One Thousand Scents

Monday, October 25, 2010

Intermission 2: Harrods

Well, what would you do?

On our way home from London in early June, we were bumped from our flight, and in addition to that nice free hotel we got almost $1000 in travel vouchers. We were going to use it next year: fly into Gatwick again (because we had to use the credits in the UK), take the Eurostar over to Paris, and begin a three-week tour of the continent (not a very big tour, obviously, mostly France and Italy and probably bits of Switzerland). But we change our travel plans more often than you change channels on your TV, so the itinerary kept mutating into unrecognizability. Jim did some research and discovered that it was kind of stupid to fly into London just to go to Paris (it would much more sensible to fly into Frankfurt, especially if you were planning to visit parts of Germany, which is one of the things our plans for the continent had grown to include), so one Tuesday evening a couple of months ago he said, "Would you think it was crazy if I said we should just use those travel vouchers to go back to London in October?" I said I thought it was the best idea he had ever had, and within twenty-four hours we had made all the plans, all of them: flights booked, hotels likewise, tickets for a couple of plays paid for, ground transportation awaiting.

Well, really, what would you do? It was the most obvious thing. You get a friend to house-sit (someone has to collect the mail and take care of your plants and animals), book some time off work, and just take off, right?

And so here we are once again in London, my favourite city on Earth, the greatest of all cities. (I even bought a book called London: The Biography.) We are staying in the same hotel we did last time, which we now think of as "our hotel", the Cromwell on (yes) Cromwell Road, the most perfect location, central to everything, with a supermarket, a laundromat, a tube station, a drugstore, and an internet cafe within a few minutes' walk.

And I have managed to refrain from going completely over the top when it comes to all things fragrant, but my co-worker Eeva required that I buy her a bottle of Fille en Aiguilles by Serge Lutens, so that was the perfect excuse to go back to Harrods, my holy shrine in London.

It is holy no longer, alas. I walked in looking for the Lutens counter and could not find it, for two reasons. One is that the dark and hushed and carefully spotlit temple has been turned into a large white overexposed space, and the other is that the Lutens counter isn't in it anyway but is in the cosmetics hall instead, for no apparent reason.

Nevertheless, I did find it, and I found Fille en Aiguilles for Eeva (at £76, or about $122, well below her price maximum of $140). I was sort of not going to buy anything for myself, since I have already bought a shocking eight Lutenses in the past year, but I was also sort of going to buy something if it really spoke to me. The only two that I could see that might have anything to say at all were Cuir Mauresque and Arabie; the former was not any more interesting than it was when I first tried it at the Serge Lutens boutique in Paris, possibly the dullest leather I know of, but Arabie on second try was obviously a Lutens creation and obviously the kind of thing that I adore. So I bought it. Transaction time from start to finish: three minutes, probably, and prolonged by the fact that I said I was paying in Canadian dollars and meant "on my Mastercard" but was interpreted, reasonably enough, as meaning "actual dollar dollars".

The saleswoman didn't have any Lutens samples for me, which is probably just as well, because I think I've tried just about every one in the catalogue, but she gave me a clutch of Annick Goutals: two of Myrrhe Ardente (I wish I had had the sense to ask if she had Ambre Fetiche and Encens Flamboyant), one of Rose Splendide, and one of Duel. New things to try! Yay!

Yesterday I did take a quick poke into Debenhams to see if they had the new 75-mL bottles of the Chanel Exclusifs: I have recently rediscovered my sample of Coromandel, my favourite of the entire line, and decided that even though a 200-mL bottle was insane, a 75-mL was not, and that I would buy it on the spot. Just my luck: Debenhams doesn't sell Les Exclusifs. But they directed me to Selfridges, just down the street. Just my luck: they'll be getting the smaller size in January.

An excuse to come back!

No, just kidding. We'll be saving all our money fot the next big trip, which we've decided to postpone until 2012. I mean, we're not made of money.



  • To me the Cromwell Road means the Cromwell Hospital, which I have stayed at and visited so many times in the past eleven years, but, I agree, it isn't a bad area.

    I too was shocked to discover that Serge Lutens didn't deserve a space in the grand Black Hall (= Perfumery Room), which is still quite dark - and hot. I wonder how such things are decided. Perhaps SL has done something to upset the new Qatari owners of Harrods. LOL!

    By Blogger Bela, at 2:08 PM  

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