“This is the first standalone store outside the UK, so trust had to be built up and we were adamant that whatever had to be brought over to maintain the heritage of the brand, we would do.” Jonathon Knight
A little piece of Piccadilly has popped up in Dubai quenching the thirst (quite literally) of all those British expats craving some quintessential Britishness in the desert. London’s luxury food institution and favourite of the British Royal Family, Fortnum & Mason opened its first outlet on foreign shores at the end of March, with a three level standalone mini emporium slotted in between the Dubai Mall and The Address Hotel in Downtown Dubai and under the shadow of the mighty tall Burj Khalifa.
Not going to lie, I was a little bit excited to visit as it’s always good to add new places to the ‘Brett Tours’ Dubai itinerary. We were on the tourist trail (again) this time with the eldest and his mate (UAE newbie) who are here on a post-uni-never-sitting-an-exam-again holiday. The usual favourites and Kodak moments out the way (Madinat Jumeriah, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Fountains etc) we ventured to Fortnum’s and were greeted by a large manicured topiary teapot and the oh so iconic woven picnic hampers emblazoned with the F & M logo that adorn many a toff’s polo match picnic blanket. The very posh and extremely colourful Fortnum’s interior did not disappointed nor did the array of goods on offer or the news that there is afternoon tea available on two floors and an ice-cream parlour with a great vista on the bustling Downtown tourist rich area.
Based on its parent store in london, this version has accents of its signature eau de nil colour throughout alongside products packaged in different pops of colour. The ground floor is a well stocked retail space, a mini version of the Piccadilly Food Hall, where traditional English jams and condiments (samples are available to taste) sit next to a selection of fine teas from around the world as well as biscuits, sweetmeats (candy or crystallized fruit to you and me) and chocolates. The infamous selection of Hampers on display can be purchased pre-filled or products selected using the Bespoke Hamper Service. There is also a small room dedicated to a range of candles, as a nod to the stores heritage (see factual bit at the end).
Both the higher floors benefit from outdoor terraces with views to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa and the downtown area. The first floor has a Tea Salon (inspired by the famous Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon from the flagship store officially opened by the Queen last year, accompanied by the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge) that serves breakfast, classic afternoon tea and high tea (hot savoury dishes instead of finger sandwiches, who knew!). The top floor houses the ice-cream parlour where colourful murals of Kings and Queens adorn the walls showing a glimpse through British history and even a lion and unicorn.
The range of products available in colourful packaging
Lots of yummy goodies to purchase and consume
Raspberry and Lemon sorbets and my favourite the salted caramel ice-cream
The upper outdoor terrace with view across Downtown Dubai
We settled for ice-cream (the most amazing salted caramel I’ve ever tasted) and sorbet on the second floor terrace with a sunset view across to the Burj Khalifa and the watched the fountains from a new elevated prospective. I am going to sample afternoon tea at Fortnum’s on my next Dubai visit ‘sans ma famille’ and the ice-cream parlour has been added to Brett Tours itinerary for all those who are contemplating a future visit.
Factual Bit: Fortnum & Mason started in 1707, when royal footman William Fortnum set up shop in St James’s with his landlord, Hugh Mason. An intrinsic part of the UK’s history and a renowned favourite of the gentry, Fortnum’s has long enjoyed royal patronage even holding two royal warrants, one from the Queen and one from the Prince of Wales. Fortnum and Mason, who were part of the Georgian Court, had the idea to collect the extinguished and then discarded beeswax candles of Queen Anne (who would never allow a candle to be lit more than once), recycle and reshape them and sell them in a small store in Duke Street. The operation expanded into tea, exotic groceries and other luxury items and, in 1756, moved to its present site on Piccadilly.
Official Photo (source:www.fortnumandmason.com)
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.