Standing proud on Piccadilly since 1707, Fortnum & Mason, along with the equally famous Harrods, takes the prize for London’s best-known and most iconic department store. Named after its principal proprietors William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, the central London store is now owned by Wittington Investments Ltd, but its namesakes still grace the iconic rooftop clock – with four-foot high mechanical statues of the men themselves whirring into action as the clock chimes each hour.
Belying its early incarnation as a simple grocery store, Fortnum’s soon earned a reputation for selling the highest quality foods and imported delicacies to London’s high society, even supplying food for a number of Victorian era Royal functions. Today, the variety has expanded but the quality remains top notch, with their luxury Christmas and picnic hampers - a renowned tradition dating back to Victorian times – ranging in price from a very reasonable £35 to a mind-blowing £25,000.
In the last few decades, Fortnum’s has branched out into a number of alternative areas, selling home wares, perfumes, jewelry and accessories, all with a quintessentially English flavor. The spectacular window displays (particularly atmospheric around Christmas time) feature old-fashioned tearooms decorated with fine china and the central atrium is highlighted by a grand volute staircase and domed roof.
There’s plenty to do besides shopping here too. Visit the award-winning wine bar, sample Viennese cakes and strudels at the decadent ice cream parlor or eat in one of the acclaimed restaurants. You can also opt for traditional English Afternoon Tea in the new Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, where you can pick up some of the famous Fortnum & Mason loose-leaf tea to take away with you.