Can A No Plumbing, No Electricity Hot Tub Live Up To The Hype? Bowser’s Goodland Hot Tub Review (+ A Yard Reveal)

I’m back and excited to share this controversial space with you all!

Waaaaaaay back in August of last year I shared that I was planning a space to put a hot tub from Goodland. We had the teeny tiny issue that Gremmy had escaped (out of this very window!) during this time and was gone for 6 long weeks. We got the Goodland hot tub at some point during that 6 weeks and it sat in the driveway making parking/getting into my garage almost impossible. You see, there was a crawl space under the window where we had successfully trapped him twice before so we had to (obvi) halt everything and wait until we trapped him (Sept 2nd) to move forward with the construction. It was a long saga. See my saved Instagram stories “Gremmy” if you are so inclined. Once we finally trapped Gremmy we had to lay the foundation for the hot tub because it was on a slight hill.

We made the plans, we decided to keep it simple and cheap, a concrete base with a wood L shaped wall (like that technical drawing?) to enclose it a little bit for privacy. They framed it out and then on Sept 10th Daffy started having seizures, on the 15th we went to say goodbye to her, and on the 19th a miracle happened and we brought her home, a lot poorer but very, very happy.

The poorer part was a problem though. Because I am an absolute oversharer, here’s a breakdown of the cost for something very “simple” like this…

We were between a rock and a hard place. The hot tub was already in our possession and I had agreed to this shoot. At the same time, I was shooting our back unit’s yard and installing the kitchen cabinets for my kitchen reveal. All of that costs money. Doing these reveals is so fun and we get some real perks that I am so thankful for, but it isn’t cheap and takes up a lot of time as well. Luckily, Goodland has been very gracious with us because this has been the longest turnaround of any shoot of mine ever. We had nowhere else to put the tub so we had to wait another month before we were able to save up money, know that Daffy was ok, and not going to cost us more money before starting work again. 

As you can see, they covered half of the crawl space entrance, don’t worry it’s not the only way to enter or exit that space, we have two other areas. We wanted to keep it as a vent though, so they replaced it with a permanent screen. The wood wall is made of pine (because it was cheap) and obviously, it needed to be stained to help protect it and I wanted there to be some contrast between this wood and the wood hot tub. While they were doing this work I was working on a big job so I have essentially no photos of the process other than the two above until October 22nd, which I think is the first time we filled up the hot tub…

The stain on the wood wall turned out way darker than I wanted but, you know, I was busy and couldn’t micromanage the situation. I wanted it to be darker than the wood on the hot tub but not that dark, but here we are. As a fix, I decided I would just need plants to grow on it so it didn’t feel so much like a dark hole.

So it’s now the end of October, why couldn’t I shoot the space then? Well, at first it was because I needed time and money to plant things to make the space look nicer. I found that the amount of space I had between the hot tub and the house was perfect for fitting one of my Veradek planters. Veradek has beautiful planters that you can see in this post and you will see in my next post about my front garden. In this case though I wanted it to disappear against the side of the house and their Blok Span Planter was perfect for the job. 

I planted this crawling vine in November and then…it rained.

And rained and rained and rained and rained. 

If you’re curious, the wire grid already existed because on the other side of that wall is a jasmine plant we are encouraging to climb around this area, as well as around the other corner onto the patio. You can see some of her tendrils coming in from the left side of the photo. Let’s get to some reveals so we can understand a little more about where this hot tub area is.

Directly to the left of this photo is my patio which still hasn’t been properly revealed because I don’t know…I’m tired? But you can see some of it in this Halloween post or in this post (from almost three years ago?!?) about the process of my backyard. We’ll get to it eventually. There’s a door to that patio and you walk around where the jasmine is to get to the hot tub. We quickly found out that we needed to make a proper walkway because walking through the garden we were getting dirt in the hot tub and then in the house as we walked in or out. You can see one of our stepping stones near the jasmine in the photo above.

Here’s an old process photo from summer 2020 for more context…

Awww…look at that baby Jasmine. The grass will get greener like this as the weather warms up.

jasmine on left with stepping stones to hot tub

This reveal was finally photographed on February 17th, between rain storms. Apparently, it’s rained more in LA this year than it has in Seattle. It’s been wild – and my garage agrees. I *may* have been able to do the shoot in January between the rain but I was gone in Utah for half of the month and 2 days after we got home (one day after I shot my kitchen) we found out Puck had an aggressive case of cancer. The window above the hot tub was his favorite so he hung out and watched us for the entirety of the shoot. I was in a bit of a haze of shock on this day tbh, but there’s so many sweet pictures of him that I will treasure forever and I’m happy in the end that the timing worked out this way. 

wild hair and my sweet boi, puck

The window above the hot tub is in our bedroom. Puck’s basket that he slept in every day sits on our dresser in this window, we can’t bring ourselves to move it. He always had a fascination with water and really loved watching us in the hot tub.

She’s a beaut, eh? The rain helped everything grow so fast and now, a month later the vine (potato vine) on the left is up on the roof. I took this bad iPhone pic to show you how much it’s grown:

It may need me to go out there and tame it a little bit, but I’m really enjoying the view from my bed with all the little flowers in the window.

Surprisingly adding this little space feels like getting a lot of bang for our buck. As you may remember from one of the process posts about this, a big reason we wanted this tub is because our one and only bathtub (in our one and only bathroom) is tiny and way too shallow to soak in and my husband is a BIG bath boy – a BBB if you will. For us, this adds a lot of value to our lives and is another place to hang out together. However, I was thinking about if we ever move out of this house and took the tub with us, it would be a nice (more) private and definitely more shaded place to sit outside. Because our backyard is a walk-through for the back unit and their living room and bedroom windows look out onto our backyard, you’re sort of on display for them. This isn’t a problem for us now because we love and are friends with our back tenants, but who knows what the future brings? Also, the shade factor. Our patio is in full sun most of the day. It would actually be nice in that situation to replace the window here with a door from the primary bedroom to make it an on-suite situation. This fact makes the $$ spent seem well invested outside of the hot tub of it all.

This photo is taken standing up so you can imagine if you were sitting down, especially later in the spring/summer, the plants and the house tuck you in a bit.

Back to the hot tub though…

The tub itself is absolutely beautifully made. The tubs are made in Canada from 100% recyclable materials. Goodland uses marine grade aluminum, western red cedar as well as oak and raw brass detailing. The quality is outstanding and it was very easy to assemble. Goodland as a company is so good at getting information out there. You can ask away in the comments but I will also direct you to their FAQs and YouTube channel. On the YouTube channel, you can find a set up video. When I say it’s easy to set up, I mean you could probably figure it out without instruction – it’s that intuitive, maybe takes 15 minutes, and doesn’t require a professional as no plumbing or electricity is needed. As far as moving it to the desired location, the cedar planks on the side easily slide out, and if you do so the tub itself is only 125 lbs and all the other pieces can be moved separately.

Couple of honorable mentions before we get into how the hot tub works… 

The tub is nice and deep, which is exactly what we needed, but we were having a hard time finding a side table to set things on that would 1) fit in this small area and 2) was tall enough to be easy to reach. Our trusty Article Hendry accent table is great but sometimes we need more real estate. For example, when I’ve handed Andrew his lunch through this very window so he could enjoy it WHILE BATHING (I mean, if that’s not luxury, what is?), it’s helpful to have a surface that is big and accessible. My conclusion was that what we needed was a bath tray. After searching far and wide on the internet and either not finding one long enough or not wanting to spend HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS, I tasked my husband to make one for us. It’s a simple construction as you can see, I bought a 1”x6”x8’ piece of walnut and a smaller piece that I believe was 1”x2”x24”(not online that I can find). Andrew cut the smaller piece in half to use for the ends (so it doesn’t slide around or accidentally fall into the water) and the 8’ piece he cut into 2 pieces, enough to be wider than the hot tub which is 29” wide + 2” for the end pieces +1” wiggle room (so two 34” long pieces). He screwed the end pieces in from the bottom on each side, finished with a matte poly we had in the garage, and voila! A beautiful (and very secure!) bath tray. It was a little more pricey because I chose walnut but nowhere near what I was finding online and a huge plus that we made it to fit exactly. FYI, we don’t keep it outside, we just grab it from our storage bench on the side of the house when we need it. 

It also doubled as a cat bridge when Puck would get curious enough to jump out. *single tear*

French Press | Coffee Mug

Goodland also makes a very beautiful firewood holder but we simply didn’t have the space. I bought this cheap one on Amazon that works just fine for us and has even done ok with all the rain, probably because we cover it with this firewood rack cover. It’s leaked some rusty- residue but one of the benefits of having a concrete slab is I don’t really care about that kind of thing.

Firewood Holder | Net | Heat-Resistant Gloves | Teak Bath Mat | Green Accent Table | Lantern (similar)

We keep the net, heat-resistant gloves, axe, and lighter on the hooks around the firewood holder. The final mention is the extra long teak bath mat that also assists in keeping our feet from getting too dirty on the way in or out of the bath. Teak is expensive but I splurged on it so I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving it outside. Lanterns are vintage Target, I’ve talked about them before and have had them for years. Every year I spray them with a high heat spray paint to keep them looking new. I hung one on the edge of the wood wall with this hook. All the pots are collected over time from local nurseries. I keep a couple of smaller pots of small-diameter kindling ready to go. Which brings us to how this gorgeous Goodland hot tub works…

Lantern Hook | Lantern (similar)

Craig from Goodland does a great video on how to start your fire here. He recommends starting with some balled-up paper but I’m going to let you in on a little secret…toilet paper rolls filled with lint are the best fire starters out there. I keep a roll on my dryer at all times, when it is filled up I throw it in a bag by my back door to use when I need it.

We have a few trees so it’s easy for us to grab a handful of small limbs along with the small-diameter kindling. We have a stump in the garden for cutting the wood up into the kindling and smaller pieces of wood (seen below with the net we forgot to move before taking the pic 🙂 ).

Arrange paper (or toilet paper rolls of lint), smaller sticks if you have them, and small-diameter kindling in the bottom and once the fire gets going, you can add slightly larger pieces of wood (up to 4” diameter).

As Craig explains in the video, there should be very little smoke coming out of the chimney, and if there is it means the fire needs more air. The lid can slide around to allow more or less air in.

Fireplace Tongs | Towel

After the fire is going, we cover the tub so the heat doesn’t escape. We’ve found that the tub takes about 90 minutes to heat up. Every 20 minutes or so we will check on the fire and add wood if necessary, pull the cover back and stir with the Goodland paddle that comes with the tub. I have the paddle and the fireplace tongs mounted close by for easy access.

The seats inside are cedar and have I mentioned that it still smells like cedar every time we heat it up? I hope that lasts forever. Speaking of smells, I have strategically (and accidentally) planted herbs and flowers around and near the hot tub so that I can easily throw together a bundle for the bath. There’s lavender and rosemary in the planter with the potato vine. I used them, along with a cutting from the potted eucalyptus tree next to the tub, some fragrant Mexican marigolds, and some other variants of rosemary that are planted in the garden nearby. If it’s the first time we are using the tub after cleaning and filling it, I put a half a (almost 20 lb) bag of Epsom salt in it as well. 

Brass Hand Shower

Goodland has a number of bath accouterments, including this brass hand shower. You can tell just by looking at that photo how fun and relaxing it is to be under it. We have left it outside to patina naturally and I think it’s more beautiful than it was the day we got it. It’s also a great over-the-top gift for a loved one who likes bathing.

We keep our water for 10-14 days if we are using it regularly. There is a hose attached underneath on the left side. There’s just enough room between the house and the planter to shove it back there after it’s drained the tub. We use the hose, along with large watering cans to use the water to hydrate the garden and all of our pots and planters especially those that don’t have irrigation. Being able to recycle the water this way, along with not having drying and irritating chemicals on our skin, is the main reason we wanted this tub. Goodland does note that “Our hot tub’s water returns to ambient temperature when not in use, which doesn’t allow harmful bacteria to thrive as they do in always-warm hot tubs. The use of safer alternatives like bromine or hydrogen peroxide can prolong the life of your tub water to three weeks of daily use.” We have not had the need so personally, I haven’t tried using bromine or hydrogen peroxide. A quick Google shows that neither are dangerous for plants though, so I assume you can still use the water for your garden if you chose to go that route. 

After emptying, I throw some vinegar in and give it a good scrub with my power scrubber brush (makes it way easier), rinse with the hose and I’m done. Protip: the bottom of the tub is very square and therefore a little hard to empty all the way. You *can* tip the whole thing over when cleaning, but that would be hard with one person and given the space I have. Last time our tub was empty we put a couple of shims on the right side so it tilts slightly towards the drain to help empty completely. Before we did that I would have to sop up the remaining water with a old towel, which wasn’t the end of the world. Before we build our next fire for the tub, we use the Goodland Ash Scooper to clean out the old ash, which is good to do for fire safety.

In case you’re curious about where the hose is to fill it back up it’s next to the Jasmine bush around the corner:)

Ash Scooper

Some final thoughts:

There were a LOT of opinions on the process post about this hot tub. Mostly people being concerned about the proximity to the house (it’s a smidge closer than Goodland recommends) and to other houses in an area that is prone to fire. I know now, after having and using it for a number of months that yes, of course, you must practice fire safety. We never leave while the fire is burning and we follow the guidelines of the city. If there is a fire ban, for instance, we would not use the hot tub. We can use it as a cold plunge though and I’m excited to try that! There should be little to no smoke or burning ash. The fire that you make for the tub feels way safer to me than a fire pit for instance or even a charcoal grill. It’s more contained and the chimney helps in keeping debris from flying around. I will have to be even more careful in the dry season but if LA keeps up this weird weather, it seems like for half the year I don’t need to be very concerned at all. It was wonderful using the tub in the rain because I didn’t have to worry about anything and it was such a sensory experience!

We have enjoyed having this relaxing space, especially in this very busy, stressful, and grief-filled season. We have had a lot going on, even more than I share here of course, and then there’s the wildness that it is to be a human in 2023… It’s all a lot and I hope everyone is ok. I feel like everyone I know is just going through it and I have a feeling it may be bigger than my group of friends and family. It’s important that we find ways to slow down and connect with each other. This tub has been a part of that practice for me and I want to thank Craig and Goodland, EHD, and of course all of you for engaging. If you have any questions, pop them below, maybe I can even get Craig over here to talk to you all 🙂 Or honestly, if you have any ways you are keeping sane in 2023 or just want to complain/connect as humans, do that below as well. See you soon to talk about another way I’m staying sane – my Down to Farm urban garden!

*Design and Styled by Emily Bowser
**Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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