Monday, June 29, 2015

The All New London Perfume Shopping Guide (Updated: 4th December 2016)


THIS POST WAS SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2015/16
JASMINE UK 'PRACTICAL GUIDE' AWARD

As some of you may be aware, about 4 years ago, I published a guide to my favourite perfumeries in London. Little did I know how successful that post would turn out to be. It enjoyed critical plaudits. It quickly became the most frequently-visited article on this site. And, most gratifyingly, it led to countless emails from and encounters with scentusiasts who said they found it invaluable during their wanderings around the capital. In order to keep up with a constantly shifting retail scene, I have updated it fairly regularly, but I've decided that the time has come for a more extensive revision. So I am now very pleased and excited to unveil the brand new London Perfume Shopping Guide, version 2.0.

The small print is essentially the same as it was last time. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the scent-selling outlets in London. Instead, it is a reflection of what I consider to be the finest aspects of the city's perfume shopping scene. If I've omitted any noteworthy spots, please let me know, and I'll consider incorporating them. To the best of my knowledge, all the information below is correct; I will continue to review and update it. Unless stated otherwise, the fragrances I mention as being stocked by certain shops may well be available in others. Please check opening times before you undertake any long journeys. Don’t try to cram all of the below into one day. If you'd like to visit every single shop listed, I’d suggest being kind to your nose and putting aside at least two days.

I've presented the shops in what you might call a vaguely geographic order, meandering from Knightsbridge in a twisty, turny, north-easterly direction (check out the Google map below). A few tips before you head off into the scented wilderness. Take an umbrella with you. Put on some comfortable, sensible shoes. Make sure you have access to a map of the city (either in the form of a paperback A-Z or an app on your phone). And grab a notebook and a pen for all those blotters you're likely to accumulate. Most importantly: enjoy the journey! Here we go...



What's it called?
Parfums De Nicolaï
Where is it?
101a Fulham Road, SW3 6RH - Underground: South Kensington
What's the phone number?
020 7581 0922
Why should I go there?
It's the brand's only UK boutique, which makes it the perfect place to sample Patricia De Nicolaï's exemplary work. Be warned: the shop is tiny, so you might miss it at first glance.

What's it called?
Harrods
Where is it?
87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL - Underground: Knightsbridge
What's the phone number?
020 7730 1234
Why should I go there?
Lots of reasons! A few Londoners seem to enjoy turning up their nose at what they sometimes refer to as Horrids, claiming that it's pretentious, garish and excessively focussed on tourists. I concede that negotiating its many enclosures can be exhausting at busy times, but I remain fond of the place. It play the 'bling' card like no other store in the city. Its staff are usually knowledgeable and helpful. And, most importantly for our purposes, it stocks an impressive selection of fragrance brands, many of which sell Harrods-exclusive pieces.

The Black Hall on the ground floor is the most famous of the shop's scent-selling spaces. Its Guerlain counter features the non-mainstream lines (such as Les Elixirs Charnels and L'Art Et La Matière), but it's worth bearing in mind that some of these keep flitting back and forth between here and Selfridges (see below), so if you're hoping to find something specific, do phone ahead. At the Cartier section you can try Mathilde Laurent's Les Heures De Parfum. There are also counters for Bond No. 9, as well as Dior's Collection Privée, Lubin, Chantecaille, Hermès, 777, Amouage, Dear Rose, Atkinsons, Nasomatto and Byredo. In nearby rooms, you'll find Etat Libre D'Orange, Miller Harris, Jo Malone and Serge Lutens' painfully-priced Section D'Or range.

The latest addition to Harrods' perfume shopping scene is the Salon De Parfums on the sixth floor (the best way to get it to is via the escalators by door number 3). A gorgeous cluster of in-store boutiques from the likes of Guerlain, Dior, Chanel, Henry Jacques and Tom Ford, it also incorporates the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, which stocks Roja Parfums' semi-bespoke creations as well as exclusives and one-offs from Grossmith, Houbigant, Caron, Molinard and Puredistance. For a full report on this scented haven, please click here.

Do think about popping into the Gentleman's Lounge too. Formerly a basement pub, it's accessible via a flight of stairs in the menswear department. Most of its stock can be found elsewhere in the store, but it's the only place where you'll see Czech & Speake and it never seems to be crowded.

Anything else I need to know?
No perfume outing is complete without a coffee and a bite of something sweet, and as it so happens, Harrods is the site of one of my favourite patisseries in London: the gorgeous, pastel-coloured Laduree on the ground floor. Irresistible.


What's it called?
Amouage
Where is it?
14 Lowndes St, SW1X 9EX - Underground: Knightsbridge
What's the phone number?
020 7245 1139
Why should I go there?
The brand's fragrances are enticement enough, but as this must be the main contender for the award of 'Most Beautiful Perfumery In London', it would be a sin not to visit it. Its gorgeous antique furniture, subtly Arabian design touches and innovative window displays are a wonderful showcase for the full range of perfumes (including extraits), bath products and home scents. The staff are always great.

What's it called?
Harvey Nichols
Where is it?
109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ - Underground: Knightsbridge
What's the phone number?
020 7235 5000
Why should I go there?
Although it's a short distance from Harrods, it's much quieter than its flashier cousin and its specialist niche department has made a significant comeback after having spent a few years in the doldrums. Several non-mainstream brands (such as Jovoy, Neela Vermeire, LM Parfums, Friedemodin, Nejma, Organic Pharmacy, Evody and Memo) are now on prominent display on the ground floor, together with occasional exclusives. HN is also the only place in London which stocks The Different Company.

What's it called?
Santa Maria Novella
Where is it?
Piccadilly Arcade, SW1Y 6NH - Underground: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus
What's the phone number?
020 7493 1975
Why should I go there?
With a history that dates back to 1612, SMN is the oldest perfume brand still in existence. Its pot pourri has countless fans.

What's it called?
Fortnum & Mason
Where is it?
181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER - Underground: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus
What's the phone number?
020 7734 8040
Why should I go there?
Its elegant, newly-refurbished refurbished perfume section on the second floor now comprises three distinct areas, spanning the full range of perfumed goodies, from ubiquitous mainstream creations to uber-tiny artisanal brands. Come here to sample Grossmith, Montale, MDCI, Agonist, Etat Libre D'Orange, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Illuminum, Arquiste and 4160 Tuesdays. The Micallef selection contains three world-exclusives - 1707 Pink1707 Blue and 1707 For Gentlemen - released to mark F&M's 300th anniversary.
Anything else I need to know?
Surprise, surprise, the store contains several places in which to enjoy a drink. The most famous is The Gallery, accessible via the ground floor.


What's it called?
Ormonde Jayne
Where is it?
12 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, W1S 4SL - Underground: Green Park
What's the phone number?
020 7499 1100
Why should I go there?
This is probably the most relaxed setting in which to try OJ's much-loved creations and to indulge in the brand's 'perfume portrait' service.

What's it called?
Dover Street Market / Comme Des Garçons
Where is it?
17-18 Dover Street, W1S 4LT - Underground: Green Park [The shop has now relocated to: 18-22 Haymarket, SW1Y 4DG - Underground: Piccadilly Circus]
What's the phone number?
020 7518 0680
Why should I go there?
All of CDG's 'exclusive' releases can be found here... but do watch out for the snooty staff!

What's it called?
Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle
Where is it?
14 Burlington Arcade, W1J 0PH - Underground: Green Park
What's the phone number?
020 7409 2364
Why should I go there?
Although the brand's wares have long been available at Liberty and Les Senteurs, this dedicated store - with its superb staff and intimate consultation salon on the first floor - is the perfect setting in which to submerge oneself into the Malle universe. Design geeks take note: the decor is based on Malle's own New York pad.

What's it called?
Chanel
Where is it?
158-159 New Bond Street, W1S 2UB - Underground: Green Park or Oxford Circus or Bond Street
What's the phone number?
020 7493 5040
Why should I go there?
The perfumery department of what is the largest Chanel boutique in the world is, paradoxically, on the small side; I daresay you might have a more comfortable wander through the brand's scented output at Selfridges or at Harrods' Salon De Parfums. However, with its numerous artworks and heritage-conscious design touches, this particular store is very much a tribute to all that is Mademoiselle Chanel, so for that reason, it's worth a look. (For a post I wrote on the shop when it opened, please click here.)

What's it called?
Hermès
Where is it?
155 New Bond Street, W1S 2UA - Underground: Green Park or Oxford Circus or Bond Street
What's the phone number?
020 7499 8856
Why should I go there?
As effortlessly chic as you'd expect, the store stocks all the Hermessence creations, as well as various other hard-to-find releases. The staff are absolutely top-notch.

What's it called?
Fenwick
Where is it?
63 New Bond Street, W1S 1RQ - Underground: Bond Street or Oxford Circus
What's the phone number?
020 7629 9161
Why should I go there?
In recent years, Fenwick has become a serious contender on London's niche landscape, which makes its recent facelift all the more apt and welcome. Tranquil and unpretentious, it offers releases from Ex Idolo, Olfactive Studio, Arquiste and Andrea Maack, as well as more familiar fare from mainstream brands.

What's it called?
Avery Fine Perfumery
Where is it?
27 Avery Row, W1K 4AY - Underground: Bond Street or Oxford Circus
What's the phone number?
020 7629 1892
Why should I go there?
The store's concept may be off-putting to some - you're expected to sit and have testers brought to you rather than being free to browse through the selection at your leisure - but if you're after Nez À Nez, Profumi Del Forte, Andrea Maack, Re Profumo and SoOud, this is the place to visit.

What's it called?
Les Senteurs
Where is it?
2 Seymour Place, W1H 7NA - Underground: Marble Arch
What's the phone number?
020 7183 5842
Why should I go there?
A veritable institution on the capital's perfume circuit, Les Senteurs has been wowing customers for decades. It stocks too many interesting brands for me to list here, but the following are worth mentioning: Tauer PerfumesFrederic Malle; Neela Vermeire Creations; Knize; Papillon; By Kilian; Maison Francis Kurkdjian; Ex Idolo; Parfums De Rosine; Serge LutensParfumerie GénéraleHuitième ArtEtat Libre D'OrangeGrossmith; Bex; Eau D'Italie; Les Nez; 4160 Tuesdays. The shop also runs a series of popular scent-related events. Visit their website for more info.
Anything else I need to know?
There's an older, smaller branch of Les Senteurs at 71 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9PJ - Underground: Sloane Square; tel: 020 7730 2322. If you're near Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Amouage et al, you may find this branch more convenient, but do note that it doesn't carry exactly the same lines as the Seymour Place store.


What's it called?
Selfridges
Where is it?
400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB - Underground: Bond Street or Marble Arch
What's the phone number?
0800 123 400
Why should I go there?
Selfridges' Chanel perfume hall on the ground floor is a gorgeous setting in which to try the brand's Les Exclusifs and the extraits. Dior’s fragrance enclosure, which sells the Collection Privée, is beautiful too. The Guerlain counter stocks an ever-changing selection of exclusives and special editions. The latest addition to the Yellow Palace's scented porfolio is a somewhat secluded, niche-focussed enclosure on the ground floor which currently stocks Frederic Malle, Ormonde Jayne, Diptyque, Penhaligon's, Gri Gri, The Fragrance Kitchen, Miller Harris and JusBox. It is also the only place in the city where you'll find L'Artisan Parfumeur. Oh, and try to spare a few moments for the Avery Gallery on the 4th floor, which stocks the brands you'll also find at the Avery Fine Perfumery (see above).
Anything else I need to know?
If you don't mind the crowds, Selfridges offers plenty of great options for sustenance.

What's it called?
Lush
Where is it?
175-179 Oxford Street, W1D 1JS - Underground: Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road
What's the phone number?
020 7789 0001
Why should I go there?
Lush's unusual Gorilla Perfumes are always worth a sniff, so what better place in which to explore the range than the brand's flagship London outlet.

What's it called?
Le Labo
Where is it?
28a Devonshire Street, W1G 6PS - Underground: Baker Street or Regent’s Park
What's the phone number?
020 3441 1535
Why should I go there?
There are very good Le Labo counters at both Harrods and Liberty, but if you'd like to buy the brand's scents in the 15 ml bottles or you wish to see some of their quirkier products, you'll have to come here.

What's it called?
Perfumer H
Where is it?
106a Crawford Street, W1H 2HZ - Underground: Baker Street or Marble Arch
What's the phone number?
020 7258 7859
Why should I go there?
Having cut her ties with Miller Harris - the brand she founded over a decade ago - Lyn Harris has now returned with this more overtly 'niche' venture, designed to showcase the richness and density of her current perfumery style. There is much to sample and admire in this austere, minimalist boutique, not least the so-called 'seasonal collection' in which new interpretations of key fragrance families (chypre, fougère etc) will be released twice a year.

What's it called?
Liberty
Where is it?
Great Marlborough Street, W1B 5AH - Underground: Oxford Circus
What's the phone number?
020 7734 1234
Why should I go there?
The 19th century store remains the most interesting multi-brand destination outside Knightsbridge and Belgravia. It features stand-alone counters for Le Labo, Frederic Malle, Byredo and Diptyque. Its 'general' shelves stock a respectable range including Nasomatto, Escentric Molecules (This Company), Serge Lutens, Comme Des Garçons, Ineke, Nana De Bary, Profumi Del Forte, Odin, Agonist, Linari, Miller Harris, Aedes De Venustas, Annick Goutal and Room 1015, amongst others. The staff at the dedicated concessions are excellent, but Liberty’s own employees tend to be rather aloof and preoccupied.
NEWS: The Liberty beauty section is currently undergoing a refurbishment. Stay tuned for updates.

What's it called?
Bloom
Where is it?
4 Langley Court, WC2E 9JY - Underground: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
What's the phone number?
020 7240 0338
Why should I go there?
This new branch of Bloom is fast becoming one of London's most attention-worthy niche stores. Ranges on offer include Vero Profumo, Jazmin Saraï, Arquiste, Ann Gerard, Baruti, Angela Ciampagna, Parfumerie Generale, Huitieme Art, Bogue, Olfactive Studio, Grossmith, Etat Libre D'Orange, Frapin and Nasomatto. Check out their excellent website for full details.
Anything else I need to know?
The original branch of Bloom is still open at 4 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR (Underground: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street; telephone: 020 7247 6148). The Hanbury Street branch of Bloom has been closed down.

What's it called?
Penhaligon's
Where is it?
Unit 13, Covent Garden Market Building, WC2E 8RB - Underground: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
What's the phone number?
020 3040 3030
Why should I go there?
The staff here couldn't be more charming and helpful, which is why I always enjoy popping in to say Hello, even if I'm not planning to buy anything. It's also great seeing the collection of vintage bottles in the basement.
Anything else I need to know?
What the brand calls its flagship store is just around the corner on 41 Wellington Street, so you may like to go there instead, particularly if you're planning to indulge in a fragrance profiling session.

And finally, somewhat off the beaten track...

What's it called?
Angela Flanders
Where is it?
4 Artillery Passage, E1 7LJ - Underground: Liverpool Street
What's the phone number?
020 7247 7040
Why should I go there?
It stocks the full range of creations from the eponymous, award-winning perfumer, who passed away in April 2016.

What's it called?
Roullier White
Where is it?
125 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HU - Nearest station: East Dulwich
What's the phone number?
020 8693 5150
Why should I go there?
RW sells a surprising number of UK exclusives and it often serves as a useful barometer for which brands are likely to move into more high-profile stores. It's worth seeking out if you'd like to try Neela Vermeire Creations, Ex Idolo, Nobile 1942, Slumberhouse, Histoires De Parfums and Smell Bent.

Do keep checking back for updates, additions and amendments. And do please let me know if any of the info above is incorrect or whether I've missed out any of your favourite haunts.

Happy shopping!

Persolaise.


UPDATES
4th December 2016 - updated info on Bloom
20th November 2016 - updated info on Harrods, Comme Des Garcons and Harvey Nichols
20th June 2016 - update on Bloom
14th June 2016 - updates on Selfridges
9th June 2016 - addition of new fragrance space at Selfridges; updates on Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Les Senteurs, Selfridges, Liberty, Bloom and Angela Flanders
9th May 2016 - updates on Harrods, Frederic Malle boutique, Selfridges and Liberty
29th Nov 2015 - addition of Perfumer H; updates on Frederic Malle and Fenwick
20th Sep 2015 - updates on Frederic Malle boutique, Fenwick and Les Senteurs
3rd Sep 2015 - amended layout

16 comments:

  1. Fantastically comprehensive!- and very good on the advice: I walked past PDN's boutique at least twice before realising that what I thought was a tobacconists must be it. But there is a bit more in Covent Garden, maybe worth noting as Covent Garden Extras- the Chanel pop-up (which has popped up and remained, or at least until I last went there)- a nice comfortable place to smell Les exclusifs- plus there is the Miller Harris Boutique. With the Bloom boutique now there too (as you have noted), it makes a nice smaller shopping area to rival the Knightsbridge and Belgravia area, and the Oxford Street and Mayfair Area. I've never visited Avery perfumes, but I shall give that a miss- such a rigmarole to sniff something would irritate me completely. Fenwicks (as you also note, although you don't commonly pluralise it like I do!) really is a bit of a gem. No love for Creed or Floris, I see! I know that to fully list Liberty's great brands would be a tiresome exercise, but the ones I feel should be added are S perfume, Helmut Lang and Divine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, thanks very much indeed for taking the time to share your thoughts. You're right about the concentration of boutiques in Covent Garden (there's a Dior shop there too, as I'm sure you're aware), but most of them don't tempt me... apart from the ones I've listed, of course.

      Yes, there are far too many brands at Liberty to list, but thanks for sharing the names of some of your favourites.

      Delete
  2. This is fantastic! I don't care what anyone says - the Salon de Parfums is one of my favorite spots to shop for perfume in London. They staff there are really really wonderful, knowledgeable and so accommodating.

    There are also Maria Santa Novella and Le Labo boutiques in Shoreditch. Le Labo is on Redchurch Street (my friend's studio is actually right next door) and Maria Santa Novella is just round the corner (past the new Albion) on Chance Street. They are pretty much within walking distance of the first Bloom shop. #eastside :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bgirlrhapsody, I'm glad you're a fan of the Salon. And thanks for the input about the east!

      Delete
  3. Great list! May I suggest an addition? The Illuminum boutique at 41 Dover St is a fine place to visit; one can argue for and against the merits of their fragrance philosophy, but their store is in a pretty section of Piccadilly (two minutes' walk from the Ormond Jayne store on Old Bond St), and they stock some intriguing scents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, thanks for your thoughts. I'll certainly consider adding Illuminum.

      Delete
  4. Hello, great guide, thanks. Perhaps you might consider adding Roullier White? They're based in East Dulwich and stock a good range of niche perfumes. It's a blissfully quiet place to shop compared to the madding crowds in central London.

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    Replies
    1. Estelle, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I have already included Roullier White, right after my paragraph on the Penhaligon's shop in Covent Garden :-)

      Delete
  5. With Perfumer H and the Shay & Blue stores, Marylebone is becoming a perfume hot spot too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is fantastic! I had a perfume tour when in London in October. Next time I'll definitely stop by La Labo and Frederic Malle. Was lucky enough to spy Perfumer H quite by chance!

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    Replies
    1. Beauty Balm, thanks for stopping by. I'm pleased you find the guide useful. Do let me know what you make of Malle and Labo when you get a chance to see them.

      Delete
  7. Visited Shay & Blue in December during my annual London jaunt with a girlfriend who has been worn down over the years re my perfume obsession, & instead of welcoming the chance of a seat & a cuppa/glass of something fizzy, is actually (despite herself & to my relief) becoming a little interested - the lady in Shay & Blue was lovely with her - I went there primarily for their black raspberry fragrance, as it's something I would normally buy in the guise of Chambord liqueur & have over ice or topped up with prosecco, rather than dab behind my ears! The year before we ventured to Roullier White & my friend was very taken with the Eight & Bob fragrances, when I explained their origin. This most recent trip she had a long chat with a delightful young lady in Penhaligon's Regent Street store & actually acquired a handful of samples (though she did buy a couple of their Christmas decorations) - I was very proud of her, & long may her interest in my obsession continue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carolyn, it sounds like you're having a fantastic influence on her. Keep up the good work!

      Delete
  8. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this, it's so helpful. I have been to a lot of these places many times. I would like to add a couple of thoughts of my own if I may.
    Firstly may I bring to your attention the original Santa Maria Novella London shop.
    It's in South Kensington just round the corner from Harrods at 117 Walton St.
    Also Creed has its first U.K. Boutique in Mayfair at 99 Mount St. Nearest tube Bond St.. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable and quite happy to chat.
    Best
    Simon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simon, thanks so much for your input. I'm not a Creed fan myself, which is why the shop isn't featured on my guide, but I know there are one or two avid followers out there...

      Delete

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