A Fun and Fragrant Summer’s Day Out in London, Thursday 24th July 2014 – And A Giveaway!

By Tara 

You may know Val the Cookie Queen from her occasional Sunday Foodie posts here on OT as well as her regular contributions to Australian Perfume Junkies. She lives in Austria and we met for the first time in February of this year when Portia came to town. Although we didn’t get to chat for long, I felt an instant connection with her and we have been messaging ever since. So as you can imagine, I was very excited when Val said she would be returning to London in July.


Harrod’s In Knightsbridge, London

On our second day together, we met at 11 o’clock at the Guerlain counter in the Black Hall at Harrods. We immediately honed in on the display for the new Royal Extract which is a 900 bottle limited edition. This “worldwide exclusive” is said to be extremely similar to none other than the much-missed Attrape Coeur/Guet Apens.

Royal Extract[1]We had to ask for a tester which the sales assistant brought out from behind the counter, administering us with a light spritz each. We weren’t going to waste it on paper so straight onto skin it went. Royal Extract is an eau de parfum described as a fruity amber, featuring rose, jasmine, tuberose, peach, vanilla, iris and balsamic notes.


Val, contemplating…

Admittedly it has been years since I had a sample of Attrape Coeur but I was surprised to find Royal Extract opens with very fresh florals. Just five minutes later however and that familiar, singing amber came through. It lacked the richness and throw of the original version, but there was still a strong resemblance. If you can imagine what Attrape Coeur’s summer flanker might smell like, you’d be on the right track. If it were less than £280 for 125ml I may have snapped up a bottle, but that’s a bit much for an impulse buy.

Black Gold[1]

Ormonde Jayne Black Gold

Val had already been to the Ormonde Jayne stand before I had arrived and spotted another Harrods exclusive – Black Gold. So we hopped back there and again the SA issued a single spray onto my forearm. It was extremely good at first but over time settled into a not very distinctive oud/woody scent. A concentration of 50% perfume oil (according to the SA) is certainly very high and I’m sure the ingredients are top-notch but for me it didn’t warrant anywhere near £420 for 100ml.

The notes for Black Gold are bergamot, lemon, mandarin, clary sage, juniper berry, orchid, rose, water lily, jasmine, carnation absolute, oud, tonka, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, labdanum, moss, musk, cedar, ambrette seed and amber. Strangely, despite the extremely high concentration it is labelled as an eau de parfum. Unlike Royal Extract, it’s available from the Harrods website.

Val and Benjamin at Roja[1]

Val and the lovely Benjamin

Next, I managed to drag Val kicking and screaming to Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie on the 5th floor. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but blinged-out bottles at eye-watering prices are not her thing. They’re not mine either but it’s fun to experience and there are a few quality luxury brands there including Puredistance and Parfums MDCI.

We had a nice chat with sales assistant Benjamin, who told us the Parfumerie is due to move temporarily into the Urban Retreat spa until its new home is ready in the forthcoming Salon de Parfums.  Harrod’s is currently building the Salon on the 6th floor and it sounds like no expense is being spared. A number of brands will have their own fragrance boutiques including By Kilian, Xerjoff, Chanel, Guerlain and Dior. It’s due to open at the end of September and I can’t wait to have a nose around.

Benjamin was so charming that he even managed to spray Val with one of Roja’s “semi-bespoke” Private Collection fragrances, which are limited to 50 bottles. Val liked No.9 at first but it faded to something much less interesting after just a couple of hours. A serious case of front-loading all the good stuff, it seemed.

Amouage front[1]Back on solid ground, we strolled down Sloane Street with its luxury designer boutiques and on to the Amouage stand-alone store on Lowndes Street, Belgravia. I had expected the interior to be very cool, modern and white but it was actually very in keeping with the Georgian building and much more English or Parisian in style than Middle Eastern. Vanessa, the French SA, was beyond lovely and super knowledgeable.

Amouage[1] Being pretty familiar with the fragrance line, we had intended to try the attars. Sadly they are no longer available. Vanessa explained this is because some people were buying them, diluting them with alcohol and then selling them on Ebay by the millilitre. Unhappy buyers would then to complain to Amouage. Apparently they are still available in the Middle East but I think it’s a great loss to us, having experienced the beauty of Homage.

I admired the elegant solid perfume compacts (which cost £65 each) and I tried Opus VIII from the Library Collection on paper, which is largely jasmine, ylang ylang and orange blossom. I didn’t find the jasmine as overwhelming as Val had previously done, but it didn’t wow me.  Val is very fond of Beloved and I know Birgit is fan of that one also. It’s a symphonic floral priced higher than the regular line at £285 for a 100ml EDP.


We were meeting Vanessa from Bonkers About Perfume at 1.30pm so we hot-footed it across town to Covent Garden. We joined up with Vanessa who was looking suitably summery for the temperature which was nudging towards 30 degrees centigrade.  We put perfume on hold for lunch at a café on the piazza. You pay a hefty premium for the location but Val very generously treated us to our very filling smoked salmon bagels.


Nick (no flamingo jacket in sight this time), Val and Vanessa

Refueled, we went into the Market Buildings where the Penhaligon’s store is located. Here we met up with Nick Gilbert who is Fragrance Ambassador for the brand. Great job title, right? Nick is as knowledgeable about perfume as he is great company so no one could be better for the position. If you haven’t checked out his perfume blog at www.nickrgilbert.com you really should.

Penhaligon's display[1]

Val hadn’t yet tried Tralala which she liked a lot and Vanessa sprayed the brand new masculine, Bayolea, on skin. We thought it was great, smelling  fizzy and zesty on Vanessa and more like fresh herbs on Nick. It’s based on a classic Bay Rum fragrance from their archives. The modernised version features notes of mandarin, lemongrass, cardamom, black pepper, lavender, cedar, sandalwood, musk and moss and starts at £65 for a 50ml EDT.  Bayolea scents an extensive line of male grooming products which is very fitting considering it originated as a hair tonic.

Penhaligon's cave[1]

While there, we had to check out the basement where Nick will be hosting special events. There are display cabinets with collections of original Penhaligon’s bottles dating back to the 1950s and the fact that it was fantastically cool definitely helped. We sat and chewed the fat for a time, which included a good amount of gossip (par for the course when perfume people get together).

Van Val Ta[1]

Vanessa, Tara and Val

Our next and final perfume stop was Les Senteurs on Seymour Place, behind the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street. We had visited the previous day when Val had tried all three of the new Papillon perfumes on skin. After ricocheting between the three as to which was her favourite, she had eventually decided to take home Tobacco Rose. Unfortunately the last bottle had been bought the previous day so she was thwarted.

papillon at les senteurs

The manager, Callum told us it has sold out several times this month and so it seems to be the most popular of the three. It’s also my favourite and Vanessa’s too, although they are all top drawer.

Magnolia bottle[1]

Val’s spirits were lifted however once she had purchased a 100ml bottle of Frederic Malle’s latest release, Eau de Magnolia, which she has been longing for since first trying it. According to Callum, it’s been selling amazingly well and they were out of 50ml bottles. It’s a truly beautiful fragrance but no doubt the exceptionally hot summer we’re experiencing is helping to boost sales.  Val sprayed liberally there and then. Few perfumes have sillage as swoon-inducing.

A blissed out Val

A blissed out Val

We rehydrated at a café round the corner and chatted until it was time for our evening meal. We went to Roti Chai, the Indian restaurant we had gone to when Birgit was with us in March for the vanilla perfumes event. The meal was great and Val went home with one of their T-shirts. When it was time for Vanessa to catch her train back to Stafford we checked that we all had the right bags.


Apart from the obligatory swapping of perfume, Val had brought us Austrian confectionary and tea-towels with a traditional design, while Vanessa had gifted me with a lovely mug depicting a perfume bottle. So off we trekked to the tube and went out separate ways. Val thought this worked out well because it gave her less opportunity for tears as the trains rolled in. Personally I was on too much of a high to get upset. It had been non-stop fragrant fun with some of my favourite people on the planet.


Attention! GIVEAWAY! Now here’s your chance to win a complimentary fragrance consultation (usually £75 redeemable against purchase) with Benjamin in the new Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, when it opens on the 6th floor of Harrods.

Just leave a comment below stating which perfumery you would want to visit in person, no matter where in the world and that you’d like to be included in the draw. The closing date for entries is August 15th. Good luck everyone and many thanks to the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie!


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31 Responses to A Fun and Fragrant Summer’s Day Out in London, Thursday 24th July 2014 – And A Giveaway!

  1. shylotus says:

    Ah Tara it looks and sounds like a grand time was had all around. I shopped at that same Covent Garden area Penhaligons as well as some on Bond Street. It’s nice to see a warm London day. (Some of my friends in the UK say too warm…) Congrats to Val on the Magnolia – it’s spectacular! Do not enter me in the draw, and thanks for a fun review of your fab time! Amy

    • Tara says:

      Hi Amy,

      We are having the first prolonged hot summer for what feels like ages and I’m enjoying it. Over 30C would be too uncomfortable but at the moment it’s making me happy. We have so many months of cold, dull weather.

      Eau de Magnolia is spectacular! Love that mossy base.

  2. cookie queen says:

    Sigh ………… MORE!!

    • Tara says:

      Ha ha! I think any more and it would turn into a novel but more in real life would be fantastic!

      Let’s do it all over again soon.

  3. Sandra says:

    Such fun!! Thank you for sharing Tara. Love that you were all able to meet up. Please do not enter me into the draw. Xo

    • Tara says:

      Sandra, it was really fortunate considering Vanessa hasn’t been too well and was travelling back to London on the Sunday. I’m very grateful she could make it and that Val could come back to London so soon. It was a lot of fun!

  4. Vanessa says:

    I so enjoyed hearing in more detail about your morning’s sniffing and am even more impressed by your stamina now – that’s a proper perfumery crawl for sure. 😉 I haven’t been to Amouage but the shop looks beautiful. I wish the Guerlain Royal Extract was more affordable – it smelt lovely on you. I can also only vaguely recall Attrape-Coeur, but I think I could spot a resemblance.

    ‘Back on solid ground’ cracked me up, hehe. I am not sure I am on solid ground even now, I had such a great time with you both. Many thanks for my gifts too, and though I would like to visit Aedes de Venustas in NYC and the Ajne boutique in Carmel (when it’s open!) there’s no need to enter me in the draw.

    PS Fantastic photos – they are pin sharp!

    • Tara says:

      We managed to fit in quite a bit and add that to Selridges, Liberty and Gorilla Perfumes (as well as Les Senteurs) the previous day, we did pretty well!

      I wish I bought the orignal Attrape-Coeur, which makes me tempted to buy Royal Extract but although it’s the next best thing, it’s not the same.

      I’d also like to visit Aedes de Venustas since Grant from Basenotes described it as an aunt’s mad attic or was it a mad aunt’s attic? 🙂

      Glad you like the pics. I managed to sift out a few good ones.

  5. Asali says:

    Thank you for this wonderful account, the three perfume princesses in wonderland 🙂 sounds like you had an amazing time. I so want to test the royal extrait, but true, at that price…
    Now, I should love to be entered in the draw because it’s a fab price and the best excuse ever for *having* to come to London soon 😀 the perfumeries that I’d really want to visit, would obviously be the new Haute Parfumerie, but also the new Refurbished Maison Guerlain.

    • Tara says:

      Ha ha! Loved “perfume princesses in wonderland”

      I’m glad you’re entering the draw. It would be great if you “had” to come to London soon! The Salon de Parfums really sounds like it will be well worth a visit. I would also love to go to the Guerlain flagship store in Paris one day.

  6. poodle says:

    I love stories of these get togethers. They look like so much fun. Sniffing and spending is always more fun with a friend.
    I’ve don’t have the opportunity to go to any perfumeries, just typical department store fragrance counters, so I’d be happy to experience any of them. Don’t enter me in the draw. I don’t see any trips to London in my future so thanks so much for sharing yours.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, poodle. Sorry to hear there are no niche perfumeries near you. It is more fun to share these outings with a friend (or two, or more!) but glad you enjoyed the write-up.

    • I love the write-ups of these get-togethers too! They just look like fabulous fun and makes me think that we should start up a little East Coast one of our own (hint, hint dearest Poodle).

      In any case, thank you for sharing your adventures with us! I have been dying to try those Papillon perfumes. They sound so worth it!

      • Tara says:

        You really should organise something. It’s too much fun. It’s as much about having a laugh as it is about the perfume. Just an excuse really 🙂

        I really hope Liz gets an outlet in New York. I have suggested a couple of places for her to try. They are well worth it!

        • We should! We should do a bi-coastal sniffa blowout! If you can cross country lines, what’s a few states to us?

          I hope Liz finds an outlet in NYC too! Hopefully sooner rather than later.

  7. Shermeen says:

    That sounds lovely! I plan on going to London as part of my upcoming honeymoon, and definitely plan a trip to both Harrods and Les scenteurs! My hope is to buy something I can only get overseas, although who knows what I’ll fall in love with.

    • Tara says:

      Oh how lovely. I hope you enjoy London. I’ll enter you in the draw unless you state otherwise.

      Have a wonderful honeymoon, Shermeen!

      • Thank you, tara! I’m sorry if my comment posted five million times, or if I somehow managed to something unusual–I’m visually impaired and am using screenreading software, and somehow it’s easily overwhelmed/confused by this website. Not to worry though-I tend to get my computer to do my bidding when it comes to all things perfume. Thanks also for entering me in the draw. I am so excited for my upcoming honeymoon! It’ll be my first time in London, and my hope is that my poor guide dog and I don’t get lost, although to be honest, getting lost among perfume is never a bad idea! Oh, and because I currently have a friend who is visitting London, I’m getting my hands on the sample trio from Papillon also. I can’t wait to sniff them.

  8. Sabine says:

    What a lovely report, Tara.
    I’m a bit like Val when it comes to the RD hall of bling, but a bit of decadence is not a bad thing, I suppose.

  9. WOW! What a sensational day. Nick Gilbert is cute as a button and it’s so nice to see all you girls swanning around together.
    Sadly there were not enough shots of Benjamin.
    Portia xx

    • Tara says:

      Sadly there was not enough Portia, but I can certainly send you another pic of the lovely Benjamin 🙂

      • No Tara, it may just be too much of a good thing. I have work to do and can’t be getting on a plane for a pretty face, unless its yours. For you I would travel.
        Portia xx

        • Tara says:

          You say the sweetest things, Portia. Surely it’s not possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to you, but I get your point. Big hug x

  10. Kandice says:

    I would love to just go live at the new salon Harrod’s is building! How wonderful that place will be. Thanks for sharing you perfume adventure. It sounds like so much fun. No need to enter me in the contest…I live too far away to take advantage of it 😦

    • Tara says:

      Ha! Kandice, I think I’d like to move in too. I’ll have to report back when it opens.

      Nice to hear you enjoyed reading about our day. Shame you’re so far away. There’s so much to do here for perfume lovers.

      Hope you’re having a good summer.

  11. Undina says:

    Great report, Tara – as always. I enjoyed your day through your story.
    No need entering me into the draw but I wonder, what does that “fragrance consultation (usually £75)” include? Can one just go and sniff around? Or is it a required “entrance fee”?

    (btw, there’s a typo in Nick’s website address)

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, Undina.

      You can absolutely just go into the Haute Parfumerie and sniff around. It’s not an entrance fee. The £75 is to book a one-to-one consultation to help you find a fragrance you love. I think it’s more aimed at those who want to find a high-end signature scent but it could be fun for anyone interested in perfume.

  12. Pingback: Jaunty Capers, Cemeteries and The Rose That Got Away: London July 2014 « AustralianPerfumeJunkies

  13. machula says:

    Ha! Lovely report, looks like you had tons of fun and so many great places to choose from. Where I live (Slovakia), sniffing opportunities are poor, so I usually go to Vienna, if I desire something niche (or order samples, thanks god for the internet :).
    I’ve never smelled anything from Penhaligon, so I guess I’d love to visit.

  14. Anka says:

    Thanks for the sniffing report and the lovely pictures, Tara! I esp. like the one where Val is indulging herself in EdM, this looks blissful.
    A fragrance consultation in London really sounds fun, we are planning a trip for April next year…
    So, as for perfumeries, I would love to visit Harrods and Les Senteurs – to try the bespoken Papillon perfumes and hopefully some of the 4160 Tuesdays ones.

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