One of the things we like best about staying in a hotel is seeing the creative shapes that the maids make with the towels. If you are trying to recreate the hotel experience at home, or just want to impress visitors when they come to stay, then it’s not that difficult to learn the basics of towel folding at home.
A Brief History of Towel Folding
Folding your towels into weird and wonderful shapes is a relatively modern habit. The exact origins are unknown, but most hospitality experts agree that elaborately folded towels originated on the Caribbean cruise ships in the 1980s. Carnival Cruises claims to be the first company to have towel-folding staff and have even published books with pictures of some of the best creations. Many other hotels, especially in the more touristy areas of the Caribbean and the Americas quickly picked up on this trend and now folded towels are pretty much standard in holiday resorts.
What sort of towels can you use?
Some of the more complex designs have elevated towel folding to a whole new art and use several different sizes of towels, face cloths and even bathrobes together. Don’t be tempted to run before you can walk though, and the easiest way to get started is with a normal bath towel. Colour doesn’t matter, but make sure you get the right size of towel as a bath sheet is too large to fold easily and a hand towel or a face cloth is just too small. It’s usually easier to fold a towel which has just been laundered as they are slightly stiffer and less likely to fall over once folded.
For the beginner, one of the easiest shapes to start with is the swan. There are lots of videos on sharing sites like YouTube to show you how to fold towels, such as the one below. So if you struggle to follow instructions, watch a video a few times, pausing and restarting as needed. But here are the basics.
- Start making your swan by lying your bath towel flat on the floor, with the long sides at the top.
- Hold your finger at the top of the middle of the long side, pinning it down.
- Slowly roll one edge of the towels in towards the middle so that the rolled section stops straight down from your finger.
- Do the same with the other side, leaving your finger where it is. It should form a shape a bit like an arrow.
- Take the pointed end of the towel and fold it back towards the other end, before folding the pointed end back on itself with the end section curved to form the beak of the swan.
- Squeeze the corners of the swan carefully to give the swan a more rigid form before lying the swan on the bed to impress your visitors.
But if you still can’t do it, here’s a video of the process in action.
Once you’ve mastered the art of folding up your towels to make a swan, you can then progress to something a bit more complex using both a bath towel and a hand towel. Towel elephants are made in two sections, with the bath towel forming the legs and body, and the smaller hand towel making the head and trunk.
- Start with the larger towel and fold it in half lengthways.
- Roll each side in until they meet each other in the middle. Then fold it in half again to make four ‘legs’, resting it down so that the bottom of the ‘legs’ are on a surface.
- Make the head of the elephant in the same way as you did for the swan, rolling each side of the small towel inwards from the centre.
- The pointed part of the towel you now have will form the trunk. Take the other two ends and twist them both where they meet to form the ears.
- Turn the “ears” of the elephant inside out to give them more shape, trying to keep the towel rolled as tightly as you can.
- Finally, place the head on the body.
Here’s a video of the process in action.
With a bit of imagination, you can make pretty much any animal out of towels. Lobsters and scorpions are also fairly easy to make, and if you have a couple of safety pins you can even make a hanging monkey out of towels – one towel making the body, another for the legs, and one for the arms. Below are a few more videos with tutorials.