Go on admit it, we all do it - check out what is on display in the bedrooms and bathrooms when we stay at or visit other people's homes. Nice linen, fluffy towels and fresh flowers make a good impression and so too do nicely chosen smellies by the basin or bath, or a handcream beside the bed.
There's a plethora to choose from in all price ranges, so you needn't spend a fortune to make a flourish, although you certainly can. Remember when entertaining or hosting guests it is best to avoid very strongly fragranced items which might not suit everyone's taste. Something like Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir room fragrance is best saved for your own boudoir; pick a safer scent such as Orange Blossom or Red Roses for guest rooms. If imported name brands aren't your thing, seek out little-known stylish looking products that are sure to impress or show your eco-credentials by opting for natural ingredients and/or locally made items.
And there's nothing wrong with decanting well-chosen supermarket handwash staples into cheap and cheerful containers, just make sure they look - and smell - good.
1. Banks & Co Peony & Rata Cleansing Hand Wash $21
From a smart New Zealand-made gift range named for Cook's botanist Joseph Banks, this wash and a matching hand lotion tap into the Kiwi love of native ingredients. As well as rata extract there is manuka honey and the coconut oil base is nourishing for skin. (For department and gift store stockists see pacificaskincare.co.nz)
2. Cote Noire Lake Bourget Luxury Body Wash $21.50
This well-priced French range is a delicately fragranced find and the items come beautifully boxed so make for great gifts. I love the eau de nil colour of the creamy foaming body wash which is gentle on hands thanks to shea butter, and the atomiser on the room spray is a decorative addition that sends out a mist of water-based formula. Lake Bourget is one of several fragrances and is a blend of oriental lily, honeysuckle and ivy. (From Smith & Caughey's and selected gift stores including Isabel Harris, Newmarket.)
3. Chanel No. 5 Bath Soap $71
Stick this in the soap dish and it's a bit of a statement. I'd be more likely to squirrel it away in a drawer so it didn't disappear down the drain, but if you're feeling indulgent ... This pink-tinged oval is a limited edition shaped to recall Chanel's earliest soaps and coloured to remind that May Rose is one of the ingredients of No. 5. It is part of a collection for fragrance layering fans with an Intense Bath Oil ($154), Loose Powder ($135) and, of course, the Eau de Parfum ($399) available for showy types. (From selected department stores and pharmacies; for stockists ph 0800 957 353)
4. Verite Spa Organics Pohutukawa Hand and Body Wash $41
This largely organic New Zealand company utilises native ingredients, in this case pohutukawa extract in a citrusy wash without artificial fragrances or colours (the tint comes from the plant that yields red bush tea). Verite also makes baby and skin care products. (From Smith & Caughey or see veritespa.co.nz).
5. Eco-Store Orange and Patchouli Handwash $6.90
This is a fine everyday choice New Zealand-made that stands up to scrutiny in any company. It's green and gets your clean, plus it smells good and is free of known irritating unnatural ingredients. The recyclable bottle has a cool print by a local artist so what's not to like? There's also Rose & Cardamom and Coconut and Vanilla choices. (Available from supermarkets and from ecostore.co.nz)
6. Lothantique Fleur de Dentelle Pillow Mist $31.50
A spritz of this French-made spray will leave your spare room guest-ready. Lothantique is a long-established company with a range of home fragrance products with a gentle sensibility. (From Corso di Fiori, Newmarket.)By Janetta Mackay Email Janetta