Editor's Choice for Best Hot Tub: HotSprings Grandee
We tried a lot of different models before we made a final decision and purchased a hot tub. It took 10 days of studying hot tubs online, 3 days looking at and testing hot tubs at the local dealers, which included awkwardly slipping into my swimsuit and trying out the floor models to figure out which one is best for us.
I didn't really try every hot tub on the market, so like so many, I can't categorically say which one is really the best, all I can say is this Editor chose the Hot Springs Grandee, as the size fit our deck space and it was the only spa that offered a salt water system.
There were many factors we looked at to find the tub for our family. Pool and Spa has the best idea: "there is not one "best spa" but there are some that stand out." You can't really rank them in any particular order without taking into consideration so many factors.
Update: 18 months after making the purchase, I can still say that I love the hot tub however, now that we've had it, I would issue some strong caveats for prospective hot tub buyers: The salt water system was great, while it lasted, but very expensive as we have hard water. DO NOT BUY this system if you have hard water.
Hard water has a lot of calcium and required you to purchase 2- 3 expensive 'pillows' ($17 a piece) each time we filled up the tub. Furthermore, it took only 14 months -- 2 months out of warrantee -- for our salt water system to stop working. Now in order to use salt to generate chlorine, we had to spend $700 plus on installation costs for a new salt water generator, which will probably only last a little over a year.
Factors We Considered in our Selection Process:
The price of hot tubs really ranges. You can get a refurbished hot tub for $2,000 or a new hot tub with all the bells and whistles for $30,000. It is best to set a max budget and work backwards on what is important to you. How important are the jets? Do you use jets or just like silence? If you are one of them, you can save significantly with a simpler tub. If you love jets, then this is where trying the tubs is critical.
Stereo and TV:
We liked that the Hot Springs spa that allowed us to add the speakers and TV at a later date. I found the option of spending a grand on stereo, speakers or TV frightening, as no one would warrantee them past a year. Now that we've had our hot tub for over a year, I like our outdoor speaker system much better as electronics change so much. So I don't think I would invest in stereo or TV in the future.
Salt Water or Chlorine:
I didn't like the idea of constantly handling chlorine and chemicals. Salt water generated chlorine spas allow for less handling of chorine. The HotSpring brand is the only brand that we found locally to offer a salt water system. Salt water generated chlorine doesn't leave my skin feeling itchy or my eyes red.
I loved the large dishwasher safe filters of the Hot Springs brand. This will eliminate spending money on filters or being inconvenienced by waiting for new ones to arrive.
Physical floor and patio space: We needed to get as many people in at a size that would work with the size of our deck. This configuration sadly kept us from buying a Master Spa which was a serious contender. The Hot Springs Portable Spas Grandee fit perfectly on our deck and had a nice faux stone siding that almost matched our patio.
How many people will be in the hot tub at a time:
Do you entertain? Is the hot tub near a swimming pool? Figuring out how many people will allow you to buy the right size tubs. The larger you need the more they cost. The Grandee seats are such that multiple small people can fit on a bench, allowing for the most seating in its size.
Cons to the Hot Springs Grandee:
The leg jets are weak, so if your arthritis or leg muscles are the soar, then consider getting a tub with a lounger. We opted for more seating. Another con is that it only has two foot jets, they are easily reached from the seat across from it but you have to be quite tall to reach the foot jets from the other seats. Also, the massage settings for the jets are confusing, you will need to read the manual to understand how to work them.