Incense is back: discover the best scents and burners to buy

Move over, scented candles: incense is back in a big (and fragrant) way. We've rounded up our favourite scents and burners so you can stay on aromatic trend

Long gone are the days when incense sticks – those perfumed, smoky batons – would sit gathering dust on health food shop shelves, only to be purchased by hippies and self-described spiritualists. Now, the sticks are burning up everywhere, their scents wafting from high-end cosmetics shops to small-plate restaurants to the home of interior designer Linda Boronkay. Indeed, it is fair to say that incense is having a perfumed renaissance of sorts, giving scented candles a run for their wick (and with good reason).

Remind me… what exactly is incense?

Incense sticks usually cost less than their candle counterparts, and, until recently, came in a small variety of sweet, rich scents usually associated with ecclesiastical ceremonies. The sticks are usually lit and set to burn in a simple metal holder, which allows the stick's thin line of scented smoke to unfurl itself without need for keeping an eye on it.

What's different about incense today?

Of course, while you can still find incense of this variety wrapped up in paper packaging decorated with illustrations of Siddhartha and Ganesh, the new guard of incense is not made in the same vein as your hippie grandmother's sticks of patchouli or myrrh. Now, thanks to incense's newfound popularity, many brands have begun crafting sticks whose perfumes are more akin to the usually fresher smells of a scented candle. Brands have also left behind the small metal clip holders in favour of larger, more sculptural stick holders, cementing incense's place in not only the home, but also the seemingly immovable hierarchy of upscale aromatics. We've rounded up our favourite scents and incense holders to help you navigate this brave new (and wonderfully fragranced) world.

Our favourite scents

Musty patchouli begone! Today's incense scents are much more sophisticated. We love Ginori's ‘Purple Hill’ scent, with mandarin, lavender and white flower notes designed to recall the scent of the Tuscan countryside in summer. You can always rely on Aesop to go down the herbal, floral route without becoming overwhelming, and if the aromas of the desert are more your speed, try the Mojave Palm scent from visionary designers Haas Brothers.

Ginori 1735 Orange Renaissance Incense Refill (80 sticks)
Ginori 1735 Purple Hill incense refill (80 sticks)
Flower Power Incense Sticks
Earl of East
Sarashina Aromatique incense
Haas Mojave Palm Incense (60 sticks)

Our favourite incense holders

The ‘It’ incense holders on stylish mantelpieces are serious statement pieces, crafted in bronze or marble and designed to catch the eye. We'd also categorise them as investment pieces–worthwhile if you're looking forward to a lifetime of incense. If you just want to dip a toe into the smoky waters, however, or if you have a more grandmillenial aesthetic to your interiors, look to Oliver Bonas and other high street retailers for cheap and cheerful holders.

Bronze incense holder
White Antoinette incense holder
Walnut Wood Incense Holder
Olive the Birdie Blue Ceramic Incense Holder
Oliver Bonas
Apparatus Censer Incense Burner & Candle Holder
La Gent
Goswell Fig Verde Incense Gift Set, Brown Marble
Soho Home
L'OBJET + Haas Brothers Meditator gold-plated porcelain incense burner
Ginori 1735 X Luke Edward Hall porcelain incense holder
Matches Fashion