Outdoor Spa Ideas

Is it a spa or hot tub? Though often used interchangeably, there is a difference. A spa has multiple components—usually a hot tub located near a pool so users can experience the full therapeutic benefits of an invigoratingly cold plunge after heated relaxation. Another spa configuration incorporates a shower in place of the pool. Each component is a permanent structure, usually in-ground.

A hot tub is a single stand-alone component without an accompanying pool or shower. Often this structure is built above ground. And another big difference—the connotation of the words themselves. How much more high-falootin’ is it to say you have an outdoor spa versus a hot tub? Yeah, we can be frou-frou like that sometimes, so for the purposes of this article, let’s call a spa a hot tub, and a hot tub a spa.

No matter what you call it, if a relaxing soak is your favorite way to unwind, check out these ideas for installing a piece of paradise at home.

Create a Naturescape

outdoor bathtub surrounded by tall grass

Nature has a healing quality, so what better place to let your troubles float away? Create a natural setting by situating the tub into the ground and surrounding it with natural stonework. Picture your own personal hot spring, incorporating greenery and plantings to screen unwanted attention from your neighbors.

Go all out by adding an outdoor shower that sprays from a rock wall like waterfall in the jungle. Wet stonework can be slippery, so choose materials with not only beauty, but also safety in mind.

If You’re an Exhibitionist…

woman in outdoor bath tub

No judging here. If you’ve got it, flaunt it—within the codes and rules of your location of course. And please keep in mind the neighbors and children! For those who don't mind being on display, a tub set into a stepped platform is a simple and classic design that uses clean lines for a modern look and clutter free retreat.

Incorporate lighting to illuminate each step leading up to your new stage. Of course, if you’re not into flaunting it, you can still put your tub on display, but add potted greenery for a little privacy.

Bathe in Some Rays

outdoor bath tub on city balcony

Make sure to wear sunscreen if you're out in the middle of the day! And whether you’re a nighttime soaker or a daytime lounger, ramp up the luxury by including a space to relax when you're not sitting in the tub.

Larger spaces can accommodate a full sized patio daybed set into a proper bed frame for a sweet space to snooze after your soak. Tighter accommodations might do just as well with a simple outdoor patio mattress placed beside the tub for when you either need a break from the soothing bubbles of jets, or are ready to soak in some rays.

Bringing the Heat

If you live in a location where temps dip to an uncomfortable chill, warming up in the tub can be even more inviting with the added ambiance of a romantic fireplace. Grab the champagne (or shots depending on the occasion) and toast to the end of the day with your significant other.

candles, flowers, and rocks in outdoor spa

In addition to being a heating source and a focal point, the fireplace can be used to block any unappealing views. The style can be as formal or informal as fits your personality. Using a variety of materials like tiles, prefab, brick, or stone can add visual interest to your relaxing sessions.

Getting Intimate

Whether it’s space restrictions or your aversion to submersing yourself in a bacteria soup with someone else’s cooties that keeps you from enjoying the therapeutic benefits of a hot tub, we're here to let you know—there are super cool small space tubs to ease your germophobia. Two person tubs are exceedingly intimate spaces, but you don't have to share if you don't want to.

couple in outdoor spa hot tub

One option for a small space tub is a custom made model, but they come in on the pricier side. Another option is to go for a more readily available commercially made product, but shapes are often limited to the traditional triangles, ovals, and rectangles.

Large or small, most hot tubs come with varying number of jets and features like led lighting and Bluetooth capability to enhance your soaking experience. Some have quick plug-and-play installation so you can go from delivery to a relaxing soak within hours. There’s even an inflatable option if you can’t bring yourself to dedicate a permanent space to this after work luxury.