A good set of towels can really add to the look and feel of any bathroom. With a little shopping around you should be able to find a set of bath linens that is just right for you. Here are some things to consider.
Obviously you want good quality bath linens. But if you're not careful, you may end up looking at the wrong characteristics as signs of quality. For instance, some manufacturers add a fabric softener to their towels to give them a smooth feel. This can seem nice in the store, but it can also make the towel less effective at home. The silicone-based softener can actually make the towel less absorbent. A coarser towel is often of higher quality and will be more absorbent. One quick way to check the quality of a towel is by weight. In towels of the same size, a heavier towel will be able to absorb more water and will prove more durable over the years.
Standard bath towels start at 22 x 44 inches, which may be plenty. Higher quality towels will give you a little extra space with 27 x 50 inches. But if you really want to luxuriate and have a towel you can wrap all the way around, try a "French size" towel at 30 x 54 inches. Hand towels range from 16 x 26 to 18 x 32. The smaller ones are great for laying out on the counter for guests. The larger ones are good for hanging from a ring or bar and allowing them to be used in place. Wash cloths are usually 12 inches square. In addition, you can also get fingertip towels which are 11 x 18 inches.
You can't go wrong with white or ivory towels. They'll add a luxurious look to their luxurious feel. On the other hand, they may be difficult to keep white and bright. You can use bleach on the white ones, but that will make the material coarse and liable to tearing over time. Other colors can really add to the decor and bring out the colors of the shower curtain or other decorations. Remember that darker colors will fade over time. If you really like a dark color, purchase some extra sets of towels in that color that only get used by guests.
Buy enough of each type so that everyone in the family can have two sets. That way, when one set is being washed, the other can be in use. Depending on how often you expect to have guests (and how many at a time), you'll want to buy extra sets of towels for them. It's also a good idea to buy extra sets of wash cloths. These are the items that get used the hardest and tend to wear out more quickly than other bath linens. Also, they're the most likely to get dirty (from removing makeup, for example) and need to be washed sooner than the other items.
Before you use new towels, run them through the washer and dryer at least once. This will take out the excess dye and some of the lint that would otherwise be left on your face and body with the first few uses. Wash them on a normal wash cycle in warm (not hot) water and don't over-dry them. Over-drying can damage the threads and make the towel less absorbent and more liable to tearing. Don't use too much detergent either. That can also damage the towels and reduce their absorbency. Half of the amount recommended on the box is probably plenty. To avoid this, it might help to throw in a cup of white vinegar with every third or fourth towel wash. If your towels have absorbed any detergent over time, the vinegar will remove it.