Les Senteurs is a tiny piece of big excitement on the edge of Belgravia — a specialist scent boutique run by an expert with a passion for perfume.
The thing that strikes you most as you come into Les Senteurs is how small a space it is. However, they’ve countered that by running the shelves up to the ceiling — this is a place where you need the services of an assistant with a stepladder!
Luckily, the assistants are invariably fantastic. This is a perfume shop where the staff don’t have to be sweet-talked into giving you samples — they’re positively itching to decant things for you. I’ve never left without a clutch of vials.
Les Senteurs is managed by James Craven, whose enthusiasm and knowledge have him frequently quoted in the UK press. Like Roja Dove, he admires many old, hard-to-find fragrances; on the pretty shelves you’ll find Cadolle No. 9, L.T. Piver, and the Knize line.
Recently, they’ve added some cult modern lines like Etat Libre d’Orange (“We hid the Secretions Magnifiques tester,” say assistants Charlotte and Laura. “We don’t want the shop to smell of it…”), Parfumerie Generale (“Aomassaï has sold so well, we don’t have any left.”), and Parfum d’Empire. They were the first shop to carry Mona di Orio, and James believes she’s a genius.
The nicest thing about Les Senteurs is that you’re put under no pressure to buy. They’re keen to help customers identify the perfect scent for them, and send them off with a sample to see if it ‘fits’.
Les Senteurs is intriguingly positioned. A block away in one direction is the gleaming suavity of Eaton Square and the Belgravia heartland. But a block in the other direction is the grime and tack of Victoria coach station. In between, the section of Elizabeth Street where Les Senteurs sits is like a village — cute bijou shops with little steps and wrought-iron balconies — and surprisingly little car traffic for the centre of London.
Fragrance Brands (in addition to those mentioned above): Acqua di Genova, Annick Goutal, Campos di Ibiza, Caron, Carven, Creed, E. Coudray, Frederic Malle, Isabey (Gardenia), Les Parfums de Rosine, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, Lorenzo Villoresi, Molinard, Potter & Moore, Serge Lutens, Solange Azagury-Partridge, Tocca.
Getting there: Les Senteurs is pretty much equidistant between Victoria and Sloane Square tube stations. If you have a choice, the walk from Sloane Square through the gleaming white mansions of Eaton Square is much more pleasant than the traffic-fume trudge from Victoria.
Nearby: Sloane Square tube station kicks off the Kings Road, where there are innumerable famous shops and a good chance of catching a celebrity Chelsea resident with their make-up off.
— images & report filed by Nina.
See also: Perfume Shopping in London