Written by Terry Smith

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UK’s best hot tub surrounds: circular and square surround kits reviewed on price and build quality

Whether you call it a home jacuzzi, spa or hot tub, people in the UK can’t get enough of jumping into their relaxing bubble making barrels, check the misses out – she loves our inflatable hot tub. We put up with all manner of cold weather when the times up, jumping out and dashing indoors, 35 degrees to minus 2 😀 – just for that bit of relax time. Whether relaxation means quiet time with your eyes closed alone or perhaps friends and family joining you for some much needed R and R as well as laughs and smiles as you all chat away in the garden enjoying your little slice of luxury, “hot tub time”.

Sharons Hot tub surround covered by a pop up gazebo or tent

I’ve been thinking about changing up and adding a hot tub surround for the warmer months after seeing the setup above. We like the sheltered privacy but I fancy getting a second setup for when our friends come over. For a start, there’s no where sensible to put food and drinks, we all clamber past each other or have to shift along as to avoid that. The best hot tub surrounds will solve all of that plus hide up the hot tub filter as well as all the hot tub chemical kit we have to have. That being said, the smart move has to be opting for an elegant surround for ease of access and style, creating a fully usable garden feature that transforms your garden into more than just a place of enjoyment – the surround can certainly be a focal point as you can see from the idea above. With all that in mind we have put together a catalog of the best hot tub surrounds that will provide any hot tub owner with some sensible hot tub surround to suit most budgets.

Best overall hot tub surround: VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround
Best square pick – Festnight Square Spa Surround
Best Circular hot tub surround: VidaXL Solid Acacia Wood Spa Surround
Best Inflatable hot tub surround pick – Lay-Z-Spa Inflatable Hot Tub Surround
Budget pick – Lay-Z-Spa Inflatable or the BlueH Poly Rattan Spa Surround – cheaper version of the VidaXL – very similar looks.

Hot tub surround buyers guide

Surprisingly there isn’t too much to these hot tub surrounds that’ll cause you grief – the biggest issue you’ll face is getting a decent quality surround that not only fit’s your setup, but lasts well at sensible money. There’s a few other pitfalls like assembly and some handy hack and tricks I’ll run through with you now

What sort of cost am I looking at for a hot tub surround?

Price wise we were really quite surprised. Looking at the Lay-Z-Spa Inflatable Hot Tub Surround being our lowest price but still needing to buy more than one to complete the surround you are looking at £150 at the bottom end of the scale to somewhere around the £800 being the top end of the scale with the VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround.

Will I need to build a base?

Yes you will, or maybe you already have a pre-existing area good enough for your hot tub. One of the most important factors with regards to creating your personal space of relaxation and chill is having the perfect base for your hot tub. There are a few options, a concrete base, a stone surface such as block paving or stone slab patios or decking of some sorts.

Patio, block paving or stone slabbed area

A pre-existing patio or block paved area is obviously ideal but just make sure that the area is clean and there are no old protruding corners of slabs etc or bye bye hot tub 😀 . The level again is important. The weight here shouldn’t be a problem due to most patios being reinforced. So if you already have a paved garden area you should be good to go.

Hot tub and surround on concrete slab the easiest setup

However, in terms of preparation of the hot tub position I would definitely lay down some foam or a bed of soft sand. Anything that’ll take away the abrasion of the stone on the plastic – I appreciate it’s pretty durable but still needs something to cushion all that water weight, otherwise the pressure in the crevices between the slabs can and will eventually cause splits and leaks.

A concrete base

The most common choice is the concrete base. This base is relatively inexpensive, certainly tough, durable and able to take the weight of a full tub plus people. We would suggest a 10mm thickness as an absolute minimum plus a slope to prevent the pooling of water and ensure run off – just a slight angle though as the more the angle the worse the balance of the hot tub. A more preferable solution is a dead level concrete base combined with the use of a gazebo so it stays nice and dry.

Decking

A personal favourite of mine, mainly because of the way it looks and how they can really make the whole garden feel complete matching the decking to the fence and possible other trellis or even a shed. It is also perfect to walk straight in and out of the hot tub with bare feet – a big bonus. Decking however, does require some thought before installation. Mainly the ground may need to be prepared for support and the toughness of the ground below must be considered as well as extra framework to support the extra weight from the hot tub itself – in short I am trying to say make sure it’s sturdy. Secondly, if you’re unfamiliar with decking and a hot tub, the vibration from the hot tub pump can be a real annoyance.

What am I going to need to install my surround?

  • An Allen key or a ratchet Allen wrench – I prefer an impact driver with a hexagonal bit – generally it’s 5mm – you know the standard flat pack bolt, though armed with anything from 3-7mm you’re guaranteed to have the right bit.

    Rolsen hexagonal bit set with drill much easier for install
  • A non scratch surface or tarpaulin – I’ve seen so many things used here – sand to level the lawn (or gravel is fine but use lots of sand) and ensure no stones protrude up into the base of the hot tub or surround (you want both to be in alignment) – a garden lawn roller is a right bonus there. Other’s use foam – you know the type you find in a baby’s cot. The better the padding the more likely your hot tub will survive a bit of rough use.

Will any hot tub surround fit any hot tub?

No, but there is some hope. Whether it be square or circular all the hot tub surrounds featured in this article fit the common standard sizes of today’s hot tubs – take a closer look at the article, you’ll see that I always mention sizes and what fits where and what doesn’t – this is the most important part – you don’t want to buy the wrong size. That being said we recommend you check the sizes of both your hot tub and the surround – I am confident though 🙂 but please feel free to double check with the manufacturer.

Hot tub fits surround lovely

Installation

Installation or assembly of the surrounds doesn’t vary too much due to most frames being metal and being finished with either poly rattan wicker like the circular VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround or the square Festnight Square Spa Surround, or wood (both with weather resistant qualities) or a lightweight fully inflatable option, the Lay-Z-Spa Inflatable Hot Tub Surround. Most of the surrounds use a simple Allen key that is provided to assemble however use a drill on low torque and hexagonal as it’s much easier. there are a fair amount of bolts to be tightened – ignore this tip and as you’re working on the unit, you’ll have these words reverberating around your head 😀

Follow the instructions (for once) 😀 and lay out the parts on a non scratch surface or possibly a tarpaulin . It’ll be time consuming but the better you organise yourself, the easier the letters on each part will be to understand – you’ll then have a stress free time putting the thing together – if you leave it all in a pack and hunt piece at a time, you’ll pull your hair out be sure!

Quite obviously we enjoyed the installation of the inflatable which we had the choice of using the spa pump itself or a simple foot air pump used for the inflatable bed we use for camping. Very quick and very easy!

First off the bat let’s talk size so you’re not wasting your time. You’ve got a 203cm inner diameter to play with, so my Lay-Z-Spa Miami Hot Tub with a 180cm diameter means you’ll have a 10cm gap all the way around. I’ll probably be looking to close that gap.

The VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround is pretty much everything you could ask for when buying a hot tub surround (there’s a few complaints but at the money involved people are hard to please) and that’s why I picked it my best overall – and here’s why. The VidaXL has mix of poly rattan and hardwood which in my opinion transforms your hot tub into an easy access luxury looking jacuzzi as well as gives you a handy place to put your beer 🙂 – once I’ve bought my next inflatable hut tub I am going for this – I’ll probably go for the Grey option though as it’s much cheaper, for the same thing essentially.

It’s pretty much designed to withstand all year round British weather – the first thing to go though will be the hardwood slats – they will break at some point though easy enough to replace when the time comes down the line. I like the powder coated steel frame and wooden steps made from FSC eucalyptus tropical hardwood:

Nice Eucalyptus steps on the VidaXL

This certainly helps hold up against the harsh weather as well as a decent amount of foot traffic – which by the way means I’ll be looking for a sturdy base – the legs will dig into ground so I recommend pads under each foot if the intention is to use the lawn – then top up the remaining area with sand for a decent level finish that won’t sink! If you don’t know, powder coating is better than just spray paint. Powder coat is applied electrostatically and then heat treated – in layman’s terms – the paint is welded on so you should not experience rust at all. Eucalyptus is a quality wood that gives off a tropical vibe and is easy to re-colour (obviously it’ll fade in the sun and when chlorine water splashes it – just use teak oil and it’ll look good as new again. Decking oil works fine too if you have that kicking about.

The VidaXL spa surround has been made from UV resistant poly rattan to ensure that when we are enjoying the UK’s better, more sunny seasons, we needn’t worry about the sunlight fading the easily cleaned poly rattan wicker material – this also applies to the chemicals in water – these have no effect.

There is a handy cut out box section that the filter fits into keeping the garden space tidy:

vidaXL Spa Surround – handy cut out for the heat pump and filter

I do like the storage – they take advantage of every section with or without a door. It’s accessible too – little cubby holes throughout and a cupboard that neatly tucked away out of sight for the hot tub essentials and chemicals is also a nice touch:

VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround – handy storage for chemicals – if you’ve got kids find a way to lock this please

The first thing you notice once setup, from a distance the unit looks superb – like a natural rattan – bear in mind that would be totally useless if it were real natural rattan though as the water would damage it in no time. The close you get the more you can tell the difference, but overall it’s the best design and thought out option I’m aware of in the UK – I would go with the cheaper grey though myself!

Pros

  • Made from durable materials so pretty resistant to rain and sun
  • Luxurious design
  • Cheaper grey alternative when you follow the link
  • Handy storage – all the way round you can hide kids toys, garden equipment etc

Cons

  • Although it was easy to assemble it there is slightly more to put together than most hot tub surrounds – it’s simply a more complete solution
  • Some known QC issues when I check online

The square alternative to the VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround is the Festnight, this is the same poly rattan wicker design and how it looks nice – the price naturally reflects that but you get what you pay for. Size wise be careful on this, you’re looking at 188cmm both length and width max. Something like the Mspa is miles too small for this – you need a big hot tub. This makes sense to be fair, why splash out on an tire surround for a two person hot tub – the access is already there, and a shelf sure beats an expensive surround on the money side of things.

This square surround has the same weather resistant qualities of its circular counterpart. The treated timber is Acacia – as we know from the VidaXL Solid Acacia Wood Spa Surround it is solid and holds up to the harsh weather well – albeit the usual oiling and maintenance – very rarely does a stunning look last without maintenance – it’s part and parcel of owning a surround unfortunately. the plus side is you jump in the hot tub with ease, don’t fight to get in your designated spot when all the friends come over, and of course – the perfect beer holder 😀

With regards to access and using the surround practically, I am not 100% sure if it was just that the steps are square which made it easier or it felt like I had more room to enter the tub, either way that’s what I felt can take the weight of a 15 stone man well, the steps were stable.

The standard powder-coated framework seems durable. Again there are lots places for storage but I felt that there could have been cupboard on this design – it’s screaming out for one with all that space. To be fair, it doesn’t take away the fact that Festnight have brought a really great surround to the market.

If you have a square hot tub this is most certainly the hot tub surround for you assuming it fits of course! 😀

Pros

  • Extremely sturdy square design
  • Weather resistant
  • Easy to reach storage

Cons

  • Although we loved the simple design some users may want out of sight storage

VidaXL has provided us with another sensible option. Again let’s talk size – absolutely identical to the top pick so if your hot tub has a diameter of 2m or under you’ll fit nice. Bear in mind a snug fit looks better than a a looser one. The simple aluminum and wooden design gives a basic but classy feel, assuming you’re not worried about getting out the wood oil often, this will stay looking super – I would probably pick this over the top pick on a budget. The design concentrates on giving you the access needed for entry but also gives easy ‘arm’s reach’ shelving for all your necessary hot tub items (glass of wine 😀 ) or a circular robust bench for the ‘feet danglers’ – it works very nicely for paddlers.

The aluminium frame is powder coated so should be pretty hard wearing – please consider this is a relative unknown when compared to the top pick. The acacia wood has been finished with a natural oil to ensure sensible weather resistance – and yes, that looks lovely – as with the top pick this will need to be oiled to keep it protected from the sun and splashing chlorine from the hot tub.

This hot tub surround is far more straightforward to assemble than the more luxurious and slightly heavier VidaXL Poly Rattan Spa Surround. Basically, there aren’t the cupboards or sections to worry about – for the most part it’s one great big long repeating track which is much more of a switch off and screw together process until you come to the open section

This one really boils down to opinion in style and what you need your surround for. If you prefer the wood and the minimalist feel that this brings then this is certainly the surround for you. For me, the lack of storage is a problem, one of the biggest benefits in my mind is the cupboard to hide up garden junk – also, the cut out for the filter and heat pump area is not here. This is personal preference of course.

If like me, you prefer having extra storage and the wicker look then the VidaXL Poly Rattan makes much more sense, albeit at extra cost, it’s still the way to go in my mind.

There’s a very similar design to this the Tidyard Spa Surround – if I’m honest it looks identical. This also has the appealing solid acacia wood surround, however its slightly more money and we are a fan of the VidaXL brand so there’s not a lot of point in regurgitating the same review – I don’t want to waste your time but it’s a sensible option

One grumble – the listing is weighted in grams – I have no idea what they are trying to do here, we are talking about 61kg so a fair old weight – the same rules apply regarding base.

Pros

  • Easy to reach storage
  • Made from robust and hard wearing materials
  • Simple design that weather resistant
  • Easily assembled

Cons

  • Although we loved the simple design some users may want out of sight storage

Lay-Z-Spa is a name you instantly recognise in the hot tub world. As you know if you read the article, I have the Lay-Z-Spa Miami Hot Tub. So when I start talking about inflatable surrounds, you start thinking of blow up beds (it’s much higher quality than a blow up bed trust me on that) that go down after two or three days and I won’t pull the wool over your eyes – I have known that to be the case but you’ve got to remember you’re buying from Amazon and Lay-Z-Spa which means a no quibble guarantee and this is a fraction of the cost to paying for a full surround – so it’s a bit of give and take but I still think as an area to sit outside the tub it’s great value – and don’t let the pictures fool you, this thing is big – two metres long, you can only get two around a standard hot tub, a third is in the way of the pump and filter area.

Just to be clear, this surround is not just specific to Lay-Z-Spa manufactured products but will fit on any brands brands of hot tubs. The inflatable surround is constructed with Tritech three layers of DuraPlus, a premium plastic material which is the same material that the spas themselves are made from so you already know how tough and hard wearing it is.

This is inflated and deflated in about 5 minutes with an ordinary electric air pump – the type you use for blow up beds. I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy the surround was when fully inflated. Needless to say they are lightweight, easy to get out and put away with minimal effort – this is probably the singularly most important fact and benefit over the more static units. The nest benefit over the harder wicker or wooden equivalents, is the fact they are very comfortable not only to sit on but to lay on too. At 15 stone though I wouldn’t be rushing to stand or bounce on it, there are clearly limitations.

Pros

  • The best way to get a hot tub surround for a fraction of the price.
  • Made from durable three layer Tritech
  • Inflated and deflated in 5 minutes with an electric pump
  • Easily stored away and easily blown up
  • Very comfortable compared to the static units
  • Assembled together to create the perfect entry (more steps required)

Cons

  • No towel storage
  • You need to buy more than one to complete the surround
  • It can’t be stood on really
  • Will slowly deflate over time (it’s an inflatable – unavoidable)

Poly rattan wicker designed surrounds seem to be the go to material when manufacturers create hot tub surrounds. BlueH is no different here, clearly the weather resistant material of poly rattan works extremely well and we can tell even with our budget option. Again this circular design is supported by a powder-coated steel framework that’s weighty and tough ensuring stability when entering the hot tub.

We found the step into the hot tub felt sturdy on entry with minimal shake – not bad for budget. This is down to the FSC eucalyptus tropical hardwood that provides that long term strength and stylish feature with enough support from the metal frame underneath to brace the slender timber. This style of wood looks great and really complements the poly rattan wicker look too – it’s no wonder they choose it on all surrounds!

Assembly is a bit long winded compared to other options such as wooden style VidaXL Solid Acacia Wood Spa Surround it’s pretty much a carbon copy of the VidaXL but cheaper finish so was always going to take time.

However, BlueH makes up for it with cupboard storage and some extra cubby holes for all the items you may need during hot tub time to ensure maximum luxury. Although this is the budget option it really feels like it comes with a touch of class and does exactly what is needed of a hot tub surround.

Now for the bad bits – remember this is budget – the quality isn’t up to the Vida and so the rattan fails more quickly – there’s been a fair few complaints – what I would say is for a rough family this isn’t where you want to be. You’re going to be better off with a heavier duty solution – maybe even a custom job. However, if you’re a couple wanting the elegant look without the price tag, and you’re into being sensible with your possessions – this will do – though personally with my army of kids I’d rather spend the right money and go for a money sturdy option.

Pros

  • Weather resistant
  • Made from built to last materials
  • Handy storage

Cons

  • Although it was easy to assemble it there is slightly more to put together than most hot tub surrounds
  • Some rattan known to unwind over time

Other things to consider – hot tub essentials

So you have your place of peace and tranquility, or your place to kick back, listen to some music and maybe open a bottle of wine with the other half. But, yes there’s a but, privacy?

Unfortunately sometimes it can feel a little like we are being watched either just gaining entry into the hot tub or just in general lounging around in the garden in the summer months. High walls, high fencing and high bushes aren’t always the answer. We don’t want to feel like we are completely closed in.

This is where a shade sail makes a great addition to the now stylish tub complete with surround. Helps with the rain too, don’t let the little things stop you from enjoying your down time to the fullest. A large cantilever parasol or gazebo might be another option when you are also considering making the hot tub and surround the main garden feature and throwing in a sun bed to match the design of the surround and completing the look!

Whatever you decide to do to make your gardens complete we hope that we can help point you in the right direction!


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

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