The results of F&M’s £24 million, two-year revamp (revealed in 2007 – 300 years after its opening in 1707) are stunning: the store retains all that was marvellous about its Georgian past while changing just enough to position itself as a 21st-century shopping experience.
A sweeping spiral staircase soars through the four-storey building, while light floods down from a central glass dome. The iconic F&M eau de nil blue and gold colour scheme with flashes of rose pink abounds on both the store design and the packaging of the fabulous ground-floor treats, including chocolates, biscuits, teas and preserves.
The first floor is for homewares: china- and glassware as well as finishing touches such as silver scoops for stilton, F&M coloured linen and cashmere hot water bottles; there are regular cooking sessions too.
The second floor is home to beauty rooms, fashion accessories, jewellery and a perfumery, while the third floor has menswear, luggage and writing accessories, along with an excellent wrapping service.
The five restaurants, all redesigned by David Collins (of Wolseley fame), are equally impressive, with the ice cream parlour a welcome addition. A new food hall in the basement has a huge range of fresh and dried produce, as well as top-notch wines from all over the world, meaning that Fortnum & Mason is no longer just a place for a picnic hamper, biscuits or an eye-catching jar of pickles.
Look out too for craft exhibitions, literary lunches as well as gallery collaborations. Fortnum & Mason is fabulously redolent of a time when luxury meant the highest degree of comfort rather than ostentation and remains a treat for all who venture through its oak doors.