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28th September 2020

Piccadilly, Floor by Glorious Floor

We may be a little biased – this, after all, is where we live - but we think 181 Piccadilly is a rather special place. At our short address in the heart of London, we have been filling floor-upon-floor with the very finest things imaginable for centuries. In that time, countless millions of visitors have wended their way merrily up and down our staircases in search of something special.


Not many have left empty-handed…


If you have ever paid us a visit and meandered your way from lower ground to fourth floor, you will know all about the particular magic of our famous store. But for those who have never been before, for our millions of online shoppers, and anyone who is struggling to recall the last time one of our doormen last ushered them inside 181, we are here to provide a small virtual trip around Fortnum’s, floor by glorious floor.


What’s more, we’ve made a few changes at our London lodgings to ensure your safety is our utmost priority.

Lower Ground Floor

We start with the finest food in all the land, our famous Food Halls on Lower Ground.


Down a single flight of our spiral staircase, you will find our butcher, our bakery, but sadly no candlestick-makers. Not presently, at least. And candles are available on second, as it happens.


To our right, as we enter, you’ll find our food-to-go, there’s pasta from Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano - made fresh daily, with a rotation of sauces, and our fresh baked goods and a collection of delicious salads, sandwiches and of course, Scotch Eggs and pies. Turn a little and you’ll be facing our Spirits Room, filled with one of London’s most unique and diverse collections of Gin, as well as an amber cove of all things Whisk(e)y. There’s also every other tipple to raise your spirits here too.


Strolling across the floor you’ll pass all manner of condiments and pantry essentials, a bare cupboard really doesn’t bare thinking about! Then we reach our fresh fish, cheeses from all points of the globe, and charcuterie. To the left, wines from South America to Southern France to the South Downs, rows of fizz, port displays and much more. We try a sample of delicious sausage at the butcher’s counter, we watch brie being sliced and weighed, we drag ourselves away from the Champagne and up to the ground floor before we buy everything in sight…


We are working, after all.

Ground Floor

We take the stairs, spiralling upwards through the middle of the store, offering incredible views of the floors above and flooding light into the building. The Christmas decorations are up, and people stop to take photos. Of the stairs, obviously. Not of us, however happy we might be to strike a pose or two.


On our ground floor, we stop a Fortnum’s assistant clad in customary Eau de Nil tie, white shirt, dark jacket and approachable, welcoming demeanour. We ask her where we should head first.


'To Chocolate Wonderland of course! Or you could head to teas, coffees, jams and preserves, the biscuits...'


She laughs, because she has more-or-less listed the entire contents of the ground floor. But then it is very hard to know where to start on a floor so abundantly populated with wonderful things.


We plump for teas. Rows upon rows, shelves upon shelves, in loose leaf and in bags, from all corners of the globe and to suit all tastes, and all beautifully-presented. No wonder it’s been so popular for over 300 years. We overhear a couple talking: he drinks tea, she does not, but she admits that even she is tempted. Everything looks so pretty, she says. And it does.


We march on to the jams and honeys and preserves, oh my! We flit around the biscuits, coo at the confectionary and the hidden treasures inside, and feel a pleasing sort of sugar rush just looking at the 500 different types of chocolates on display.


We could stop for longer, and we recommend you do, on your visit. But for now, we must press onwards, or else this article – this brief and colourful whizz around the inside of 181 Piccadilly - might end up at novella length.


And so, to the first floor.

First Floor

And WOW, Christmas food is here! Mountains of mince pies, puddings and all things sugar and spice. Our thoughts turn to what would comprise our Christmas feast, and whether we could feasibly keep it below, say, 50 items.


Probably not, is the verdict, but lets compile a list, all the same, starting with a Magnificent Plum Christmas Pudding, marmalades, Champagne and strawberry preserve, the incredible Merrilossus, a bottle – no, three! – of Fortnum’s fizz, tins of Christmas Spiced loose leaf tea, a Mince Pie Medley, Fortnum’s London Gin, and much, much more. Our mouth waters at the prospect.


In line with social distancing measures, this year our Christmas Food area in Piccadilly is also 63% or two thirds, bigger than it was last year, making for a more luxurious and safer shopping experience.


There’s also homeware here too, a spectacular wall of teapots and all the china for creating Afternoon Tea at home. And our new bespoke tea blending service - more on than here.


Taste buds tickled and in need of a little energy after taking the stairs between floors (instead of the beautiful wood panelled and mirrored lifts), we head to The Parlour for ice-cream.


And the most remarkable thing we realise, as we spoon home great heapfuls of delicious dessert? That we are only halfway through our journey through the floors at Fortnum's...

Continue your exploration of our Piccadilly home with Floors two to four here.