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Get a Scents of the City

Visit York releases first scented city guidebook that even lets people smell ghosts

  • Smell York: UK’s first scented travel guidebooklaunched today
  • As well as the aromas of the city’s ghosts, the guidebook, created by Visit York, has been infused with the smells of a day at the races, steam trains, afternoon tea,chocolate, wild moorland heather, gunpowder and a strong Yorkshire cheese
  • Scented guidebook created by olfactory experts who analysed, recreated and infused complementary aromas into twelve iconic images of York
  • Olfactory guidebook launched to entice new visitors to York

Around the world there are hundreds of reports of ghosts and ghouls that leave pungent smells where they roam. And in York, Europe’s most haunted city, such otherworldly odours certainly aren’t in short supply. But now, for the first time, people can actually experience those paranormal pongs in book form, as the scents of York’s smelliest ghosts have been captured from beyond the grave and infused into the UK’s first-ever olfactory travel guidebook.

Commissioned by Visit York, the free, quirky guidebook aims to entice new tourists to York by giving readers the chance to embark on an olfactory odyssey into the heart of England’s iconic historic city and its surrounding countryside.

As well being infused with the supernatural scents of bad eggs and roses (associated with two of York’s most fragrant phantoms[1]) the guidebook contains the evocative aromas of coal, steam and oil from the golden age of York’s railways, the smells of horses galloping to the finish line at York Racecourse and the fresh fragrance of wild heather growing on the world-famous North York Moors.

Other sweet smells infused into the olfactory guidebook include delicious notes of luxurious chocolate (representing the city’s chocolate making heritage), an afternoon tea of cream cakes and scones and the city’s abundant daffodils, soon to be in full bloom.

The scented travel guidebook was created by a team of scent engineers who analysed a range of smells associated with York before accurately recreating those aromas in a laboratory setting and applying them to the photographs in the guidebook[2].

Each photograph features a combination of scents to reflect the range of aromas the scene depicts. The smells are registered as soon as the reader puts the pictures to their nose. The full list of scents infused into the Smell York guidebook is as follows:

1. York’s Antiquities: a musty infusion of leather, old books, gold, silver, wood and dust

2. York in blossom: floral scents including daffodils and roses

3. Afternoon Tea: the appetising aromas of loose leaf teas, spices and cakes

4. Chocolate heritage: the indulgent scents of cocoa, butter, sugar and nuts to represent York’s status as Britain’s Home of Chocolate

5. Railway heritage: a nostalgic infusion of coal, steam, engine oil and iron to represent York’s rich railway history

6. Rural Yorkshire: the scent of fresh wild heather as it grows on the North York Moors (the backdrop to many films and television programmes, including Harry Potter), the grasslands of the Yorkshire Dales and fresh country air

7. Gardens of York: the relaxing scent of York and Yorkshire’s lavender gardens

8. York Racecourse: a combination of horse hair, hoof oil, grass and fruit punch

9. Foodies favourite: a mature smell of strong Yorkshire cheese

10. Spooky scents: the guidebook has been infused with strong smells of sulphur and roses that are frequently associated with two of York’s eternally restless spirits

11. Guy Fawkes’ legacy: York is the birthplace of the notorious Guy Fawkes, a man who is now forever associated with the smells of gunpowder, fireworks and burning wood and straw

12. Seasonal scents: a traditional Christmas aroma of burning frankincense, mince pies and Advent candles in Britain’s Christmas Capital

Kate McMullen, Head of Visit York, said of the guidebook’s launch: ‘Countless scientific studies prove that the human sense of smell is one of the key facets in forming strong memories. We commissioned this scented guidebook to give potential newcomers to York a fun flavour of the many lasting memories that a trip to our historic city could provide. Indeed, whether you’ve got a soft spot for the scents of the supernatural or a craving for the nostril-nourishing aromas of the world’s greatest countryside, York has something for every nasal persuasion.”

A limited first-run of the Smell York olfactory guidebook has already proven so popular that all pilot limited edition copies of the free guidebook have been snapped up. Visit York is considering a reprint and anyone who would like to show their interest in potentially receiving a copy can email

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For more information

To request a copy of the scented guidebook or for high resolution imagery please contact E: or T: 01904 554451

The new scented visitor guidebook has been sponsored by East Coast Trains and is part of Visit York’s marketing campaign for this year, supported by the Regional Growth Fund in partnership with Visit England

Notes to editors:

Using the five sense headings of: Smell, Touch, See, Hear and Taste, new visitors to York are offered Fifty ideas for their first visit to the city

According to reports from ghost expert Mark Graham of the Original Ghost Walk of York

The full process of creating the smells and infusing them is as follows:

The desired aromas are captured by running a sample through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry equipment to identify the chemical components that make up the sample.

The laboratory then recreate the aroma using multiple fragrance ingredients, as identified in the above process.

Once the fragrance is ready, it is turned into a printing varnish via encapsulation (Touch to Smell technology).

Touch to smell is used to create scent solutions in print. It is applied as the last stage in the printing process.

The printing varnish forms an invisible layer of microscopic bubbles on the paper. These bubbles release a burst of scent, giving a perfect rendition of the original sample aroma.

‘Did you know’ facts about smell:

Our sense of smell is a vital part of our lives and smell is the most sensitive of the senses.

People can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year, while visual recall is about 50% after three months.

The sense of smell is the first of all our senses to develop. Even before we are born, our sense of smell is fully formed and functioning.

About Visit York

• Visit York is supported by the City of York Council and over 700 tourism businesses and works in partnership with VisitEngland.

• Visit York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure and business visitor, and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. Visit York is responsible for leisure and conference marketing, visitor services (running the city’s Visitor Information Centre), training and ensuring a quality visitor experience.

• Visit York is the driving force of the city’s tourism industry.

York’s Fifty First Time Experiences

Using the five sense headings of: Touch, Smell, See, Hear and Taste, new visitors to York are offered Fifty ideas for their first visit to the city

• Yorkshire was named as one of the top places in the world to visit in 2014 by Lonely Planet, one of the world’s leading travel publications
• Lonely Planet put the area third in the top 10 world regions, behind destinations in India and Australia.

About VisitEngland

• VisitEngland is the country’s national tourist board. They work in partnership with the industry to develop the visitor experience across England, plan national tourism strategy, grow the value of tourism in England and provide advocacy for the industry and our visitors
• Their work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights. You can access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics on
• For corporate information see and for consumer information see