Best towels: The best bathroom, beach and gym towels from under £8

What could possibly be complicated about buying a towel? A fair bit, actually. That fluffy fabric sheet needs to work for you on several levels: it needs to dry you off quickly, not shed whilst doing so, offer softness and comfort, look good in your bathroom, wash well in the machine and last for years. All that before we even get to considering personal taste. Some people prefer a heavy, thick-piled bath sheet in which to envelope themselves (and/or their kids). Others favour a lightweight towel to stick in their gym bag, or a contemporary waffle-knit that looks stylish and dries quickly. There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to towels. So, for this review, we’ve picked five towels that fit those differing needs, from beach towels that make a statement to a more classic style for bathroom comfort. Before we reveal our favourites, here are our tips to ensure you make a top-notch towel purchase. Yes. A big, fluffy hotel-style towel will add a touch of luxury to your bathroom but will be too cumbersome to take to the gym; even more so to bring back home when it’s damp. So here’s a quick towel-type summary. Bath towels need to be absorbent and comfort...

Whether you’re taking a shower, hitting the beach, or heading to the gym, a quick-dry towel

Whether you’re taking a shower, hitting the beach, or heading to the gym, a quick-dry towel is a must-have to reduce hassles, eliminate wet messes and prevent smelly mildew. And since a good towel does more than just dry fast, it should also be absorbent, durable, and soft against your skin. The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab tests towels of all kinds, from bath towels to beach towels. We review them for factors like absorbency, shrinkage, fabric strength, colorfastness, and of course how quickly each one dries. We also have our testers blindly rate each one for softness and the overall feel. When it comes to the materials, microfiber (typically made of polyester) usually dries faster than cotton. Super plush and absorbent towels might feel great, but they can take forever to dry because of their dense cotton loops. That being said, you can still find some 100% cotton or cotton-blend towels that are quick-drying if they use innovative construction techniques or have low piles on top. Both types of quick-dry towels are machine washable and dryer safe; just make sure to use low heat for microfiber. (For more info on shopping for towels, check out our towel buying guide.)...