Tip Sheet

The cult of the candle

It seems we can't walk through a room these days without getting hit by a whiff of pomegranate, fig, or tomato. Scented candles have found their way onto every end table in the known world—not to mention store shelves from Bergdorf's to Banana Republic. Which is why we've sworn off the ubiquitous and gone in search of the unknown, the hard-to-get, and the truly exotic. Vetiver and fenugreek, anyone?

HOTEL COSTES No surprise that the brothers Costes, who have some of the chicest hotels, would come up with this sexy scent. Some get a whiff of tobacco, others of cinnamon and roses. $55; 33-1-42-44-50-50.

LORENZO VILLORESI SPICES Florentine perfumer Villoresi is not a man given to delicate scents. His signature candle, ensconced in alabaster, is redolent of African spices. $110; Santa Maria Novella; 800-362-3677.

CHRISTIAN TORTU ORANGE DES OSAGES The master Parisian florist has seven candle scents, but our favorite is clean, citrusy, a touch sweet. $45; Aedes des Venustas; 212-206-8674; www.aedes.com.

IUNX RAIN TREE The Arbre A Pluie stands out with its clean but not clinical aroma. Soothing yes, but also strange and otherworldly—and available only from the Iunx store in Paris. $48; 33-1-45-44-05-46.

CATHERINE MEMMI HERBES This bold, grassy-scented candle—it really does smell like the color green—comes in a glass container the color of a spring lawn. $55; Takashimaya; 800-753-2038.

LE BOIS DE CARLYLE London perfumer Miller Harris made only 500 of these candles for The Carlyle hotel in New York. It's heavy, woodsy, and spicy: an acquired taste, to be sure. $45; 212-744-1600.