Ortigia's Coral Shell
Hard to believe that Ortigia's exotic silver-foiled packaging is designed by an Englishwoman — but then Sue Townsend did co-found Crabtree & Evelyn before she left for Florence to create a very different fragrance company named Ortigia, after the Sicilian island with sights and scents that inspire her.
The most popular of the 13-strong fragrance line is Fico d'India, a slightly powdery, subtle scent of fig, cedar and prickly pear, but our favourite Ortigia candle is Coral Shell, created from a mix of aromatic Sicilian herbs: essence of the Mediterranean. For the scent of Sicily's bitter orange leaves, burn Ortigia's newest baby, the sparkling, mood enhancing Bergamot.
* From £23 for a square candle of 360g, Ortigia, 55 Sloane Square SW1.
The White Company's Winter Botanical
With cinnamon shards, orange slices, berries and cloves embedded in the wax, the White Company's scented Winter Botanical candle smells as scrumptious as it looks. The decorative hard wax outer layer stays intact while the softer interior burns down.
White Christmas votives in scalloped glass jars, smelling of marzipan — billed as sweet almond blossom — make ideal party favours. But our favourite White Company candle is Cassis, a blend of blackcurrant and blackberry notes, with cedar, clove and patchouli. Try it in tealights for your festive table.
* Winter Botanicals, from £20 for 570g; White Christmas votive, from £12 for 60g; set of 12 Cassis tealights, £15 (thewhitecompany.com)
Festival of Light Holiday Collection from Diptique (£25 for 70; diptiqueparis.co.uk)
Diptique's festival of light holiday collection
Seasonal scents of Indian Incense, Pine Bark and Orange Chai in bejewelled glass jars show diptyque has followed the spice trail, and although cinnamon, quince and ginger come out to play, it's less cookie jar, more orange and cardamom. Pine Bark is no mere Christmas tree scent, but majors on a more rarified Japanese cypress, with a hint of souk patchouli, while Indian Incense is an enticing blend of myrrh, rose and blue cornflower. Could you burn these three French beauties all together? Absolument!
* £25 for 70g, £45 for 190g candle at diptyque, 195 Westbourne Grove W11; 68 Marylebone High St W1; 62 Leadenhall Market EC3.
Beautannia's Columbia Road
A limited-edition candle from Beautannia, the fragrance line created by Space NK founder Nicky Kinnaird, Columbia Road is for those who like their homes to smell like a country garden — or a boisterous east London market stuffed with blooms in high season. Summer scents of peony, rose, geranium and jasmine are all here.
* £35 for 185g, spacenk.co.uk
With its distinctive label, the diptyque candle introduced the world to esoteric single notes such as hazelnut and fig. Its latest, Insolite — meaning unusual — is a limited-edition collaboration with Liberty. This playful, complex fragrance encompassing leaves and petals, orange and lime peels, cypress, ginger and thyme lives up to its name.
* £45 for 190g, Liberty, Regent St W1.
Candles take centre stage on the mantelpiece or dining room table
Roja Dove's Fortnum & Mason
Tasked with capturing the essence of Fortnum & Mason in a candle, master perfumer Roja Dove created a complex, exquisite fragrance that whispers luxury, elegance and comfort, and incorporates beeswax from the hives on the store's roof.
Dove's 12-strong collection of Bougie Parfumée Grand Luxe are full-on, opulent perfumes. Jasmin de Grasse, Lilas de Biarritz and Lavande des Alpes are knockout florals, but through frosty weather, distinctive Vetiver is redolent of burning embers.
* Fortnum & Mason candle, at the store in Piccadilly and at fortnumand mason.com. Bougie Parfumée Grand Luxe at Harrods. All £75 for 610g.
Jo Malone's Cologne Intense
The name that made us fall in love with the tang of lime and basil offers two rich, sensual choices under the label of Cologne Intense: Oud & Bergamot and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily. In black glass jars, and with notes of black cardamom, black orchid and oud — a Middle Eastern wood — these are more for mistress than hostess. A safer festive gift is the striped Blue Spruce Deluxe Candle or Pine & Eucalyptus, delightfully described as the scent of Christmas morning.
The flagship store at 150 Sloane Street has a same-day delivery service if ordered before 2pm, for £15.
* Cologne Intense candles, £48 for 200g; Blue Spruce, £115 for 600g; Pine & Eucalyptus, £39 for 200g ( jomalone.com).
Layered scented candles (£75 for 200g) and Cologne Intense candles (£48 for 200g), both by Jo Malone (jomalone.com)
Jo loves layered candles
"Take a scented journey with my layered scented candles," suggests Jo Malone of Jo Loves, and presented with triple tiers of frangipani, wild reseda and tuberose, or lemongrass, caramel amber and tiare flower, who could resist? The idea is that you enjoy the individual fragrances as well as the moments when they mingle. There are also three single-note candles in her initial collection, with more promised:
Lemongrass, Frangipani and Wild Reseda which, says Malone, is like rolling out a fresh green lawn. Malone set the standard for scented candles and has raised the bar again, this time with her new company and flagship Belgravia store, Jo Loves. Spot the distinctive pillar-box red packaging. We love.
Layered scented candles, £75 for 200g; single candles, £45 for 185g at 42 Elizabeth Street, SW1 (020 7259 1430; joloves.com).
Acqua di Parma Colonia
Italy's iconic and glamorous cologne, dating back to 1916, is renowned as the scent of sunshine, underscored by the signature golden-yellow packaging.
The Colonia cube candle, in that same vibrant colour, delivers the familiar notes of Sicilian citrus, Bulgarian rose, cedar and rosemary, and is just the job for replacing a post-party room scent with a fresh, zingy fragrance.
Acqua di Parma's Christmas offering couldn't be more different: an outsize scarlet candle studded with gold-lacquered real berries, with a warm, festive scent of pine needles.
* Colonia cube candle, £53 for 1kg; Fir Wood candle, £72 for 900g.
The candle code
* Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room.
* The first time you light a perfumed candle, let it burn until the wax pools right to the edge, so you don't create a well in the centre.
* Make sure you trim the wick to about half a centimetre before each use to avoid too much smoke and ensure a slow, even burn.
* Light the candle for about an hour before you want to fully fragrance a room