Cold innit. How’s about a hug in a mug? Nothing like a steaming cup of hot chocolate, preferably frothing over with whipped cream, and marshmallows happily bobbing along on top. As I write this post, the city’s covered in snow and I’m dreaming of my favourite London Hot Chocolate spot.
We could argue over what makes a delicious hot chocolate. My boys like mummy’s best… that’s just cocoa powder and brown sugar, or a slab of chocolate, melted in hot milk. But if you’re a proper chocaholic, you probably prefer yours thick, dark and rich. #Wakandaforever (wink)
In the spirit of our ice cream crawl around the capital, I decided to launch a London Hot Chocolate Crawl to cheer you up during the chillier months. Here’s where to go with (or without) the minis for that chocolate fix.
Spoon it up.
London Hot Chocolate Crawl: Handpicked and Listed from A to Z
In alphabetical order:
Belle Epoque, 262 Upper St, N1 2UQ (Angel/Highbury & Islington tube)
You can’t wander along Upper St, N1, without pausing by Belle Epoque patisserie. Their show-stopping window display beckons you indoors and, before you know it, you’re nose deep in a luscious, dark hot chocolate. Ezr(times vary by branch)a describes this place as a ‘little too exquisite’ for him, but the cakes are sensational and the hot choc is pure heaven. Also find Belle Epoque on Newington Green, N16 and at Selfridges. Upper St opening hours: 7.30am-8pm Mon-Fri), 8am-8pm (Sat), 9am-7pm (Sun).
Chin Chin Laboratories (branches in Camden, Soho and Street Feast SE16)
Where there’s good ice cream, you’ll likely find yummy hot chocolate. Several of our Hot Chocolate picks also feature on our Ice Cream Crawl. Experimental ice cream flavour-haven Chin Chin Laboratories’ Valrhona hot chocolate is simply dripping with luxury. Pimp your choc with their handmade torched marshmallow, or try their vegan version with fruity notes. Open daily from around midday until late. (times vary by branch).
Choccywoccydoodah at 27 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials, Covent Garden WC2H 9AP (Covent Garden tube)
Just saying their name makes me happy, and sipping on their lush hot chocolate is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Host your intimate private party for fellow cocoa VIPs in their secret London parlour. Or swing by their London Bar du Chocolat for a taste of heaven. 10am-6.30pm (Mon-Sat), 12.30pm-5.30pm (Sun)
Churreria Espanola, 177/179 Queensway, W2 5HL (Queensway/Bayswater tube)
If you love those gooey chocolate pots for dipping your churros in, then you’ve come to the right place. The babes are mad about the Spanish fried dough snacks, and here you can either enjoy churros with Spanish hot chocolate, or drink the hot chocolate on its own! Ooh, naughty. Open from 7am (weekdays) and 8am (weekends), until 8pm (summer hours) or 5pm (winter hours).
Cowshed (Primrose Hill), 115-117 Regents Park Road, London, NW1 8UR (Regent’s Park/Camden Town/Baker St tube)
Members’ club Soho House has cornered the social grooming market with Cowshed spas, shops and products. Select Cowshed cafes serve anything from afternoon tea to a Sunday roast and a topnotch hot choc. Don’t sleep on their Nutella hot chocolate, available at their Primrose Hill branch.
Dark Sugars Cocoa House, 124-126 Brick Lane, E1 6RU (Shoreditch High St overground/Liverpool St/Aldgate East tube)
Only for the hardcore cocoa lovers, Dark Sugars brings West African and South American flavours to Brick Lane. Move to Senegalese rhythms and lose yourself in a cup of their signature Pitch Black Hot Chocolate. Open daily 10am to 10pm.
Fatties Bakery at Maltby St Market, 37 Maltby St, SE1 3PA (Bermondsey/London Bridge tube, rail)
Hot chocolate topped with meringue? Come to mama! Fatties Bakery is a decadent pop-up, now appearing at Maltby St market in the winter season. Their instafamous hot chocolate comes dressed in anything from salted caramel to a seasonal gingerbread. Follow @FattiesBakery on Instagram for your daily dose of #foodporn and #omnomnom. 9am-4pm (Sat) & 11am-4pm (Sun).
Ginger & White, 4A-5A Perrin’s Court, NW3 1QS (Hampstead tube)
Head to this Hampstead mecca for families, where your babes can order a babyccino from their extensive coffee menu. Or get them to stir up a creamy hot chocolate with warm milk for the littles, while you indulge in their hot chocolate with chilli! Perfect to spice up your weekend. Open 7.30am-5pm (Mon-Fri), 8.30am-5pm (Sat-Sun).
Godiva, multiple locations
Known for their luxe Belgian chocolates at stores nationwide, Godiva also pulls out all the stops when it comes to hot chocolate. Settle in for a Hot Chocolixir (also available cold), a layered blend of deliciousness that comes in flavours like White Chocolate Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Decadence. Various times and locations.
The Haberdashery, 22 Middle Lane, N8 8PL (Crouch End) and 170 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7JL (Stoke Newington)
This hugely popular, family-friendly coffee shop has branches in Crouch End and Stoke Newington. Enjoy a London hot chocolate, Italian style (regular or white chocolate) that’s ‘festooned with marshmallows’. Goes well with an award-winning breakfast, while the minis munch off the kids’ menu. Open daily 9am-5.30pm.
Hotel Chocolat, multiple locations
We’re big fans of this premium chocolate brand, and whenever I’ve run a Hotel Chocolat giveaway, their prizes fly out! Good news is that you can spend extra time in one of their London cafes, fuelling up with limited edition cocoa drinks like the Hot Crossed Caramel. Mmm.
Jaz and Jul’s, 1 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ (Angel tube)
It seems inevitable that one of the best London hot chocolate spots would be right here in my hood. Jaz and Juls’ flagship cafe on Chapel Market has a warm, intimate feel and a wide range of artisan delicacies. You can get crazy wild flavours or stick to the single-origin hot chocolate, ideal for purists. Thick and satisfying. Open 10am-6pm (Tue-Sun), closed Mons.
Melt at 59 Ledbury Road London, W11 2AA (Notting Hill Gate tube) and 6 Clarendon Road London, Holland Park W11 3AA (Latimer Rd/Holland Park/Ladbroke Grove tube)
Another famed London chocolatier. Visit the flagship store in Notting Hill, where you can savour a hot chocolate while watching Melt’s chocolatiers at work in the kitchen. If you want to recreate the comfort factor at home, buy a Melt Hot Chocolate Block and dissolve in hot milk. Just so good. Notting Hill hours: 10am-6.30pm (Mon-Sat), 11am-5pm (Sun); Holland Park hours: 9am-6.30pm (Mon-Sat), 11am-5pm (Sun).
Ottolenghi, 287 Upper St, N1 2TZ (Angel/Highbury & Islington tube)
Islington-based restaurant Ottolenghi is a foodie favourite, and it’s one of our best London hot chocolate stops — actually make that our best, full stop. The boys find it too dark (add extra milk and sugar for fussy nippers), but it’s just the right texture, richness and flavour to satisfy on a chilly day. Simply lush. NB: Ottolenghi also has branches in Notting Hill and Spitalfields. Open daily 8am-10.30pm.
The Parlour, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER (Piccadilly Circus/Oxford Circus tube)
Also a hit on our London Ice Cream Crawl, Fortnum & Mason’s The Parlour is a dessert lover’s paradise. If you can peel yourself away from their incredible ice creams (afternoon tea sundae, anyone?), you can’t go wrong with a frothy hot chocolate. Kids will love toppings like honeycomb, salted caramel, shortbread and toffolossus! Open 10am-8pm (Mon-Sat), *11.30am-6pm (Sun, *browsing only from 11.30am-12pm).
Paul A Young Fine Chocolates, 33 Camden Passage, N1 8EA (Angel tube)
We’re back in Islington, at one of the world’s most respected chocolatiers. Sure, he’s branched out to Soho (Wardour St) and the City (Threadneedle St), but Camden Passage is his home and where the magic happens. Paul keeps it real with a 70% dark chocolate concoction that’s also dairy free. Don’t leave without picking up a chocolate truffle or two. You’ll never be the same again! Regular opening hours 10am-6.30pm (Mon-Thu, Sat), 10am-7pm (Fri), 11am-6pm (Sun).
Peyton and Byrne, multiple locations
The Babes crew were all *sad face* when Peyton and Byrne disappeared from St Pancras station, as that was our afternoon tea and London hot chocolate go-to spot. But you can find this gourmet restaurant and cafe chain at a number of family-friendly venues. I’m a big fan of their soupy, not-so-dark, totally soothing chocolate drink. Enjoy with a slice of their amazing Victorian sponge for a special treat. Find a P&B menu at National Gallery Cafe (Trafalgar Square), the Royal Academy Grand Cafe (Piccadilly Circus) and the IWM Cafe at Imperial War Museum, Peyton & Byrne’s first family restaurant.
Rococo, 5 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JU (Knightsbridge/Hyde Park Corner tube)
Award winning Rococo has an amazing organic chocolate drinking gift set (perfect for Mother’s Day, hint hint!). You can also make a trip to their Chocolate Cafe at the flagship venue in Belgravia. Book in for a Chocolate Breakfast or Afternoon Tea, or just grab a mug of warm and welcoming hot cocoa, made with real chocolate Rococo style. Branches also in. Belgravia opening hours: 9.30am-6pm (Mon-Wed), 9.30am-6.30pm (Thu-Sat), 11am-6pm (Sun).
Ruby Violet, Midland Goods Shed, 3 Wharf Road, N1C 4BZ (Kings Cross) and 118 Fortess Road NW5 2HL (Tufnell Park)
Regular readers of this blog (and followers on our Instagram), will know that we love Ruby Violet. Ice cream (and ice cream cakes!) to die for, but did you know they also do a banging hot chocolate? Take it Long & Frothy or Small & Intense, whatever rocks your choc. Kings Cross open 10am-7pm (Sun-Wed), 10am-10pm (Thu-Sat). Tufnell Park open 11am-7pm (Mon-Wed), 11am-10pm (Thu-Fri), 10am-10pm (Sat), 10am-7pm (Sun).
Said dal 1923, 41 Broadwick St, W1F 9QL (Oxford Circus/Piccadilly Circus tube)
Something of a London hot chocolate best kept secret. Italian chocolatier Said creates the handmade chocolates of your fantasies. Just one look at their artisan hot chocolate oozing and dripping all over its cup will have you running to their Soho shop. Drool. Open 10am-11pm (Mon-Sat), 11am-10pm (Sun).
Tap Coffee, 26 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JD (Tottenham Court Rd)
I’m not a coffee drinker, so this wasn’t on my radar. But Tap Coffee keeps coming up, recommended by Londoners for its intense, velvety hot chocolate that comes in milk, dark or hazelnut varieties. Definitely worth checking out, Tap Coffee also has shops nearby on 114 Tottenham Court Rd and 193 Wardour St. Opening hours at Rathbone Place: 8am-7pm (Mon-Fri), 10am-6pm (Sat)
Tina, We Salute You, 47 King Henry’s Walk, Mildmay Ward, N1 4NH (Dalston Kingsland overground)
Local Dalston cafe Tina, We Salute You, has also opened up in E20 at the Olympic Park’s East Village. They serve up a creamy hot chocolate that’s not fancy, but warms the cockles just the same. Head to Tina’s blog (well, Steve’s blog really) for delicious recipes like Millionaire’s Shortbread and Chocolate Cheesecake. Open 8am-6pm (Mon-Fri), 10am-6pm (Sat-Sun).
William Curley at Harrods, Brompton Rd, SW1X 7XL (Knightsbridge tube)
Oh my googly eyes. William Curley’s website makes my mouth water. You can order the award-winning patissier and chocolatier’s own brand hot chocolate (choose Aztec or Mayan for added spice). Or visit William Curley at Harrod’s food hall to drink it in-store. Dark magic. Harrods opening hours: 10am-9pm (Mon-Sat), 11.30am-6pm (Sun).
Do you have another London hot chocolate crawl tip? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list (full credit to source)!