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Phantosmia: A Smelly Ghost Tour

Image from FlickrCommons
Image from FlickrCommons

Sadly I’m delinquent in writing up this post. The publicity team for Phantosmia contacted me last month about their kickoff event, which took place this past Saturday, October 3, 2015.

I failed to write it up before now because I put everything on hold to fix the problems over at the Scareporium.

However, their ghost tour is ongoing the month of October so…not only am I in luck, but so are any of you who read this, think it’s as cool as I do, and want to let your nose in on one of the most unique haunt jaunting experiences I’ve heard of yet.

What is the Occurrence of Phantosmia?

Before we get into the details of the tour, let’s first understand the novelty of it.

Let’s start with the definition of phantosmia. and Wikipedia both define it as “an olfactory hallucination.”

This is an excerpt from’s site:

The odors detected in phantosmia vary from person to person and may be foul or pleasant. They can occur in one or both nostrils. The phantom smell may seem to always be present or it may come and go.

Phantosmia may occur after a head injury or upper respiratory infection. It can also be caused by temporal lobe seizures, inflamed sinuses, brain tumors and Parkinson’s disease.

Consult your doctor if you experience the symptoms of phantosmia, so that your doctor can rule out any serious underlying disorders that may be causing the detected smell.

Okay, so I don’t know about you, but if I start experiencing “phantom smells” I’m going to be a little concerned about my health. Unless…

I’m experiencing phantom smells in an allegedly haunted place where such a phenomenon is known to exist.

Or if they’re not phantom smells at all, but courtesy of a Smell Ghost Kit (yes, you read that right; details forthcoming) on the Phantosmia tour.

Phantosmia: A Historic Guide to Aromatic Hauntings in L.A.


The Phantosmia ghost tour is a combined effort between the Ghost Hunters of L.A. (GHOULA…pardon this sidebar but I just love their acronym!) and the Institute for Art and Olfaction’s Smelly Vials Perfume Club.

Since the IOA’s site has it written up so nicely, I’m going to borrow their wording of what this is and how it all came about:

Drawing from Ghost Hunters of Urban LA’s extensive research into haunted Los Angeles, Phantosmia is a self-guided tour of the city’s famous and not-so-famous haunts – notable for their paranormal disturbances uniquely driven by scent.

From Peg Entwistle’s sweet gardenia perfume floating inexplicably around the Hollywood sign to the phantom smell of Rudolph Valentino’s horse lingering at the former site of Falcon’s Lair, these ghost smells are sensorial reminders of the lurid, turbulent and baroque history of this City of Angels; where dreamers come to be reborn and – just as often – die terrible, lonely, violent and often painful deaths.

They’ve created Phantosmia Maps (limited editions, which means I “smell” a collector’s item) and a Ghost Smell Kit that contains 13 vials. Put the two together and, as described on GHOULA’s site in a post about the ghost tour: “you can go off on your own para-aroma adventure  as we recreate the odors of 13 SMELLY GHOSTS! (They’re emphasis.)”

See what I mean about unique?

The Ghost Smell Kit

Again, since the IOA’s site has it written up so nicely, here’s the dealie-o about the kit:

Each kit contains:
– Thirteen ghostly scents created by The Smelly Vials Perfume Club in 3ml spray bottles (one for each stop on the self-guided tour), including Jean Harlow’s perfume, Rudolph Valentino’s Horse Stable, Miguel Leonis’ soap, and more.
– A beautiful fold-out map to the locations, complete with related stories, designed by Micah Hahn at
– A set of limited-edition buttons (for the fashionable ghost-hunter)
– Charcoal for rubbings
– Scent strips

The Charcoal Rubbings

If I was in L.A., I’d be all about this aspect of their tour too:

As part of the project, guests are invited to visit each location on their own, experience the space with their haunted smells and collect a rubbing from the Phantosmia marker hidden nearby. Guests who visit all thirteen sites (and have the rubbings to prove it!) will be invited to a special blending session at the IAO, where they will be able to explore their own olfactory version of ghostly LA.

It’s like a hide-and-seek-and-smell-and-collect game!

For More Info

Are you sold yet? Are you in agreement with me? Doesn’t Phantosmia sound like one of the most novel ghost tours you’ve ever heard of?

If so, and if you’d like to take the Phantosmia ghost tour and get your own Ghost Smell Kit (note: they can’t ship them due to USPS regulations), contact:

The  Institute  for  Art  and  Olfaction
932  Chung  King  Road,  Los  Angeles  CA  90012
Ghost  Hunters  of  Urban  LA




Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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