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Self-Care

Eternal Flame

Beautifully designed and gorgeously scented, these candles will transform any space.

A GOOD CANDLE can transform a mood, a room, a whole night. In my estimation, any type will do. I love long, graceful taper candles; short, squat votives; even baby tea lights. A small, contained flame flickering in my peripheral vision makes everything more peaceful and cozy. Elemental and sophisticated at once.

And don’t get me started on candle holders — or better yet, candelabras. In my goth-leaning twenties, I found an epic candelabra at a thrift store and spray painted it matte black. (Yes, spray paint is flammable, I later learned, but I wasn’t concerned with pesky details back then.) Painted black, the candelabra took on extra grandeur. It was like something out of a medieval fairy tale and it lived on my table for years, lending a drama that no other singular object could have delivered to the otherwise disappointing space.

Each type of candle has a unique purpose. And fat votive candles in well-designed glass containers — among the most popular these days — are definitely suited to the way we currently live. That is, they can sit unsupervised and burn for a very long while. And if they’re good, they infuse the living spaces where we spend more time than ever with subtle and delicious aromas. Below is a list of some of my favorites.

Shop at AMASS

AMASS: Four Thieves

I’ve sought out numerous candles that purport to bear autumnal scents, but I am always disappointed. They’re usually called something like Apple Harvest and smell cloyingly sweet and artificial, like air freshener. This is why the first burn of the Four Thieves candle by AMASS made me smile. It’s potent without being overpowering. This one is named for a band of thieves in medieval Europe who used a tincture containing these scents to protect themselves from the plague as they robbed the dead. Cheerful, right? Heavy backstory aside, the aroma of this candle is a seasonal mood lifter. Cinnamon, allspice, and clove provide spicy warmth, made lighter and cleaner by the addition of eucalyptus, which lends a camphorous freshness. This is a new favorite and a perfect hostess gift. SHOP NOW

Shop at Le Labo

Le Labo: Santal 26

Santal 26 is a scent that New York–based fragrance darlings Le Labo call “aristocratic.” And that feels apt. “Santal” comes from sandalwood, and this blend is anchored by that deep, balsamic aroma, balanced by notes of cocoa, amber, and cedar. Le Labo is beloved for its intoxicating hand-blended perfumes and high-end grooming products. Like those offerings, Le Labo’s candles, hand poured in the U.S., have a high concentration of essential oil, so the scent really carries — and lingers. This one is sure to add a touch of opulence to your space. SHOP NOW


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Shop at Cire Trudon

Cire Trudon: Cyrnos

If you're a candle person, you know that Cire Trudon is about as high-quality as it gets. If you're burning these at home, you've reached the summit of candle mountain. As expected, the air smells good up here. The Cyrnos candle, named for a nineteenth-century villa in the south of France, has notes of lemon, thyme, cedarwood, black fig, lavender, and pine: a complex scent that is equal parts commanding and calming. And it looks divine on the mantelpiece. SHOP NOW

Shop at Diptyque

Diptyque: Feu de Bois

To many, the name Diptyque is synonymous with luxury. The Parisian perfumery is known for its sumptuous scents, many of which blessedly come in candle form. But for me, this one is the crème de la crème. My sister began burning this candle in her Brooklyn apartment some years back, and I still remember smelling it when I walked through her door, thinking, “Damn.” It signaled a shift, a leveling up. Everything suddenly felt a little more glamorous. Kind of like dressing for the job you want — she was burning a candle for the apartment and the life she wanted. (It worked.) The exact aroma of this candle, which has since become a staple in my home, is difficult to describe. Imagine a very, very fancy campfire. You’re wrapped in a cashmere blanket, which is starting to take on the scent of woodsmoke, which is mingling with the scent of surrounding juniper bushes and the lingering trace of your French perfume. Et voilà: luxe coziness unlocked. SHOP NOW

Shop at D.S. & Durga

D.S. & Durga: Portable Xmas Tree

I would be remiss if I didn’t include one holiday candle, but truth be told, I’m buying extras because I’ll be burning this one all year long. It’s from D.S. & Durga, relative newcomers to the fragrance game, whose singular scents (there’s one called Concrete After Lightning) have already gained a hearty cult following. This limited-edition candle comes in pretty pink glass with a beautifully designed label and a scent that’s not too strong. It releases a subtle spruce aroma — more musky than sharp — with comforting top notes of cardamom. SHOP NOW

Beautifully designed candles that can transform any space

  • AMASS: Four Thieves

    The aroma of this candle is a seasonal mood lifter. Cinnamon, allspice, and clove provide spicy warmth, made lighter and cleaner by the addition of eucalyptus, which lends a camphorous freshness.

  • Cire Trudon: Cyrnos

    The Cyrnos candle, named for a nineteenth-century villa in the south of France, has notes of lemon, thyme, cedarwood, black fig, lavender, pine: a complex scent that is equal parts commanding and calming.

  • D.S. & Durga: Portable Xmas Tree

    This limited-edition candle comes in pretty pink glass with a beautifully designed label and a scent that’s not too strong. It releases a subtle spruce aroma — more musky than sharp — with comforting top notes of cardamom.

  • Le Labo: Santal 26

    “Santal” comes from sandalwood, and this blend is anchored by that deep, balsamic aroma, balanced by notes of cocoa, amber, and cedar.

  • Diptyque: Feu de Bois

    Imagine a very, very fancy campfire. You’re wrapped in a cashmere blanket, which is starting to take on the scent of woodsmoke, which is mingling with the scent of surrounding juniper bushes and the lingering trace of your French perfume.

  • AMASS: Four Thieves

    The aroma of this candle is a seasonal mood lifter. Cinnamon, allspice, and clove provide spicy warmth, made lighter and cleaner by the addition of eucalyptus, which lends a camphorous freshness.

  • Le Labo: Santal 26

    “Santal” comes from sandalwood, and this blend is anchored by that deep, balsamic aroma, balanced by notes of cocoa, amber, and cedar.

  • Cire Trudon: Cyrnos

    The Cyrnos candle, named for a nineteenth-century villa in the south of France, has notes of lemon, thyme, cedarwood, black fig, lavender, pine: a complex scent that is equal parts commanding and calming.

  • Diptyque: Feu de Bois

    Imagine a very, very fancy campfire. You’re wrapped in a cashmere blanket, which is starting to take on the scent of woodsmoke, which is mingling with the scent of surrounding juniper bushes and the lingering trace of your French perfume.

  • D.S. & Durga: Portable Xmas Tree

    This limited-edition candle comes in pretty pink glass with a beautifully designed label and a scent that’s not too strong. It releases a subtle spruce aroma — more musky than sharp — with comforting top notes of cardamom.

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Our Contributors

Nina Renata Aron Writer

Nina Renata Aron is a senior editor of Departures based in Oakland, California. She is the author of "Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls." Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the New Republic, Elle, Eater, and Jezebel.

Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator

Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.

Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.
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