This week sees London-Heathrow’s brand new Terminal 2 “The Queen’s Terminal” operating at full capacity with all 26 airlines (primarily Star Alliance) now in their new home. Airport authorities planned for the transition to take place over the five months instead of in one fell swoop. Good thinking since the process seems to have gone without a hitch, and the new terminal is a far cry from the old cramped quarters of Terminal 1 & 2.
TravelSkills got an early sneak peek at the shiny new terminal and United’s nice new business and first class lounges last spring. But regrettably, we missed out on the terminal’s new, one-of-a-kind “scent globe” which the airport says “will immerse the curious in the aromas of Thailand; South Africa; Japan; China and Brazil.”
The scents emitted from the globe come from key ingredients associated with the designated country and “are designed to transport passengers to far flung destinations.” South Africa smells of tribal incense, wild grass and musk. Brazil’s scent is rich in rainforest fauna with a palette of coffee, tobacco and jasmine. Japan smells cool, oceanic with a mix of seaweed and shell extracts, green tea and Ambergris. Thailand is mix of lemongrass, ginger and coconut.
This of course got me on a train of thought about distinct travel smells… there are many and some so strong and memorable that I could be blindfolded, yet know exactly where I am due to the olfactory sensation.
For example, there’s what I call “the Marriott smell.” Have you ever noticed that Marriotts (all brands) smell like band-aids? I’m not certain, but I assume that the lodging giant centrally sources an iodine-based antibacterial cleaning compound that emits the smell. It’s not a bad smell… it’s a clean, reassuring smell. But it’s there. Am I crazy or does anyone else notice this?
Speaking of travel smells… here are nine of my favorites (in no particular order)… what are yours?
- The smell of coffee brewing on a plane as a long overnight flight is coming to an end. And the smell of jet fuel as you walk off the plane and onto the jetway.
- The acrid, sour, but memorable smell of chestnuts roasting on a dry, cold New York City night.
- Getting into a rental car, noticing the “new car smell” and looking down at the odometer reading 000016 miles.
- The smell of rain & tropical flowers when stepping off the plane at almost any airport in Hawaii
- The minty-soapy-lotiony-cologne-y smell of my toilet kit- it means the road is calling.
- The leathery, carpet-y “new plane” smell on a brand new or refurbished aircraft.
- I love it when you walk into a hotel with a spa… and you can smell it. Usually eucalyptus. On the other hand, I hate it when you walk into a hotel with an indoor pool and you can smell the chlorine.
- The smell of cookies baking on a plane (even if they are only served in first class).
- A Cinnabon at the airport. A Lush boutique somewhere overseas. And yes, even a McDonald’s when I’ve been away from the US for too long.
To me, Seattle and San Francisco smell like dark roast coffee. Los Angeles and Phoenix smell like orange blossoms. Houston smells like refineries. Tampa and Orlando smell like hot summer afternoon thunderstorms. Paris like bread. London smells metallic, and rubbery, like the Tube. Mumbai like sewerage and sandalwood. Boston smells like fish or the ocean. Denver like wood smoke. I could go on and on.
What about you? Please leave your comments and favorite (or least favorite) travel smells below.
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