You can burn scented candles all year round, but they really come into their own when the nights draw in and the temperatures drop. The Danish concept of hygge is all about using candlelight to beat the SAD and create a cosy retreat from the world, and who better to trust on how to winter in style than the Scandinavians?
Designer candles definitely raise your hibernation game. The appeal of the flickering light and the gentle warmth is obvious. Add a sublime scent packaged like a high-end ornament, and perfumed candles are a quick way to upgrade your pad. Like interiors, fashion and fragrance? Scented candles tick all the boxes.
In a practical sense, room fragrance can help create different moods, encourage different activities within the same space and help with our sense of routine. “Where we live has taken on a great deal of additional purposes, functioning as offices, classrooms, workout spaces, all whilst remaining the same size and at a time when we need our homes to be a sanctuary of calm more than ever,” says Emma South, fragrance and lifestyle expert at Jo Malone London.
“The art of home scenting is about channelling this to add to the spatial dimensions of a property, creating and delineating new spaces within an open plan area and also helping to structure the day, creating scented signals that direct us from work to leisure, day to night.”
So, add a few candles to the bathroom and make your tub time more relaxing, create a focal point on the mantelpiece, give your bedside a romantic ambience, or light up your work space with a calming glow – all with the strike of a match. And what do you get when you spend a bit more? A longer, cleaner burn, a pleasing object to add to your shelves, and usually a lid to keep your candle nice and clean. Here’s Ape’s edit of the best candle brands for men.
What Aesop does for hand wash, Diptyque does for candles: it represents the gold standard in aesthetically-pleasing, superior scented wax work. We have it on good authority that Tom Ford’s London HQ used to buy Diptyque in bulk before he launched his own line. Baies is a popular blackcurrant leaf and rose infused aroma that’s suited to all seasons, and it’s a common calling card with tastemakers in fashion.
Continuing the tradition for working with different perfumers, Frédéric Malle’s latest scented candle comes from Nicolas Beaulieu. Country Home is inspired by the crackling hearth of a Highlands retreat with notes of black smoke, hard-grained leather and resinous woods such as fir balsam, pine needle, cedar oil and styrax. It’s the perfect antidote to glum, murky weather.
This cult fragrance brand houses its candles in glass, concrete and vintage paint tins, so you can pick your preferred aesthetic for your pad. For the fragrance connoisseur Le Labo won’t need an introduction. Fill your home with the smoky, leathery scent of Santal 26.
Turning his best-selling scents into wax was a commercial no-brainer for a man who is very particular about home fragrance. Born from his affection for London, Tobacco Vanille is a warming concoction inspired by a gentleman’s club, with creamy notes of tonka bean, cocoa, vanilla and wood sap. Encased in dark brown glass with a brass lid, it exudes luxury.
Tom Dixon is known for exceptional lighting and furniture and his candle line features designs that create real impact. The London candle takes its inspiration from the capital with notes of black pepper, oud wood, vetiver, patchouli and cedarwood, which evokes the salty Thames and local parks full of nettles and crocus. Poured into in a curved copper vessel with a carved white marble lid – that doubles as a coaster – it has definite wow factor.
Byredo candles have a simple, considered design matched with an unconventional scent. Bibliothèque evokes the smell of old books using peach, plum and vanilla to conjure the velvety texture of paper, and patchouli to give it antiquity. Byredo take candle care seriously, making special wick trimmers and luxury leather travel cases so you need never be without your favourite burn.
Acqua Di Parma
With a history stretching back more than 100 years, Acqua Di Parma is another heritage perfume house that has extended its celebrated scents to wax. It has a special limited edition collaboration for the festive season with Emilio Pucci, which celebrates the signature Vortici print of the Italian fashion house in shades of grey, gold and white. Notti di Stelle is a warm fragrance with notes of pine oil, birch and guaiac wood, spicy clove and raspberry, and in the true spirit of Christmas, a percentage of each sale goes to Save the Children.
Creed has a remarkably restrained candle collection given the range of iconic fragrances it has. However, it’s about quality not quantity. Aventus is the obvious choice for Darth Vader enthusiasts; sheathed entirely in matt black it has just the vibe for a dark overlord. But for the man who has everything, it’s hard to beat the new Explorer Collection, which features the Birmanie Oud and Vanisia candles, cloaked in a fine Italian leather travel case printed with the house crest.
Jo Malone London
One of the most familiar names in home fragrance, a Jo Malone candle is a solid crowd-pleasing gift. The Jo Malone collaboration with Huntsman Savile Row has just expanded into home scents with the Whisky & Cedarwood candle. Adorned with the bespoke tailor’s gold lettering and finished with a burgundy lid, it has notes of whisky, spicy pimento and warm cedarwood, capturing the vibes of a wood panelled gentleman’s club, so don’t give this one away.
It’s been around for nearly 300 years but this is the first home fragrance collection from the Italian porcelain specialists. Designer Luca Nichetto has created a series of candles, diffusers and incense burners based on the court of Caterina de’ Medici. Prices are higher than your average designer candle, as these are more like scented works of art.
Thankfully, there are accessible options, like The Favourite (pictured) and once you’ve made the initial investment refills are cheaper. The range contains three scents developed by one of the oldest perfumeries in France: Purple Hill, Orange Renaissance and our pick for winter, Black Stone – a warming oriental blend of nutmeg, patchouli and musk.
Loewe Home Scents
A relative newcomer to the world of wax, the candle line from this Spanish fashion house has become a serious contender for most wanted. The hand-poured candles are made from vegetable wax and come in tactile ribbed terracotta pots. Missing the scent of the vegetable patch in summer? Tomato Leaves has an uplifting aroma of the green vines before they fruit.
The house of Fornasetti is famed for its hand-drawn architectural imagery, iconic wallpaper designs, fine tableware and one-of-a-kind furniture. The candle collection features three scents including the signature, Otto, created by renowned perfumer Olivier Polge (whose day job is master perfumer at Chanel). Otto is a blend of thyme, lavender, cedarwood and incense, which gives oriental, leathery and woody vibes. The Bacio candle design features the luscious lips of Lina Cavaleri, an Italian Opera singer, muse to Barnaba Fornasetti, and a prominent Fornasetti motif.
Ever fancied burning a wax bust of Napoleon or Marie-Antoinette? Cire Trudon has the goods. Founded in 1643, the French candlemaker supplied the royal court of Louis XIV. And now, the less noble likes of you. Poured into dark green glass and wrapped in the gold coat of arms, there isn’t a single scent in the collection that we wouldn’t be happy to own. Gabriel is described as gourmand chimney fire, meaning it has an edible, smoky aspect that features candied chestnuts, cashmere woods and leather.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian
If you’re the type of person who puts their Christmas tree up in late October, you won’t need help getting into the swing of the festive season. For everyone else, Mon Beau Sapin is one way to cancel your inner scrooge. Evoking snow laden spruce trees, crisp winter air, and the childhood excitement of snooping at presents under the tree – it’s Christmas in wax form.
The New York sculptor is famed for his whimsical pottery and distinctive tongue-in-cheek style. The Hashish candle has a strong, earthy scent of blackcurrant, green apple, wormwood, patchouli and moss that fills the room even when it’s not even being burned. Housed in plain white porcelain with a simple hash leaf relief, it will also make a superior stash pot in the future.
Step back in time with a candle from French apothecary brand Buly 1803. Summoning a bygone era, these plant-based wax candles come in carved marble vessels with a glass bell jar lid and handwritten, personalised labels. Our pick is Retour D’Egypte, a suitably exotic blend of rose, bergamot, hawthorn, jasmine, nutmeg, amber and vanilla that might make you feel like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
London perfumer Miller Harris has just given its candle range a minimalist makeover and improved its eco credentials, using a mix of soybean and locally produced rape seed wax and ditching cellophane wrappers. The six core scents have been reformulated for an improved ‘throw’, meaning they now fill the room better. Tabac is a warming blend of tobacco leaf, patchouli and cascarilla oil, a spicy, peppery, woody plant from the Caribbean.
Lyn Harris’s stunningly simple candle range comes in hand blown glass vessels in inky jewel tones, engraved in gold. Moss is a woody, earthy scent made with notes of green moss, red thyme, galbanum, cedarwood, patchouli and vetiver, which gives the impression of wet woods and grass. They also offer a refill service, so you can reuse the glass time and time again.
The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi
Azzi Glasser has created scents for a number of high profile restaurants and hotels in London, along with bespoke creations for the likes of Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, Adam Lambert, Stephen Fry and Jude Law. The candle collection is handily defined by rooms so there isn’t any doubt over where to place them. Set the mood with seductive Fever 54 for the bedroom. It contains notes of saffron and Rose de Mai, which is meant to be a natural aphrodisiac.
Black tea, mint leaves, dried apples and a dusting of cinnamon go into the new Hygge candle from Scandinavisk, which will lend your place a comforting, cosy scent. Made from Swedish rapeseed wax, poured into glass vessels, with a cotton wick and FSC-certified beechwood lid, it’s a sustainable, affordable option from the from the folks who know how to embrace the seasonal gloom.