hot tubs that are currently on the market. We advise you to make a considered buying decision, but at the same time not to procrastinate, as they are quite often out of stock. 

In general, any hot tub will serve you well and for a long time, if you take care of it carefully. But each has a special feature that makes it stand out from the others — you just need to choose the one that is most meaningful to you. 

Bestway SaluSpa Santorini HydroJet Inflatable Hot Tub Bestway SaluSpa St. Lucia AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub Intex PureSpa Іnflatable Hot TubColeman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub
The sturdiest construction and best designThe quickest heating up and best at keeping the temperatureThe most comfortable + relieves painsThe most delightful jets

FAQ

📆 How long do soft-sided hot tubs last?

Soft-sided hot tubs usually last 5-7 years, but it all depends on the frequency of usage and how well you maintain it.

🤔 Are soft-sided hot tubs good?

Yes, soft-sided hot tubs are worth considering as they are much more affordable than hard-shell ones and deliver almost as much joy.

🌀 Do soft-sided hot tubs have jets?

Usually, soft-sided hot tubs have air/bubble jets that are not as powerful as the ones in traditional hot tubs but still deliver much pleasure and even relieve pains sometimes.

💧 Can you use salt water in a soft hot tub?

Yes, you can convert your hot tub to saltwater but it’s a certain process that you should do properly.

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