Now that it’s finally socially acceptable (and safe) to have friends over again, you’ll want to first, remember how to socialize IRL properly, and second, upgrade a few things around your apartment. But before you get decent wine glasses or curate a nice looking bar cart, consider your bathroom. Chances are, before they even give you a hug, any hygienic friend will hopefully head straight there and wash their hands. And those trusty old (and let’s be honest, kind of ratty) towels, while reliable enough for a year of very rigorous hand washing, aren’t exactly fit for company. It’s time you get some nice, new ones.
What makes a “nice” hand towel, you ask? The bare minimum is something clean without bleach or makeup stains, but maybe take it one step further and splurge on fluffy Turkish cotton or linen. Not only does it feel soft on your hands, it’ll actually absorb water. It also helps to know your audience when shopping for guest hand towels — if your friends tend to stay over for hours and make several trips to the bathroom, grab a flat or waffle weave towel that’ll dry quickly so your guests aren’t using an already-wet towel by the end of the night, because that’s pretty gross. Of course, if it’s a short visit you can spring for a more plush, fluffy towel that feels like it came from a five-star hotel.
Read on for our favorites from a budget-friendly set that looks much more expensive than it is, to colorful Marimekko options to millennial upstart faves from brands like Brooklinen, Parachute and Coyuchi.
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The Super Soft Budget-Friendly Set
This pack of oversized hand towels from Great Bay Home Store is really affordable but still looks presentable enough for company. Made with heavy-weight Turkish cotton, they not only feel super soft to the touch but also still ensure your hands get actually dry.
A Lightweight Towel That’s Surprisingly Absorbent
The flat weave front of Parachute’s Fouta towel gives it a striking look hanging on a bar, while the soft terry back is still gentle on skin. The cream and coal colors are the perfect neutrals that will go with almost any bathroom, but I’m also a fan of the clay, which has a more muted, earthy feel.
A Bright Velour Hand Towel
This bright dotted towel from Anthropologie tells your guests that you not only care about their hand hygiene, but that you’ve also spent quarantine thinking about the aesthetics of your home. I really like the warmth of the Sienna-toned towel, but the blue ones are another nice way to dress up your bathroom.
A Waffle Weave Towel That Dries Quickly
Onsen is a relatively new addition to the batch of direct-to-consumer brands making home stuff, but they are quickly becoming known for making the most luxurious and soft towels available. Since these dry quickly, you won’t have gross, damp towels that are the result of multiple hands rubbing themselves all over them throughout the course of a night.
A Faster Drying Ribbed Towel
If you want the luxurious feeling of a plush towel but hate its tendency to get musty (that smell is truly the worst), Parachute’s soft rib towel promises the best of both worlds. Made with 100 percent Turkish cotton, the textured fabric dries faster and looks crisp and neat, even after multiple wipes. These are currently only available in bright white, which give your guest bathroom clean, fancy hotel vibes.
The Fancy, Yet Still On A Budget Set
For those who want something that feels like a fluffy cloud, Brooklinen’s Super Plush towels are both extra thick and soft. These are also the best option if you’re on a budget, since their 2-pack comes out to only $17.50 each.
A Summery Yellow Hand Towel
These are appropriately cheery and festive, because that’s the mood you want to set when hanging out with friends IRL again. If yellow isn’t your thing, there’s also a very nice pale pink option.
A Bright and Beachy Hand Towel
Chances that you’ll get to experience a Mediterranean beach vacation this summer? Eh, that’s in the hands of multiple government agencies. But even if you can’t travel, you can transform your bathroom into one that belongs in a luxury Santorini hotel with this handwoven, cotton towel. Get it as an accent piece, or buy the matching bath towel to really set the mood.
A Sustainable Linen Hand Towel
If you’re looking for a nice hand towel made out of sustainable materials, this one from Linoto is made with eco-friendly organic flax linen, which uses significantly less water in its production process than cotton.
A Towel With A Playful Leopard Print
Tell your guests you’re obsessed with Tiger King without telling your guests you’re obsessed with Tiger King. Thankfully, this leopard print is low-key enough that you won’t have to be a big cat rescuer to appreciate it.
A Rustic Linen Towel
This luxurious hand towel from Cultiver is made with 100 percent European linen, which lets your guests you’re into fancy things. I love this green shade because not only does it hide wear and tear over the years, it’s also a nice way to warm up a neutral bathroom.
An Ultra Neutral Marimekko Towel
Marimekko prints are usually loud and bright but this neutral one, inspired by sunlight and shadows, is just as striking. Looks aren’t the only thing going for this towel either— it’s made from soft plush cotton so your guests will know you’re a fashionable and welcoming host.
The Perfect Earth Toned Towel
I’m an absolute sucker for anything in clay or terracotta earth tones, as they make for a warm and inviting environment, and these towels from Hawkins New York are no exception. The waffle weave makes them lightweight and quick drying and the brand has an array of fun colors to choose from, if this one isn’t your thing.
These flat weave towels from Coyuchi are another way to fake a Mediterranean getaway and they also happen to be made with 100 percent organic Turkish cotton. The brand’s towels are also GOTS and MADE SAFE certified, which means that they are certified organic and free of thousands of potentially harmful ingredients and chemicals.
A Turkish Towel That’ll Only Get Softer Over Time
Goodee’s towels are woven by hand in Turkey and are made with an organic cotton and linen blend that only gets softer over time. This graphic green and black design also handy if you’re the type to stain things easily.
Really, Really, Nice Towels
This hand towel set from Baina looks expensive, because well, they are. But if you want to spend a little more on nice things for your bathroom, you can’t go wrong. They’re simple without being boring and also make for a nice housewarming present.
A Luxurious Checkerboard Set
Checkerboard prints and green shades seem to be in right now among the influencer and TikTokker circles, so this hand towel set from Baina is a two birds, one stone situation. It’s also super absorbent and soft, and will stand out in any bathroom (except, maybe, a green checkerboard one).