Scent often forms an indelible and subliminal part of our travel memories, which is why it’s lovely to bring back or gift a scented candle from some of Ireland’s most alluring hotels to sustain that holiday feeling …
Top notes of beeswax and Brasso with a base note of bacon and breakfast were often the scents I recall when checking into small hotels in my formative years. How times have changed. Though it shows my age, I’ve lived (and travelled) through the eras of pot pourri and reed diffusers and am very glad we are now in the belle époque of luxurious scented candles – I’ve been known to book hotels (the Park Hyatt Place Vendome, Paris for instance) on the strength of the fragrance memory alone.
Though a niche interest, I am always interested in how luxury hotels and their appointed perfumers capture the spirit of a place and distil it into a fragrance. Especially as the alignment between a hotel’s personality and its signature scent is an important one. If successful, it can transport guests back to a place where they had a good time. If there’s a disconnect, however, it could have disastrous results for brand identity and future business.
While fragrance is subjective, each of the hotels I mention here have created scented candles, made in Ireland, which reflect their charm and character. When fragrance can bring such pleasure, as well as health benefits, why not indulge and purchase one on your next trip?
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, West Cork
This beachside property is a gem as are its eco-friendly soy wax candles hand poured and packaged in small batches (in an old cowshed apparently) in Inchydoney by Louise Kingston. “Any slight variation in the appearance of the candles is intentional,” says Kingston. Reflecting the breezy, inspiring setting, fragrances include Honeysuckle, Ocean and Lavender and they come in two sizes – small, €12.95, and large, €21. Currently Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa has an “Unplug, Unwind and Reconnect” offer, which is two-night bed and breakfast with dinner on one evening and two treatments in the Island Spa. Prices during September are €364 per person sharing; www.inchydoneyisland.com.
The Westbury, Dublin
The latest addition to my candle repertoire, the beautiful Donegal Turf candle, exclusive to The Doyle Collection, is made by a small fragrance atelier which has also made gift candles for HM The Queen and Barack Obama apparently. That should give you an inkling to its refinement and subtlety. Striking a match on the soya wax candle takes me back to a recent stay – the blend of cognac oil, cedarwood, guaiac wood, patchouli, moss and juniper – reminding me of the spacious marble bathroom, contemporary elegance of the decor and super breakfast in Wilde. For couples looking for an elegant getaway à deux, the current “Romance in Style” package includes à la carte breakfast each morning (in your own room if you wish), a bottle of champagne, late check-out, and a romantic dinner for two at the award-winning Wilde at The Westbury; www.doylecollection.com.
Ballyfin, Co Laois
A stay at the impossibly glamorous Ballyfin is the sum of many parts – exploring its private grounds and parkland, with follies and grottoes – as well as enjoying the decor of its luxurious bedrooms. In keeping with the setting, Ballyfin and Rathbornes 1488 have partnered to capture the unique atmosphere and romance of Ballyfin to create a luscious and exotic scent called Redcurrants & Woods. “The candles are burned throughout the house and also available in our little shop,” says general manager Damien Bastiat. Bed and breakfast starts from €470 per person; the candles are €30; www.ballyfin.com.
The Shelbourne, Dublin
Devotees of the Dublin grande dame already know that The Shelbourne has collaborated with Cloon Keen, the Galway-based award-winning luxury artisan perfumer, for its first candle in 2011. This year marks the second partnership with Cloon Keen and The Shelbourne’s new Exotic Woods candle. I’ve been burning this sophisticated candle constantly during lockdown – it’s an aromatic cedar scent with rosemary and grapefruit, that takes me back to happy memories in the hotel’s discreet 1824 Bar. As a gift idea I am sure it will please (€35), or why not treat yourself to one for the autumn after booking “The Shelbourne Escape” – an overnight stay with breakfast from €299. Add on a Movie Night for €40 per couple, which includes hot dishes, sweet treats and a bottle of wine delivered to your room to enjoy with a movie; www.theshelbourne.com.
Sheen Falls Lodge, Co Kerry
An unforgettable location overlooking the picturesque Sheen Falls, this five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel is renowned for its 2AA Rosette restaurant and luxurious rooms, suites and villas. Set on the Wild Atlantic Way, outside Kenmare, the hotel prides itself on its hospitality and the scented candle was created and hand poured by Rathbornes 1488. Peony and white flowers is the signature scent, designed to recreate the relaxing ambiance at the lodge – bergamot, rose, jasmine and patchouli are other interwoven notes. The current “Three Night Saver Package” sounds appealing – guests stay in a newly refurbished room (with divine views), enjoying dinner on two nights – one in Sheen Lounge and one in The Falls Restaurant. Including breakfast each day too, this is €1,140 for two; www.sheenfallslodge.ie.
Castle Leslie, Co Monaghan
Black Amber and Lavender is the soy wax candle made exclusively for Castle Leslie Estate by The Happy Chandler in Monaghan. In addition to amber and lavender, it blends notes of tonka bean, vanilla and clary sage. The current “One Night Break at Castle Leslie Estate Lodge” is very good value and includes accommodation, a light lunch or Afternoon Tea for two, plus table d’hôte dinner and breakfast from €215 per person sharing. Pick up one of its candles, €22, or a gift set of three small candles which includes the signature scent complemented with Irish Linen and Neroli and Ylang Ylang, €35; www.castleleslie.com.
The Merrion, Dublin
The Merrion’s signature scent is clearly identifiable as a citrus fragrance with petitgrain, basil, lavender, cedar and eucalyptus notes. It burns throughout the hotel and can be sampled during the current “Five Star Steal” offer. Unbelievably, it’s one night accommodation in a luxurious double room with a bottle of chilled champagne on arrival, a three-course dinner in The Garden Room Restaurant (pictured above) and full Irish breakfast the following morning for €175 per person sharing. The candle is €25 to purchase; www.merrionhotel.com.
Hayfield Manor, Co Cork
Lavender, Geranium and Tea Tree is the natural wax candle commissioned by the Hayfield Family Collection (incorporating Hayfield Manor in Cork, Killarney Royal and Great Southern Killarney). This natural wax candle, €24, is made by Celtic Candles to “provide a relaxing, invigorating and lasting experience that will ignite your senses and uplift your spirits.” Why not see if you agree – Hayfield Manor is currently offering a “One Night Dining Delight” which includes an overnight stay with four-course evening meal in either Perrotts Garden Bistro or Orchids Restaurant with breakfast the following morning, for €424 total stay; www.hayfieldmanor.ie.
Conrad Dublin, Dublin
The chic understatement of Conrad Dublin is reflected in its Woodland candle – check the Hermès-inspired decor of The Coburg restaurant where I always recommend its Crispy Silver Hill Duck salad. With notes of cedar, patchouli and vetiver, I particularly like the base notes of sandalwood, incense and amber, which make this particularly memorable. Created by The Irish Scent Company, candles retail from €15 – €35. For an overnight staycation, Conrad Dublin offers an enjoyable, elegant escape guaranteed to please all members of the family. www.conraddublin.com
Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara
Surrounded by mature woodland and landscaped gardens, the Victorian country house and estate is full of authentic character, history and style. How to bottle all that is a hard task, but the bespoke Ballynahinch Candle, €18, does not disappoint and has been another of my lockdown favourites, which has fresh eucalyptus and pine notes. A stay at the Castle can be as active or as lazy as you like – I particularly like the quirky details, artworks, comfy couches and cosy nooks by the fire for reading. The September offer is an overnight package with breakfast from €350 per room per night in a Classic Riverside room; www.ballynahinch-castle.com.
The Wilder, Dublin
General manager Barry Francis sent me some notes on his hotel’s candles, which also reveals the attention to detail prevalent in this boutique hotel. “Our Wilder signature candles are custom-blended using natural waxes and perfectly balanced botanicals. Notes of sandalwood evoke a sense of history with the rich woody scent capturing the essence of the Wilder, while rose and geranium aids sleep and reduces stress.” Having stayed at the Wilder recently I can definitely endorse the sense of wellbeing evoked at the hotel. Its overnight “Together Again” package is fragrant in all senses, and includes a bottle of Bollinger champagne, bouquet of flowers created by Appassionata, Maison Margiela toiletries, This Works Lavender pillow spray and sleep mask, cooked breakfast and late checkout, from €260 per night. I say go hither! www.thewilder.ie
Ashford Castle, Co Mayo
Who wouldn’t want their home to smell like Ashford Castle, which has developed a bespoke candle in partnership with Rathbornes 1488? A woody scent with a hint of citrus, the candle, €40, is presented in Ashford Castle’s signature green and gold gift box, available online and at Mrs Teas Boutique & Bakery on the grounds of the estate. Ashford Castle’s “A Taste of Ireland” offer is a luxury two-night stay in an elegantly appointed Corrib Room for two people sharing from €1,110. The offer includes a five-course dinner in the George V Dining Room on one evening as well as a three-course dinner in The Dungeon. Guests will also enjoy Ashford Castle’s indulgent Afternoon Tea service, while breakfast will be included each morning of the stay. Guests have complimentary access to the relaxation pool, steam room and fitness studio as well as the hotel’s 9-hole golf course. This offer is valid from October 1; www.ashfordcastle.com.
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