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We’ve updated this guide with long-term testing notes for several of our picks.
A sleek bath tray that sits across your tub can provide easy access to everything you may want for an evening soak. This sounds like the height of relaxation—until you start shopping for a tray. A quick internet search brings up hundreds of bath trays with a seemingly endless array of features, from special wine-glass holders to slots that hold your tablet. After researching dozens of trays and spending more than 17 hours taking baths with our 13 finalists, we found four trays that should make your evening bubble bath feel like a day at the spa.
Nobody wants to struggle to move a bath caddy around while they’re submerged in the tub.
Keeping common bathtub widths in mind (28 to 32 inches), we avoided both massive, cumbersome trays and those that were too small to be functional.
We focused mostly on functional trays between $18 and $50, but we also looked at a few pricier options that were more about aesthetic and craft.
A well-designed bath tray should be easy to use and aesthetically pleasing enough that you don’t mind leaving it out.
This sleek bamboo bath tray has a nice wooden body and adjustable metal legs, so it’s easy to place on a tub. And it can firmly hold a paperback book.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $38.
Best for: Average to large tubs (28 inches or wider). Great for people who want a multipurpose, extendable bamboo bath tray that can hold a paperback book. (For reference, the tub in our photographs is 29½ inches wide overall, with an inner basin width of 25 inches.)
Why it’s great: The Umbra Aquala Bathtub Caddy is well made, with compartments that include a stemmed-glass holder, a divot for a drinking glass, a smartphone slot, cutouts in the back to hang items such as a razor or a loofah, and a stand for a book or tablet. And this caddy is much more reasonably priced than bulkier trays we dismissed. We found that the slim metal side arms and book stand kept this bath tray lighter than the trays made entirely of wood.
Many bath trays we looked at come with a stand to lean a book or tablet against. But Umbra’s caddy has parallel notches in the wood that make it easy to wedge a small book into place and keep it open. We found that the tray could hold up an 8-inch-tall, 300-page paperback with ease; when we tried a paperback closer to 400 pages, however, we weren’t able to push it in as securely. Even if your book is too big to fit inside, this stand is still great to lean a book against.
The Aquala is extendable, measuring 27 inches with the arms closed and up to 37 inches with the arms fully extended. The tub we used during testing was 28 inches wide overall with a 22-inch basin, and we didn’t need any extension whatsoever—in fact, the tray just perfectly fit before bumping into the shower wall. Though we encourage you to measure your tub to ensure a good fit, this Umbra tray should work with most average bathtubs. The arms are easy to push in and out, and they stay wedged inside unless you squeeze them to remove them.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: One of our editors has a tub with a very narrow rim where it meets the wall, and the Aquala tended to slide off that rim and drop into the water. Although this tray has some thin silicone grips underneath the metal arms to help keep it in place, you may have a similar problem if your tub has an especially narrow rim. I didn’t experience any slippage during my own testing, but we’ll keep an eye out for this potential problem during long-term testing.
Our long-term testers have found that the thin metal arms of this bath tray work well for bathtubs with thin ledges, but those same arms can be a little annoying for storage. Our tester removed the arms to store the tray more easily. But in her limited storage space, she found it more difficult to find somewhere to place the metal prongs than the tray itself.
One of our other testers found that their small paperbacks weren’t a good fit for the stand, but a smartphone propped up on it worked well.
This sturdy plastic tray comes with removable compartments for razors and toothbrushes. It’s easily adaptable for daily use or a relaxing bath—or even for holding bath toys.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.
Best for: Average to smaller tubs (30 inches wide overall or smaller). It’s good for those who want a multipurpose bath tray that’s functional for an entire household and can even stay in place for daily use. (For reference, the tub in our photographs is 29½ inches wide overall, with an inner basin width of 25 inches.)
Why it’s great: The Yamazaki Expandable Bathtub Caddy has a lightweight yet sturdy construction, and it comes with two small compartments you can add to either side of the tray. The compartments are ideal for small items—such as a razor or toothbrush—so they’re good for households that might use a bath tray for both daily storage and a lazy bubble bath. It comes in white or black plastic.
This tray doesn’t have a book stand, so you can’t prop up a book; it works fine, though, as a safe spot to put a book down. Although it doesn’t have a dedicated drink spot, we didn’t find that to be a problem, as it’s almost easier to place your drink wherever is most convenient, rather than aiming for a specific spot. The Yamazaki is the smallest extendable tray we tested, measuring around 22 inches at its smallest and expanding to almost 30 inches. It fits well in average-size and smaller tubs (under 30 inches wide overall), but it may be too small for larger tubs (wider than 30 inches). As always, we recommend measuring your tub beforehand.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Adjusting the Yamazaki tray takes a little more effort than adjusting the Umbra. It’s not hard, but we recommend setting the size before you get into the bath. Even if you manage to yank the entire thing apart by accident, it’s easy to put back together again.
This bath tray shows and retains more dust than the rest of our picks. Our tester had stored this tray, along with a couple of others, leaning against the bathroom wall within a few feet of a litter box, and it gathered a lot of litter and general dust. But we found that it was easy to wipe clean, even after weeks of leaving it to get dusty.
This bath tray looks lovely and is easy to use, and it’s one of the most affordable models we tested. It isn’t adjustable, though.
Best for: Average to smaller tubs (30 inches wide overall or smaller). Great for anyone looking to try a simple, non-adjustable wooden bath tray. (For reference, the tub in our photographs is 29½ inches wide overall, with an inner basin width of 25 inches.)
Why it’s great: The Mind Reader Bamboo Bathtub Caddy Tray is the lowest-priced tray we tested, and we were pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was to use. The lightweight, slotted bamboo design is both easy to handle and nice to look at. This tray also sits a little higher than our other picks; this design happened to make it more comfortable for me to use while reading a book (for reference, I am 5-foot-5). You can place a book, phone, or tablet in the tray, but because of the slotted bottom, this model may not protect your things as well as the Umbra or Yamazaki would.
This tray isn’t adjustable, but it’s a nice size—27½ inches long—that should fit in most average to smaller baths (between 28 and 30 inches). In my 28-inch bathtub, which has a basin that measures just over 22 inches, this tray’s side sat snug against the shower wall, only just fitting. Definitely measure your tub to confirm that this tray will fit, and make sure to keep both the overall size versus the size of the tub’s basin in mind (read more in Why you should measure your tub).
The Mind Reader tray’s slotted design makes it aesthetically pleasing, so you could even leave it in your bath as a storage shelf when you aren’t using it. However, if you also use your bath as a shower and the tray will get wet frequently, we don’t recommend leaving it in the tub for long periods of time (more details on why in our long-term testing notes.)
Flaws but not dealbreakers: You get what you pay for in this case. The Mind Reader tray is not as well made as our other picks; it was the only bath tray we tested that wobbled a bit, although not so much that we thought our items were at risk of falling. The bamboo didn’t have a well-polished finish, and we noticed some minor splintering.
One of our testers kept this tray in her bathtub for about six months straight, including during showers. Close to the six-month mark, the bamboo ended up with small patches of mold around the slot edges. However, our second tester stored the Mind Reader tray outside the bath when it wasn’t in use, and she said her tray “is still in perfect condition.” So it may be good to store this pick outside the bath, or make sure to dry it out and clean it more regularly.
This sleek steel caddy comes in several metal finishes. It also has adjustable knobs that lock the arms in place so that you don’t have to resize it every time you use it.
Best for: Average to smaller tubs (30 inches wide overall or smaller). Great for anyone looking for a caddy that they can match to their bathroom’s metallic finishes or a metal tray with good drainage.
Why it’s great: The West Elm Eldred Bath Caddy is made of steel and comes in five metallic finishes, so it can match any bathroom. The spacing between the metal rungs provides excellent drainage, but it’s still easy to place bath items on this tray compared with cheaper metallic models we tested, where items would lose balance and tip over.
The Eldred has three sections: two smaller sides, and one larger middle. The sides are slim, measuring just over 3 inches, but we found that they could still fit a smaller tea mug. The tray is also easy to adjust and lock in place. Each side has little knobs you can turn to loosen and adjust the arms and then retighten to lock the arms in place. This design is a nice improvement over cheaper models that have legs that don’t lock, because you don’t have to readjust the tray every time you move it.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The metal rung design of West Elm’s Eldred means there’s less water protection, and depending on what you place on the surface, your items may be a little less stable, so we don’t recommend using a book or tablet with this style of bath tray unless you’re okay with it getting wet. Also, at a regular price of $85, this tray is not cheap, but we often see it on sale.
If you have a large or wide tub: Royal Craft Wood’s Bamboo Bathtub Caddy Tray is one of the larger trays we tested. Although we concluded that it was unwieldy and too big for small to standard-size tubs, we think it’s a good choice for tubs that are 32 inches wide or more. It’s a well-crafted tray with removable compartments, a separate soap dish, a book/tablet stand, a wine-glass holder, and a phone slot. The wood also has a nice finish. It measures 29½ inches long when closed and reaches 43 inches when fully expanded.
Our Royal Craft long-term tester has enjoyed the look and the amount of space on the tray, but he noted the large size made it hard to store. He found it needed to be stored flat to keep the soap dish from falling out. This meant it fit only in a linen closet in his home, and this also made him less likely to use it.
A few key accessories can turn a regular bath into a spa day. We already have recommendations for good scented candles, spa-like towels, cozy robes, luxurious bath mats, sheet masks, bath bombs, and waterproof Bluetooth speakers. But we also asked members of the Wirecutter staff for some favorite items that enhance their bathrooms and make them feel like they’ve embarked on a quick getaway.
Several staff members love these relaxing, scented bath salts (which also add sudsy bubbles to your soak).
May be out of stock
*At the time of publishing, the price was $18.
Several people on our staff mentioned their love for Dr. Teal’s two-in-one foaming bath salts, which come in various scents. Senior staff writer Kimber Streams loves the matcha-green-tea-scented Balance & Calm Foaming Bath: “I bought a few different smells, but this one really nails feeling great and smelling gently like a spa.” Senior staff writer Tim Heffernan reports that his wife, Lindsay, strongly endorses the melatonin- and essential-oil-infused Sleep Bath version. “I swear by that stuff,” Lindsay says. “You just feel better, it smells so good, and you smell so good after. It’s magical, I just want to drink it!” A few other Dr. Teal’s scents our colleagues love: Ginger & Clay, Coconut, and Relax & Relief. It’s safe to say we have more than a few Dr. Teal’s fans on staff.
Inspired by Japanese hot springs, these bath salts come individually wrapped in a variety of scents for a fun twist on a traditional bath.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $13.
When you add a few drops of this subtly sweet and woodsy essential oil to your bath, you’ll think you’re nestled in a grove of redwoods.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $12.
If you prefer more-traditional salts with no bubbles, Wirecutter’s Erin Price said that Tabino Yado Hot Springs Bath Salts and Yumeguri Japanese Hot Spring Bath Powders practically got her through last winter. Staff writer Katie Okamoto recommended this traditional Japanese onsen-inspired Nyuto Onsen Bath Soak from Bathclin. We also have a guide to bath bombs if you need more inspiration. Supervising editor Daniela Gorny likes to add a few drops of Juniper Ridge’s Redwood Mist essential oil to really make it feel like she’s forest bathing. Juniper Ridge also offers its dreamy, woodsy scent in a body wash, if you prefer to lather up instead.
Our staffers mentioned a few other items that make staying in the bath more comfortable. Senior editor Marguerite Preston recommends getting a full-body bath pillow for your soak. “I bought this bath pillow on a whim early in the pandemic, and while I cannot claim it is perfect or the best of its kind, it absolutely changed my bath experience,” Marguerite said. Supervising editor Marilyn Ong also recommends getting a cover for your overflow drain “to keep water from prematurely draining through that little escape hole.” It also allows you to overfill your tub so you can get more coverage if your overflow drain happens to sit a bit low. A tub stopper that sits over your regular drain can also come in handy if your tub’s stopper leaks (or if your tub doesn’t have a stopper at all).
To listen to music while in the tub, Wirecutter’s Claudia Pelczarska uses a voice-assisted smart speaker so she doesn’t have to reach for her phone with wet hands. Bath trays can make holding a regular book a lot easier, but you still need dry hands to turn the pages. Marguerite gets around that by taking her Kindle into the bath with her—it’s waterproof. A few people on staff also mentioned that some of our vibrator picks are waterproof, so consider yourself reminded.
Senior staff writer Lesley Stockton takes advantage of a long soak and uses these exfoliating towels to slough off dead skin: “Not exactly relaxing, but a hot bath is the perfect time for a thorough exfoliation.” Lesley finishes her soak with Bioderma’s Atoderm Cleansing Oil as the perfect antidote for wintertime dry skin.
This extra-soft cotton bath rug gives your feet a plush place to land when you’re getting in and out of the bath.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $36.
Made by artisan woodworkers in Japan, this hinoki cypress bath mat adds warmth and texture to your bathroom. The ridged surface feels wonderful to stand on.
May be out of stock
*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.
And when it’s time to finally step out of the bath, placing your freshly soaked feet on a nice bath mat can make all the difference. Marketing lead Jessica Joseph and Lesley both love the Hotel Collection Cotton Reversible Bath Rug. “This is honestly one of the best bath mats I’ve ever purchased. It makes your feet feel warm and cozy, and it’s easy to wash and dry,” said Jessica. Photo editor Rozette Rago has a Cold Picnic Torso Bath Mat that adds a touch of whimsy to her bathroom. If you prefer the look and feel of wood to that of a plush mat, Katie is all about the Tosaryu Hinoki Bath Mat made from Japanese cypress (and also has the matching soap holder).
Adjustable bath trays sound convenient—you don’t need to know your bathtub size to order a tray. But you should measure your tub regardless.
For this guide we focused on the most commonly installed bathtubs: three-wall alcove baths (meaning the bath is surrounded by walls on three sides and has one exposed side where you enter). Home Depot lists 60-by-32-inch bathtubs as the most commonly bought and installed size of tub. (The 32 inches refers to the overall width of the tub, from wall to outer ledge.) Michelle Sammartino, who works in merchandising for the parent company of Grohe and American Standard (which both make bath fixtures) agreed with that number when we talked to her. A quick informal survey of our own staff revealed that our tubs were usually somewhere between 28 and 30 inches wide, so a bit smaller than the supposed standard width. The overall width and the internal basin width are the two important dimensions to pay attention to (see the illustration below).
Basins tend to vary between 22 and 25 inches in width; this can affect how wide the ledges are on either side, as well as which trays will fit inside your tub. We primarily tested trays with a smaller-than-average tub that was 28 inches wide from wall to outer edge, with a 22-inch basin. The ledge on either side of this tub, where the trays rest, was about 3 inches wide. (You can see a photo of the tub we tested in below. We shot the rest of the photographs for this guide with a different tub, noting its dimensions in the discussion of each pick.) We know that a lot of tubs barely even have a ledge on the wall side, though, which might mean that a bath tray will not work for you, no matter how wide your tub is. While you measure, be sure to check for any other features in your tub that could get in the way. For example, my own tub, pictured below, has a grab bar molded into the inner wall, which means I can place bath trays only on either side of that handle.
Though adjustable trays are convenient and easy to store, they can sometimes be irritating to adjust. If you find a fixed tray that fits your bath, it should be the most stable option by far. But if you prefer an adjustable one—and our adjustable picks are all easy to use—make sure the closed dimensions aren’t larger than your tub’s edge-to-edge size.
Before joining Wirecutter, I was the associate home editor at Sunset Magazine, where I covered interior design and home goods in addition to reviewing a wide assortment of things, from smart speakers and home-security cameras to candles and bath salts.
While researching this guide, I looked at dozens of bath trays at a range of online retailers, read dozens of bath tray reviews, surveyed our staff for their tried-and-tested favorites, and interviewed experts at bathtub manufacturers Kohler and Lixil Americas.
Bath trays are something of a luxury product, as they assume you have both a bathtub and the time to lounge in one. We found bath tray prices ranging anywhere from $20 to $220.
But we don’t think that a bath tray should have to be expensive in order to be attractive and functional. We primarily focused on finding trays that looked good and worked as advertised. In our first round of testing, we focused on trays priced between $18 and $50. In our second round of testing, we included a few more expensive models that could make good gifts. I took multiple baths with every single bath tray on our list to test it. And I tried each tray with a book, an iPad with a standing case, a wine glass, a mug, and a drinking glass, each of which I filled with water (to avoid any wine disasters). We looked for the following criteria to determine our top picks:
After identifying dozens of popular models, we tested 13 bath trays for this guide: Anthropologie’s Angie Bathtub Caddy and Maison Storage Bath Caddy, Bambüsi’s Bamboo Bathtub Caddy Tray, Bed Bath & Beyond’s Haven Teakwood Bathtub Caddy, CB2’s White Marble Bath Caddy, Madesmart’s Expandable Bath Shelf, Mind Reader’s Bamboo Bathtub Caddy Tray, Royal Craft Wood’s Bamboo Bathtub Caddy Tray, Target’s Threshold Bathtub Caddy, Umbra’s Aquala Bathtub Caddy, Uncommon Goods’s Swivel Bath Tray, West Elm’s Eldred Bath Caddy, and Yamazaki’s Expandable Bathtub Caddy.
We were excited to test Anthropologie’s Angie Bathtub Caddy as an option for those who are looking for something decorative, but we were disappointed with the quality. The teak wood rapidly acquired water stains, and the brass ties fell out in our drop tests. For how expensive the tray is, we expected a better build.
The Anthropologie Maison Storage Bath Caddy is difficult to adjust—it comes with a tiny, thin Allen wrench that feels breakable as you use it—and due to the deep angle of its arms, it can’t balance in baths with smaller basins (the basin we tested in was 22 inches wide). This tray also sits very deep, and in our tests we found that it would press into the legs of bathers, becoming uncomfortable to use.
The Bambüsi Bamboo Bathtub Caddy Tray is a sturdy tray with a book/tablet holder and a secure wine-glass slot, but the finish on the wood has a chintzy and cheap feel. And the tray’s massive length—starting at 27½ inches and expanding all the way to 41½ inches—made it difficult to adjust inside our bath. If you like this kind of larger, wooden bath tray, we’d recommend the Royal Craft Wood tray over the Bambüsi.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s Haven Teakwood Bathtub Caddy had rough, unfinished wood that felt thin and poor-quality—our test unit had large cracks. The caddy has a book holder, but it’s only an outline of wood with a large, empty center that smaller books could easily fall through.
The CB2 White Marble Bath Caddy looks beautiful from the top, but along the sides you can see a messy seam where the two planks of marble meet. For the hefty price tag, we expected much better craftsmanship. At nearly 25 pounds, this tray is also much, much heavier than any other model we’ve tested—due to its being made of actual marble—and it’s very difficult to move around and adjust.
The Madesmart Expandable Bath Shelf is one of the cheapest models we tested (second only to the Mind Reader), and although it’s lightweight and very sturdy in a bath, we thought the plastic material felt and looked cheap in comparison with other models. In addition, the larger side handles easily gather dust and grime, which the white plastic readily shows.
Target’s Threshold Bathtub Caddy appears as if it could compete with pricey metallic trays like our metal pick, the West Elm Eldred, but although it looked pretty, the spacing between the metal rungs was too wide, making it hard for us to place items on it without their tipping over. This tray was also very deep and pressed against our legs.
The suction attachment of the Uncommon Goods Swivel Bath Tray caught our eye as an interesting solution for alcove baths that don’t have an inner ledge for a tray to sit on. But it wobbled in our testing, and it did not sit level after we placed it on the side of the tub. Plus, although it’s an oval tray, the corners of each wooden slat are sharp, making it a minor hazard to brush up against.
Nena Farrell is an updates writer at Wirecutter covering audio-visual and smart-home gear. She previously wrote about technology and home design for Sunset. She can often be found adding another smart speaker to a random corner of her home, much to her partner’s chagrin.
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