I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
Les Senteurs is a landmark. It’s not just a perfume boutique, it’s THE perfume boutique. For perfume lovers it’s not just a destination for the best niche brands out there, it’s an institution of the perfume world. The selection of perfumes at Les Senteurs is finely curated and since the boutique opened its doors in 1984 (they’ve been around longer than I’ve been alive!) they’ve been responsible for many ‘firsts’, being the first boutique to stock a number of brands in the UK, such as Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. So Les Senteurs is an important pin on London’s perfume map, but it’s also a joyful experience – a tranquil haven where one can browse beautiful scents in peace with expert guidance.
You’re probably wondering why I’m just now, crushing on a perfume boutique that has been in existence since 1984 and it’s true, my crush on Les Senteurs has been holding strong since my very first visit 10 or so years ago. But I crush especially hard today because Les Senteurs has just had a bit of a facelift and I have to say, for 34 years old, Les Senteurs is looking damn fine. The Seymour Place boutique has now closed, which leaves the original store in Elizabeth Street as the flagship, in which the flag for niche fragrance is flown gracefully and proudly.
The renovation of Les Senteurs is a clever one because it modernises the aesthetic of the boutique but loses none of the spirit that has always made it so special. Things just feel brighter, more open, more spacious and altogether more modern. The cosmetic changes are subtle but impactful, with new wooden flooring, smart, marbled cabinets, statement chandeliers and lots of expansive mirrors. What felt cluttered and a little bit stuffy before (sorry, Les Senteurs, I’ve still always loved you) now feels spacious, clean and bright. It all just looks better, which is never a bad thing!
One key addition is ‘The Wheel of Fragrance’ which sits proudly in the centre of the store and displays Les Senteurs’ ‘SenteurSystem’, which classifies fragrances by family in order to make it easier to find the perfect scent. One can spin the wheel around to sniff a curated selection of aquatics, chypres, florals, fruity scents, greens, hesperides and citruses, leathers and tobbaccos, orientals, woody scents and fougères. The selection is up for debate, as Les Senteurs’ Perfume Archivist James Craven told me, who is also an institution of the perfume world himself, it must be said. Visitors can use the wheel as a starting point on their fragrance journey and can even suggest scents to include in the ever rotating selection. It’s a great idea and a lovely conversation starter.
There’s also a huge amount of fragrance to choose from, off the wheel and on the shelves. Les Senteurs is home to over 30 niche brands and browsing the shelves is like a who’s who of the perfume world. There’s Frederic Malle, of course, and other niche staples like Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Amouage, By Kilian, Tauer and Etat Libre d’Orange, but there is also a strong selection of more subversive brands – the likes of Papillon Artisan Perfumes, Anima Vinci, Mizensir and Heeley. But there’s more than that, there’s even Parfum d’Empire, Mona di Orio, Molinard, Caron, Creed, Tom Daxon, Robert Piguet, and I really could just go on, and on. So in the lovely new consultation space downstairs, one can talk about and sniff all of the wonderful fragrances these many brands have to offer.
Les Senteurs is still the bastion of niche perfumery that it always has been. It still stocks the upper echelon of the niche fragrance world and it is still very much a go-to place for a relaxed browse of all things scented, guided by experts thats are both passionate and knowledgeable. The only difference now, is that it just looks a lot nicer and if you’re into perfume and you’re in London, Les Senteurs should absolutely be the first place you visit. Forget Marble Arch, Nelson’s Column, The Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, London’s best landmark sits on Elizabeth Street behind a blue door (currently under a canopy of flowers). It is the best smelling place in London – fact.
71 Elizabeth Street
Images are my own.