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How Scent Memories Are Reinventing the Future of Home Fragrance

Pre-COVID, Lindsay Silberman traveled one to two weeks a month. For the New York–based blogger and influencer, counting countries was a bit of a competition (she’s currently up to 63), but the past year put a grinding halt to what was not only her hobby, but a full-on way of life.

Instead of staying stagnant, Silberman launched a home-fragrance brand called Hotel Lobby Candle that she categorizes as a five-star experience that can “transport you from your living room to a fancy resort.”

“Those ‘scent memories’ are really what inspired me to launch the brand. [Silberman’s October presale sold out in 24 minutes, and the restock sold out as well.] For years, I have wanted to bring the scents of my favorite hotels into my home, but I never knew where to find them, so I created the brand myself. I’ve always said that there is something really special about fragrance within the context of hotels. Once you check in, you’re engulfed in the property’s signature scent, and any time you return, it’s like coming back to a familiar place.”

As ‘stay at home’ enters an unspecified time frame, hotels, celebrities and fragrance-philes alike reinvent what it means to scent the spaces we spend our days in.

Among some of Silberman’s favorite places: The Edition (New York and Miami), The Shangri-La, 1 Hotels, Hoxton Hotels, Four Seasons, Hotel Costes, The St. Regis Aspen Resort, and The Ritz-Carlton New York. “My initial plan was to launch in 2021, but when COVID hit and we were no longer able to travel, I saw how badly everyone, myself included, wanted an escape,” she explains. “It seemed like a no-brainer to launch earlier than planned, so I sped up the process. People are absolutely loving the idea that if we aren’t able to travel to the hotels we love, at the very least, we can make our homes smell like them.”

Tara Cruz, senior spa director at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, is also a big proponent of bringing the hotel—and spa—scents home. “Scent has such a special meaning for so many people, and it manages to transport them to a different time,” she says, adding that the spa has seen a rise in purchases for anything and everything at-home scent-related right now, including the spa’s essential oil, aromatherapy-based skin-care and body-care offerings, as well as the hotel’s signature candle. “Self-care seems more of a necessity than a luxury these days. Creating wellness rituals is an important step in the right direction when managing stress and anxiety. Incorporating emotion-triggering scents can easily transport you into the peaceful state you seek to be in.”

It’s that “bring it home” desire that COMO Shambhala Group operations director, Lisa Manser, who oversees COMO Hotels and Resorts’ sister brand COMO Shambhala, says is what is sparking some very serious scent-related purchases—to the tune of box loads in bulk. From Turks and Caicos to Bali, with a chic, London city-center location in between, the wellness brand weaves the signature scent of COMO Shambhala Invigorate—an uplifting and balancing blend of elevating eucalyptus, peppermint, geranium and lavender oils that promote energy and concentration— throughout its 15 properties around the world.

“It is very much, ‘If we cannot come to COMO, COMO Shambhala can come to us’ right now. Our signature COMO Shambhala Invigorate scent is so well-known, and we have had many guests ordering bulk purchases. It is not all about bringing COMO Shambhala ‘home,’ but also the beneficial wellness effects, which are so helpful during times of lockdown, ongoing stress and fatigue.”

Manser acknowledges the purchases aren’t just about fragrancing a room or deploying daydreams of an ocean-view bed with room service. “In general, people are becoming so much more aware of the varied benefits of aromatherapy essential oils. Whether it’s for stress or sleep, I am definitely seeing more people using them in their homes. The power of aromatherapy is very real, especially when it comes to our well-being.”

It’s the well-being factor that fueled Academy Award–winner Anthony Hopkins to launch his own “passion project” of a home-fragrance line as well, with all proceeds going to No Kid Hungry.

When you smell a fragrance that has that wonderful feeling, it overtakes you.

“Fragrances have always played an important role in my life. For me, they are a form of meditation. Whether I’m acting, playing music or painting, fragrance creates a mood of peace and invokes a sense of gratitude.”

Likewise, celebrity floral designer Eric Buterbaugh (he is also the creator of the eponymous fragrance line) says he appreciates the art of scent, mainly for its ability to bring you to a “special place.”

“When you smell a fragrance that has that comforting, wonderful feeling, it overtakes you,” he says. “During a hard time like this, it’s very easy to get lazy. Whatever you can do to keep a special routine—light a candle, spray a perfume, set a bouquet—to feel pretty and normal, is so important.”

Celeb Duo:

When asked to select two of her favorite fragrance-related gifts to give, for Naomi Watts, it comes down to two winners: “Costa Brazil Vela Candle ($165) is super luxe and the perfect gift for that person who’s gone above and beyond in their support of you. Sustainably sourced ingredients, no animal testing, free of all the nasties, and smells totally exotic—a transportive indulgence. If you need a more budget-friendly option, Tennen Wandering Moss Incense ($58) is just as divine. What I like about incense is that a little goes a long way and it doesn’t take much burning to fill a room.”

—Naomi Watts, cofounder, ONDA Beauty

Trans Scent

From shiny, scented rocks to a really good room spray, these are our favorite luxe—and functional—fragrances of the moment

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Costa Brazil Resina De Breu ($145)

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Acqua di Parma Profumi Dell’orto Diffuser ($102)

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Bodha Smokeless Incense in Tenderness ($48)

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Byredo Room Spray in Fleur Fantome ($120)

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Eight Saints Daily Ritual Essential Oils Set ($79)

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The Nue Co. Forest Lungs ($95)

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Vitruvi Stone Diffuser ($119) in Honey

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diptyque Tubereuse candle graphic collection ($40)

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