It’s only been about a month since we all last kiki’d, but it feels like an eternity. As a Golden-Age thinker, I fell ill to the common fallacy that past decades were better than the one that I was living in. For me, it’s the '20s. I was looking forward to reliving the era—if only numerically—but a stock market crash, closed bars, and a global plague is not what I had in mind. Jobs and businesses are staring into the face of constant uncertainty—especially travel and hospitality industries. Many established and boutique hotels across the world are closed, and some are shutting down permanently. This has me pressed like a rotten panini. Some of my absolute favorite memories have been at hotels. I’ve met soulmates, wine and dined with friends, forgotten my name(s), and ridden a ferris wheel horse. My parents even lived in a hotel. I probably feel a fiercer warmth for hotels than most people do, and I’m gutted by the thought of iconic establishments laying off decade-long employees that I’ve grown to deify.
And while my brain is one twist away from becoming a screw-off wine cap, I'm trying to lean into new ways to self-care. Between Wu-Tang Clan’s meditation series and an obsequiously creepy ASMR video of an older woman eating pickles, I’m finding ways to hold it together. I’ve turned my focus on keeping a warm home atmosphere, given that I never leave, and discovered that home fragrances can change your mood. Medical studies even prove that stimulation from fragrance has a calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system—the part of your body that reacts to fear and “fight-or-flight” responses.
I’m Russian, and if that leads you to think I love scents with amber, oud, and anything decadent, well, that is a notion I cannot disabuse you of. My favorite at-home candle is from my favorite hotel, Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood. Friends all say my house smells like “sexy sandalwood”, and that’s just how I like it. Plus, my face looks better in Zoom and Houseparty when I’m candlelit—the little things matter right now. After a long day of staring at blue-light screens like dreadful TV press briefings and my overfull inbox, lighting a bunch of candles has a unique way of taking the edge off.
Being at home for another month doesn’t have to suck. If you’ve already solved the murder of Carole Baskin’s husband, try turning to self-care. Take baths and longer showers, use an acid peel, and light candles. Take control over whatever you can. And if you're looking for a way to transport yourself, consider purchasing one of these candles to brighten up your home (and mood) and help keep your favorite places from turning off their lights. You’ll feel even better if you can support a local business while supporting yourself.
My favorite aforementioned candle from my favorite aforementioned boutique hotel. This L.A. jewel box has a cult following and so do their candles, which are now for sale online via the hotel’s bazaar, along with sundries and a killer mezcal (yes, please). The wick burns perfectly and the wax is amazing. I like using the empty glass jars for everyday things like makeup brushes or casting a spell in my freezer. If I close my eyes, I feel like Rose revisiting The Titanic—except instead of white tie tuxedos and the grand wooden staircase, I see burlesque dancers, circus music, and a dreamy rooftop. A chic, black-tin candle component is also available by calling the hotel’s front desk.
Italy has had an especially difficult time with COVID-19, with many seasonal resorts shutting indefinitely. I adore Le Sirenuse, the iconic Positano hotel that smells like bergamot, frozen lemon champagne cocktails, Mediterranean sea salt, and tanned skin—if you love all those things too, you’ll love this candle. I use the whole line of shower gels, soaps, and bath products—especially when I need a fast pick-me-up. Now that the weather’s warming up, open your windows and light this. It's almost guaranteed you’ll feel instantly better.
Chateau Marmont Candle Alessandra, $65
The spicy night-blooming flowers are extra-pungent in this candle from Hotel Marmont. With hints of sandalwood and vanilla, it’s as addicting as a late night with friends in the hotel’s courtyard. I get a lot of burn time out of this candle, and I love the orange wax in the frosted glass component. The Chateau recently laid off their entire staff; consider supporting the valets and long-time bartenders of this Sunset Blvd institution with a luxe candle purchase.
Just like the hotel’s debaucherous reputation, the scent here is incredibly rich and dark. The fragrance includes lots of woods, light powder, and a lacing of rum. I have no idea when the next Paris Fashion Week will be, but I can almost-sort-of feel like I’m there by lighting a Costes candle. Now if only I could figure out the secret ingredient in the hotel’s famous Pavlova, I’d be all set.
Decorated perfumer Carlos Huber created the signature scent of the St. Regis candle. He modeled it after Caroline Astor, the matriarch of the hotel’s founding family and doyenne of NYC’s Gilded Age. The scent is a combination of exotic woods from the hotel ballroom and American Beauty roses (Astor’s favorite flower). There are also light touches of cherry blossoms and white lilies. If you’ve ever been inside the NYC St. Regis, you know just how incredible it is.
The Edition Candle
If you’ve ever been in an Edition Hotel, or even walked by one, you know the scent that I’m talking about. It’s Thé Noir 29 from Le Labo, and its top notes are black tea leaves, bergamot, and fig. I remember hoarding these during a trip to the Miami Edition. It reminds me of Cuban jazz, tropical late nights, and tiny Jacquemus dresses.