Hot tub vs spa pool – What's the difference?

Is it called a hot tub or a spa pool? Are they the same, or two different things? Well, it depends! In this article, we explain the differences between a hot tub and a spa pool including costs, benefits, and more.

Hot tub Vs Spa pools

Hot tubs and spa pools are in essence both large tubs full of (typically) hot water. They’re used for soaking, hydrotherapy, relaxation, or pleasure. Some have powerful jets for massage or bubbles.

So that’s the basic explanation. But is there a difference between hot tubs and spa pools? Yes, and no. Keep reading to learn more.

What are hot tubs and spa pools?

As explained above, hot tubs and spa pools are both essentially large tubs of heated water.

They range from very basic tubs of heated water, to high-tech hydrotherapy spa pools with massage jets, smart controls, moulded seats, and more.

Depending on where in the world you live, you might call these tubs of hot water – hot tubs, spa pools, spas, or even Jacuzzi® (although that’s another story! Learn more in this article).

Here in Australia and New Zealand, we usually refer to hot tubs and spa pools as two similar, but different products.

What is a spa pool in Australia?

When it comes to spa pools, we are generally talking about acrylic or plastic shelled spas with moulded seats, lighting, and hydrotherapy jets.

Spa pools in Australia

They are commonly heated with electricity via the inbuilt electric spa heater or a heat pump. Mid-market to high-end hydrotherapy spas have insulation for energy efficiency, smart controls, filtration systems for low maintenance, and are usually kept hot and ready to use 24/7.

Click the button below to read our full article about the important features you need to look for when buying a spa.

What is a hot tub in Australia?

Hot tubs, on the other hand, are typically wood, steel or plastic tubs that are heated with electric, fire or gas.

Wood-fired hot tub

They are mostly round in shape and aren’t equipped with moulded seats or jets. Most hot tubs like these are designed for holiday or weekend use. They’re popular for their traditional aesthetic and are common at holiday rentals and retreats.

They’re unlikely to have the advanced filtration systems of spa pools. To ensure the water is clear and safe, they are usually filled with water and heated up for a few days’ use and then emptied.

Depending on the outdoor climate and water temperature, it takes around two and a half to three hours to heat the water, possibly more depending on factors like the size of the tub and climate.

While they might not offer the same benefits or features as hydromassage spa pools, hot tubs are still great for enjoying a relaxing soak outdoors in heated water.

What is the difference between a hot tub and a spa pool?

The main difference between a hot tub and spa pool is the additional features that a spa pool offers, such as hydrotherapy jets, sculpted seats, and lighting effects.

Indoor spa pool design idea

Another obvious difference is the way the water is heated. Most hot tubs are heated with fire or gas and sometimes electricity, while spa pools use electric heaters or heat pumps.

Most hot tubs aren’t built with filtration systems, which means you’ll need to empty the water after a few days or after every use.

Spa pools on the other hand, typically only need the water changing every two to three months – depending on how well you maintain the water.

hot tub

Both spa pools and hot tubs require chemicals to ensure the water is safe and hygienic. Many hot tub owners assume that because they are emptying their water regularly they do not need to use chemical sanitiser.

However, regardless of how often you change the water, you should still use chemicals in a hot tub to keep the water safe and prevent bacterial growth and skin infections. At Spa World™, we recommend that all spa pools and hot tubs are dosed with chemical sanitiser.

Click the button below to read our full article about spa care water.

Which is best – hot tub or spa pool?

So, which is best? Well, if it’s relaxation and stress relief you’re after, hot tubs and spa pools will both do the job.

However, if you have aches and pains or enjoy massage therapy then nothing compares to the feeling of high-pressure hydrotherapy jets on sore or tired muscles.

spa pool jets in a lounger

Another key difference is that spas are ready to use 24/7, while hot tubs require re-filling and pre-heating every few days to ensure water quality.

One thing gas or wood-fired hot tubs have over spa pools is you can put them almost anywhere on your property as they don’t usually need to be hooked up to electricity. This makes them ideal for holiday homes, lifestyle blocks, and rentals.

Hot tub

Regardless of which you end up with, both hot tubs and spa pools can make a positive difference in your life. They both enhance outdoor lifestyles, adding a touch of luxury, romance, and ambience to backyards and outdoor spaces.

Which spa pool brand is best?

There are many spa pool brands in Australia. To help with your research we’ve reviewed the top spa brands including costs, pros, cons, and more.

  • HotSpring® Spas
  • Jacuzzi® Spas
  • Vortex Spas®
  • Signature® Spas
  • Oasis® Spas
  • Sapphire® Spas

Click the button below to learn more about these spa pool brands and why we think they’re worth considering.

Which hot tub brand is best?

Compared to spa pools, there are fewer hot tub companies in Australia and New Zealand. If you’ve been doing some research on which hot tub brands are best in these countries, here’s a list that might help you.

  • Stoked Stainless™
  • Cedar Hot Tubs™
  • Alpine Spas™

Should I buy a hot tub or a spa pool?

Hot tubs and spa pools are not only a great addition to your home but are also beneficial for both your mental and physical well-being.

Though both are designed to de-stress, relax, and reinvigorate you – they have key differences that may not suit everyone’s preferences.

When choosing between a hot tub and a spa pool, it comes down to your ‘why’.

If you're after a simple soak, rustic experience, and don’t mind planning ahead for when you want to take a dip, then a hot tub may be ideal for you.

But, if you want a hydrotherapy massage and other features not found in most hot tubs then a spa pool might be the best choice for you.

Watch: Why I love my spa

In summary

We hope this article has helped give you a better idea of the difference between hot tubs and spa pools.

As explained above, hot tubs usually refer to outdoor wood-fired, gas-fired, and electricity-heated tubs. Spa pools on the other hand are heated with electricity, have more features and are designed for hydrotherapy with moulded seats, lighting, and massage therapy jets.

If you are thinking about buying a spa or a hot tub and need help in deciding which one best fits your needs, our experts are here to help.

You can also call our customer care team or visit the nearest Spa World™ showroom in your area.


The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd – the parent company of Spa World Ltd:

HotSpring® Spas trademark is owned by Watkins Manufacturing Corporation (Watkins). Just Spas® trademark is owned by Just Spas. Oasis Spas® trademark is owned by Oasis Leisure Products Pty Ltd. Sapphire Spas®. Signature® Spas trademark is owned by Spa Industries Pty Ltd (SCS). Stoked Stainless™ trademark is owned by Stoked Stainless Limited. Cedar Hot Tubs® , Nordic Spa™ trademark is owned by Firefly Cove Pty Ltd. Alpine Spas™ trademark is owned by Alpine Spas Limited

Affiliations: Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd. The Jacuzzi® brand is owned by Jacuzzi Inc. and exclusively licensed for use to Spa World™ in Australia and New Zealand.

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