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.