Scents and Sensibility, Kensington

All good stories should start with lunch.

Lunch in a magical place like this is even better…

It sets the scene beautifully for our tale.

Maggie Jones’s has been a hidden gem in Kensington for about as long as I’ve been alive. A classically British, higgledy-piggledy, cosy townhouse nestled on a cobbled side street, beloved to anyone who knows it, but invisible to those who don’t. Which only adds to its old world magic.

Slip into a booth and feast on the dishes that no-one serves anymore.

Steamed artichoke with buckets of buttery Hollandaise for dipping.

Followed by something light…

And something very special indeed for pudding.

Penhaligon’s is one of England’s oldest perfume houses. Founded by William Henry Penhaligon, a Cornishman who who became a Londoner and later perfumer to Queen Victoria.

Their shops are dotted around London like jewels in a crown, each one is utterly unique and possesses a charm that seems to have disappeared almost everywhere else.

They make wonderful things that you never knew you needed; travelling candles, spiced bath oil, and fragrances with names like “The Ruthless Countess Dorothea”, “Savoy Steam” and “Blasted Heath”.

In short they are exactly the sort of eccentric English we can all aspire to become when we grow up.

And they have created something new.

An ode to London’s most historic borough.

Kensington Amber.

A woody fragrance with an avante guarde edge. Dry, smokey sandalwood, a mossy vetiver and creamy warm patchouli come together to create a textural masterpiece.

A letter in a bottle.

It takes you on a journey through Kensington.

Starting, naturally, at The Palace.

An imposing building hidden behind gilded gates.

Surrounded by a somewhat more welcoming wildflower meadow.

A place for running, chasing, laughing, lounging and picnicking.

The grassy notes of the vetiver capture a summer snooze on the lawn perfectly.

While the patchouli brings the Kensington Gardens to life.

A feast for all senses.

As you continue through the park…

…you’ll find a monument to eternal love, commissioned by Queen Victoria for her Albert.

A stroll down Queen’s Gate gives you a peek into some of the finest homes in the borough.

Cat eye shades

Pink floral shirt dress

Basket bag // Silk bow barette

Pink ballet shoes

A quick cuppa at the dark wood clad Gore Hotel Bar hints at those deep sandalwood notes.

And no Kensington adventure would be complete without a visit to The Royal Albert Hall.

If you’re lucky, as we were, you can stand outside and listen the opera floating out through the windows.

Just to add to your sensory whirlwind tour!

Float on down towards the museums, along pretty rows of white houses and the dinky mews streets they hide.

Dip into everyone’s childhood favourite, The Natural History Museum.

A view of Britain’s historic scientific adventures, and a whale of a time!

Before diving into The V&A.

Slip in through the side entrance, marvel at the marriage of old and new.

 

Before becoming fully submerged in the old.

All of the Kensington Amber notes come together here, a deeply sensual, mesmerising fragrance that continues to change and delight throughout its journey.

The coolness of the marble, mingling with the wood, tapestries, flowers, and breeze from the courtyard, mimics the perfume quite perfectly.

Quite the sensory journey!

And it’s only part of the tale. There’s a whole Hidden London Collection for you still to discover. Find the samples or plump for a whole bottle, online here. Or pop into one of those lovely shops I mentioned.

If you’d like to follow the journey in real life, I’ve drawn a map for you.

Thank you for joining me on it and thank you to Penhaligon’s for sponsoring this post and trusting me with the intricate story of this remarkable scent. Find the rest of The Hidden London Collection here.

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