Bath towels are something we use at least once a day, yet the perfect one can be frustratingly hard to find. Whether you prefer something fluffy and plush or something waffled and fast-drying, we can all agree on the importance of a towel that’s soft, absorbent, and looks good after hundreds of uses and wash cycles. To find the best towels — the ones that are as good-looking as they are absorbent and durable — we asked eight interior designers and decorators to single out their go-tos. These are the ones they select for both client projects and their own homes. (As for the Twitter debate when Abdul Dremali asked how many bath towels a person should own — New York contributor Yashar Ali thinks five towels and five sheets each — we think four bath towels per person is a reasonable number.)
Best hotel-style towels
When shopping for your everyday bath towels, interior designer Ariel Okin says, “you want to take into account quality and durability. Especially for towels, which get washed a lot and sometimes bleached, investing in high-quality [ones] is a smart move.” Among her top picks are these classic towels from the nearly century-old Massachusetts-based company Matouk. They’re also a favorite of home stager Meridith Baer, who likes the 100 percent Egyptian cotton towels for a high-end look.
Interior designer Jess Blumberg, of Dale Blumberg Interiors, says it best, naming the three essential qualities of an ideal towel: “Absorbency, size, and luxuriousness.” Made from an absorbent, heavyweight Turkish cotton that’s woven to feel light and airy, these spa-style towels, chosen by both Okin and designer Tina Rich, certainly fit the bill. Okin says they’re similar to Matouk in that they’re “high-quality towels that are super absorbent, fluffy, and wear well over time [with] no rough fibers or pilling,” and Rich adds that “they are plush, come in great colors, [and are] worth the price.”
Jessica McCarthy, creative director at Decorist, says that when she’s looking for towels for herself or a client, “the true deciding factor always needs to be durability and absorption.” And while she recommends shopping for towels in person so you can get a feel of their weight and softness, she does call these towels from Sadem “the most plush and luxurious towels I have ever used.” For prolonging the longevity of your towels, she recommends choosing classic hotel-white, as they can be bleached to look fresh and new.
Best waffle towels
Mentioned by three designers – Baer, Rich, and Leanne Ford Parachute’s waffle-weave Turkish cotton towels are a consensus favorite. Baer calls them “fast-drying and very soft,” while Ford likes that they’re “plush and warm in classic styles and colors.” If you prefer the thin and moisture-wicking ease of waffle weave, try these.
Best monogrammable towels
For just a hint of color, Okin likes these piped-bordered towels from Savannah-based start-up Weezie. “They make beautiful towels in classic silhouettes that can be monogrammed, which I love,” she says. “I recently purchased a monogrammed set of light blue, piped white Weezie towels for my own home. They are really soft and have a classic look to them that ties the bathroom together really nicely.” If you prefer no monogramming or piping, you can get them plain, too.
Best colorful towels
If you aren’t crazy for simple, hotel-white towels, you can still find a plush option in a bold shade. “When choosing towels, I always start with a color in mind,” says Rayman Boozer, principal designer at Apartment 48 Interior Design. “Lately, Garnet Hill seems to have all the perfect colors. In most cases I opt for something solid, vibrant, and atypical. This is an easy opportunity to add a pop of color to your bathroom.” The extra thick and absorbent Egyptian cotton towels come in richly saturated hues like tangelo and cornflower blue.
Baer says these soft Turkish towels “are my go-to as they are thick and luxurious.” While the colors are a little more muted than the Garnet Hill range, there’s still a wide variety to choose from, including a wintergreen juniper and a soft plum.
Best Turkish hammam-style towels
When Blumberg wants to bring some texture and eclecticism to a space, she turns to Scents & Feel for their classic, hammam-style towels. “We love to add a little global flavor by bringing in a fouta, or a Turkish towel,” she says. “They are made from 100 percent cotton, they’re light, and they dry quickly, and add a cool factor to our clients’ spaces.” Opt for a brightly colored bold style or keep it minimal with a simple, black-and-white stitched design.
McCarthy also likes these traditional-style towels, especially for small bathrooms, since they’re thinner and lower-profile than most towels, while still being absorbent. “I love how little room they take up, and if your bathroom does not get a lot of ventilation, they dry incredibly quickly,” she says.
Best patterned towel
A favorite of Sean Juneja’s, founder and CEO of Décor Aid, this checkered towel with bright yellow accents feels a little bit preppy and a little bit Scandinavian-style cool. Juneja says he’s a fan because “you can be more playful with bath towel choices [and] they’ll lend a bathroom a pop of color.”
Best debossed towels
Unlike its more commonly seen counterpart, embossing, debossing involves stamping a design onto a surface for an indented, rather than raised, print. These towels, a favorite of Okin’s, are debossed with the words “soap” and “water,” a nod to a quote from photographer Cecil Beaton (“What is elegance? Soap and water!”). The white-on-white design makes the text just barely visible, adding a bit of dimension to these sleek, clean towels.
Best luxury towels
If you’re willing to drop nearly $100 on a towel, this plush one from Jenni Kayne features subtle embossed stripes on one side and simple terry loops on the other, and comes highly recommended by Rich. “I usually choose Turkish towels, which tend to be supersoft and lightweight,” she says. “There is nothing I hate more than a chunky bath towel that looks like it’s from your parents’ bathroom in the ’80s.” With knotted fringe trim, it’s slim but absorbent.
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