What kind of terry towels should you use in a hotel?

There are several aspects to be considered in choosing terry towels for a hotel. In this post, we present our views on terry towels but there are definitely more factors that must be considered in different circumstances. Various terry towels are also available in numerous materials and styles, which makes the choice quite difficult. Yet, if we narrow the selection down to choosing standard terry towels for a hotel, the choice is much easier.

The most important characteristics of a terry towel are the absorbency and softness/level of comfort of the towel. Drying the skin is the main function of a terry towel, thus making absorbency the defining factor in deciding how good a terry towel is in performing its main task. If a terry towel is not that absorbent, a person has to dry oneself several times before they actually get dry. The more artificial materials (polyester) a terry towel contains, the less it absorbs. For example, drying yourself with a 100% fleece towel can take forever because it simply does not absorb water. 100% cotton towels have the best absorbency and they are the most skin-friendly towels to use.

White hotel terry towels

The softness of a terry towel depends of its type and material. As we wrote above, 100% cotton towels are the best for the skin and we do not recommend using polyester towels. The most important factor in addition to material in determining the softness of a terry towel is the length of its “hairs”, i.e., the length of the fabric loops on the surface of the towel. The longer the loops of a terry towel, the softer it is; its absorbency is better as well. However, very long loops on a terry towel easily get snagged on everything (e.g., jewellery, sharp objects, etc.) and it is therefore easier to accidentally pull threads out of the towel, and the towel could get worn out and full of holes really quickly. If a terry towel has very short loops, however, it is less absorbent—thus, it is reasonable to find a towel that has medium-length loops.

Terry towels are available in a multitude of colours and designs. Hotels generally use white terry towels because you can see at first glance whether a white terry towel is clean or dirty, and, additionally, it is much more efficient to maintain one-coloured textiles in a hotel’s laundry. Some hotels and spas also use terry towels in other colours to underline their individuality. Terry towels with all kinds of decorations, such as borders, patterns, etc. are also available. We recommend that hotels use terry towels without additional decorations because the decorations often behave differently from the rest of the towel in the washing and the towel may become warped etc. The purpose of a hotel is to use a terry towel for as long as possible and a decoration may make the towel unfit for use after 2–4 years.

If a hotel buys terry towels with a special design or decorations, it should think of how the towels fare in the wash during several years of use. Nothing may happen to a towel washed once in the hotel’s laundry, but if it is washed 100–300 times within a couple of years, its appearance and shape may change to a large extent. The best option would be to ask the supplier to provide a sample towel before making a larger purchase, and then wash the sample in the hotel’s laundry at least five times. It would be even better to wash it 30 times because that would show what happens to the towel in the wash over a longer period of time.

In case of terry towels in colours other than white, the question of colour permanence is also important. Most of the terry towels sold are reactive dyed and can be washed at up to 60 degrees. But even if the towels are washed at 60 degrees, the colour of the terry towel will fade in time. If you want towels that would stay colourful for a long time, you need to buy vat-dyed towels but this will mean an approximate 30% increase in price and is therefore not a popular option. In conclusion, in case of terry towels in colours other than white you need to consider that the colour will fade in time and terry towels purchased at different times may be in quite different tones.

Terry towels

Upon deciding to buy terry towels with a very special design, a hotel should also consider that they need to constantly purchase new terry towels—for example, every year a hotel must supplement the existing towels with new towels that make up 30% of the number of towels the hotel requires. If a hotel has purchased very special terry towels, the supplier might not have more of these later, and the hotel will be forced to use different terry towels or replace all the towels. In that sense, the easiest option is to buy the standard white terry towels for a hotel—that way you can be sure that you can always buy more of similar towels. If a hotel buys terry towels from a specific supplier that offers the same terry towels over a long period of time, the hotel can also be certain that the type, loop length, design, etc. of the terry towel will not change in the future. Contact specialised hotel suppliers who have experience in this field.

It is also possible to order terry towels with your hotel’s logo. The terry towel and logo may be the same colour (so-called inscribed logo). The logo may also be a in a different colour from the towel. There are many possibilities of getting a logo on a terry towel. A logo may be embroidered on the towels available at the supplier’s warehouse but the embroidered logo cannot be very large because the price of the embroidering may turn out to be too expensive in comparison to the price of the towel. That is, if you want a large logo that covers the entire terry towel, it would need to be woven into the terry towel during production.

Speaking of terry towel designs and logos, we need to consider the subject of hotel guests stealing hotel supplies, or, putting it more mildly, hotel guests taking hotel supplies with them when they leave. The more attractive a terry towels is in terms of price and appearance, the more likely it is that a hotel guest wants it as a souvenir. Thus, if a hotel uses expensive terry towels, the number of thefts in the hotel will increase. Terry towels are the most common items to be taken away from hotels by guests, and the argument of theft is therefore very important in case of terry towels. If you order terry towels that have the logo of the hotel on them, then a stolen product at least works as a small advertisement for the hotel, reminding the guest of the hotel where they got the product. But still, we have heard of many Estonian hotels’ experiences that started to use beautiful and colourful terry towels in a hotel or spa, and this significantly increased the amount of lost terry towels. The number of lost terry towels will be greater especially if the hotel has terry towels with logos because people like this type of a souvenir.

White hotel terry towels

Terry towels are also available in various densities—density is measured in grams of fabric per square meter. The most common density for hotel terry towels is 400–600 g/m2. Cheaper terry towels with a density less than 400 g/m2 are also available but we do not recommend these because those towels are too thin. Terry towels with a density of 1000 g/m2 can also be made but we do not see the purpose. Luxury hotels use terry towels with a density of 550–600 g/m2 and in general this is the maximum density used. The most standard hotel terry towel has the density of 400 g/m2 and it is the optimal choice in terms of all aspects (absorbency, softness, price, price of washing, etc.)

The standard measurements for hotel terry towels are the following:

* 30x30 cm—face towel

* 50x70 cm—hand towel (also 50x100 cm) and bath mat

* 70x140 cm—bath towel (also 70x150 cm)

* 100x200 cm—terry blanket or cover for massage table

In planning the measurements of hotel terry towels, you also need to consider shrinkage in the washing. Terry towels shrink down 1–2% from the original width and 5–10% from length.

There are usually two 50x70 cm terry towels, two 70x140 cm terry towels and two 50x70 bath mats at a hotel room. In a luxury hotel, 30x30 cm face towels are also available at the bathroom.

The following requirements are listed in the Republic of Estonia’s regulation “Requirements for an accommodation establishment”:

* § 10. (1) Hand towels used in an accommodation establishment shall be with the minimum size of 40×60 cm and bath towels with the minimum size of 65×130 cm.

* § 22. (5) A guest room shall be supplied with a foot towel, a hand towel and a bath towel per bed place.

* § 23. (3) A hotel shall ensure a daily change of towels or on request but not less than every three days and for every new guest.



Additional information on terry towels: Terry towels