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From beach trips to laps in the pool to sprinkler sessions in the garden, a beach towel is a summer essential and you can never have too many to keep your family warm and dry throughout the season.
And with many holiday rentals and hotels issuing stark warnings about taking towels off-site, you’ll want to make sure you stock up on absorbent, quick-drying and easy-to-pack towels in addition to your swimsuits and SPF.
Here are the best beach towels to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall beach towel: Dock & Bay Beach Towels
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
"I've just bought from Dock and Bay. Their XL are massive, dry really quick, sand doesn't stick and they fold up tiny in your suitcase" - iKnowWhoYouAreSir
Made from 100% recycled material and packed away in its own bag, a Dock & Bay beach towel is a holiday must-have.
The eco-friendly fabric (83% polyester, 17% polyamide) is not only quick-drying (three times faster than regular cotton towels) but also hugely absorbent. Sand simply shakes off it too – essential for grit-free beach bags on the journey home.
Available in a variety of sizes, from small (100x50cm) through to extra large, (200x90cm) and a range of jaunty colours, you can kit out the whole family from baby through to grandad with Dock & Bay towels.
- Material: 83% polyester, 17% polyamide
- Size: 200 x 90cm (extra large)
2. Best budget beach towel: Style Slice Microfibre Towel
Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon
A bargain buy, this quick-drying compact towel is great for camping trips as well as visits to the beach and pool.
It comes in a variety of sizes from small (60 x 20cm) through to extra large (200 x 100cm) so it’s a flexible option for different family members, including dogs that like to take a dip! It absorbs an amazing eight times more water than a regular towel so it’ll have you dried off in no time.
Once compressed, it measures a measly 2mm, so it’s great for travelling, as well as being a good option for day-to-day gym and swimming pool trips.
The towels come in a range of 10 colours, and they repel bacteria and smells too – handy for that family member who always forgets to unpack their beach or sports bag…
- Material: 80% polyester, 20% polyamide
- Size: 60 x 30cm (small); 100 x 50cm (medium); 150 x 80cm (large); 180 x 90cm (XL); 200 x 100cm (XXL)
3. Best extra large beach towel: Hammam Turkish Towels
Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon
"Hammam towels are lovely and so easy to wash and dry. Can’t recommend them highly enough" - scunner
These cotton Turkish Peshtemal towels are huge and super-soft, and their flat weave means they take up very little space, making them ideal for travel. The tassels might prove annoying for some, but that’s part and parcel of the peshtemal style!
Their softness means they are perfect for babies and kids, as well as anyone with sensitive (dare we say sunburned) skin.
The fabric retains its fluffy feel after washing and is fast drying, so there’s no need to tumble dry – making them perfect for holidays and days out. Great to stick in your gym bag and the kids' PE kit once the long summer days are over, too.
- Material: Cotton
- Size: 170 x 100cm
4. Best microfibre beach towel: Decathlon Microfibre Swimming Towels
Price: £15 | Buy now from Decathlon
"Decathlon swimming towels. They're very thin, they dry quickly, and sand doesn't stick to them"
Decathlon's microfibre swimming towels are great for year-round swimming as well as your summer pool and beach escapes.
This 110x175cm microfibre towel is huge on absorbency, but compact in size, and at just 406g, it’s not going to weigh down your suitcase, either
Machine washable, very quick drying, and with a cheerful palm print, this towel is a bargain buy for your drying needs at home or away.
- Material: 87% polyester, 13% polyamide
- Size: 110 x 175cm
5. Best designer beach towel: Tesalate Beach Towels
Price: £43 | Buy now from Tesalate
"They're not cheap but I've had a few of these for four years and we use them as gym towels as well as holiday towels. Absorbent, lightweight and they roll up small" - tiktok19
Available in a variety of funky prints and sizes, Australian brand Tesalate's sand-resistant beach towels have something of a cult following.
They’re absorbent enough to hold over a litre of water, and with a rapid-dry composition, these full size, bespoke-blend microfibre beach towels come in at 160x80cm. Despite their huge size (they also do an even bigger double beach towel at 160x160cm) they fold down to next to nothing in their own little pouch – perfect for slinging into your suitcase or beach bag.
- Material: Microfibre
- Size: 160 x 80cm
6. Best patterned beach towel: George at Asda Blue Narwhal Printed Beach Towel
Price: £5 | Buy now from Asda
A bargain price and great online reviews make this vibrant, blue narwhal design beach towel a fantastic buy for your holidays or general summer fun.
Made from 100% cotton, it can be machine-washed and tumble-dried, and its 152x79cm rectangular shape makes it perfect for lounging on the sand or grass before drying off.
It's not the biggest, lightest, or quickest-drying option available, but its eye-catching print is appealing to kids, while its soft and fluffy fabric will mean even the most reluctant drier will enjoy being wrapped up in it. Great quality at an affordable price.
- Material: Cotton
- Size: 152 x 79cm
7. Best pure cotton beach towel: Marks & Spencer Super Size Pure Cotton Beach Towel
Price: £15 | Buy now from Marks & Spencer
Made using Marks & Spencer's 'StayNew' fabric technology, this 100% cotton beach towel promises to look good wash after wash – essential after action-packed summer days. It's also chlorine-resistant, so it should keep its vibrancy and velvety-softness no matter how many times you or the kids dry off after a dip in the pool.
The blue background and pink flamingos give it a cool summer vibe, but it wouldn't look out of place in your bathroom after the last beach trip of the year, either.
Measuring up at an impressive 160x90cm, this will wrap nicely around most adults, and is also great for lounging on.
It can be washed at 40 degrees and tumble dried on a medium setting, too.
- Material: Cotton
- Size: 160 x 90cm
8. Best kids’ large beach towel: Captain America Beach Towel
Price: £10 | Buy now from Disney
A great price with huge kid-appeal, what's not to like about this 100% cotton superhero-themed beach towel? It's a generous size for kids at 150x74cm, and while it's not as thick as some other towels on the market, it scores points for washing well, and being super-soft.
A great one for swimming lessons and bath times too.
- Material: Cotton
- Size: 150 x 74cm
9. Best overall kids’ beach towel: Hooded Owls Jumbo Hooded Towels for Kids
Price: £31 | Buy now from Notonthehighstreet
Not your traditional beach towel, these extra-large hooded towels are perfect for kids who hate getting changed or dried off at the beach. Excellent quality, snuggly soft and made from thick 500gsm Egyptian cotton, these hooded towels come in a range of colours and designs including sports and seashell themes.
Measuring 130 x 90cm including hood, these are designed to fit kids aged 1-8. The towels can be fastened shut and worn poncho style for warmth or getting changed under.
They’re pricey but high quality, and definitely worth investing in for youngsters who want some privacy when drying off or changing at the beach or pool.
- Material: Cotton
- Size: 130 x 90cm
10. Best lightweight beach towel: Pandoo Bamboo Beach and Travel Towel
Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon
These environmentally-friendly towels are made from nylon and 40% sustainable and organically sourced bamboo activated carbon fibres.
They might not be the most stylish to look at, but the small (80 x 40cm) and extra large (200 x 80cm) versions are handy holiday accessories for quick dry-offs when you’re spending the day in and out of the pool.
Softer and more comfortable on the skin than some travel towels, and very light and compact to carry, the Pandoo comes in a range of colours, all with a plain and printed side.
- Material: Bamboo
- Size: 80 x 40cm
How to choose the best beach towel
Look for something that will dry quickly outdoors – ultra thick towels are lovely at home, but a nightmare on the beach. And remember to never use fabric softener when you launder microfibre towels – it can coat fibres and reduce absorbency.
What size is a beach towel?
Traditionally, beach towels are bigger (around 80cm x 160cm) than bath towels so you can lie on them on the beach or on a lounger by the pool. But sizes vary by brand so it's worth measuring up before purchasing. Fast-drying travel towels can be much smaller than traditional cotton beach towels.
Do you need a separate beach towel for kids?
If your kids kick up a fuss about being dried off after every dip in the pool, you might find that a character-based or fun hooded towel makes things easier.
What is the best beach towel to buy?
How we chose our recommendations
Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which beach towels discerning Mumsnet users had bought. We compiled a list of the beach towels they recommended for being soft and absorbent.
We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which beach towels had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customer reviews said about them.
Having collated all that information, we picked the best beach towels we thought would make the best buys.
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