Last week, the whole of Bond were invited to be shown around the Fortnum & Mason flagship outlet at 181 Piccadilly by some of their wonderful staff.
As soon as we walked in were immediately distracted by the sheer wealth of beautifully displayed tea types groaning the shelves. We crammed ourselves into one of the beautiful antique lifts and rose up the building to the Parlour, where we were due to meet our hosts.
Despite Fortnum’s image as a bastion of Britishness, the first floor Parlour looked like it took its decor cues from typical 50’s American diners. Here, it serves as a wonderful spot for some light lunch and there’s a myriad of ice cream choices for children to choose from. We convened with our two hosts Charlotte and Freya and after some introductions and chatting over mini ice cream cones and tea, the grand tour began!
We decided to start on the fourth floor which holds the Drawing Room, the Tasting Room and the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. The latter of which is unsurprisingly fully booked up a month in advance! As we exited the same antique lift, we were greeted by the gentle tinkling of Jazz and some Chopin being played exquisitely by resident pianist Angus, who warmly smiled at us as we were guided to The Drawing and Tasting rooms. Both of these rooms were bestowed with plush, decadent finishes that serve as part of private spaces that can be tailored to perfectly fit any occasion. The Tea Salon acts as a world away from the rest of the store; a light, relaxing area to indulge and take in the splendour of your surroundings. In fact, it was actually opened by Queen Elizabeth during her 2012 Diamond Jubilee year.
We loitered a little longer to listen to Angus and then headed downstairs, his notes quietly trailing behind. We then found ourselves in what is the newest area of the store; the Gentleman’s floor.
The gentleman’s department was relaunched towards the end of 2016 and now boasts an in-house Master Barber, a staple that hasn’t been part of Fortnums for fifty years, the 3 & 6 bar which provides light bites perfect for everything from business meetings to pre-show sit-downs, a shoe shiner and now houses brands such as Ettinger, Otis Battersbee and Barbour to name a few.
Our arrival to the second floor was one of bedazzlement as we were showed all the rows of women’s jewellery on display and lingered by the lines of ornate glass jars akin to an alchemist’s lab, emitting the sweetest scents. The floor really felt like we had walked into a boudoir! We probably even left our guides waiting a little too long as we stood in awe at the beautiful ceiling painting by artist Roger Bissiere. Having already met at the parlor on the first floor, we skipped past it and went down to the stairs to the Fresh Food Hall and perused through all of the fruit, veg, fish, cheese, wine, charcuterie, wines, spirits and port. We were impressed to hear that everything listed and a lot more besides, can be hand-selected and packed into one of Fortnum’s iconic Hampers.
Finally, our hosts saved the best till last.
They took us down to the basement which looked like an archaic, royal dining hall and despite it being locked and hidden away, we were surprised to hear that it is sometimes used to host private events. However, the main reason why we were invited down there was so we could have a peek at the actual Royal Warrant Coat of Arms. It showed to everyone that the department store is an appointed trader who supplies goods and services to the English royal court and cemented how fascinated we were with everything we’d been shown. We left with our jaws dropped, a huge personal thank you to Charlotte and Freya for taking the time to show us around the store!
Featured photo credit: http://www.scentspy.com