Should I Install a Wood-Burning Hot Tub in my Holiday Let?

Wood burning hot tubs have a definite aesthetic appeal and offering a hot tub in holiday let setting is something of a must have.  If you’re considering installing a wood-fired hot tub in your holiday property – don’t decide until you’ve read our guide.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Hot tubs for holiday cottages are something of a must have.

For example, Sykes reported the following finding:

A hot tub will:

  • Boost your occupancy rates
  • Raise your property profile on web searches
  • Allow you to increase your rental charge
  • Increase guest satisfaction
  • Improve re-booking rates

They are a huge win.

Infographic - Properties with hot tubs make 54% more than other properties in the same region.

How do I create a point of difference?

One suggestion that we frequently hear, including from some Holiday Let agencies is that a wood-fired hot tub would be the way to go.  With their aesthetic appeal, they can certainly look more in keeping with a period property and might attract the eco-conscious holiday-maker.  For example, this hot tub from Skagards fits into it’s surroundings perfectly.


Are they a good idea for you as the property owner, or your guests?

The first thing to be aware of is that the use of any type of hot tub within a commercial setting is subject to certain rules.  If you own a holiday home that you let out to paying guests and supply a hot tub (that only one group of people at a time are able to use) then you will need to be compliant with the “Domestic hot tubs in a business setting” guidelines.   These guidelines are known as HSG282 and are designed to ensure that the hot tub water used by your guests is safe and clean and as the owner you are held legally responsible for compliance.  This isn’t the interfering nanny state – an improperly maintained hot tub can harbour serious infectious diseases, including the potentially fatal legionella bacteria.

HSG282 from HSE

As a guideline, in order for your hot tub to be compliant with HSG282 you should at least:

  • Have a built-in inline Chlorine or Bromine feeder or install one (SpaPal)
  • Empty the water after each hire (or after a week, whichever comes first)
  • Test the sanitiser (chlorine/bromine) & pH twice daily
  • Monthly microbiological tests
  • Quarterly Legionella tests

This is where the type of hot tub you install becomes critical.

With a wood fired hot tub, there is no filtration system.  The water is heated by a simple stove.  There are no pumps, no pipework, no water circulation or filtration system.  What this means when it comes to maintaining clean water is that you can’t install an inline dosing system for sanitiser as required by HSG282.  This doesn’t immediately rule out a wood-fired hot tub from a holiday let setting, but it does mean you have to adapt your approach.  Whereas for an electrically heated hot tub, you can leave the water in the tub for up to a week, with a wood-fired tub you need to drain down the water after every use.  You cannot leave it filled for the duration of the rental. Of course if your guests want to use the hot tub more than once during their stay, what is emptied must be refilled, and then reheated.

Ah!  Heating.  The joy of a wood-burning stove is the satisfaction of making and lighting your own fire.  The same joy isn’t always felt trying to get the fire to take, when it’s sub-zero temperatures and the fire keeps going out.  Fire making might be a relatively simple activity that humankind have mastered for millenia, but not all of your guests will be adept at building and making a fire.  Not forgetting the chores of clearing and resetting the stove after each use.  Depending on the volume and temperature of the water and air around it, a wood-burning hot tub might typically take 3 hours or longer for the water to reach temperature.  No quick spur of the moment dips then!

sauneco wood burning hot tub stove

A wood burning stove looks gorgeous

but is it safe in a holiday let setting if your guests have children?

Ah!  Temperature.  Most people enjoy a water temperature of between 36-39 degrees C.  Electrically heated hot tubs have a thermostat which stops the water temperature getting dangerously high (Above 40 degrees C).  This is important – if water is above this temperature, the excessive heating can cause heart attack, heat stroke, brain damage and even death.   This might sound a little extreme if you are one for a hot bath, but unlike in a hot tub, bath water gradually cools while you are in it.  Also in most baths you are not fully immersed in the way you are in a hot tub, so your core temperature can stay cooler even in hotter water.  With a wood-fired hot tub there is no thermostat and no circulation of the water, so in order to manage the temperature, you will need to provide a floating thermometer.  Not a big deal you might think, but you are relying on the guests to effectively manage this.  Would you be confident that your party of guests would keep a close eye on the water temperature?  An added complication is that the water may continue to increase in temperature even after the stove is shut down – it can get extremely hot!  First-time users may not understand how to safely manage a wood-fired spa.

steamy toes in a hot tub

How about the experience?  There is no denying that wood-fired hot tubs look good and have an olde worlde charm and appeal.  However, the user experience isn’t quite the same as with an electric hot tub.  They do just offer heated water.  No Jets or Pumps.  No hydrotherapy.  A relaxing soak is nice, a soak and a massage is nicer, in our opinion!

So can you get a wood-fired hot tub for your holiday let?  Yes!  You certainly can.  But for most holiday let owner / operators, the level of involvement and maintenance, coupled with safety concerns makes them unfeasible.  The reality is that they are also likely to provide a much less enjoyable experience for your guests than an electrically heated tub.

Our recommendation is that if the styling of an electrically heated hot tub is not to your taste, the best way to manage this is by concealing the cabinet with a gazebo, planters and other outdoor decorations that can soften the finish.  Making a real feature of the hot tub in your outdoor living space is the way to go!

BISHTA are the British & Irish Spa & Hot Tub Association.  BISHTA exists to promote high standards of safety, enjoyment and value within the hot tub industry.  They have also provided advice regarding installing Scandinavian type hot tubs in Business Settings.  Click on their logo to read the article.

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