As one of the restaurant capitals of the world, it is well known that London is not short of places to eat. In our fair city, you will find that pretty much every possible kind of cuisine, style and budget is catered, whether you are looking to chow down on some noodles or tuck into a mighty steak complete with triple-cooked chips and lashings of béarnaise sauce. In the last few years though, a new phenomenon has gripped London’s streets – the rise of dessert bars, dedicatedly entirely to sweet treats.
While we may have just introduced the concept in a rather dramatic fashion, we are actually pretty excited about the prominence of dessert parlours in London. When we go out to eat, we pretty much see our starters and main courses as a mere preamble to the untold glories of dessert. We would go as far as to say that dessert is the ultimate course in any meal, and that anyone who argues differently is simply wrong – yes, this is a hill we are willing to die on.
Dessert bars are not just pleasing to the taste buds though, as many of them feature picture-perfect serves of loaded ice cream sundaes and over-the-top freakshakes, while fun and quirky interiors are just a bonus. If you want to stick to regular restaurants though, there are tonnes in town that boast fab dessert menus.
If you feel as strongly about desserts as we do, you probably spend a good amount of time scrolling through Instagram and searching online for where to find the best dessert places in London. We have got you covered, with our hand-picked selection of the 20 most incredible desserts places in London. Whether you are on the hunt for a dedicated dessert bar, or simply just a restaurant with a cracking selection of puddings, our pick of the sweetest treats you can find in London should have something that tickles your fancy.
Dessert bars in London
While restaurants with great dessert menus are all well and good, a menu dedicated entirely to sweet stuff is even better. Below, you’ll find our pick of the best dessert bars in London.
Hans & Gretel, Camden
Why: Instagram-friendly Hans & Gretel takes its inspiration from the famous fairytale and feels like stepping inside a real-life gingerbread house. Fun interiors aside, expect chimney cakes filled with homemade gelato, plus freakshakes topped with tooth-achingly sweet candy.
Where: Unit 91 North Yard, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH
Cake & Bubbles, Mayfair
Why: Perhaps the most high-end dessert bar in London, Albert Adria’s Cake & Bubbles features marble-splashed surfaces and a wall of Champagne. Alongside your fizz, you can enjoy mind-bending desserts such as the chocolate Champagne cork and gold-embossed egg flan (served in a golden egg cup).
Where: 10 Air Street, W1B 4DY
Why: At this French dessert parlour, you can indulge in mille crêpe cakes, which are made to look impossibly chic thanks to pastel hues and expert layering. Only the best ingredients are used too, including Valrhona chocolate and lemons sourced from Sicily.
Where: 8a Spring Street, W2 3RA
Dominique Ansel Bakery, Belgravia
Why: While the world-famous cronuts (a croissant-doughnut hybrid) might get all of the attention here, there are plenty more desserts to tempt you at Dominique Ansel. We’re particular fans of the Tahitian vanilla milk served in a shot glass made of chocolate chip cookie.
Where: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9RP
Why: Entirely decked out in pink with the look of a futuristic Barbie playhouse, this millennial-baiting dessert parlour serves up extravagant ice creams, milkshakes and bubble tea. Don’t miss the Biscoff crepe either.
Where: 27 James Street, W1U 1D
Chocolate desserts in London
How can you possibly make a dessert even better, we hear you ask? Well, you add chocolate to it of course. These desserts have been dipped, drizzled and smothered with the good stuff, allowing London’s chocaholics to get their next fix.
Chocolate Bomb at The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea
Why: It’s more than a little likely that you’ve seen this decadent dessert from The Ivy on your Instagram feed. The melting chocolate treat (a vanilla ice cream and honeycomb centre in a chocolate shell which is melted away by hot salted caramel sauce) is available at most outposts of The Ivy Collection, but the Chelsea site is among the prettiest in the portfolio.
Where: 197 King's Road, SW3 5ED
Tenerina Chocolate Cake at Radio Alice Canary Wharf, Clapham and Hoxton
Why: Now boasting three locations across London (Canary Wharf, Clapham and Hoxton) Radio Alice has proved itself to be a popular spot. Aside from its formidable pizzas, we’re also fans of the dessert, in particular the Tenerina chocolate cake. This good-sized slab of choc cake is rich, moist and dense – a chocolate lover’s dream.
Where: Unit 24, Jubilee Place, E14 5NY; 67 Venn Street, SW4 0BD; 16 Hoxton Square, N1 6NT
Chocolate Bubbles at Brasserie of Light, Marylebone
Why: While the most eye-catching thing about Brasserie of Light is undoubtedly the giant diamond encrusted Pegasus sculpture that looms over diners, its desserts are also pretty as a picture. Only suited to true chocaholics, the Chocolate Bubbles dessert is an exceedingly rich mix of Valrhona Guanaja chocolate, chocolate mousse, choc brownie and chocolate ‘pearls’.
Where: 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Dusty Road at The Fortnum’s Bar & Restaurant at The Royal Exchange, City
What: If you’re of the view that there’s such a thing as ‘too much’ chocolate, this is not the dessert for you. Fortnum’s Dusty Road sees coffee and chocolate ice cream topped with butterscotch and chocolate sauce, Chantilly cream, chocolate flakes and coffee beans – it’s the ultimate indulgence for chocolate lovers, and we’re head over heels.
Where: The Courtyard, The Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LR
Sharing desserts in London
To some people, sharing your dessert is an unthinkable crime, but to others it’s romantic and sweet. If you fall into the latter camp, these made-to-share desserts should be right up your street.
DIY Ice Cream Sundae at The Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont, Mayfair
Why: The Colony Grill Room is a sophisticated and grown-up affair, but this dessert will take you right back to childhood. Diners can build their own sharing sundae using a tick list of toppings and sauces that is presented to them at the table – some people have been known to tick off all 12 options available, and to be honest, we don’t really blame them.
Where: The Beaumont, 8 Balderton Street, W1K 6TF
Gin & Tonic Baked Alaska at Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
Why: Berners Tavern is unashamedly luxurious – just check out the double-height ceiling and the walls lined with artwork. This taste for luxury continues with dessert via the likes of the Gin & Tonic Baked Alaska, which is filled with cucumber ice cream and flamed with gin at the table, then topped with raspberries and hibiscus - it's also the perfect size for two.
Where: 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
Dolce Dough Ring at Pizza Union, Aldgate, Dalston, King’s Cross and Spitalfields
Why: What’s the only thing better than pizza? Pizza for dessert, of course! The Dolce dough ring at Pizza Union, which has a handful of sites across London including King’s Cross and Spitalfields, is served warm and topped with lashings of Nutella and mascarpone. It’s pretty high on the indulgence scale, so it’s probably best to halve this one.
Where: 29 Leman Street, E1 8PT; 14 Kingsland High Street, E8 2JP; 246-250 Pentonville Road, N1 9JY; 25 Sandy’s Row, E1 7HW
Classic desserts in London
They say that you can’t beat the classics, and we think this is especially true when it comes to desserts. Eschew the out-there desserts that London has to offer and instead seek comfort in these tried-and-tested recipes that taste oh so good.
Sticky Date Pudding at Roast, Borough
What: Perennially popular Roast revels in British tradition, so it’s no surprise that the restaurant’s pudding selection is delightfully nostalgic. Our top pick is the sticky date pudding, which is drizzled with warm toffee sauce, and served with a dollop of clotted cream, as well as almond brittle for some added crunch.
Where: Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL
Eton Tidy at OXO Tower Restaurant, South Bank
What: We’ve all enjoyed an Eton Mess in our time, but the clever folk at Oxo Tower have given the classic dessert an update, christened the Eton Tidy. The far more aesthetically pleasing dessert is available as part of Oxo Tower Restaurant’s multi-course tasting menu and combines basil panna cotta with salted sable and strawberries.
Where: Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
Lemon Meringue at Pollen Street Social, Mayfair
Image: extracted from Pollen Street by Jason Atherton (Absolute Press). Photography, John Carey
What: Proving that desserts can be just as joyous for grown-ups as they are children, Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred flagship Pollen Street Social features a dedicated dessert bar where guests can sit and watch the pastry chefs at work. You can even come in just to enjoy desserts, with ones to try including this light and fluffy lemon meringue and chocolate pave.
Where: 8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ
Baba Like in Monte-Carlo at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Mayfair
What: Having been on the pudding menu since 2007, the baba at Alain Ducasse is a light sponge cake soaked in a syrup of orange, lemon and vanilla, and glazed with apricot jam. The dessert is cut in two at the table, with the guest choosing one of five rums to pour over the two halves. As a finishing touch, a lightly whipped vanilla cream is served on top.
Where: The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, W1K 1QA
Instagrammable desserts in London
If you live for the ‘gram, you probably enjoy ordering desserts that appeal to the eyes as much as they do to the taste buds. Our pick of desserts that are tailor-made for Instagram are sure to rake in the likes, as well as taste pretty darn good too.
The Forbidden Fruit at Ormer, Mayfair
What: Housed inside Flemings Mayfair hotel, Ormer is a luxuriously appointed dining space, so it comes as no surprise that the restaurant serves show-stopping desserts. To see what we mean, try head chef Kerth Gumbs’ Forbidden Fruit creation, which combines blackberry, chocolate, sea buckthorn, buckwheat and black pepper.
Where: Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, W1J 7BH
Harry's Toadstool at Harry's Bar, Marylebone
What: An offshoot of the famous member’s club of the same name, this all-welcome version of Harry’s serves a menu that’s heavy on comfort food, all in impossibly chic surrounds. Desserts are designed with the ‘gram in mind, with Harry’s Toadstool actually concealing a combination of white chocolate, raspberries, mascarpone mousse and iced vanilla parfait.
Where: 30-34 James Street, W1U 1ER
Vegan Panna Cotta at Moncks of Dover Street, Mayfair
What: A Mayfair brasserie like they used to make them, Moncks is open all day to feed W1’s well-heeled clientele. Come at dinnertime to make the most of the puddings list, which includes this real looker – a panna cotta which blends the fresh flavours of lavender, English blackberries and dark chocolate. It’s vegan too, although none of the richness is sacrificed.
Where: 33 Dover Street, W1S 4NF
Ambassador's Reception at Hawksmoor Guildhall, City
What: You know those chocolates that everyone enjoys at Christmas, which come in gold wrapping and have the fancy name? Yeah, well this Hawksmoor dessert is definitely not inspired by those (especially if any lawyers are reading this). The ‘Ambassador’s Reception’ does feature similar ingredients though, pairing chocolate and hazelnut in a giant choc-tastic serving.
Where: 10 Basinghall Street, EC2V 5BQ
If you love all things sweet and sugary, check out our pick of the best afternoon teas in London.