Meeting up outdoors has recently become part of the new normal – and whether you're dining al fresco or seeing pals in a pub garden, you'll be needing to stay warm. Who knew the trusty classic hot water bottle would even come in MORE handy than ever?
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Water bottles can come covered with soft knits, fleece, faux fur, cashmere or velvet, cheap or luxury, super lush or pared down and practical. But which is the best hot water bottle to suit your needs?
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While they're a must-have these days – some local pubs are even offering hot water bottles for outdoor guests – of course hot water bottles have long been a useful home remedy tool and great for everything from soothing achy muscles to keeping you toasty in bed at night.
Measuring about 6in, Amazon's 4.5-star mini hot water bottles are small enough to fit into your bag
Mini hot water bottles, set of 2, £13.44, Amazon
What is a hot water bottle and why should you invest?
Hot water bottles, which have been around since the 1500s, are traditionally filled with hot water and closed with a stopper that you can then use to warm yourself up with, whether tucking it under your blanket, cuddling up to it on the sofa or in bed, or even wearing it when you go out for some extra warmth. Hot water bottles are the original heat therapy – they help improve circulation, and can also be used for targeted heat to soothe pain from menstrual cramps to muscle aches and tension.
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Hot water bottles can come covered with soft knits, fleece, faux fur or even velvet - and are a fab gift
Queen Bee Eye Mask & Hot Water Bottle Sleep Set, £35, Oliver Bonas
Do hot water bottles work for stress relief?
Yes, heat reduces stress and tension throughout the body due to the fact that it increases the blood circulation and keeps the muscles functioning properly, providing more oxygen and nutrients. What's more, a hug releases oxytocin, the happy hormone.
This top-rated large hot water bottle on Amazon comes in six different stylish colours
Samply Hot Water Bottle with Knit Cover, £9.99, Amazon
While rubber hot water bottles were all the rage starting in the 19th century, modern life means we’ve upped our game and you can now get hot water bottles with cosy knit or faux fur covers, and you no longer need to necessarily fill the bottles with water these days! If convenience is key, you will want to opt for a quick heating microwave hot water bottle, or a plug-in electric style, both of which will usually stay warm for at least four hours.
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This one-litre hot water bottle has a velvet cover - and makes a great gift
Sara Miller hot water bottle, £25, John Lewis
Microwave, traditional or electric hot water bottle – which is best?
The best hot water bottle for you really depends on what your needs and priorities are, whether it is simplicity, convenience or even stylishness.
Traditional rubber or PVC hot water bottles are the classic old-school home remedy and can also be used with cold water for cold therapy or during the summer. Filled with hot (not boiling) water, they don’t require electricity in either the form of a microwave or an electrical outlet, which is a plus if energy efficiency is a priority for you.
We admit it - we can't resist a faux fur water bottle with pom poms
Country Club large hot water bottle with faux fur cover, £7.48, Amazon
A microwave hot water bottle heats up quickly thanks to an interior thermal pack. Generally, you just pop it into the microwave for a 60 seconds, which means it is a nearly instant fix if you need warmth immediately.
This microwavable hot water bottle heats up in the microwave a few minutes, then stays cosy for hours
Hotties Microwave Hot Water Bottle in Quilted Royal Stewart Tartan, £15.99, Amazon
With an electric hot water bottle you literally just plug it in! Which means that if you're in your bedroom or living room and need some warmth, there's no need to head to the kitchen to fill up a traditional water bottle or pop it into the microwave. You can also get a rechargeable electric hot water bottle, which charges for a few minutes then last for hours.
eBay’s top-selling electric water bottle is very easy to use – plug it in and charge it up for 8-12 minutes for four to six hours of warmth
Rechargeable Electric Hot Water Bottle, £19.99, eBay
Microwave and electric hot water bottles don't have stoppers so that eliminates the risk of water leaks or spills.
When it comes to style, electric and microwave hot water bottles can be found in a host of looks, whether knit, fleece or faux fur. But don’t worry if you prefer a traditional rubber water bottle - you can buy covers for your hot water bottle separately and switch it up according to your mood.
Now that you know the difference between traditional, microwave and electric hot water bottles, here are our picks of the best, whatever your needs.
Best plush & velvet hot water bottles for cosy comfort
Heathcote & Ivory Wild Wonder & Joy Velvet Hot Water Bottle, £38, Amazon
This Heathcote & Ivory hot water bottle is a travel-friendly 750ml size - it comes with both the cover and the hot water bottle for inside.
Holistic Silk Velvet Hot Water Bottle, £98, Amara
You'll get a good night's sleep with this large gold silk velvet 2L hot water bottle that is actually scented thanks to a removable lavender sachet.
Elizabeth Scarlett Velvet Hot-Water Bottle, £35, The White Company
A 2L hot water bottle with velvet cover in navy, and beautifully embroidered with stars.
Fun & funny hot water bottles
Harry Potter hot water bottle, £22, Marks & Spencer
Who doesn't love Harry Potter? This furry hot water bottle from M&S is embroidered with the cutest image of Harry, complete with lightning bolt scar.
Disco Nap Hot Water Bottle, £26, Oliver Bonas
A velvet hot water bottle emblazoned with a disco ball - perfect for those party nights you end up staying in.
Boardmans NASA hot water bottle, was £18 now £14, ASOS
Hot water bottles aren't exactly space-age technology, but we love the NASA logo anyway.
Best alternative, eco-friendly heatbag
Heatbag, £51, Ostrichpillow
If you're looking for a huggable companion that doesn't waste water, or risk burn injuries, this Heatbag is so much more than a heating bag. Warm it up in the microwave and it becomes the perfect hugging partner, or freeze it for pain relief. What's more, it's made of recycled foam and soft jersey fabric. The inner core is made out of clay and it stays warm or cold for longer.
Best small hot water bottle
Fashy Hot Water Bottle, £18, Amazon
Small hot water bottles can be tucked into your bag or suitcase, so are great for travel and their small size also makes them an excellent option for children. This .8 litre bottle in a cute penguin shape has a five-star rating on Amazon.
Best long hot water bottles
CozyPlush Long Hot Water Bottle, from £16, Amazon
Available in 13 different colours, this long hot water bottle has a very impressive 4.9-star rating on Amazon.
YuYu Long Hot Water Bottle, £60, Anthropologie
The YuYu fillable hot water bottle has an extendable strap so you can comfortably wear it, the heat lasts for up to six hours. In the summer it can be used as a cold compress.
Chalk UK Henry long hot water bottle, £35, Trouva
This hot water bottle comes in a cotton branded drawstring bag and features a coordinated velvet ribbon tie.
Best hot water bottles for kids
Habitat Kids Dinosaur Hot Water Bottle And Eye Mask, £8, Argos
This fun kids' set with eye mask also comes in a pink fluffy cloud version.
CityComfort Hot Water Bottle, £12.99, Amazon
Amazon has a number of hot water bottles that resemble stuffed toys – perfect for children.
Best hot water bottle for pets
Hotties Microwavable Pet Warmer, £14.95, eBay
Hot water bottle brand Hotties also makes a microwavable hot water bottle for your pet! Non-toxic and chew/claw-resistant, the Hotties from Petlife warmer can be used for dogs, cats and smaller animals, and is suitable for use anywhere from crates to pet beds.
SnuggleSafe Microwave Wireless Heatpad, £15.10, Amazon
Weatherproof and washable, this microwave heat pad will keep your small pet cosy for up to 10 hours.
Best hot water bottle - covers only
Handmade Lambswool Hot Water Bottle Cover, £50, NotOnTheHighStreet
Handmade in East London, these lambswool covers fit a standard 2L bottle and come in over 10 designs. You can order it with the rubber hot water bottle, too.
hush Shearling Hot Water Bottle cover, more colours available, £44, John Lewis
For the ultimate in warmth, this cuddly 100% shearling hot water bottle cover, which measures H37 x W25cm and also comes in leopard print, will ensure that you stay cosy.
Best traditional hot water bottle
Felted Merino Lambswool Hot-water bottle, £38, Etsy
This may be a traditional hot water bottle – there's a standard size 2L BSS rubber hot water bottle included – but the design, with a stylish handmade wool cover in fun stripes, certainly sets it apart! This lambswool water bottle from UK Etsy seller Weewoolliesuk has earned a five-star rating and there are more than 10 other colour motifs to choose from.
As of December 2021, the popular Etsy shop is taking a break until the New Year, but you can sign up for an alert when it returns in 2022.
Best designer and luxury hot water bottles to keep it chic
Anya Hindmarch hot water bottle cover, £175, Net-a-porter
Anya Hindmarch brings her quirky style to water bottles with this soothing and healing look emblazoned with a bandage.
Burberry cashmere hot water bottle, £407, Farfetch
Luxury brand Burberry is behind this 100% cashmere water bottle that definitely makes a fashion statement.
Evelyne Prélonge Himalaya Faux Fur Hot Water Bottle in blush, £100, Amara
If Emily in Paris had a water bottle to keep her cosy in her tiny flat, we think this would be it. This French-made warmer is super glam – oh là là!
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