Now, the ultimate bath accessory- Towel warmers

Sunday, February 26, 2006

If your bathroom boasts a spa-quality tub, spacious walk-in shower or chic designer vanities, you might be tempted to think your bath has it all.

Maybe. But if you're forced to brave a cold towel when you step out of the shower or tub, you're missing the latest in high-end bath gadgetry.

Welcome to the world of towel warmers. This staple of many European hotels is now a luxury addition to both new home construction and renovated bathrooms. The warmers are promoted as the ultimate in cozy comfort.

These upscale towel racks operate by electric heat or warm water circulated through pipes. The multi-towel warmers attach to walls or can stand on the floor. The units are relatively heavy, weighing from 15 to 30 pounds and can stand as high as 36 inches. Some models swivel from wall mounted fixtures.

As designer bath hardware has gravitated from polished metals to oil-rubbed and brushed finishes, so go these novel warmers. Some models are gilded with real gold. The interior piping is typically solid brass with a metal overlay.

Because the warmers feature a built-in heating element, homeowners are probably best advised to seek professional installation. In many baths this may require re-routing of pipes, particularly with the hydronic models which produce 500 to 900 BTUs per hour. Electric units operate on 120 VAC with wattage from 150 to 200.

But warm comfort and convenience come at a cool price. Base models in polished chrome start at $739 and the premium racks top out at more than $2,000 for the gold version (intended only for residential use). And that's before installation.

Don't expect to find these upscale warmers just anywhere. Most are available through dealer networks.

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