What an evening! As a Fortnum’s first-timer, aware of its astounding reputation, I was expecting big things at the launch of the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on Thursday 26th April; and Fortnum’s did not disappoint. The elegance of the David Collins Studio interior design combined with the classic Fortnum & Mason pale blue was a beautiful sight. Guests were flocking in even before the event’s official start time – obviously eager to sample some of Fortnum’s delicious Battenberg cake, macaroons and chocolate Sacher cake accompanied with a gorgeous, old fashioned glass of champagne. The exquisite playing of the pianist enhanced the atmosphere with classical favourites from Einaudi, Hans Zimmer and even Coldplay – there was something for everyone.
Whilst on a wander around the room I noticed a table of guests being educated and entertained by one of the Fortnum’s tearistas who had a tray of various flavoured tea leaves with him and was expertly pouring tea for the entranced onlookers to sample. I myself was mesmerised and stopped my room-amble to watch the spectacle. When he had satisfied the table with his tea knowledge and brewing skills, he received a well deserved round of applause, in which I was quick to join.
The evening seemed to whizz by and even when it was almost 8 o’clock the guests didn’t seem to want to leave. Would Fortnum’s offer an all night lock-in I wondered?! People did start to leave fairly soon after this thought entered my mind though and when they were leaving they couldn’t stop praising the event. When I asked one man what he thought of the evening he commented that he hadn’t had a nice evening, he had had a fantastic one! All 350 guests received a gorgeous Fortnum’s goodie bag on their way out with some jam and loose tea included and, as you would imagine, these went down a treat.
As my first Fortnum and Mason’s experience it was everything I hoped it would be and more. I can’t wait to take some of my visiting Australian friends in order to showcase a store that, since the early 18th century, has been one of a few London-based department stores to epitomise British culture.
By Lizzie Scanlan