The Memorable Power of Scent
MGallery by Sofitel teams up with Odette Toilette to unveil Sensory Storytelling
Review and Photography by Andy Barnham
There are some moments in time that we all remember. We remember what we were doing and where we were the moment we heard the news. The typical stand out moments for the older generation were the shooting of JFK and walking on the moon. More recent events include the death of Lady Diana, 9/ 11 and potentially Brexit. Another event, for me, was the death Kurt Cobain which is always triggered by the smell of a certain eau de toilette; sitting in my dorm room, reading Q Magazine when someone burst in to share the news. And why does Davidoff Blue Water always remind me of this moment? As that issue of Q Magazine had a sample of the fragrance that had been peeled open and was assaulting my senses at that specific second.
MGallery by Sofitel are using the strength of fragrances and their ability to evoke memories to enhance visits to their hotels in Bath, Cheltenham and Windsor. Teaming up with Lizzie Ostrom who under the stage name of Odette Toilette offers olfactory experiences, MGallery by Sofitel are keen to bring their individual and historic hotels to life. Through fragrances, the idea is to offer sensory story telling to heighten a visit with scents linked to the heritage of the hotels and the towns in which they are located. Each hotel has had three unique fragrances concocted by Lizzie which have been discreetly diffused into various public locations in each hotel and can be chosen by guests to also be available in their rooms. By doing so, guests have the choice of creating a conscious, visceral sense of their stay, given the deliberate choice of scent in their room, which through a diffuser can be controlled to one’s personal preference.
Given the proximity to the castle, it is no surprise Lizzie looked to royalty, and in particular the Victorian era, as inspiration for the fragrances on offer at the Castle Hotel Windsor, which originally opened in the 16th Century as the Mermaid Inn. Using natural fixatives, the majority of scents available were dense and plush, not to be worn on the body as we do today, rather to be worn on clothes and handkerchiefs. The signature scent, on offer in the lobby and entrance, is leafy and floral with marine notes, while the Windsor Castle Bouquet scent has more rose, bergamot and rhubarb. The third and final scent, Hart in the Park including nutmeg and whitewood, draws inspiration from the royal hunt and the story that a deer given to Prince Albert from Queen Victoria ultimately found it’s way to and was displayed in the then Mermaid Inn and is thus more grassy and verdent.
For the spa town of Cheltenham and the Queens Hotel, Lizzie looked to the Regency era when fashionable men and women would come to the town to ‘take the waters’ following the royal approval of George III when he visited with the queen and royal princesses in 1788. The scents on offer include the Olympian Dew, a rose infused with lychee, the Eau d’Ange (for those who wish to be bathed in an elixir of cupid) of cardamon, cinnamon and cedar, and the signature fragrance, Queens Head a cleansing and refreshing fragrance of cedar wood with green apples.
Located on Queen Square, which form part of the sequence that includes the King’s Circus and Royal Crescent, the Francis Hotel in Bath occupies seven of the original private town houses, which have been interconnected and fronted by a single facade. Drawing on the food and drink from the Regency era, the signature fragrance is the most opulent of all the fragrances on offer at the three hotels consisting of jasmine, orange blossom and patchouli (which was often packed with cashmere to ward off moths). The Capillarie with orange blossom, jasmine, honey and almond is a softer and more delicate scent while the last scent, Negus, consisting of lemon, nutmeg and dried fruits smells more like a mulled wine and the most masculine of the scents on offer.
Sensory Storytelling at MGallery by Sofitel is available from 31st October 2016, priced at £170.00pp which includes and overnight stay, room fragrance, signature Sensory Storytelling cocktail and Afternoon Tea.
Francis Hotel Bath, Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HH/ http://francishotel.com
Queens Hotel Cheltenham, The Promenade, Cheltenham GL50 1NN/ www.queenshotelcheltenham.co.uk
Castle Hotel Windsor, 18 High St, Windsor SL4 1LJ/ www.castlehotelwindsor.com