I stayed at hotels in different places, and each hotel provides different set of towels. But sometimes I don't know what is the purpose of each towel!

For example, attached two photos from a en-suite-bathroom in a businesses-European hotel, with 4 different towels.enter image description here

I think that 1 is to use after shower (large towel) and 3 is used after washing hands. But what is 2 and 4 used for?!

  • 6
    one towel (maybe #4) is probably intended to stand on after coming out off the shower. Sep 19, 2013 at 13:52
  • 2
    A towel question that is both funny and yet an actual question! (= Sep 19, 2013 at 19:02
  • 3
    Some of the answers are getting a bit silly. OP is not asking for imaginitive uses for towels, he's asking what their intended uses are. I think that's fair, like wondering what the extra forks are for at a fancy restaurant. Sep 20, 2013 at 15:15
  • Better ask the room service lady instead of going shy, as different countries may have different ettiquates. Although the above explanations are based on common wisdom.
    – Nafis
    Mar 28, 2017 at 13:28

4 Answers 4


It is difficult to get the size of the towels. So it is hard to link the numbers to exact functions, also because the locations are not standard. In general you will get a towel to

  1. dry yourself
  2. dry your hands
  3. as foot mat to step on after getting out of the shower/bath
  4. as cover for your body/hair

I would guess that in your picture 4 is the for the floor. 2 is either to dry yourself, or to use it to cover yourself.

In the end, I guess you are free to use them as you like. Other functions:

  • You are free to lie on it while your partner gives you a massage for example.
  • Kill a fly.
  • Shoulder pad to collect drips from wet hair.
  • 5
    Yup, one is most likely a foot mat (although I've lost count of the number of times I've accidentally used it as a towel -- handy tip, if there's two of everything else and only one of something then that's the foot mat). The small is hands, the big is the bath/shower towel. The mid size is the one your wrap round your hair after you've washed it (if you have long hair and are prone to do that).
    – SpaceDog
    Sep 20, 2013 at 0:57
  • 1
    Also, if it's a resort type place the big one will be for the pool / beach.
    – SpaceDog
    Sep 20, 2013 at 0:58
  • my father always use no 3 as foot map, and I thought it just his antics. Sep 20, 2013 at 8:34
  • 4
    As for 4: Most long haired people, especially when not home, prefer one towel to wrap around their bodies (that you dried yourself with) and one to wrap around wet hair. Some places also have a wash cloth, which may look like a tiny towel.
    – Ida
    Aug 8, 2014 at 16:48
  • One of them is for the Germans to reserve lawnchairs. Mar 28, 2017 at 15:50

Depending on the hotel, there could be several instances you require a towel, and different ones with different sizes for each of these. Without a great sense of scale we'll have to guess at which is which in your photo, but in general you may need them for:

  • bath/shower towel
  • hand/towel
  • spa towel (may cover part of body)
  • massage towel (may cover part of body, but this is more likely to be at the masseuse than in your room)
  • face towel (smallest of the lot)
  • swimming towel - you don't necessarily want to take your wet shower/bath towel to the hotel pool, or use your salty beach towel in the shower

Naturally each hotel will differ on their interpretations of their needs, given their facilities, how much you are paying, and what they expect you to use.


Where I'm working they have 4 different ones. I'll start from biggest then to smallest:

  • Towel - To dry off after a shower
  • Bath - To step on after shower
  • Hand - used to dry hands after you wash them. Duh
  • Face - the smallest towel for the face

Look at the thing, use it as you would use a towel of the same size and consistency at home. As said, the one in the shower stall is almost certainly not a towel at all but a floor mat to prevent you slipping when drying yourself after stepping out of the shower (and soak up the water you drip on the floor).
There's really no mystery to towels (apart from maybe regional differing customs).

  • I think it's worth asking about differing regional customs out of curiosity. It's just like chopsticks. You can ask for a fork but it's never wrong to ask how to use the chopsticks if you're interested. Sep 20, 2013 at 12:40
  • @hippietrail sure, but OP didn't ask for regional customs. He didn't even mention where he got so confused he no longer knew how to use a towel :)
    – jwenting
    Sep 20, 2013 at 14:48

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