bath linen buyers guide

Useful things to think about when buying bath linen.

Bath Linen Buyers Guide

We aim to remove the confusion of choosing the very best bath linen for you. We are on hand in person in the shop or on the phone and we've prepared these guidelines of important things to consider below.

Buying Luxury Bath Linen

This guide explains what to look for in luxury towels so that you know exactly what you’re getting for your money, and what you need to consider before purchasing the right luxury towel for your bathroom.


Not all towels are created equal, the towels at Woods Fine Linens go above and beyond the high-street, in terms of their provenance, material and finishing. This is what differentiates a high-street luxury towel to a proper luxury towel bought from Woods, drawing upon our 126 years of linen experience.

Egyptian Cotton Towels

Towels made from Egyptian Cotton have a long-standing reputation as the best on the market but why?..because a good Egyptian cotton plant produces a long staple (the fibre that comes from the cotton balls produced by the plant).  

ELS (Extra Long Staple) cotton must have a minimum length of 1 ⅓ inches (34.9mm) but can sometimes exceed 1 ½ inches (40mm).

The greater the length the greater the strength, this in turn increases the resistance to creasing, pilling, fading and fraying.

It won't eliminate the normal attrition of the fibres over time but will certainly make it altogether better than an inferior short length staple, which are typically around 1 inch (26mm) long.

Pima Cotton Towels

Towels made from Pima Cotton can also share the same characteristics as Egyptian Cotton but are less well known in marketing terms.

The key takeaway from this is; that high-street towels may use the term Egyptian or Pima Cotton but contain as little as 10% of Egyptian or Pima cotton fibres. So be prepared to pay that little bit more for higher quality, you really do get what you pay for!

A genuine 100% Egyptian or Pima Cotton towel which was created from Extra Long Staple fibres and produced by a reputable American or Central European producer will be head and shoulders above the standard towels you find on the high-street.

When you buy a towel from Woods you can be assured of the very best qualities always, no gimmicks or marketing ploys and a towel that will perform daily for a good period of time.

Linen Towels

Using long staple linen fibres creates a highly absorbent linen towel but with the added bonus of a naturally exfoliating surface. Friction Towels as they are known, are superb at drying and smoothing the skin after showering or bathing. Quite coarse to the touch when new, they soon soften after the first few washes and impress with their ideal combination of absorbency and performance.

The Weave of a Luxury Towel

There are four weaves that are commonly used to make luxury bathroom towels:

Terry Weave: Often used for hotel towels, terry weave is the most popular choice. This weave consists of large, uncut loops, which makes terry towels soft, absorbent and strong.

Waffle Weave: Waffle weave towels have raised squares woven into the fabric in a waffle or honeycomb formation. They are lighter, more absorbent and faster-drying than terry towels.

Velour: Velour towels are similar to terry towels, but with the loops sheared on one or both sides. This gives a soft, velvety feel but the towel loses some absorption as a result.

Jacquard: Jacquard towels comprise of a terry weave with patterns woven into them. These appear on both the face and back of the towel.


The Process of Refining a Luxury Towel

The manufacture of luxury towels involves removing small fibres and debris from the yarn to leave only the longest and strongest threads. This makes for a softer and more robust towel. There are two ways to do this:

Carding: This removes tangles in the fibres but does not fully align them, so they tend to go off in different directions, creating a fluffy, super absorbent towel.

Combing: As the material is spun, the fibres are aligned using fine-toothed combs to create a very smooth and silky towel.

The Weight of Luxury Towels

The higher the GSM (grams per square metres), the heavier, denser and, generally speaking, more absorbent the towel is. This measurement relates to the weight of the fabric which is woven into every square metre of towel.

700 – 900 GSM:Our range of heavyweight towels are highly durable whilst giving you a cosy plush finish. It’s noteworthy that the heavier the towelling, the longer it takes to dry after laundering, so please ensure these towels have been fully aired and dried before storing them.

400 – 700 GSM:Our collection of medium weight towels are equally as absorbent as heavyweight towels. They are lighter and take less time to fully dry so ideal for a busy household and frequent use.

150 – 400 GSM:Our range of lightweight towels are incredibly versatile as they are lighter and quick to launder. They are slightly less absorbent so are suited for travel or gym use.


Caring for your Luxury Towels

Always prewash towels in warm or cool water once you have purchased them and take care to separate colours from whites, this is to 'set' the cotton fibres. Note that most towels don’t achieve full absorbency and softness until they've been washed several times.

Avoid the use of chlorine-based bleach, as it weakens the fibres and reduces the quality of the towels. Non-bio detergents liquids are a safer choice than powders which often contain bleaching agents, the enemy of cotton. We also discourage the use of a fabric softener because it dramatically decreases absorbency in towels. The fabric conditioner also leaves a coating on the yarn which prohibits the amount of water the fabric can absorb.

It’s important to remember that some of the everyday items used at home, such as facial cleansers, creams containing benzoyl peroxide, and even bathroom cleaners can damage a towel if they come in direct contact. Remember to rinse your hands of these products before handling a towel to prevent permanent loss of colour. If your towel does come in contact with any of these substances, gently wash with cold water before washing in a machine.

Still not sure which kind of towel would be best for you? Woods Fine Linens has a long-standing passion for luxury linens dating back to 1733, and their experienced staff will be more than willing to help you come to an informed decision. Please don't hesitate to call 01423 530111 to discuss your requirements in detail, or visit their shop in Harrogate, North Yorkshire to experience the softness of their luxury towels for yourself.