Macy’s Hotel Collection MicroCotton Luxe Bath Towel: It was notably soft, with a nice fluffy pile, but it wasn’t as absorbent as our main picks. It’s also been discontinued since we did our testing.
Garnet Hill Signature Towel: This was a nice towel, and it comes in some great colors, but it didn’t compare to the softness and absorbency of our top pick.
Snowe Bath Towel: We looked at Snowe because their bedding has performed so well in our tests, but their bath towel wasn’t terribly memorable. It only made it through one round of washing in our blind tests. It was a perfectly fine towel, but our top and upgrade picks were softer and more absorbent.
Parachute Home Classic Towel: This was a nice, average towel, but we think it’s pricey.
Caro Home Micro-Cotton Luxury Bath Towel: This was last year’s upgrade pick, but this year it didn’t perform as well in testing as our top, runner-up, or upgrade picks. It felt thin and wasn’t as absorbent as we’d like. Originally, we thought these towels were made by Towels by Gus, but the manufacturer is actually Caro Home. Towels by Gus is one retailer who sells them, but you can also get them from Caro Home’s site and from The Mine.
Lands’ End Supima Bath Towel. Although this was last year’s runner-up pick, in this year’s tests it didn’t absorb as well other towels, and we felt that it clung to the body too much out of the shower.
Royal Velvet Signature Soft Solid Bath Towel: This towel was incredibly soft in the store, but the softness didn’t last through ten washes. And after the last wash, the towel was threadbare in spots.
L.L.Bean Premium Cotton Towel: This was actually the fastest drying towel in our first timed test—it dried in about 10 hours. But it was rough and uncomfortable to use.
Target’s Threshold Performance Bath Towel: This comes in some fun colors, and it costs less than our top pick, but it lost a lot of its softness and loft after the first wash. We didn’t shower with it.
IKEA Afjarden Bath Towel: This towel is very affordable, but the available colors aren’t great, and it was rough after one wash so we cut it after that round.
JCPenney Home Solid Bath Towels: The color options are excellent, but after one wash this towel was so rough we didn’t shower with it.
For previous versions of this guide we tested:
Chakir Turkish Linens Luxury Hotel & Spa Bath Towel: This towel had high ratings on Amazon at the time we checked, but it wasn’t particularly plush or cozy feeling in our tests. It was a bit scratchy and had a soapy, coated feel, even after several washings.
Nordstrom at Home Hydrocotton Bath Towel: Several readers wrote in to say that this towel was great, and it does have its merits. Unfortunately, although this towel was pleasantly plush in our tests (the second-heaviest in the group), its thickness proved to be its downfall. Its sponginess translated into slow drying times (in both our technical test and in my own bathroom), and that means a towel that is likely to still be damp in the morning.
Pottery Barn Hydrocotton Bath Towel: Following our selection of this towel as the winner in the previous version of this review, we received a lot of complaints about its shedding significantly in the dryer. When we tested this towel again, it didn’t shed all that much, but our staff testers said it felt rough and didn’t absorb water effectively. Testers also thought this towel looked cheap.
Restoration Hardware 802-Gram Turkish Bath Towel: This towel gets a lot of love online, so we decided to try it despite the high price. But our sample, with an uneven loop height, didn’t look luxurious. It was also not as soft as we would have liked for a long staple cotton towel.
Lasting Color Cotton Bath Towel Collection by WestPoint Home: We had high hopes for this bargain towel because of the fair number of high ratings online. (It was also our budget pick in our original bath-towel guide.) It comes in an appealing, if smallish, range of colors. In our tests, though, it didn’t have a nice look (inconsistent loop lengths, patchy appearance), and we could see pinholes of light through it when we held it up. It also felt rough and scratchy.
L.L.Bean Egyptian Cotton Towel: This towel dried slowly, remaining damp both in our office test and in my home. Some staff members found it scratchy and said that it didn’t wick water away as effectively as our top contenders. It was only medium-soft, too. For the price, we didn’t think it was worth an investment.
IKEA Fräjen Bath Towel: We always root for the underdog, but this towel didn’t quite make the grade. It had an unusual weave that wasn’t exactly terry cloth, so it didn’t seem right for this test group. On top of that, it was quite thin, and we could see light through it when we held it up. It was very low on the softness scale and a bit scratchy, too.
The Company Store Green Earth Quick-Dry Towel: We were intrigued by this towel, which looks a bit like chenille. But it turned out to be rather thin, with light showing through when we held it up. It also shrank more in length (by almost 2 inches) than the average, reducing by 5 inches in all. This shrinkage seemed like too much when paired with the thinness.
1888 Mills Made Here Bath Towel: This was our original pick in 2013, but readers complained about quality issues. When we retested it in 2014, we found that the quality had gone downhill, as the towel we tried that year was lighter and sloppily finished.
Amazon Pinzon Luxury 820-Gram Bath Towel: This towel was too dense and too heavy, and it took a long time to dry out—a surefire recipe for a musty towel.
Even using our criteria, you have tons of towels to choose from. If you’re wondering why we didn’t test towels from a certain brand or popular store, here’s a list of those that didn’t make it to the testing round.
Crate and Barrel: This home store has a small selection of towels with mid-range GSM, but these average items aren’t worth their luxury prices.
Overstock.com: For some reason, this site seems interested in selling bath towels exclusively in sets—three, four, six, you name it. Unfortunately, what works for a family of four may not work for a single person, and none of Overstock.com’s towels stood out as must-test options.
Walmart: We had plenty of reasons not to test any towels from Walmart. The retailer’s website is useless for sourcing information. Few of its towels have labeling that indicates what kind of cotton they use.