Walk into a hotel, and the first thing you notice may not be the décor or the floral arrangements but the scent. Some of the world’s finest hotels are perfumed with bespoke fragrances that are as integral to their brand as the choice of toiletries stocked in their baths.
Fragrance branding firms like New York-based Air Aroma have created signature scents for numerous luxury hotels, while other brands like 12.29 and ScentAir work with hotels and retailers to create scent-specific locations. But why does scent matter? It all comes down to creating a unique experience for hotel guests.
“We’re creating a lasting memory,” says Air Aroma account manager Carly Fowler. “Scent has the ability to directly influence how a hotel is perceived and remembered. From the moment guests arrive, they want to feel that their experience is special.”
Some hotel groups, such as Sofitel and Langham, create one signature scent that is used across all properties. “With Sofitel, it was very important to them that the ingredients were sourced from Grasse,” says Fowler of the French Riviera town that is considered the perfume capital of the world. “No matter which Sofitel location you are visiting, the scent should transport you to the French countryside.” Sofitel’s signature scent is a blend of lemon leaves, bergamot white rose, jasmine of Grasse, lentisque, patchouli, French vanilla and white sandalwood.
But Sofitel isn’t the only hotel group using scent to conjure a connection. Read on for more luxury hotels with signature scents, and how to bring that scent home.
Tucked high on a cliff on the Amalfi Coast, Le Sirenuse was once the summer home of the Sersale family. Their art and antiques dot the hotel, and Le Sirenuse is still a family affair. Marina, one of the founder’s daughters, teamed up with her husband, Sebastián Alvarez Murena, to create Eau d’Italie, a line of fragrance and skincare products for the hotel inspired by the scents of the Mediterranean — imagine cooling breezes combined with citrus. The scent is available as a scent diffuser ($59), eau de toilette ($80), body milk ($45) and shampoo ($38).
XV Beacon is one of the most stylish hotels in Boston, and when coming up with the brand’s signature scent, the team at Air Aroma took inspiration from the property’s dark, sexy design. The result? A scent with deep, woody notes and a hint of mandarin for softness, as well as bitter chocolate and magnolia. The candle can be purchased at the hotel for $60.
According to Shangri-La hotels, it took six months to perfect its signature scent, called The Essence of Shangri-La. The scent is meant to evoke serenity and calm, a feeling it achieves with bottom notes of vanilla, sandalwood and musk and delicate top notes of light bergamot and tea spiced with ginger. It is available as a candle ($55), diffuser ($68), room spray ($78) and fragrance oil ($59) at properties around the world and on select Shangri-La sites.
While the Ritz Paris may be freshened up after a nearly four-year, $450 million renovation, some things have remained, thankfully, unchanged. Head bartender Colin Field is still crafting exquisite cocktails at Bar Hemingway, the towels and robes are their signature apricot color, and the same heady scent still wafts through the corridors. The hotel has been lightly perfumed with its L’Ambre Ritz fragrance for about 20 years, and guests have come to expect the mix of amber and delicate oriental notes when they walk in the lobby. Guests can bring home L’Ambre Ritz Home Spray ($57) or the L'Ambre Ritz XL porcelain candle ($124) from the hotel, or buy it here.
When Langham hotels introduced its signature scent in 2006 across all properties, it was one of the first luxury brands to do so. Langham’s signature Ginger Flower is a blend of green grass, rose, lily of the valley and jasmine. It is available as a candle, soap, atomizer and scented oil at the properties, but you can purchase the oil ($21) on the Melbourne property’s website. The hotels can also arrange to have any Ginger Flower item shipped on behalf of guests.
COMO hotels are known for their sleek design and pared-down aesthetic, as well as their emphasis on healthy food. Another constant? The delicious scent of the products available at COMO Shambhala, the brand’s in-house spa and wellness area. The Invigorate line includes a massage oil ($15), bar soap ($8.75), lotion ($17.50) and more, all containing a blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and geranium.
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It’s no surprise that many Four Seasons properties have their own signature scent. The Casablanca location has an eponymous fragrance that’s a mix of cade wood, musk, ocean, patchouli and cypress wood. The lobby and spa of the Four Seasons Chicago property is perfumed with Lake Breeze. And the Austin, Texas, location recently created a signature candle, Hill Country Fig Essence ($60), which is inspired by native flora such as sun-ripened figs, coriander and peaches, with a hint of sandalwood and wild cedarwood. All scented products are available at the properties themselves.
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Every One&Only hotel has its own distinct design, and the same philosophy applies to the properties’ signature scents, which often tap into local ingredients. The One&Only Palmilla is scented with Blue Agave products from Lady Primrose, including room spray ($20), a moisturizer ($24) and hand wash ($24). Blue agave is indigenous to Baja, and the bottle design is inspired by a vintage tequila bottle. The One&Only Reethi Rah features CitruSea from Lady Primrose, a blend of grapefruit and frangipani (only available at the Maldives property). The Australian bush is the inspiration behind the signature candle by Lumira at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. The candle has a woodsy base note, cardamom and clove with top notes of eucalyptus and anise and is only available at the hotel.