Decoding Hotel Towels: Why Some Are Plush While Others Feel Like Sandpaper

by joeheg

Hotel towels can be quite confusing, as we’ve discovered through our travels around the world. We’ve stayed at fancy hotels that provided towels that felt like sandpaper, while some basic hotels offered plush towels that were incredibly comfortable. Interestingly, some of the best towels we’ve experienced were actually at Airbnbs.

I’ve stopped trying to figure things out as I know there are plenty of variables as to why hotels pick their towels. For instance, there’s a reason most hotel bath towels are white. I also know what hotels do with towels when they get worn out or stained.

But never have I stayed at a hotel where the towel that was hung from the rack felt like sandpaper while the towel rolled under the sink felt like silk.

I don’t want to single out a hotel because I don’t think this was on purpose, but this was the towel they hung outside of the shower. When I was drying off, it felt like an exfoliating scrub.

a black and gold label on a white fabric

I dropped the towel on the floor, so I reached for another towel, which was under the sink. It felt like heaven compared to the other towel. The difference between the two is even evident in the picture, even if, according to the label, this is the same towel.

a black and gold label on a white fabric

Notice the difference between the faded label in the first picture and the crisp colors in the second. It’s obvious that the 2nd towel is newer while the 1st one is older and worn.

I’m not surprised that the hotel wants to get its money’s worth, as a “Sunset Collection” bath towel retails for $39. But it’s apparent that these towels have a lifespan, as the worn-out one at this hotel was worse than the ones we’ve used at Courtyard by Marriott hotels.

So when you get a terrible hotel at a hotel, it might be worthwhile to try a different one. It might not be that the hotel purchases cheap towels; it might be that the towel is worn out and the other towels in the room are newer, with more fluff.

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James M February 21, 2024 - 2:04 pm

Your “1st towel” was probably the bath mat, meant just for your feet when you exit the shower. In my experience, those are always a bit rough to the touch.

James February 22, 2024 - 11:50 am

It was your bath mat…


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