There are a lot of opinions surrounding the relative merits of cotton vs. synthetic towels. Both of them are really fine to use. And whether toweling off after a swim during your stay at a hotel or after a bath at home, it really all boils down to personal preference. Since both have their own pros and cons, you might find that one is better suited to your tastes than the other. Your choice is just that – your choice – no better or worse than what other people prefer. But there are differences.
Recently, the use of cotton towels by many hotels and health spas has declined. This is probably because synthetic towels are generally less expensive and dry faster than 100% cotton. Generally, cotton towels are very good at absorbing moisture. This is the reason why bathrobes are most often made of real cotton. They are able to absorb the water from your body in no time at all so you can avoid feeling cold when you step out of the pool or jacuzzi.
However, this strength of cotton towels is also its weakness. Although cotton towels are very good at absorbing moisture, it also takes a lot of time before they dry out. This means that they are pretty much useless once they are soaked with water. Even if you wring them out completely, you still will not be able to rid them of moisture to make them usable again in the short term. This is why you'll find that swimmers often use some cotton towels when they are training. It gives the used towels a chance to dry up completely.
Synthetic towels, on the other hand, are free from this particular flaw of cotton towels. When absorption ability is the main issue, there is no doubt that that cotton towels will win hands down. However, synthetic towels are able to get rid of absorbed water completely even with a simple wringing. It's reliably easy to remove the moisture completely and you do not have to use so many towels. A synthetic towel is reusable in this way, and relieves you off the burden of having a pile of towels to wash frequently all at once. You can use them for longer periods of time between laundry.
The other disadvantage of using cotton is that the cotton towels are softer and often less durable than synthetics. After you have used them several times, surviving the wash becomes more of a challenge and they tend to get threadbare quicker. Unlike synthetic towels that are able to go through many more washings and stay intact, cotton towels are more prone to damage with regular use. Synthetic towels are also good for use in more demanding jobs like spills. However, when absorption quality is concerned, cotton towels are still better.
The common wisdom says that cotton is more luxurious than synthetic. But since both of them have their pros and cons, you can just choose the one you think is best suited for your taste or particular use, although many people purchase towels as an afterthought and cost and / or impulse become the overriding purchasing factor.