Natural, vegan-friendly, eco-conscious, handmade, local – whatever kind of gift you are looking for there will be a luxury scented candle that will fit the bill perfectly. Words: Anne-Claire Heels

There is something magical about candlelight – that flickering flame casting shadows on a wall or creating a warm glow from a pretty holder has an irresistible, timeless appeal. From a single candle on a romantic restaurant table to dozens of them in a moving faith vigil to spa treatment rooms creating a blissfully calm space, candles continue to have a powerful effect on our senses.

But once upon a time your heart would have sunk on opening a scented candle as a present – because it was bound to be an overpowering aroma that was nothing like what the name suggested, and you’d have had to go lie down in a dark room to let the headache pass after burning it for any length of time.

Well, no longer, thankfully. (Because those candles of old were disappointing…) These days, ethical makers who are passionate about their craft are producing truly beautiful creations, using natural ingredients, organic cotton wicks, and pure essential oils or paraben-free scents. These luxurious products tend to be vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and eco-conscious in their processes too – poured by hand and made locally in small batches, and elegantly or simply packaged in materials that can be recycled or re-used. Better for the air quality in your home therefore better for you, and also for the planet in general. There is an endless array of wonderfully evocative fragrances available, and they really do fill a room with the floral/spicy/woody notes mentioned on the tin, or the box, or the tumbler…

All of these candles are part of wider ranges from the companies featured – see their websites for details of beauty products, reed diffusers and lots more.

Christmas Day
The Clovelly Soap Company

From the captivating cliff-side village of Clovelly in North Devon comes this gorgeous handmade candle – and if you wish it could be Christmas every day then this is the one for you. With a burn time of around 40 hours, the citrussy smell of sweet orange and wafts of warm cinnamon fill the air, the wax is a blend of soy and coconut with a cotton wick, and the heavy tumbler is made from recycled glass. Plus it arrives in a limited-edition Christmassy cardboard tube. Pour yourself some mulled wine and deck the halls, we say…

Best for: Fans of all things festive.

Emma’s So Naturals

From the east of Ireland comes this handmade Lavender Candle. Scent stirs the memory so strongly, and lavender is such a distinctive scent that we defy you not to be transported the minute you light this lovely candle. All I had to do was close my eyes and I could picture myself in the fields of a nearby lavender farm in Kent, where there are acres of those glorious purple flowers as far as the eye can see every July. It’s made from soya wax, pure essential oils, has a cotton wick and comes in a glass tumbler in pretty FSC-certified card packaging, making for a perfect present that will burn for around 50 hours.

Best for: Lavender-lovers everywhere.

Soul – The Joyful One
The 100% natural candles from Eym use only soy wax, cotton wicks and essential oil, blended to have a positive effect on your emotional wellbeing. From a range including Rest, Create and Laze, we’ve gone for Soul – The Joyful One, where sensual notes of neroli, orange blossom and yang ylang combine to uplift and enrich. It’s also said to have aphrodisiac qualities. These come in sustainably sourced packaging, are British-made and have a burn time of around 50 hours.

Best for: Invoking feelings of joy and happiness

Palace Road, India
Lavender & Lillie

British brand Lavender & Lillie aims to take you away you to different destinations through the power of scent. This fabulous candle conjures up vibrant India, with its exotic blend of jasmine noir, magnolia champaka, smoky sandalwood and spicy amber. Only natural wax and cotton wicks are used, and this has a burn time of roughly 60 hours. It comes in a finely illustrated porcelain pot (which makes for a special keepsake) with a decorative lid, each one featuring a unique hand-crafted lily. And the colourful card gift box is a thing of beauty too.

Best for: World travellers and armchair travellers.

Seasalt & Driftwood
The Mewstone Candle Company

Made near the South Devon coast using cotton wicks, 100% natural soy wax and vegan-friendly paraben-free fragrances, this candle in a tin punches above its weight. With notes of rosemary, lavender and bergamot, it will burn for around 50 hours and lift your spirits like a breezy walk on the beach. Each item in the quirky Mewstone range is mixed, poured, packed and labelled by hand. We love the jaunty little gull motif as well…

Best for: Those who like to travel light.

Willow Song
Noble Isle

This dreamy candle from Chester-based Noble Isle features water lily and willow sourced from the medieval Suffolk town of Lavenham, making for a delicate and fresh fragance that evokes spring. With a burn time of around 45 hours, the wax and wick are also both natural, and it sits in a frosted black glass with a rose-gold interior to create a radiant glow. The outer box with its ribbon is very nicely done too. The Noble Isle range is vegan-friendly, paraben-free, comes in 100% recyclable packaging and is made in England.

Best for: Floaty romantic types.

Jill Stein

These stylish candles have been developed to complement the Porthdune toiletries range from Jill Stein. Hand-poured in Cornwall, they use soya wax and a blend of 100% organic essential oils, and this ylang ylang, lavender and geranium scent creates a wonderfully relaxing mood and will burn for around 40 hours. We adore the coast-inspired design on the glass and the packaging, which is the work of Jill’s daughter-in-law Kate, and the sustainably sourced wooden lid doubles as a handy coaster for the candle.

Best for: A touch of coastal style, whether you’re by the coast or not.

No 7 Calm
The Rose Tree

All of The Rose Tree’s luxurious candles are poured by hand in the UK, vegan-friendly and made from 100% vegetable wax, and scented with pure essential oils. This heavenly ylang ylang and geranium aroma does exactly what the name promises – we wager you’ll feel like calm has been restored in no time as this feminine floral fragrance gently works its magic. The Rose Tree range comes in glass holders, and beautifully boxed, with a burn time of around 45 hours.

Best for: Those whose spirits need a little soothing.

Winter Thyme
St Eval Candle Company

From its base on a working farm in Cornwall (where they generate their own energy), St Eval keeps tradition alive with its hand-poured candles where the fragrances are all inspired by flora and fauna, in a blend of mineral and vegetable wax with cotton wicks. The rustic Hedgerow Pots get a Christmas makeover with Reindeer or Star Pots, which can be re-used afterwards to grow herbs, hold your pens, or whatever you like. This Winter Thyme Star Pot (which has a burn time of around 46 hours) blends rosemary and thyme with wood notes for an earthy aroma that’s fresh and different.

Best for: Anyone who is happiest in the great outdoors.


On the rugged northwest coast of Ireland, Voya specialises in luxurious and organic seaweed-based beauty lines, and is a company where sustainability is a watch word. Only natural, non-toxic and renewable resources are used – this limited-edition Glow Seasonal Spiced Candle has cinnamon, clove, orange and woody notes, making for a festive fragrance that’s both decadent and warm. The natural wax is a blend of soybean and rapeseed oil, and all Voya products are packaged using recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials.

Best for: Those who love a one-off.

Looking for more 10 Best features? Head to our 'Test the Best' section for buying guides and must-see coastal destinations.

Burn, baby, burn
Here are some top tips from candle-makers to ensure you get the best out of your new scented candle:

1. Always trim the wick before lighting – this will avoid excess sooting of the wick

2. It’s suggested that on first use, candles should burn one hour for every 1 inch in diameter of the actual candle size, to reduce ‘tunnelling’ and to spread the scent well. It’s advisable not to allow a candle to burn for more than four hours as the wick will become unstable, affecting the size of the flame, which will in turn make the candle smoke

3. Keep the wax pool free of any debris

4. Place on a smooth surface in a well-ventilated room – but out of the way of any draughts – and do not leave unattended

5. Be safety conscious – keep candles out of the reach of children and pets, away from any flammable materials, and do not move a lighting candle