You would think this Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus review would be one of the more luxurious things we get to write, given the weather at the moment and how tempting the best hot tubs are (opens in new tab). But I actually did most of the testing for this back when we were having whipping storms and non-stop rain, in the days when we were also allowed outside. It was… a few weeks ago? Oh, jeez.
Anyway, this is an inflatable hot tub, meaning that when you're not planning to use it for bubbling away in, you can let the water and the air out (in that order, we recommend) and stash it easily in a shed or garage.
Inflatable hot tubs tend be a lot cheaper than installed ones, and have the advantage that you can get one delivered and up and running on your own – even one capable of sitting four people. They're a staple of our pick of the best cheap hot tubs (opens in new tab) – there are loads more options there to browse.
The Milan Airjet Plus has the added bonus of being Lay-Z-Spa's first app-controlled model, meaning that the pump/heating section has Wi-Fi in, so you can check its temperature current temperature, and schedule when you want it to be ready, from anywhere. You can also ask Alexa to activate it.
This extra functionality makes it a little more expensive than some other Lay-Z-Spa models, so is it worth it? Let's take a soak.
Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus review: price and features
The Lay-Z-Spa Milan has an RRP of £599, and being brand new, you shouldn't expect to see much discount on that at the moment. It claims to be suitable for 4-6 people, and measures 196cm in diameter when fully inflated. One thing we want to make clear right up front, though, is that we think this size is suitable for 4 people at the most, and that's still cosy.
The air bubble massage system features 80 'jets' running through the bottom of the spa, and it heats up to a maximum of 40°C/104°F.
It's equipped with a 'Freeze Shield' feature too, which basically means the pump will keep water moving on days when the temperature gets too low but you're not using it, so the water won't freeze and damage anything.
And, as we mentioned, it can be controlled either with buttons on the pump, or via an app over Wi-Fi, or using Amazon Alexa.
The most useful comparison in Lay-Z-Spa's range is the Lay-Z-Spa Paris, which is rated for the same number of people, and though its specs say it takes slightly more water, the inflated size is the same. The Paris doesn't have the Milan's app control, but it does have as many bubble jets, and it has LED lights inside, for a more colourful experience.
The Paris costs around £499, and loses the app/Alexa control and Freeze Shield tech, but has the same heating system.
If you're looking at buying a hot tub right now, your main obstacle is not which to pick, but which you can get hold of. The Milan Airjet Plus looks unlikely to be in stock until June, but the Lay-Z-Spa Paris is in stock now – a lot of our review will apply to it (or the also-in-stock Bali and Vega) just as much as to the Milan, so read on if you're interested in either.
• Pre-order the Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus for £599 (opens in new tab)
• Buy the Lay-Z-Spa Paris from Argos for £500 (opens in new tab)
• Argos also has the two-person Lay-Z-Spa Bali for £400 (opens in new tab)
• Or get the two-person Lay-Z-Spa Vegas for £400 from Very.co.uk (opens in new tab)
In the USA?
• Home Depot has an awesome selection of the very finest hot tubs (opens in new tab)
• As does Lowes, which also does a nice line in overground pools (opens in new tab)
Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus Review: setup
All Lay-Z-Spa hot tubs come packed simply in a box, which is still heavy enough to require two people to carry safely (or a trolley).
Packed in there in the Milan's case is the inflatable hot tub body, an inflatable lid, a cover that contains the lid and clips in the main body to hold it on, a bunch of attachments and filters, and the pump/heating unit.
We were given a hot tip by Lay-Z-Spa to place the pump unit where we expect it to go first and to check the Wi-Fi connection before doing anything else, because you extremely don't want to fill the spa with 900kg of water and then realise your Wi-Fi doesn't reach (though, as we said, the pump does have controls on it anyway).
Setting the app up was quick and easy – it easily found the unit, and getting it onto our Wi-Fi was no trouble at all. You'll need to set up an account in the app before you try to enable Alexa, though – setting up Alexa is as easy as adding the 'My Lay-Z-Spa' skill in the Alexa app, but you'll need to log into your account to make it work.
We were impressed by the range of the pump unit's Wi-Fi – I placed it in my garden far enough away from the house that my phone doesn't get Wi-Fi any more, but the Milan was fine.
Our Lay-Z-Spa Milan box didn't come with instructions for inflating the tub and fitting it all together, though we're assured that they do for consumers. No instructions did make it a bit interesting to work out what went there for us, but when you know what you're doing, it's all a smooth process.
To inflate the tub, you attach a hose to the pump unit and stick the other end into the tub, and then turn on the bubbles function (since it's just an air pump). It only takes a few minutes for a fully inflated tub from there. You can also do the lid too, but make sure you place the inflatable portion into the cover before you add air, because it won't fit inside afterwards.
One thing that surprised us is that the bottom of the tub didn't inflate, but this is normal – and is fine, as we'll come to.
At this stage, the tub is still perfectly carryable, but large enough to require two people (dragging it along the ground is, clearly, not advisable), so get it into position.
The pump section then has three pipes that screw onto matching pipes on the tub section – one each for water into the pump from the tub (which has a filter on it), back to the tub, and one for air.
There's a final pipe on the outside of the tub for releasing the water. Smartly, a hose connector is provided that fits on this, meaning you can just use your standard hose to direct water down a drain, or to use for washing the car any other way you might recycle it when you're done.
Filling the tub took around half an hour from our garden tap to the recommended line, though obviously this will vary, and then we were ready to start heating.
Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus Review: in use
On the chilly day we first set up the Milan, it needed to stay on overnight to warm up to our requested 37°C. We've also tried it on 22°C days (where the temperature dropped to around 14°C overnight) and for the first heat, it still needed an overnight warm, because the water temperature was only about 12°C.
Once it's at heat, the Milan will maintain that temperature from then on, topping the heat up as required, for as long as you have the heating function on.
During the really sunny days, overnight the temperature of the water only dropped to the mid 20s, meaning that it was much quicker to reheat for the next day.
The app is handy for this – not only does it have simple on/off switches for features such as heating, bubbles or a simple constant filter pump, but there's also a scheduling feature, so you can set the desired temperature, set a time for the heating to start, and how long it should be on for.
This was great for our warm weather days – we wanted to take a dip around lunch time the next day, and without the scheduling, we'd either need to leave it heating overnight and wasting energy, or we'd have to get up early just to turn it on. Instead, we told it to turn on at 6am for 6 hours before we went to bed. Simple.
You may have noticed one small issue there: how do you know how long to have it come on for to get the temperature you need? You don't – you just guesstimate (and give yourself a bit of a safety margin to be sure). Really, we'd like it to have a smarter heating system, so you could tell it to be a certain temperature at a certain time of day, and it would work out when it needs to come on – like smart thermostats do. But what's here is really useful, and not having to get out of bed in the evening if you've forgotten to turn it on (or off) is great.
Sinking into the Milan's water was exactly what you'd expect – lovely and warming. We were worried that the floor being relatively thin padding would mean it wouldn't be very pleasant to sit on, but it's perfectly comfortable, actually – the fact that your weight is affected by the water presumably helps a lot.
The pump is very quiet for general use, but when you turn on the bubbles, things get loud, both on the surface of the water and from the pump right next to you. Asking Alexa to turn the bubbles off is a pretty futile exercise…
The actual bubble massage is really pleasant, though it's not quite the 'massage' it promises to be from the literature. We do wish you could choose the intensity of the bubbles, though, so that they could be easier to talk over.
There is one major point we want to raise about the Milan, and Lay-Z-Spa's sizing in general, though – the number of people you can fit in there.
The Milan claims to take 4-6, but if you go beyond two, you will find it immediately very intimate. Four people who are members of the same family? Fine. Two different couples, though? It will immediately feel like that kind of party, whether you want it to or not. And six is a pipe dream for adults.
The 1.96m diameter sounds like a lot of space, but there are two key factors: first is that you lose a load of that to the inflatable walls; second is that you're sitting flat on the bottom, legs stretched out. On a bigger, installed hot tub, you usually have proper L-shaped seating, so each person only takes up a small space.
But in here, it's a tangle of outstretched limbs flat on the floor of the tub. And I'm over six feet tall, so while I fit in there perfectly well (the water height is comfortable for me, too), more than two people my size would get rapidly Twister-like.
It also, incidentally, stood up to storm winds and freezing temperatures well enough with the top clipped in place. Some water and debris does collect on the lid, so careful when removing it to not dump that straight in your protected water.
Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus Review: verdict
We really like the Lay-Z-Spa Milan Airjet Plus – it's a good size for a couple or small family, it's ultimately straightforward to set up and operate, and it comfortable to use.
The smart features are a nice addition – we found ourselves ignoring the Alexa control in practice, but using the app to dial in a time the next day you want it to be heated for is a useful touch. It's not essential, though – we certainly wouldn't blame anyone for saving some money and going for a model without it.
We haven't talked about running costs here – it will vary depending on your energy provider, and whether you're running solar panels or anything like that. But it is a lot of energy – Lay-Z-Spa's FAQ section (opens in new tab) has a bit of information about it, but the gist is that if you use it several times per week, it will have a noticeable cost. It'll be worth breaking it down and stashing it water-free when you're not actually planning to use it. But that's not specific to this hot tub – it's true of them all.
If you're looking for a hot tub to help you enjoy the outside during lockdown, we totally recommend it, or one of its Lay-Z-Spa siblings, assuming you can get hold of one. As we said, the Milan should be back in stock in June, but other models are available now.