Designing Scents for Hotels

Friday, 30 January, 2015

How the power of the sense of smell can create value in Hospitality?

The sense of smell is directly connected to the limbic system, the most primitive part of the brain. The limbic system is involved in many of our MOST BASIC MOTIVATIONS, including fear, anger, the sexual behaviour and the survival instinct. It is also linked to the feelings of pleasure related to survival, mainly those experienced from eating and having sex. Thus, a nice scent can bring a very vivid sense of pleasure, almost as if we were having a nice meal.

Smells can activate memories of experiences associated to them and vice versa. Thus, we can use scents to create future memories. For example, I can choose the fragrance I will use with my newborn baby in order to remember those happy moments for the rest of my life, just by smelling again the same fragrance. Or a Hotel in Sevilla can use orange flower as a banner scent in all its bath line in to help clients to remember their holidays in Sevilla.

A suitable Scent Design can enhance the desired atmosphere of each Hotel Element. For Example:

CLEAN. The most basic need clients have is the reassurance about safety and cleanness of a hotel.  Clients appreciate the ‘clean-like’ scent. It brings an impression of ‘fresh’ and ‘immaculate’, and reinforces the feeling of trust. For example, when the client opens the room and perceives a nice Clean Linen scent they feel more confident about the cleaning level of the room.

RELAXING. Hotels are using decoration with colours, textures and lighting to create a relaxing ambiance that guests appreciate. A subtle relaxing fragrance can bring a calming, reassuring and comforting feeling, complementing and enhancing the decoration.  Like music, fragrance can help us to relax and it should be possible to put it on or off when required. For example, a nostalgic fragrance with lavender and violet notes would help the hotel clients to relax.

HOMELY. Many ‘homely hotels’ have bedrooms full of little personal touches that guests expect because they wish to feel ‘like at home’ in their rooms. A subtle homely fragrance could help bringing a feeling of cosines, harmony and tradition. For example, a well selected fragrance with subtle baby care notes and a soft woody bottom would create a sense of cocooning and familiarity in the bedrooms. 

WELCOMING. All hotels strive to be perceived as ‘welcoming’ because this is one of the most important attributes guests value. A well chosen fragrance at the reception can create a positive and warm atmosphere, bringing a sense of authenticity and contributing to the special charm we want to create. For instance, a soft floral fruity fragrance with subtly welcoming coffee nuances could make the distinctive ‘welcoming effect’, enchanting guests since the very first minute.

HAPPY. Some hotel areas, particularly the breakfast room, search bringing a delightful sense of happiness by means of a special lighting and decoration with flowers and fruits. A subtle fragrance at the entrance could reinforce the feeling of a ‘happy wake-up’, like a wish of ‘having a nice day’. As a rule, fragrance scents should not interfere with the enjoyment of the food delicate flavours. Thus, such ‘good day’ scents should only be placed at the entrance, not in the room and less next to the tables. A well-placed happy fragrance could reinforce a cheerful, colourful and festive common feeling of the breakfast room. A scent of zesty fruits and sweet gourmand notes would do a great effect.

STIMULATING. Hotel guests often need a stimulating get-up and they use the shower to awake and start the day in the best conditions. An intense, stimulating fragrance for the shower could guests to feel more awaken and invigorated in the morning. For example, a wild citrus fragrance with intense notes of ginger and cardamom.

REFRESHING. In summer and in warm areas, most hotels use fans and air conditioning to refresh guests and protect them from the hot weather. A crisp, fresh and vibrant fragrance can bring a freshness that guests will appreciate by contrast with the hot climate and will complement the effect of the air conditioning systems. For example, a fresh watery fragrance with notes of peppermint and green tangerine peel would create such a refreshing effect.

SENSUAL. Many guests look for a romantic and sensual atmosphere in a hotel. A suitable sensual fragrance for the bedroom would help guests to feel desirable, irresistible and sexy, and to remember forever this special occasion. Since this type of fragrance is more personal, a selected range of top quality scents should be available for them to choose. Such fragrance could be used to impregnate the air, the sheets and pillows, and even the bath cosmetics. For example, a luxurious oriental fragrance with refreshing notes of champagne and rose buds would be perfect.

UNUSUAL. To some hotels, being perceived as special and different is key. A specially designed fragrance can help surprise the guests as much as designed furniture or a different concept of the space. An unusual fragrance is another way to communicate guests that the hotel is cool, distinctive and interesting. For instance, an extravagant blend of guava, fig leaves, rum and gardenia could create an interesting atmosphere.

At Open-Senses we are Experts in Scent Communication. We provide Top Scent Design Services and Scent Marketing Products. You can find more information at