Our choice of bathroom towels is a wholly personal matter. We use them every day, and intimately at that, so deciding on the right set is of utmost importance.
It's tempting to plump for the heaviest to bring hotel-style luxury into the bathroom. Who doesn't love the sight of thick and fluffy pure white towels rolled up and ready to use?
But a super absorbent heavy towel equals longer drying time and we’re not all blessed with a five-star laundry service at home.
There are, of course, other factors to consider: GSM (grams per square metre of fabric) is a largely reliable indicator of quality – the higher the number the better. But this is not the be all and end all, and we should also look for quality of materials and craftsmanship.
Egyptian cotton, with its deep, looped pile, is widely regarded as the best towelling fabric there is: its long loops trap water, making it highly absorbent.
Turkish cotton, on the other hand, feels softer and lighter, and is therefore quick to dry and easy to pack – ideal for busy families on the go.
Think about towel sizes, too: a large bath sheet (we found some in extra large) is the ultimate luxury if you’re after an at-home spa experience, while a nifty hand towel doubles up as an absorbent turban for wet hair.
If you’re a sucker for smart, matching homewares, opt for a complete bale from face cloth up to bath sheet and your overnight guests will be impressed.
Whatever style you choose, treat your bathroom towels well and they’ll love you back. Forget the fabric softener as it can decrease absorbency, give your iron the boot – it only flattens fibres and makes the towels hard on the skin, and if you choose to tumble dry your towels, use the cool down function 10 minutes before the end of the cycle to keep them at their fluffy best.
We tested some of the prettiest, most huggable, and most durable towels on the market, from affordable to fancy, to see how well they fare.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Sizes: 40x40cm (face cloth), 50x100cm (hand towel), 100x150cm (bath towel) Set includes: Two face cloths, two hand towels, two bath towels (can also be bought in pairs) Machine wash: 60 degrees GSM: 550
If Polkra’s lavender bags and scented candles are anything to go by, this brand values our relaxation, and its luxurious hand and bath towels, bordered with pretty percale ribbon, prove no exception. The kind of towels you find in the best boutique hotels, these clean modern textiles boast a low twist and long staple makeup, meaning they’re incredibly soft and brilliantly absorbent. The towels we tested coped well on a hot wash, keeping their dazzling whiteness. And we loved the simple but effective addition of a handy hanging loop.
Sizes: 30x30cm (face cloth), 50x80cm (hand towel), 70x140cm (bath towel), 100x170cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately or as a standard bale (1 of each piece) or jumbo bale (2 of each piece) Machine wash: 60 degrees GSM: 550
As the name suggests, this luxurious but affordable collection has seen its way into many an elegant bathroom, including those found in some of the world’s best-loved hotels and spas. The luxury spa range, made from 100 per cent Turkish cotton, is on the fluffier, lighter side of the towelling spectrum and is designed for both hotel and home, meaning we can happily replicate the spa experience in the comfort of our own bathrooms. We tested the charcoal grey bale and found the towels both super soft and quick to dry.
Sizes: 30x50cm (face towel), 50x100cm (hand towel), 100x150cm (bath towel) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 60 degrees GSM: 500
We want our bathroom textiles to come with a backstory: this charming brand brings us beautifully handcrafted products straight from Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest village. The 100 per cent cotton towels were our prettiest find, finished with a contrasting band of beige and feathery tassels that give them a laid-back hammam towel look. Snow white and super soft, we loved the addition of the oblong face cloth – essentially a mini version of the hand and bath towel.
Sizes: 30x30cm (face cloth), 50x90cm (hand towel), 70x125cm (bath towel), 100x150cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 580
While the sartorial set are mourning the loss of the beloved fashion label famous for its 70s retro prints, Orla Kiely’s homeware division is still going strong, thanks to the Ashley Wilde Group, who continue to distribute, among other soft furnishings, the brand’s bold and beautiful towels. We loved this full bale for its striking mono print and colour-coded edging: red for the hand towel, green for the bath towel and blue for the bath sheet. Scoring high on durability, the quality of the towels was obvious on first feel, and they stayed just as supple post-wash.
Sizes: 30x30cm (face cloth), 50x90cm (hand towel), 70x130cm (bath towel), 100x150cm (bath sheet), 100x180cm (extra large bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 650
Boasting a deep and absorbent pile, Next’s luxe supreme range achieves the feat of being the thickest and simultaneously the lightest of the bunch – impressive stuff from the popular high street chain whose homewares arguably come second to fashion. Super soft to the touch, we couldn’t wait to wrap ourselves up in these post-bath, and we weren’t disappointed. Best though, is the option of an extra large bath sheet – a must for taller bathers who want to feel equally cocooned.
Sizes: 50x100cm (hand towel), 70x140cm (bath towel) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 60 degrees GSM: 500
With their embossed jacquard texture it’s easy to see why Lene Bjerre’s Laurie towels are extra absorbent. A real design lover's brand, the Danish company offer nature-inspired homewares, thoughtfully crafted, and all with an inescapably cool, Scandi aesthetic. Natural colours including flint stone, driftwood, and mist are available in hand or bath towel sizing, and they’re irresistibly soft to touch, too. We loved the addition of these luxurious textiles in the bathroom.
Sizes: 50x100cm (hand towel), 70x130cm (bath towel), 100x150cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 600
The towel of choice for those with a “more is more” mantra, the Faversham set is an irresistible cacophony of rich colour clashes and bold patterning. Soft and durable in equal measure, the towels exude quality, and the devil’s in the detail: intricate geometrics are woven within multicoloured stripes while the cotton towels are finished beautifully with a chic mono stripe edge. Permission to go even bolder and mix and match with Margo Selby’s other eye-popping towels.
Sizes: 30x30cm (face cloth), 50x90cm (hand towel), 70x130cm (bath towel), 100x150cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 650
Offering exceptional value for money, Sainsbury’s Egyptian cotton range allows us to kit out the whole bathroom in matching towels, from face cloth to bath sheet, without breaking the bank. Available in a palette of pale shades, including the super summery lemonade, the towels don’t scrimp on quality. Their high GSM makes them a substantial home product you can pick up with your groceries. We tested the dove grey towels, which washed well and kept their supple feel after a tumble dry.
Sizes: 33x33cm (face cloth), 40x76cm (guest towel), 50x100cm (hand towel), 76x137cm (bath towel), 90x165cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 730
The name Christy is synonymous with luxury bathroom towels but the brand offers affordability, too. Made from heavyweight Turkish cotton, the Luxe collection comes in an array of creative colours including soot, pearl, and denim. Boasting long fibres and a two-fold construction, the towels we tested were visibly solid in shape so it came as no surprise that they washed well. Finished with a wide honeycomb-textured band, and with a Christy branded hanging loop, these towels gave our bathroom an injection of modern glamour.
Sizes: 33x33cm (face cloth), 40x65cm (guest towel), 50x100cm (hand towel), 70x140cm (bath towel), 100x160cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 650
With an impressive choice of 18 colours from pine green to cloud blue, pearl grey to pewter, John Lewis & Partners’ priciest towels cater to every conceivable taste. Clover was our favourite, sitting pretty somewhere between lavender and grey, but there’s lighter and darker options on either side of the colour wheel. These were easily the softest towels we tested and that’s thanks to their unusual makeup: crafted from 55 per cent cotton, 30 per cent Tencel Lyocell fibres (a form of rayon fibre), and 15 per cent suvin (superfine) cotton, the towels weren’t just soft, they were positively bouncy.
Sizes: 50x90cm (hand towel), 70x125cm (bath towel), 100x150cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 550
Offering a contemporary, graphic look are these three dimensional towels in a trio of grey shades from Made. But their pleasing geometry isn’t the only thing that makes them stand out: sold in sets of two, and in hand, bath towel, and bath sheet sizes, the towels are incredibly soft, belying their hard-edged, angular pattern. As with all the best modern towels, these come with a hanging loop, which allowed us to display them at their best. The cubus towels weren’t the thickest, or heaviest, but they were luxuriously soft, and certainly made their mark.
Sizes: 33x33cm (face washer), 50x100cm (hand towel), 69x137cm (bath towel), 86x167cm (bath sheet) Set includes: Buy separately Machine wash: 40 degrees GSM: 700
Australian brand Sheridan understand inherently our home spa wants. With its finely spun Turkish cotton pile, the luxury retreat collection offers a gloriously plush look and feel. Available in 11 soft, muted tones, the towels are simple and elegant in design, the wide branded band awarding them a contemporary luxe aesthetic. These towels looked so much more expensive than their price tag. And they instantly transformed our bathroom into a high-end sanctuary.
You can’t beat pure white towels for the ultimate in hotel-like luxury and Polkra’s simple terry towel set dazzled in more ways than one. We loved its contemporary curved edging and generous sizing. The towels are on the pricier side but we think they’re worth every penny. Next’s luxe supreme towels proved to be as luxurious as their name promises – and the height of snuggly.
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