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  • Writer's pictureIna

Fortnum and Mason: the 300-year-old Home of Gourmet Pleasures

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

The Quintessentially British Brand

Looking for the most magical London destination for deluxe foodies and lovers of extraordinary gifts? Set your Google Maps destination to "Fortnum & Mason"-- the luxury department store located in the heart of London, UK. Fortnum's prides itself in being “an English brand with a global palate." Recognized as an iconic British institution, Fortnum's is renowned for providing exceptional food, beautiful, sustainable products, and unique, unforgettable experiences.

Rich royal history

The store was founded in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, and it is known for its high-quality treats, cakes, pastries, and drinks, as well as its beautiful and elegant retail spaces. Fortnum & Mason is particularly famous for its afternoon tea, which is served in the store's elegant Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.

The store also sells a wide range of luxury food items, including teas, coffees, chocolates, preserves, and biscuits, as well as a selection of wines and spirits. In addition, Fortnum & Mason has a variety of gift items, such as hampers, gift boxes, and personalized gifts.

The store has a rich history, having supplied provisions to explorers and adventurers throughout the centuries, and having served as a favorite shopping destination for royalty and high society. Today, it remains a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, with a second location in London's St. Pancras International station, and international locations in Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Fortnum and Mason Piccadilly ground floor - The Chocolates and Sweets counter
Fortnum and Mason Piccadilly, ground floor - The delicious-looking Chocolates and Sweets department

Whether you’re an international hop-on-hop-off wanderluster or a seasoned Londoner, one thing is certain: for over three centuries, Fortnum and Mason keeps winning everyone’s hearts with its ruby-red-carpeted Piccadilly flagship outlet.

"The carpet is there to slow you down because it’s one of those things that subliminally makes people relax and changes the pace. It makes you slow down, calm down, and it feels different," (Zia Zareem-Slade, F&M Customer Experience Director).
Fortnum and Mason shop front facade.
The Fortnum and Mason shop front facade. The giant timepiece that weighs more than four tonnes was added in 1964.

From Charles Dickens (“I see Fortnum & Mason. All the hampers fly wide open and the green downs burst into a blossom of lobster salad!”) to Nigella Lawson, the Queen and actor Stanley Tucci who listed it as one of his favourite London shops (“where I buy anything I can”), a shopping spree to Fortnum and Mason is the ultimate joy-giving indulgence.

The Chocolate and Confectionery Department is a feast for the eyes...and the sweet-toothed taste buds
The Chocolate and Confectionery Counter is a feast for the eyes...and the sweet-toothed taste buds.

What is Fortnum and Mason famous for?

Fortnum and Mason is a high-class department store most famous for having been the royal grocer for over a century, its delightful displays of gourmet pleasures, desserts, memorable gift hampers, iconic Eau De Nil colour, charming store layout, unparalleled excellence, and sublime quality of products.

How many Fortnum and Mason's stores are there?

Fortnum and Mason's luxurious flagship, located at 181 Piccadilly, London, is accompanied by four additional stores. You can visit them at St. Pancras railway station, The Royal Exchange, Heathrow London Airport, and even in K11 Musea, Hong Kong.

Fortnum’s Bar and Restaurant at The Royal Exchange
Fortnum’s Bar and Restaurant at The Royal Exchange 📍 4-7 The Royal Exchange London EC3V 3LR

When did Fortnum Mason start?

Founded by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason in 1707 as a small grocery store, F & M has gradually built its indisputable international reputation by supplying exclusive, high-quality food which accelerated its glory and growth during the Victorian era.

Currently, Fortnum's is known for being one of the most elegant and almost irresistible department stores in London and worldwide. Its upmarket portfolio includes a famous tea shop and several restaurants, while still selling a lush variety of exotic, speciality, and “basic” supplies.

Fortnum and Mason’s Spiral Staircase
Fortnum & Mason spiral staircase, with shiny stainless-steel spindles supported by a sparkling light-reflecting silver rail.

What do Fortnum and Mason sell?

Fortnum & Mason, the epitome of superlative quality, offers an exquisite selection of sumptuous goods, sugar-free delicacies, vintage marmalade, much-celebrated luxury Stilton, smoked salmon, premium biscuits, seasonal produce, coffee, lush hampers, tea, gifts, high-quality Champagne, beauty, bath accessories, Christmas hampers, fine crystal homeware, and porcelain teaware - all appreciated by royalty and the upper class around the world. Speaking of Christmas, check out the exquisite festive magic created by Fortnum's every winter.

Fortnum and Mason side entrance (Duke Street) with a beautiful wooden staircase decorated with statues
Fortnum and Mason side entrance (Duke Street) and its a beautiful wooden staircase decorated with statues.

Where does Fortnum and Mason chocolate come from?

Fortnum and Mason chocolate counter boasts more than 300 varieties of delicious chocolate and countless assortments of truffles, chocolate bark, caramels, pralines marzipan, and ganache. Its new choco varieties pamper our palate with a mix of vegan, palm oil-free, with no added sugar, vegan-suitable, and alcohol-free sweets produced in the tropical Caribbean by the world's first “Farm to Store” master chocolatiers.

The most passionate and talented craft chocolate makers make sure that every sweet molecule of Sailboat Chocolate is naturally grown, certified organic and 99% emission-free. Then there’s the luxurious selection of delectable handmade English chocolates that come in every possible level of scrumptiousness, from rose & violet or peppermint creams to nutty, ginger, and even mixed milk & dark selection boxes.

Chocolate Wonderland
Chocolate Wonderland meets an universe chunchable & dunkable biscuits

Did the Queen drink Fortnum and Mason tea?

Although the title of the Channel 5 documentary “Inside Fortnum and Mason: The Queen’s Grocer” suggests that Fortnum and Mason's Royal Blend might be Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite tea, apparently it was not, as Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s press secretary between 1988-2000 revealed in the said documentary.

The Royal Blend is Fortnum and Mason's most famous tea after being created in 1902 for Edward VII, but the Queens preferred Earl Grey tea and drank a cup every morning.

Fortnum and Mason Address:

📍 181 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1A 1ER

Fortnum and Mason Opening Hours:

⏰ Monday - Saturday: 10 am–7 pm; Sunday: 12 – 6 pm

🚇 The nearest London Underground stations are Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, and Piccadilly Circus (all on the Piccadilly line).

*All photos were taken by Ina/WithinLondon, unless stated otherwise.


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