Home Hotels Why Do Hotels Smell So Good?

Why Do Hotels Smell So Good?

by SharonKurheg

Of all your senses, your sense of smell is the one closest linked to memories. Those memories, in turn, links smells to your emotions. Because of this, smell plays an important role in your opinions about places, purchases, and experiences.

Hotels understand this and want to tie a scent to your stay at their particular brand.  But not just any scent. They want it to be their signature scent. One that they spent a whole lot of money on (Bloomberg said $300 million in 2015 alone), so it’s what consider to be the perfect scent experience during your stay (although not a hotel, Singapore Airline’s history with a certain scent is a perfect example).

Think of these smells for a second, and the memories and emotions they may evoke:

  • “New car smell” – Most people link that scent with something they consider to be good, pleasant and happy – a new car.
  • Suntan lotion – vacation, the beach. Good times (Spoiler alert – Joe didn’t mention it in his Our Strange Travel Quirks post, but I will ONLY use Coppertone suntan lotion, because of the memories it brings me of going to Coney Island with my family when I was a kid)
  • Your grandmother’s perfume or grandfather’s aftershave (for most of us it offers memories of unconditional love. Nurturing. Comfort.)

Hotels want their individual, specially-made scents to be linked to happy memories, as well. That way, when you visit their brand in the future, you (A) subconsciously suggest to yourself that you’re going to have a good time and will want to continue staying at that brand and (B) will hopefully share your pleasant experiences at that brand with others, so they may decide to stay there, as well.

Some hotel-specific examples that cvent recently pointed out:

  • The Mandarin Oriental Hotel & Spa in Hyde Park, London – The signature scent of the Mandarin spa combines warm sandalwood, floral jasmine and frangipani, and musky patchouli. Guests can take home candles with the scent to bring their experience beyond the hotel.
  • W Hotels around the world use a signature spray to create a relaxed vibe in their guest rooms. Guests can buy the spray to take home the scents of lemon blossoms, laurel, and green tea.
  • Rancho La Puerta in Mexico puts aromatherapy at the center of the hotel’s fitness experience. Their signature blend of essential oils is in all of the hotel’s custom beauty and spa products, using the property’s extensive gardens as inspiration for its scents of rosemary, calendula, lavender, and aloe.
  • Westin was one of the first hotel chains to have a signature scent. Theirs blends white tea, vanilla, and wood cedar.

How do they do it?

Scents can be spread through HVAC systems, so they’re just part of what’s spread via the forced air of the heat or air conditioning. Hotels might also use one or more small standalone units that are strategically placed around the hotel. We’ve also experienced reed diffusers in hotel bathrooms.

The scents used in hotels (And coffee shops. And department stores. And airplanes. And the list goes on and on) is a multimillion-dollar business designed to keep their brand in your memory. If you can stop for a second and imagine the smell of a particular hotel, they probably think it’s been money well spent 😉

Feature Photo: MaxPixel

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


patrick July 28, 2021 - 9:25 am

Good smell? I must be staying at the wrong places. Mine usually smell of a combination of doctor’s office disinfectant and newly applied road tar.

ELY TANDETER July 28, 2021 - 7:15 pm

No consideration whatsoever for people with allergies!


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