A hammam towel comes into its own when the sun shines. Used as a picnic blanket, a beach towel, a sarong or even a boho-inspired outdoor tablecloth, this lightweight and fast-drying piece will see you through spring and summer.

But it’s equally at home brightening up the bathroom any time of year (minimalists, avert your eyes: these striking tasseled textiles come in an array of candy brights and graphic patterns and look best when mixed and matched).

Otherwise known as a peshtemal or fouta, the hammam towel, crafted in flat-woven cotton, has ancient design roots.

Traditionally, the towels were made for use in the steamiest of Turkish baths and boast hard-wearing properties ideal for humid conditions.

Indeed, all the towels we tested withstood a machine wash brilliantly and emerged even more supple than before.

Just make sure you go easy on the fabric softener as it can interfere with the towel’s absorbency.

A host of craft-driven and globally minded online brands sell these towels directly from the skilled artisans who handmake them.

As such, a hammam towel offers a nod to the traditional craftsmanship of yesteryear while maintaining a relaxed contemporary aesthetic. It’s little wonder they’ve become a firm festival fave.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Maavi Rio, grey-cream: £29, Maavi

Dimensions: 100 x 180cm
Machine wash: 40C

A chevron stripe is never not cool. We loved this towel for its strong graphic pattern as much as its super-soft feel. Maavi, run by a Turkish/Brit husband and wife team, specialise in quality, ethically produced products. The brand’s towels are crafted from 100 per cent sustainable Turkish cotton before being hand-finished by local women in rural Anatolia. Authentic with a bold aesthetic.

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Ville et Campagne luxury carnac bathroom hammam towel: £35, Not On The High Street

Dimensions: 100 x 170cm
Machine wash: 40C

Delicately hand-woven with a shimmering honeycomb texture, and finished with twisted tassels in old gold, this large hammam towel offers a touch of luxury in the bathroom but it wouldn’t look out of place wrapped around shoulders on an evening out. Also available in smaller guest sizes, and in a palette of complementary shades, the range is highly covetable.

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South Hammam Towels clementine towel: £25, Etsy

Dimensions: 100 x 180cm
Machine wash: 30C

Made by local artisans in Turkey, this authentic fouta mixes traditional craftsmanship with a fashion-forward aesthetic. We loved this towel for its fruity colourway, its intricate geometric pattern and its inviting texture. When washed without fabric softener it became increasingly absorbent, too. A beautiful piece you’ll want to parade poolside.

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Hamamingo Sundae travel towel, tutti fruitti: £24.99, Hamamingo

Dimensions: 100 x 180cm
Machine wash: 30C

This stripy number rolls up neatly into its own compact travel bag yet can hold more than three times its weight in water. The nifty towel boasts fast-drying and anti-sand properties, too, making it the perfect choice for (stylish) beach bums. Crafted from 100 per cent natural Turkish cotton, it ticks the sustainability box while offering an easy breezy summertime look.

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Harfi Esma towel, grey: £25, Harfi

Dimensions: 100 x 180cm
Machine wash: gentle

Harfi set out to celebrate and empower the talented artisans and craftspeople that owners Sab and Chris met while globetrotting. We loved their Esma towel, a beautifully soft peshtemal in charcoal and cream. It’s woven from 100 per cent organic cotton, features striking graphic diamonds and zig-zags, and is reversible, awarding it two-for-one style points.

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Rae Feather stripe edge hammam towel: £50, Rae Feather

Dimensions: 94 x 160cm
Machine wash: 40C

Offering a preppy take is this holiday must-have from Rae Feather, a luxury beachwear and accessories brand where almost everything can be monogrammed – and their nautical-look hammam towel is no exception. Made from soft Turkish cotton with authentic knotted fringing, it’s a fashion statement for boaty types. One of the thinner foutas we tested, but it was surprisingly absorbent.

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Sand & Salt Belize hammam towel, washed pink: £34, Sand & Salt

Dimensions: 90 x 160cm
Machine wash: 30

Easily the prettiest peshtemal we tested, the pink Belize was soft to the touch as well as in colour. The towel comes pre-washed, awarding it a lived in and loved feel from the get go. With feathery fringing and a striking Aztec-like pattern, the two-ply towel is reversible: white on pink or pink on white. A bohemian dream, this one’s coming with us to Glastonbury.

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Bohemia Inca hammam towel, green: £36, Bohemia

Dimensions: 90 x 180cm
Machine wash: cool

Hand-woven in Turkey using the softest cotton on traditional wooden looms, this hammam towel, featuring intricate geometrics, is a thing of beauty. With a bumpy, embossed texture, the towel is a winner on the absorbency front but it’s almost too pretty to be hidden away in the bathroom. A boho-luxe alternative to a picnic blanket, perhaps.

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Weaver Green dove grey hammam: £45, Weaver Green

Dimensions: 100 x 200cm
Machine wash: 30C

More suited draped over the sofa than in the bathroom, this generously sized hammam was a conversation starter in our house. Crafted entirely from around 300 recycled plastic bottles, it’s by far the most environmentally friendly of the bunch and its cotton-like softness had to be felt to be believed. Do steer clear of the iron, though.

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Dar Leone neon pink fouta: £26, Dar Leone

Dimensions: 100 x 200cm
Machine wash: 30C

This Tunisian fouta playfully mixes old and new with its traditional form and contemporary colourway. A must-have for those who want to be seen on the beach, it packs up neatly yet stands out boldly with a flash of high-vis neon. Topping the list on portability, its hard-wearing tea-towel like texture makes it the ideal choice for outdoors.

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The verdict: Hammam towels

If it’s laid-back luxury you’re after you can’t go wrong with Maavi’s grey and cream Rio towel. We found the towel to be super-soft and thoroughly versatile – as much at home in the bathroom as on the beach, and with its gentle, neutral colourway, we found it goes with practically everything. On the slightly pricier side, Bohemia’s Inca hammam towel is a must-buy for its awe-inspiring craftsmanship alone.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.