In the movie, "The Madness of King George", a footman named Fortnum leaves in a huff to "set up a tea emporium". The fact is true but the time is wrong. William Fortnum was a footman in the royal household of Queen Anne a few decades earlier. Founded in 1707 and by appointment to Queen Elizabeth II, the Fortnum and Mason blended teas are my addiction every afternoon. My current blend is Fortmason. Newer blends include Albion and the Explorers' Tea. I also like to keep their pretty decorative canisters and have now ventured into their delicious biscuits too. A family favorite is Lemon Curd. The Fortnum shop in Terminal 5 is also my last stop at Heathrow before I board my flight, loading up on gifts for friends back in New York. Fortnum and Mason also has a tea subscription worldwide, enabling you to receive surprise teas every few weeks to sample and learn. A great gift for a special friend.
Conveniently located next door to Fortnum and Mason, these two shops in Piccadilly are my must-go-to places in London. Yes, there are many bookstores in London and they are somewhat all inter-related at this point (Daunt, Foyles, Waterstones and Hatchards). Yet, there is something intimate and personal about Hatchards, cocooning a serious browser amongst its panelled bookshelves and old world ambience. It is a place where I can get lost in books. Hatchards also has a subscription service where you share your reading interests and receive surprises. Just so you know how well they understand you, I have twice received cookbooks that I had purchased earlier with my usual compulsivity.
A modern apothecary that began in Covent Garden, I trust many of their products more than I rely on my dermatologist. Their concoctions are premised on homeopathy and mostly made with natural or organic ingredients.
I love the Frankincense Intense line, the White Tea Eye Gel and the Comfrey and Mallow Foot Balm. Best of all, there is a Flower Essence aptly named "Letting Go". Those drops came in handy last year when I seemed to quarrel with everyone about politics.