How to choose the best luxury candle for your home

The right fragrance can enhance a room as much as any decorative touch.

diptyque candles. Courtesy of Harvey Nichols
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If you're looking to create a warm, inviting atmosphere for your party or house guests this festive season, using the right scented candle can be as important as matching crockery and clean, crisp table linen.

"Scent is the ultimate home accessory," says Chris Wyatt of Jo Malone, one of the world's best-loved purveyors of home and personal fragrances. "A candle can make a house a home by creating a signature scent and give a lasting impression to your guests. It's as much a decorative touch as a bouquet of flowers or individual art work, and a well-chosen scented candle can match a mood or occasion."

The home fragrance market has come a long way from the discreet pomanders in the boudoir of the 1950s, the joss sticks of the 1960s and pot pourri baskets in the guest bathrooms of the 1980s. Nowadays, having a signature scent to match your wardrobe as well as your decorative style - not to mention one that seamlessly blends with the occasion - is de rigueur. At her royal wedding at Westminster Abbey earlier this year, the Duchess of Cambridge added Jo Malone Orange Blossom candles as a finishing touch.

Now the choice varies from scented reeds to scent diffusers, soy or wax candles, eco or luxe packaging, designer brand or supermarket staple, and your choice of candle speaks volumes about your social aspirations as well as decorative imprint.

Choosing a candle now is like choosing your perfume or aftershave. First you need to know the scent group to which you are attracted: floral, oriental, citrus or woody. You should also decide if that scent is relevant to your living space. To get the idea, use the scent bar at The One, where you can smell a wide range of luxury candles, including Linnea's Lights, Delirium & Co and Altru, alongside more affordable options.

The climate and the time of year are also important considerations, as is the room where the candle will be placed. Certain scents are more effective in some rooms than others and can actually enhance the space in the same way as decorative touches.

"You can create a seasonal ambience for guests without changing the wall colour," says Wyatt. "Grapefruit is uplifting and fresh in the summer months while a scent like Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir is perfect to warm up winter evenings. Pine and eucalyptus are the perfect festive scents, while roses are ideal for intimate, more feminine spaces such as the bedroom and bathroom."

If you're buying a candle for a dinner party table, it's important to remember that taste and smell are also closely linked, so you should avoid anything too strong.

"If for any reason our sense of smell is impaired, it can affect our sense of taste," says Wyatt. "You should always choose scents that complement a meal rather than take it over. Avoid styling the table with heady, heavily perfumed flowers and choose scented candles that feature refreshing citrus and green top notes. It can also be interesting to light different candles as a long and leisurely meal progresses. When serving pudding and a dessert wine, a sweet, floral or honey is a good match. Something with juicy top notes of ripe peach and rhubarb works well with fruit puddings and sorbets."

When you have selected the right scent, follow a few rules to make the whole ambience more seamless. Firstly, to establish a "memory burn" on a new candle, it's important to let it burn for at least two hours or until the surface completely turns to liquid. This will help to avoid any tunnelling at the wax core.

Secondly, trimming the wick to at least five millimetres will help avoid blackening the glass of the candle. It's also important to recentre the wick each time you extinguish the candle - using a wick dipper will ensure this. And remember, of course, to make sure the candle is away from any direct sunlight or curtains.

The best brands

Cire Trudon

The world's oldest candle producer and the royal wax manufacturer to Louis XIV and Napoleon, Cire Trudon offers a range of natural vegetal wax candles that are encased in puffed glass that is hand blown by Italian artisans. Try the Abd El Khader, which combines an aroma of spearmint, lemon, blackcurrant, apple and ginger with notes of jasmine and vanilla, or the Trianon, a clean mix of white flowers and musk. Available at The One,


This is the brand that spawned the high-end candle craze. Its most popular candles are Baies Noires (Rose and Blackcurrant) and Figuier Verte (Fig). Or try the new limited edition versions for Christmas -spruce tree-scented Epinette candles and fruity, spiced plum-scented Perdigone. Available at Harvey Nichols.

Vie Luxe

Founded by Marjorie Gubelmann and inspired by her favourite travel destinations - among them Buenos Aires, St Barths and Côte d'Azure - the brand's candles are a blend of beeswax, botanical wax and fragrance oils. Try Capri, which combines orange blossom and lemon. Available at Little Luxuries, Town Centre mall, Jumeirah.


A newcomer to the market, Neom is a luxury organic brand that claims to have aromatherapeutic benefits. No petrochemicals or synthetic scents are used so they burn cleanly with no sooting, plus they're twice the size of your average candle. Try Rebalance or Tranquillity - ideal for bedroom or bathrooms. Available at Bloomingdale's, Dubai Mall.

Jo Malone

You can complement your Jo Malone scented candles with matching living colognes and linen sprays. The smaller travel collection candles are also great for decorating a table. Pomegranate Noir always evokes a positive reaction. Jo Malone, Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates.

True Grace

Created by the British husband and wife team Philippa Nolan and Roger Biles, these candles are handmade using 100 per cent natural wax. The range, available in 37 fruit and flora derived fragrances (Grapefruit and Apple Blossom smell wonderful in the kitchen), also contains a 10 per cent scent content, one of the highest on the market. Available at The One,

Juss London

This ethical brand uses natural soy wax and organic essential oils for a multilayered approach to scenting. The core range includes four fragrances: one for each season. Try Hiver Blanc (White Winter) if you want to recreate a cosy feel. It combines orange and cinnamon with patchouli and cloves. Available at The One,


The distinctive packaging includes a hand-pressed pewter seal. You can't go wrong with Votivo's Red Currant or Moroccan Fig scents. Available at Irony Home, Dubai Mall.

Dayna Decker

The former Ford model Dayna Decker mastered the art of perfumery in Grasse, France, and juxtaposes sophisticated scents with minimalist designs with an eco-twist. Her "chandels" feature wood wicks and the experience is multi-sensory. Available at The One,

L'Artisan Parfumeur

Founded in 1976 by the perfumer-chemist Jean Laporte, L'Artisan Parfumeur was one of the first niche perfume houses and its Mure et Musc scent was iconic. So too are its candles encased in black glass. The Figuier is a constant bestseller. Available at Harvey Nichols, Mall of the Emirates, and Bloomingdale's, Dubai Mall.

How to choose

Function and placement are priorities when selecting a candle, so make sure yours is specific to purpose

Kitchen: Citrus or food scents. Try Wild Lime by True Grace and Neom's Sicilian Lemon and Fresh Basil

Bedroom: Rose and lavender for their soothing relaxing properties. Try Jo Malone's Red Roses or Juss London's Rose and Lavender

Bathroom: Jasmine and rosemary. Try True Grace Rosemary and Eucalyptus

Living room: Any light, airy fragrance is suitable for a large sunny space. Try diptyque's Mimosa or Jo Malone's iconic Lime Basil and Mandarin. A traditional villa will adapt well to the use of more heady fig or amber scents. Try Votivo's Moroccan Fig or L'Artisan's Intérieur Figuier