A heady exploration of sensual delights

Tranquil time out in the company of a fragrance tailor and a master of chocolate

If the barrage of Valentine-relatedofferings feels overwhelming, some time out – say in the calm and tranquilsurroundings of the St Pancras Spa – might appeal. On Thursday February 7, theRenaissance Hotel’s subterranean space will be hosting what it calls “anevening of indulgence”. But you can forget about massages and facials(unless, of course, you book in for a pampering session before the 6pm event),and consider instead the more unlikely combination of chocolate andperfume.

This heady mix of two ofValentine’s traditional sensual delights takes the form of an unusualexploration of “the way taste and smell interact and indulge oursenses”. Leading this experiential journey are Virginie Daniau,an independent fragrance specialist, and Helen Heslop, manager ofAlexeeva & Jones, a “salon du chocolat” in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill.The stylish boutique stocks treats from hallowed names such asValrhona and Rococo, alongside the more niche artisanal wares of Kent-basedDamian Allsop, inventor of “water ganache” and former head pastrychef at Michelin-starred restaurant Damian, and Paul Wayne Gregory, supplierof the chocolates for the Queen’s 80th birthday.

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On the scent side, the charming andknowledgeable Daniau is the UK’s first “fragrance tailor”.After many years in the perfume industry, developing successful scents for topbrands, she has established Parfum Parfait, a service to find the notes bestsuited to your style and personality. She will either match you to acommercial perfume (a year ago she suggested for me what I thought was theunlikely choice of Estée Lauder’s Sensuous; it’s been in my scent repertoireever since) or create an entirely bespoke blend.

The session will kick off with a brieftalk from both experts on how we actually taste and smell, but it’s the tastingand testing that is the main focus. The couple have paired specific chocolatesand fine fragrances to evoke different responses – some scents that enhance acertain flavour; others that will clash – exploring how the two senses respondto one another.

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There will also be drinks and canapés onoffer, discounts on Daniau’s consultations and Alexeeva & Jones’chocolates, plus a swag bag of spa goodies from Cinq Mondes to take away.And if the evening leaves you approaching the V day with renewed vigour,there’s still time to put in a knowing request – or two.

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