Towels are an important investment, since they’re as much a part of our daily ritual as good bed sheets and great morning coffee. But buying a new towel can be baffling. There are sizes, colours, and thread counts to consider, as well as different styles depending on your destination (whether it’s the shower, gym, beach or the airport with a carry-on suitcase). There are towel tradeoffs too: You need a towel that works for your current budget but will last well into the future. You need a towel that feels comfortable but will dry off quickly. You probably want a towel that looks good too. Where to start?
To help you find the right towels, we asked eight lifestyle bloggers, designers, and interiors experts for recommendations. They told us about the towels they use for their work and in their homes. Here’s their pick of the best towels to buy, from the best everyday bath sheets to designer bath towels, snuggly bathrobes, and antimicrobial gear for the gym.
Note: This list includes both bath towels and larger bath sheets. Cotton towels are graded according to grams per square metre (GSM), a measurement of fabric density. Generally, higher GSM towels are thicker and more absorbent; lower GSM towels are lighter and quicker to dry.
Best everyday bath towels
The White Company has a stellar reputation among our experts: Three of them named it as their go-to brand for bath towels. Alex Stedman, editor of the Frugality, told us that she gets towels from the White Company whenever budget allows (or when she can have people chip in for a birthday). “Quality-wise,” says Alex, “you get what you pay for and every time they come out of the wash they feel like new.” John Robertson agrees — he’s the editor the Everyday Man, and calls the White Company his favourite retailer for linen and towels. “All of their products are great quality, hard wearing, and — most importantly — soft to touch.”
John likes their Luxury Egyptian Cotton Bath Towels, which are made from a soft, thick cotton terry that John describes as plush. (They’re 700 GSM.) Plus, John says “the classic white design is absolutely timeless and will fit with any bathroom or bedroom style or design.” Alex — who says she loves a big, enveloping towel after a shower — goes for the mid-weight, 500 GSM Hydrocotton Bath Sheets, which are ribbed and made from strong, “low twist” cotton. “I have charcoal chunky ribbed ones and I’ve never looked back.” Jess Hardy (founder of the London-based ethical leather goods brand HDY) is on the same wavelength. She says: “I’m a sucker for a long bath with all the trimmings” and that a fluffy White Company towel is essential to the “home spa experience.” Jess says that, although the Egyptian Cotton range has a lovely hotel feel, she buys the hydro-cotton bath sheets for herself. “They’re massive and super soft,” she says, but unlike similarly soft towels, “not so thick they take three days to dry.” Alex and Jess add that it’s worth looking out for the White Company’s sales.
Best (more expensive) bath towels
Four of our experts spoke highly of Tekla, the Copenhagen-based, sustainable homewares label started by Charlie Hedin. (Hedin’s formidable style credentials include working for Acne as well as the cult footwear brand Eytys, which he co-founded.) Tekla makes a range of coloured and striped towels in organic, extra-combed cotton terry, which you can get in a hotel white or a range of lush colours. Charlotte Rey and Duncan Campbell, co-founders of the design partnership and creative consultancy Campbell-Rey, each own a set of Tekla towels. “We venture that they are the coolest towels around,” said Charlotte, who mentioned that the brand’s aesthetic is “inspired by Finnish sauna culture and Japanese hot baths” and described Tekla’s impressive collaboration with the architect John Pawson. Similarly, Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead — interior designers, co-founders of 2LG Studio, and authors of Making Living Lovely — said that the Tekla towels have an “effortlessly cool factor that says, ‘Oh, the towels? Can’t remember where I got them’.” Jordan adds that he considers Tekla a perfect brand for all sheets and linen, so 2LG Studio often uses them in their interior design work. In his words, they recommend Tekla to clients because of the towels’ “clean, crisp colours and fantastic quality.” Tekla’s lavender towels are next on Jordan’s list for his own home — he calls them “the perfect addition” to a pink monochrome bathroom. All of the Tekla towels are mid-weight at 600 GSM.
(Tekla also makes nice bathrobes — like this one that Alexa Chung has been repping on her Instagram all through self-isolation. The bathrobe is unisex and has an oversize cut. Like the Tekla bath towels, they’re made of 100 percent organic cotton, although they’re much more lightweight at 385 GSM.)
Best hand towel
Alex from the Frugality recommends these tasseled towels from H&M Home. She likes the brand because they have “a really great selection of hand towels, great colours, and cool prints. Pretty much all my hand towels are from here.” This particular style is made from a blend of organic cotton terry and polyester and comes in a subtle, striped design. Alex says she chose them because she likes the tassels, but also because they have a hanging loop, which saves space. These hand towels are also part of H&M Home’s environmentally friendly “Conscious” range, meaning they’re made from at least 50 percent sustainably sourced materials. If you’re after a set for your bathroom, there are tasseled bath towels and guest towels to match.
Best towel set
If you’re looking to stock up on a set of bath towels without breaking the bank, Isabel from Isabel Doraisamy recommends this set from MADE. The towels are relatively lightweight at 420 GSM, but they’re 100 percent cotton, and will set you back around £6 per towel for two bath towels and two hand towels. In Isabel’s words, the MADE towels have two great qualities: They’re “really reasonably priced and unique in design.” Specifically, she likes that you don’t have to sacrifice elegance for price, as the towels “come in a range of neutral colours that all have a contrasting (and very satisfying) coloured trimming.” MADE offers a similar four-piece set with a waffle texture, if you prefer towels with a similarly contemporary look but an even lighter feel.
Best (more expensive) towel set
Dusen Dusen Home is a goldmine if you’re looking to brighten up a bathroom with a set of patterned, colourful towels. This four-piece set of bath and hand towels was the top pick for Russell from 2LG Studio. According to Russell, “Nothing quite says luxury like a quality towel, [and] whilst staying with friends we had the pleasure of using these.” Russell describes himself as a lover of pattern, colour and original design, and says that he and Jordan loved the Dusen Dusen towels so much that they “couldn’t stop thinking about them” after their stay. Russell chose this set because of the bright aesthetic, which he described as a “mismatched kaleidoscope.” (Charlotte from Campbell-Rey also pointed us to this Dusen Dusen design.) The towels are covered in richly coloured stripes on both sides, which gives them a distinctive, reversible contrast. They come in complementary blends of warm and cool tones, or alternatively, in a monochromatic geometric print. The towels are nicely thick at 700 GSM and made from 100 percent terry cotton — in Russell’s words, they “really make ya feel special.” The brand, run by the U.S. womenswear designer Ellen Van Dusen, also sells the towels separately. You can get beach towels, bath towels or hand towels for £65, £32 or £16 respectively.
Best gym towels
These are the towels that John from the Everyday Man says he always has in his bag. According to John, “John Lewis do some fantastic homewares and these cotton towels are no exception.” For him, these 100 percent cotton towels are ideal for use at the gym because they’re “finished with an innovative natural peppermint treatment that helps to keep them fresher and cleaner for longer.” John Lewis claims that this peppermint treatment is antimicrobial, which is great if you need to transport the towel in a sweaty gym bag. And John reassures anyone who might not be keen on mint that the towels are foremost for practicality: “Don’t freak out that these are scented, they’re not. The treatment simply helps them to remain odour free.” They’re midweight at 580 GSM and come in a range of sizes, so they would be suitable for use in the bathroom as well.
Turkish towels (also known as hammam or peshtemal towels) are a lightweight, fast-drying alternative to thick cotton towels. Two of our experts were big fans — especially when they’re outdoors or on-the-go. “For holidays, I only use Hammam towels,” said Alex from the Frugality. Her reasoning was straightforward: “They’re chic, affordable, and don’t take up much room in your luggage!” Jess from HDY had a similarly glowing review: “For the beach I always go for a hammam towel as they’re light to carry, don’t pick up sand and dry quickly.” She added that, unlike conventional towels, they are incredibly versatile for outings: “You can also double it up as a picnic rug for the park.” (When recommending Turkish towels in the past, we’ve been told that you can use them as tablecloths, bedspreads and sarongs too.) While Alex recommended John Lewis’s hammam towels (420 GSM), Jess said she was always on the lookout for hammam towels with “more authentic, neutral tones.” She pointed us to the Logan Hammam towel, which you can find in boutiques or via sites like Trouva. Jess adds that it’s worthwhile to keep an eye out on your travels as well, because “you can often pick them up at markets or cool little beach shops for next to nothing.” Due to their fast-drying quality, these would be a great bath towel option for people who shower twice daily.
If you want to make a splash or indulge in some beachside luxury, Charlotte and Duncan from Campbell-Rey recommend these designer beach towels. They’re a collaboration between the Milan-based fashion label La DoubleJ and the iconic Italian lifestyle company Acqua di Parma. According to Charlotte and Duncan, La DoubleJ was “founded by the inimitable and wonderful JJ Martin” and “is synonymous with Italian Dolce Vita and exuberant colours and patterns.” These towels come in two lusciously coloured patterns and are made of a thick terry cloth with a rolled hem. Charlotte and Duncan said the successful collaboration “marries Acqua di Parma’s sunny yellow with JJ’s signature Confetti pattern.” The result? “The most upbeat beach towels around.”
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.