Books smell so good, a hotel chain is spraying its hotel with a scent specially made to smell like books!
Book that scent
What does a hotel smell like? A book apparently, much to the surprise of SONIA RAMACHANDRAN
WHAT captures the values of chic, culture and discovery? That was a question two young men had to grapple with when they were asked to design a scent for the Le Meridien hotel group.
Edouard Roschi and Fabrice Penot own Le Labo, a store that designs custom fragrances. A few months later, they came up with three fragrances inspired by French femininity, the Greenwich Meridian longitude and an antique book.
French femininity was inspired by the scent of old perfumes while the smell of being on a yacht crossing the sea was the inspiration for the Greenwich Meridian.
The book was chosen. Why a book?
“A book is a symbol of chic, culture and discovery. It could be a photography book about a country or a region or something. Obviously that can be chic and culture intensive. You can learn and discover things from books. If you are curious, you don’t have to travel. Just pick up a book and look at the pictures,” says Roschi.
Why did Le Meridien pick the scent of the book?
“The scent was designed to stimulate the guest experience by engaging in memory and emotions through the sense of smell. The construction and shape of LM01 was inspired by the Earth’s meridian lines as a nod to the origin of Le Méridien’s name.
“The scent was chosen to reflect one of the books as this was close to our core values of culture and art in the widest sense,” says Le Meridien and W Hotels Worldwide Global Brand Leader Eva Ziegler.
Since Le Merdien was founded in 1972 by Air France, Roschi and Penot took a very old copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince (the author was a pilot too), and analysed the rich smell of the book.
“We used that as the platform. We added things to the perfume because the smell of the book was too regressive, too clamouring,” says Roschi.
He says they liked the idea of taking a copy of the book to be analysed. “The book was about five years old and it smelled like old paper,” he says.
“Le Petit Prince is such a French symbol and is read to kids and adults alike. It’s about travelling but it is about travelling in a very surreal way.”
Wouldn’t an old book smell musty?
“The original smell is musty — it’s oak moss and smells like mould, like a humid cupboard. That wasn’t enough to make an interesting and engaging perfume so we made it sweeter with amber, vanilla, jasmine and gave it personality with iris.”
The best part, adds Roschi, is that it actually smells like what it is supposed to do.
How does it make a guest feel?
“It starts with you leaving the taxi, bus or whatever you came in to the hotel. You’re struck by the visual welcome and then you are transformed, experiencing something more intimate, more the Meridien experience and the scent adds to that experience.
“You don’t necessarily know why, but at the end of the day you realise that there is a specific smell to the reception, to the welcoming experience. It’s not necessarily something that makes you to say, ‘Oh, that is a nice smell’. People will not just say that. They will say, ‘Oh, it is a nice smell but…’. It’s memorable, sometimes it’s bizarre.
“I think a lot of people will stop and say ‘it’s nice but what does it smell of?’. You can’t describe it in one word. That’s what we wanted as well — to stop and engage people’s curiosity.That is what the new Meridien inspires,” says Roschi.