The best hot chocolate London has to offer is a hotly contested debate in the SquareMeal office, with everyone having their own favourite depending on preference. Some prefer pure iterations of this luxurious winter drink, favouring the rich flavour of melted chocolate above all else, without any fuss or faff on top to distract from the cocoa goodness, while others want all out indulgence in the form of all the bells and whistles (hand over the marshmallows and cream, and hand them over now).
Of course, the best hot chocolate in London can also depend on convenience factor, where are you at the time of taking a notion for one? Odds are, the best hot chocolate in London is the half-decent one you’re closest to at any given moment. However, there are exceptions to this rule, with some of the options below worthy of a pretty hefty journey just to sample their delights in our not so humble opinion. Why settle when you could savour, you know? If you’re a keen Instagram snapper then you might be after something picture perfect, in which case we’d love to point you in the direction of places like Chin Chin Labs in soho, or Dark Sugars just off Brick Lane. If you’re more about the contents of the cup rather than how it looks, something pure and deeply comforting like the serve at Rococo Chocolate might be just the thing.
From different flavours to intricate toppings, our round up of the very best hot chocolate London and her streets has to offer really does include something for everyone. So next time it’s cold outside and you need a sweet pick-me-up sharpish, refer to our list to find your hit. If you’re a true martyr you could of course work your way through all the options, just to make sure you’re able to make an informed decision on your personal favourite.
Chin Chin labs
Sometimes you’ve just got to go straight to the top, and the sure-fire winner of Instagrammable hot chocolate in London has to be the team behind Chin Chin labs. Would you just look at those layers? The base of this decedent serve is made from Valrhona chocolate melted down into a smooth, silky drink which is then topped with handmade marshmallow fluff before being torched to perfection, for that campfire flavour. When you’ve got to serve a cup of your hot chocolate in a bowl to catch the overflow you know you’re doing it right.
Where: Chin Chin labs, Camden and Soho
Hard to miss, this Brick Lane chocolate institution is like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, packed to the brim with all kinds of delights. One of the shop’s most infamous draws is its drinks. Steaming hot chocolate is filled to the brim of your cup before shavings of dark, milk or white chocolate are piled on top for that added hit of indulgence. You could challenge yourself to leave without buying any of Dark Sugar’s truffles, or you could just accept defeat and know resistance is futile.
Where: Dark Sugars, Brick Lane
SAID dal 1923
Anywhere that spoons melted chocolate all down the side of our cup is a friend to us. SAID has its roots in Roma but happily it has brought its chocolate knowledge to our shores, allowing us a taste of la dolce vita. Here, ridiculously thick hot chocolate is ladled into cups ensconced in a lavish layer of your choice of white, milk or dark chocolate (or all three if you like to hedge your bets). The only problem we can see here is mess levels, so maybe don’t wear white, but when you’re faced with that much joy we're sure the aftermath will be the last thing on your mind.
Where: SAID dal 1923, Soho
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream
If you’ve exhausted all the usual options, you might be looking to take your hot chocolate to new and exotic levels. Enter: Ube. This creation by Pilipino cafe Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream takes purple yams and mixes them with white chocolate for a perfectly pastel iteration of this classic drink. The whole thing is topped off with pale purple whipped cream too, for that final dose of picture-perfect indulgence.
Where: Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream, Camden Town and Soho
Thick, rich and sweet, Hotel Chocolat’s signature winter drink is an ode to decadence (and we’re not complaining). There are a few flavours to choose from – with versions like salted caramel and gingerbread all featuring throughout the year – and each hot chocolate comes with the option to top it off with a peak of whipped cream in various flavous. Obviously the only proper response to that question is yes (unless you can't have dairy, and then you're excused). Available in the brand’s cafes, this warming winter drink also comes with the added benefit of being served in a 100% compostable cup, for an ease of the conscience in terms of sustainability, if not calories.
Where: Hotel Chocolat Cafes, Various locations across London
For an all-out London experience you can’t get much better than The Wolseley, so for hot chocolate in a grand setting, with incomparable service, we think this one is yet to be beaten. Made with grated flakes of pure chocolate and hot steamed milk, the serve here is then topped with perfectly whipped cream in generous amounts for an indulgent, rich finish. Perfect for warming you up on a cold day.
Where: The Wolseley, Green Park
Artisan du Chocolat
If you’re a purist, Artisan Chocolat’s signature serve could be just up your street. This rich, dark chocolate serve tastes intensely of cocoa and is served in a long, tall glass for that classic feel. There’s the option to add softly whipped cream and salted caramel sauce on top for that little extra bit of something, something, and if you’re lucky your hot drink will come accompanied by a chocolate biscuit too.
Where: Artisan du Chocolat, Chelsea, Selfridges, West Hamstead and Kensington
We think the best hot chocolate is the kind you could nearly eat with a spoon, full on melted chocolate vibes that can be gulped down in greedy mouthfuls in a few short seconds. This Rococo version of hot chocolate has that very kind of depth to it, being made with real chocolate, and for bonus points you might like to know it is dairy free cup of cocoa. If after trying this hot beverage you feel sad at the thought of not being able to have one every day it’s good news, the shops in London sell the drinking chocolate by the packet and you can even buy one of the branded mugs for a fully authentic DIY experience.
Where: Rococo Chocolates, Covent Garden, Chelsea, Notting Hill, Marylebone, Belgravia
This shop sells three things: chocolate, coffee and nuts. This holy trinity of afternoon (or morning) deliciousness is crowned by the brand’s hot chocolate offering, an incredibly thick version that is served steaming hot to warm hands and hearts on cold winter days. There are a few stools to sit on inside to let you shelter from the weather, and while you’re there you can pick up a few treats to take home too.
Where: Carpo Piccadily, Carpo Knightsbridge and Selfridges
This restaurant describes itself as serving cocoa-centric cuisine which includes, of course, hot chocolate. From the team behind Hotel Chocolat this Borough eatery serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea, and with its hot chocolate proves that sometimes simplicity is key. Served in a plain, no-handled mug the hot chocolate here is made with luxury ingredients for a silky smooth texture and rich mouth feel.
Where: Rabot 1745, Borough
Paul A Young
If an image of someone pouring molton chocolate into a cup with a ladle doesn’t get your blood pumping, you’re in the wrong place. Paul A Young is first and foremost known for his incredible chocolate creations, which are intricately decorated and filled with the finest ingredients. Back to his iteration of hot chocolate and it tastes as if it might just in fact be pure melted chocolate: This is one for hardcore fans of the sweet stuff.
Where: Paul A Young Islington and Soho
Chocolatiers Venchi have a couple of different hot chocolate options, but it’s the brand’s fusion drinks where they really come into their own. Our favourite has to be the combination pictured above, which is a sinfully good mixture of coffee, chocolate and caramalised hazelnuts. And yes, it tastes as good as it looks. Thankfully you’re able to buy many of the elements that make up this drink, to take home with you, like the spreadable chocolate cream which can be transformed into hot chocolate by stirring a few spoonfuls into hot milk – heaven.
Where: Venchi, Covent Garden
Cereal Killer Café
Decedent and almost indecent, this hot chocolate seems to have no shame in over excess. Warm, milky hot chocolate fills the glass, and it’s then topped off with plenty of whipped cream (in case your calorie intake is teetering on the edge of advisable levels), chocolate sauce and, of course, little pieces of cereal for added texture. We like the addition of a straw here, because sometimes a gripe of ours when wanting to indulge in hot chocolate is the strain it takes to lift the cup or glass to our mouth. Problem solved.
Where: Cereal Killer Café, Brick Lane and Camden
As with many of the best hot chocolate sellers on our list, Ruby Violet are actually an ice cream seller first and foremost, but presumably after looking to fill a gap in their market through the winter months began selling hot chocolate – and we’re glad they did. More sophisticated than most, Ruby Violet’s offering is dished up short in a coffee cup, with warm frothed milk on the side for you to add yourself, allowing you to mix your own personally perfect serve. There’s almond milk on offer too, in case you don’t do dairy.
Where: Ruby Violet, Tufnell Park and King’s Cross
If anywhere is going to do a good hot choc, it’s going to be a chocolate shop. As with everything they do, Godiva’s hot chocolate is truly decadent in every sense of the word (and not least in terms of price, their drinks don’t come cheap). Once you’ve had one of these they may spoil your homemade creations forever, but the few moments of heaven will make it all worthwhile. We’re talking that sweet and silky flavour with an unctuous texture that signals the right ratios of chocolate to milk were used.
Where: Godiva Café, Harrods, Knightsbridge
French restaurant Aubaine not only dishes up classic dishes for lunch and dinner, it also serves a mean hot chocolate for those in-between-meals moments of the day. Not content with just one option, Aubaine have a mini menu which you can choose from. Pick between blonde toffee, milk chocolate or dark chocolate and enjoy a perfectly steamed, frothy hot drink made with only the finest Valrhona chocolate for a rich, creamy taste.
Where: Aubaine, Brompton Road, Kensington, Marylebone, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Selfridges, Covent Garden
Stepping away from the big-name chains, we’re here to tell you that a small family-run bakery does some of the best hot chocolate London has to offer. With outposts across the city, you should never be too far from your nearest Comptoir Gourmand and their drinking chocolate. This iteration has real depth to it and is perfectly frothed for a light and airy finish.
Where: Comptoir Gourmand, Bermondsey, Maltby, Borough and Soho
Fortnum & Mason
If you’re planning on sitting in and taking your time over a hot chocolate, you could do worse than indulge in a mug or two in Fortnum & Mason’s parlour. The luxurious surroundings are matched by the richly flavoured drink, which is perfectly whizzed up for that frothy finish, and is topped with whipped cream and a light dusting of chocolate (just in case you won’t get enough from the hot chocolate itself). This is one classic serve done right.
Where: Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
Much better at making hot chocolate than they are taking pictures, the team at The Haberdashery in Stoke Newington serve their drink in a bowl rather than a mug. Aside from the obvious novelty factor of this it’s also seriously satisfying getting your chocolate fix from a bowl. For one you have to give it two hands, so no scrolling while you sip – a minute’s peace in the true sense of the word.
Where: The Haberdashery, Stoke Newington and Crouch End
A little chocolat chaud never hurt nobody, especially when it was served up Parisian-style in the sweetest little cafes across London. These French exports are decked out in perfect pastel colours and serve a whole selection of cakes and pastries (not least of course, their famous macarons) alongside their hot chocolate, which is a no-frills affair, the mark of a confident serve we think.
Where: Laduree, Covent Garden, Brompton Road and Harrods, Knightsbridge
If it’s pure, unadulterated Instagram fodder you’re after then EL&N Café has your back. The various sites from this brand are decked out in millennial pink and on their menus you’ll find all sorts of like-inducing concoctions, including their Lucky Charms latte and their classic hot chocolate. Despite being one of their simpler serves, this scrumptious glass of something hot and sweet is just the right mix of chocolate and milk for an indulgent, comforting hot cup of cocoa that is perfect for cool days.
Where: EL&N Café, Oxford Circus, South Kensington, Mayfair, Selfridges, Knightsbridge, and Belgravia
First and foremost a gelateria (and a very good one at that), Gelupo do a mean hot chocolate to enjoy alongside their frozen treats. Made with gianduja chocolate, which is made with around 30% hazelnut paste, this hot chocolate is like Nutella in a glass. At first you might think it looks like a small serve, but after a few sips of this rich drink and you’ll understand the need for petite sizing.
Where: Gelupo, Soho
Not enough places serve marshmallows with their hot chocolate, fact. There’s nothing quite like melting, gooey marshmallows slowly submerging themselves into hot chocolate to give us a childlike thrill of joy and Copperhouse Chocolate go all in on the ‘mallows. Their all vegan menu (we assume the marshmallows follow suit here) caters for all kinds of requirements and the entire focus is on chocolate – so expect chocolate cakes, pastries, fondues and more.
Where: Copperhouse Chocolate, Islington
Melt claim to be London’s most luxurious chocolate company, and while we can’t deny or confirm that strapline, we can tell you that they do make a mean hot chocolate. Covered with all the extra jazzy bits your heart could want, this is the perfect place to take kids to get some serious cool points. Cream? Check? Extra chocolate bits? Check? Enough melted chocolate to give you a sugar high? Double check.
Where: Melt, Notting Hill and Holland Park
A fan of the sweet life? Check out our round up of the best ice cream in London, for when you need a bit of cooling down after your hot chocolate.