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The best bath towels in 2023

Freshen up your bathroom linen with our pick of the best towels for value, luxury and everything in between

While half-decent bath towels aren’t hard to come by, really great bath towels are a rarer breed. Obviously, every person’s idea of the best towel is subjective: some of us crave the fluffiest towels possible, while others love sleek, lightweight sheets. Some of us want to be entirely cocooned in silky soft towelling, while the very thought of that makes others feel claustrophobic.

Then there’s the aesthetics and practicalities to think of. Do you want all your towels to be a crisp white or a shade to match your bathroom’s colour scheme? What are your thoughts on patterns? How much space do you have to store your towels? But most obvious of all, it’s essential that whichever towels you choose do the job of absorbing water effectively and getting you dry.

You might think that any towel will do at a pinch, but the truth is that you won’t even realise what you’ve been missing until you experience a near perfect post-bathing experience at a hotel or in a friend’s guest room. Here we’ll suggest some key things to look out for when shopping for the best towels and suggest some of our bathroom favourites.

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How to choose the best bath towel for you

What material should I choose for my bath towel?

If you want your dream towelling to envelop you in a cloud-soft cosiness, you should choose a 100% cotton towel that boasts long loops of yarn. Aside from feeling amazing, these will also be really absorbent.

Towels that aren’t 100% cotton – especially those with a polyester mix – will be less absorbent, and in some cases can make it feel like water is actively being repelled by the material. The plus side is that these are lighter and take up less space when storing or packing.

Just like bed sheets, some brands will specify a towel’s weight measured in gsm (grams per square metre). Anything over 600gsm will feel noticeably heavy and is likely to give that sense of plush weightiness you get in five-star hotels.

What’s the difference between a bath towel and a bath sheet?

Size. A bath towel won’t be large but should be able to wrap around your waist or chest neatly. Bath towels are typically used for drying off quickly, for travel or where space is at a premium.

A bath sheet is generally more luxurious. Size-wise it should be large – think 160 x 100cm as a bare minimum, well on the way to being a blanket – with the ability to cloak even the most statuesque among us.

The thicker the towel, the better, right?

This is down to preference, but we don’t know many people who actively covet a threadbare, paper-thin cloth when there are plush, thickly piled towels on offer. With this said, the thicker a towel, the longer it will take to dry.

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What’s the consensus on pattern?

White towels are classic, minimal and can go with any décor, which makes them enduringly popular, but they also look grubby more easily and it’s hard to keep them looking pristine. Traditionally, patterned towels have been the preserve of beach bags and holidays, but there are more and more examples of statement bath towels on the market that add a little extra to any bathroom.

How often should towels be washed and how often should they be replaced?

Towels should be washed at least once a week and replaced every two years. If they start to feel rough or rigid, it might be time to invest in new ones.

How we test bath towels

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing gives us the best and most complete information about a product. So we personally test all the bath towels we review. We generally use them post-soak, in order to assess their overall comfort, absorbency and weightiness.

We also looked at how quickly they air dry afterwards, and noted the general quality of the fabric.

Finally, we confirmed the materials and available size range.

The best bath towels you can buy in 2023

1. Tielle Luxury Line Border Towels: Best towels for affordable luxury

Price: £18 (bath); £28 (sheet) | Buy now from Tielle Love Luxury

It comes as no surprise to discover that this brand also sells direct to luxury hotels. These towels are utterly indulgent: thick, fluffy and smart-looking, and exactly what anyone in need of pampering would want from a bath towel.

We eagerly sank into them post-shower. No bathrobe is needed as they’re so absorbent, and it’s possible to forget you’re still wrapped in a towel as there’s none of the inevitable and almost instant sogginess of older or lesser towels.

The price really is very reasonable given the quality on offer. Even after several washes, these towels remain blissfully soft and haven’t stiffened or roughened up like cheaper towels we’ve owned.

Key specs – Material: 100% Turkish cotton (machine-washable); Weight: 650gsm; Sizes available: Bath towel, 140 x 70cm, bath sheet 180 x 100cm; Colours available: 1

Buy now from Tielle Love Luxury

2. Next Pom Pom Towel: Best lightweight towel

Price: £20 (bath towel), £28 (bath sheet) | Buy now from Next

This towel from Next is a really cutely designed option. The little pom poms are a pretty but subtle touch, and we liked the shape of the towel, which was slightly longer and slimmer than the others – this made it feel just a tad more elegant somehow.

It’s worth noting that this towel is more lightweight than the others in this roundup, but thanks to its cotton fabric it easily soaks up water without becoming saturated. This is an ideal choice for the guest room, children or travel.

Key specs – Material: 100% standard cotton (machine-washable); Weight: Unknown; Sizes available: Bath towel 127 x 70cm, bath sheet 150 x 50cm; Colours available: 4

Buy now from Next

3. Orla Kiely Botanica Stem Towel: Best patterned towels

Price: £24 (bath towel) £37 (bath sheet) | Buy now from Terry Fabrics

Orla Kiely designs always bring a sense of retro glamour to any home, and these towels are no exception. With Kiely’s trademark flower stem design they’re iconic, playful and stylish all at once, and if this colourway doesn’t float your boat there are others to choose from.

They hit the mark when it comes to feel, too. They’re soft without being overly fluffy, and thick without being heavy. The cotton easily absorbs water and feels wonderfully soft and gentle on the skin.

If crisp white towels are just too bland for your tastes, then these are perfect for adding a dash of colour to the bathroom.

Key specs – Material: 100% cotton (machine-washable); Weight: 580gsm; Sizes available: Bath towel 125 x 70cm, bath sheet 150 x 100cm; Colours available: 3

Buy now from Terry Fabrics

4. Scooms Egyptian Cotton Bathtowel Pair: Best towels for heavyweight luxury

Price: £39 (pair of bath towels) | Buy now from Scooms

Thanks to their 720gsm weight and plush Egyptian cotton construction, these towels feel extraordinarily sumptuous. The result is towelling that dries you off in seconds and leaves you feeling warm and cosy.

First impressions are that these towels are unusually heavy and thick. In particular, the generously proportioned 160 x 100cm bath sheet really does envelop you in a wonderfully cosy softness.

Although they look chic folded on a towel rail, they do take up a lot of space; we really appreciated the discreet loop for hanging on pegs.

Washing presented no issues, though: a 40˚C wash with a dash of fabric conditioner saw the towels emerge as soft as when they arrived.

Key specs – Material: 100% Egyptian cotton (machine-washable); Weight: 720gsm; Sizes available: Bath towel 135 x 70cm, bath sheet 160 x 100cm; Colours available: 3

Buy now from Scooms

5. La Redoute Malo Towel: Best towels for understated style

Price: £18 (bath towel) £24 (bath sheet) | Buy now from La Redoute

La Redoute has served up a really understated design perfect for people who aren’t into crisp white minimalism – we loved the thin stripes and the light tasselling along the edges.

Despite a modest 500gsm weight, the towels have a lovely softness and are highly absorbent without feeling excessively fluffy. There’s a real feel of quality without the overt weightiness of other options here.

These towels would also double nicely as a beach towel, partly because the pattern is evocative of lazy summers, and partly because they’re lighter and less bulky than the weightier designs on offer.

Key specs – Material: Cotton jacquard sponge (machine-washable); Weight: 500gsm; Sizes available: Bath towel 70 x 140cm; bath sheet 100 x 150cm; Colours available: 6

Buy now from La Redoute

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