Here’s one way to find the best bath towel: Buy a hand towel from every towelmaker you can think of and blind test them by feel. That’s what Chicago-based interior designer Alessandra Branca did years ago to find her favorite, the Bello by Sferra. “I think that’s something everyone should do,” she says — because bath towels are a matter of personal taste. Nevertheless, bath towels’ specific purpose is to dry you off. “It needs to be absorbent,” Branca says. “Sometimes the softest and prettiest towels actually don’t do that job.”
Jane Feller, senior buyer at online retailer Bellacor, explains that what consumers should look for is the grams per square meter, or GSM. “The higher the number, the heavier and denser the towel will feel,” she says. When you find what you like, get four washcloths for every two hand towels for every single bath towel.
Whether you buy for you, a newly married couple or new homeowners, it’s true what Branca says: “There’s no one that wouldn’t want a wonderful new set of towels.”
Erin Boyle, author of the book “Simple Matters,” lives in a 500-square-foot apartment with her husband and two kids, so she lives only with the material possessions she treasures. Thankfully, she was given a set of Linen Chambray Towels for her wedding five years ago that she and her husband still love, from Massachusetts shop Fog Linen ($52, shop-foglinen.com). “They’re very absorbent, and they hold up super well,” she says, noting that they dry well, “which is key for small city bathrooms without ventilation.”
The Moroccan Gate Bath Towels from Williams Sonoma are a favorite of Lizzy Ellingson — and as co-founder of universal website registry Blueprint Registry, she’s seen a lot ($44, williams-sonoma.com). She says these towels are “super plush” and likes that “the sculpted Moroccan pattern is eye-catching and keeps the towel from looking too bulky hanging on a bar.”
“My favorite towels are the Macy’s Hotel Collection brand, Finest Elegance,” says Feller ($67, macys.com). “They are the thickest and fluffiest towels — very luxurious!” They are made of Turkish cotton, with some modal for sheen. “The texture and feel are quite elegant,” she adds. Two tips for towel care: Never use fabric softener, which reduces absorbency. Instead, add a splash of vinegar in the wash, which “works wonders in brightening and removing stains.”
Sferra’s Bello towel, at 700 GSM, won Branca’s blind touch test years ago, and it’s now what she recommends to her clients ($66, sferra.com). She prefers white bath towels, unless you have an older, white bathroom that needs some new life. “It’s a quick and easy way to redecorate an old-school bathroom,” she says. For added personality, Branca likes to design custom monograms for her clients and embroider them on their towels.
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo., is recognized by Condé Nast Traveler readers as the best in the biz, so you know that the spa director knows her towels. Beth Thomas recommends 100 percent Pima cotton in white for body and bath towels and favors Boll & Branch’s Bath Towel ($45, bollandbranch.com). “When choosing a luxury bath towel, it should pamper the skin and comfort the soul,” she says.
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