Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, Berkeley: Hours, Address, Aftel Archive of Curious Scents Reviews: 4.5/5

Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Aftel Archive of Curious Scents
4.5
Speciality Museums • Libraries
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Saturday
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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About
A small museum devoted to natural aromatics and artifacts. Smell more than 300 essences -- & take 3 samples home. Touch & smell raw botanical materials that become perfume essences, pour over turn-of-the-century perfume books, compare 100-year-old essences to their modern counterparts. Every item in the Archive is authentic & original, some dating back hundreds of years. Open Saturdays. We require all visitors to wear masks during the entire visit and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Suggested duration
< 1 hour
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.5
18 reviews
Excellent
15
Very good
2
Average
0
Poor
1
Terrible
0

Joshua G
1 contribution
Couples
I live near Berkeley and heard a piece on local radio about the After Archive of Curious Scents. My girlfriend and I had read and enjoyed a book about scent (entitled The Emperor of Scent, highly recommended itself) and this unique museum offered an opportunity to understand a little more about the book, which made reference to innumerable scents that are unfamiliar to the average reader. I decided to surprise my girlfriend with a trip this Saturday past.

Others have done a wonderful job of describing what the experience is like once you enter the museum, so I will limit my review to reiterating that this is a wonderful establishment that any curious person is sure to enjoy.

A few practical notes:

- There is a $20 entrance fee with a small added surcharge if payment is made through credit card .
- You should make an appointment if you are interested in going. They do take walk ins, but seemed to prefer knowing in advance when visitors would come in.
- You'd definitely get something out of it going alone, but having a friend to argue about scents with definitely makes the experience more interesting.
Written March 12, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you very much for your visit and thoughtful review, we really appreciate it!
Written August 18, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ccjello
Waikiki, HI39 contributions
Family
We decided to the visit Aftel Archive of Curious Scents upon a recommendation from the proprietor at Tail of the Yak (a fascinating must-visit boutique on Ashby Street in Berkeley) -- not quite sure what to expect. What a delightful surprise -- there is so much packed into a carefully curated small space, and much of it is hands on. You'll have an opportunity to play with various fragrances and flip through old books about fragrance. It was well worth the visit. Mandy stopped by during our visit and answered questions. Her enthusiasm and knowledge was apparent. I purchased a copy of Mandy Aftel's book Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent -- while visiting the museum and breezed through it over the next few days. The adjacent garden, while not open to museum visitors, is a visual masterpiece easily viewed through the museum's windows. And you're spitting distance from the original Peet's coffee. Well worth a visit.
Written January 26, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful and generous review, it was so great to have you visit us!
Written January 29, 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Brady B
Novato, CA24 contributions
Couples
After succeeding in finding this little treasure in Berkeley, we felt a sense of adventure upon entering this architecturally sublime little treasure, filled with light and calm. The setting allows for minimal distraction from exploring the sense of scent. Lovingly curated by the Aftel family, scents are carefully exhibited, arranged by type, and accessible to smell or even take samples. Interesting exhibits and lots of surprising sources of favorite scents used in perfumes and through history. I recommend this for an hour of something different, calming, and memorable.
Written June 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you very much for such a great review! You made our day!
Written August 18, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Paula B
Santa Ana, CA132 contributions
While visiting family in Oakland, we decided to check out this place. First, I think the experience was overpriced...$20 for about 1 hour of smelling various things was a bit much. There are hundreds of things to smell, some familiar, some new, some very pleasant, others not, and some seemed to have no smell at all. But, I'm not sure what the point was of this experience. It is interesting that the woman whose collection it is spent so much of her life involved with scents and perfumes, but unless that is a passion of the visitors, I think it is a bit over-rated.
Written February 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Paula, We are sorry you were disappointed with your visit and have refunded your money. Sincerely, Mandy Aftel
Written February 25, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jessica N
Oakland, CA15 contributions
Friends
There's magic was hidden at the end of a Berkeley driveway! The Archive has it all — taxidermy, rare scents (ambergris!), vintage maps, rare books, etc. Everything is beautifully and carefully curated, and the attention to detail is astounding; I may need to visit again.

My only regret from my trip is that I didn't ask Mandy Aftel more questions! Where else would I get the chance to speak to a knowledgable and renowned perfumer? Even if you're not a perfume connoisseur — I am certainly not — but this is a Bay Area must if you enjoy history, art, and beauty.
Written March 4, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you so much for your fantastic review, we really appreciate it!
Written August 18, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jody H
1 contribution
Friends
The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is an amazing place to visit. I wished I had booked more than one hour to spend even more time with all of the beautiful, interesting and carefully curated exhibits. There is so much to smell and see, and the perfumer and her son are welcoming and knowledgeable guides. If you are even slightly interested in fragrance, chances are you will enjoy it - there are rare scents you've likely never smelled before, and common scents like rose deconstructed into its constituent elements. I highly recommend a visit, and I'll likely be back!
Written February 18, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thanks so much for your wonderful visit and kind review, we really appreciate it!
Written August 18, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

nicolemfoos
Los Angeles, CA8 contributions
Couples
This exquisite little gem of a place is a must for any perfume or scent enthusiast. It’s truly gorgeous and so much fun and informative! The vintage collections are such treasures and there was lots to learn (even though I already knew a fair amount). I so enjoyed all the scent experiences and could have played there all afternoon. Highly recommend!!
Written December 29, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you so much, Nicole, for your wonderful visit and for taking the time to leave this glowing review! We really appreciate it! 🙏❤️
Written December 30, 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sightseer741795
1 contribution
Friends
It is an interesting and educational place. I have been there before and am going a second time to take a friend.
Written March 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you so much for your wonderful visit and for taking the time to write this nice review!
Written April 1, 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Audrey B
San Francisco, CA4 contributions
Friends
This intimate museum has a lot to offer!

The experience:
I bought a ticket in advance with a group of friends. After walking down a tree-shaded lane to the entrance, we were personally greeted by the museum's owner and founder, Mandy Aftel. She gave us a short orientation and then we were free to explore the displays at our own pace. The small space limits the number of visitors, which means we got to interact - smell - everything at our own pace. The bright, cozy space and 1 hour time slot of the visit expertly curates a vast topic into a manageable, delightful experience.

My favorites:
- Smelling a single perfume broken down into its 9 ingredients and "chords" of top, middle and base notes
- Comparing modern versions of a scent extract with antique versions
- Seeing and touching things like frankincense and myrrh, the stuff of fables.

My recommendation:
Great for perfume/beauty enthusiasts, history fans of all stripes, cabinet of curiosity lovers, natural science devotees, and those who simply like to smell all kinds things (you know who you are). I do hope Ms. Aftel gives gallery talks some day. I'd love to learn more about some of the subjects to which the museum introduced me!
Written June 10, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thanks so much for your wonderful visit and review, we really appreciate it!
Written August 18, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

robn2528
Berkeley, CA1 contribution
Friends
What an interesting place! I would never have thought of a smell museum as an activity before discovering the “Aftel Archive of Curious Scents”! It was such a unique experience, and I really enjoyed myself!!
Written May 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughtful comments, they mean a lot to us!
Written August 18, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is open:
  • Sat - Sat 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM