The globe-trotting Gallic perfumier, Kilian Hennessy, who often has light-bulb moments on a plane, shares his traveller’s experiences
How much do you travel in a year and to which part of the world in particular?
I travel almost one week out of two. I spend half of my time in France, but one month I went to Dubai, then Riyadh and Jeddah for a press conference, and Kuwait for the launch of Harvey Nichols. Then it was Paris, New York for an appearance at Bergdorf Goodman, followed by Milan and Moscow. Sometimes I feel like a Rolling Stone on tour!
What do you always take?
My Kilian scents, A Taste of Heaven, Absinthe Verte and In the City of Sin; my lucky jade stone; and my watch, a Cartier Santos 100.
On a plane, do you rest or work?
Rest and work. I often come up with my perfume names on the plane. I put on my iPod and write down ideas that I submit to Elisabeth when I land.
What are your must-have carry-on items?
An iPad, iPod, Moleskine notebook, Pilot pen, perfume travel spray, sleeping mask and tube of skincare.
What do you like to bring home with you?
Presents for my two children.
Does travel influence your work?
Of course, but mostly for details, colours or shapes like those carved into a temple. But to really understand a culture, books and the internet are irreplaceable.
What is on your iPod when you are away?
My music is eclectic: rap (Jay Z, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg); R&B/Soul (Selah Sue); pop (Rihanna, Pink, Adele, Alicia Keys); classic (Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos 4 and 8, and Mozart’s Requiem).
What books do you take?
I choose biographies and history books over fiction.
What is your idea of a dream holiday?
Culture and the beach.
What was your most magical recent trip?
Diving in the Maldives with Elisabeth. When you dive you see a beauty you have never experienced before and also find peace, as if suspended in time.
What do you like most about Mandarin Oriental hotels?
The service at Mandarin Oriental is impeccable and consistent, no matter which of the hotels you are staying at. I always feel welcome and comfortable.
What is most important to you when staying at a hotel and why?
It’s important that a hotel can cater to my business needs. Fast in-room Wi-Fi, overnight dry-cleaning, timely wake-up calls, a knowledgeable concierge and a great breakfast to start the day are crucial, all of which Mandarin Oriental provides.