We certainly do not claim to be qualified therapists here at SquareMeal, but there are a few rules surrounding food which we believe to be universal truths. One such rule is that we are pretty certain that ice cream is the answer to almost all of life’s varied and unpredictable problems. Had a bad day at work? Visit an ice cream parlour on your way home. Just been broken up with? Get that half eaten tub of Ben & Jerry’s out of the freezer. Suddenly found yourself in the midst of a seemingly never ending global pandemic? You know what to do…
Jokes aside, there is something about enjoying a delicious scoop or two of ice cream, particularly on a summer’s day, that is an instant mood booster and brings you right back to the uncomplicated days of childhood, when the most important decision of the day was choosing which of your pencils you were going to use to colour in with.
If you are living in or visiting London, you will be glad to know that come rain or shine, the capital is chock-full of fantastic ice cream parlours and restaurants where you can enjoy as many scoops as you like. Whether you are looking for a decadent sundae, a sweet treat that will rake in the likes on Instagram, or an ice cream sandwich, our pick of the best ice cream in London should have something for you.
To help you out, we have divided our pick of the best ice cream London has to offer into themed sections, so all you have to do is click on the sub-headings below to skip right to your preferred category. Then after that is sorted, simply head on down to your chosen spot, order some ice cream and melt those troubles away.
Classic ice cream in London
Although we're always open to trying something new, sometimes the ocassion calls for nothing more than the classics. If you've found yourself yearning after some authentic Italian gelato or a simple, yet brilliant scoop in a waffle cone, these classic ice cream parlours in London should satisfy your cravings.
Why: One of London’s most high-profile ice cream shops, Gelupo was founded in 2010 by Victor Hugo and chef Jacob Kennedy, who also runs neighbouring Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo. Ice cream is churned fresh every day here and only natural flavours are added – think ricotta and sour cherry, peanut butter and blueberry, and bacio (milk chocolate with hazelnut). Be sure to check out the deli on your way out too, so you can bag some Italian cooking staples.
Where: 7 Archer Street, W1D 7AU
Why: Eschewing gimmicks and out-there flavours, Nardulli is a truly classic gelataria and a popular one at that, with queues often snaking out the door on Clapham’s sunnier days. It’s the perfect pit stop before an afternoon spent relaxing on the Common, while flavours to try include rum and raisin made with Cuban rum, black cherry, and a fig variety that uses fresh figs sourced from Southern Italy.
Where: 29 The Pavement, SW4 0JE
Ruby Violet, King’s Cross and Tufnell Park
Why: With its bright pink neon signage and powder blue walls, Ruby Violet is delightfully kitsch and fun for all of the family. All the classic flavours can be found here and in many forms too; try an ice cream float, a milkshake or a hand warmer, which sees two scoops of your choice drenched in Ruby Violet’s hot salted caramel or chocolate sauce. For the grown-ups, there’s also the option to add booze to your milkshake – cheers to that!
Where: 3 Wharf Road, N1C 4BZ; 118 Fortess Road, NW5 2HL
Why: This is the debut London site for this Italian-based chain of ice cream parlours, which seeks to serve traditional gelato in the old style. You can enjoy your ice cream in a cone or paper cup, and you can fill these vessels with the likes of Italian nougat, green pistachio or caramel with Himalayan pink salt. If you prefer to keep things simple, stick to the signature serve, which is a blend of pastry cream and lemon peel.
Where: 16-18 Piccadilly, W1J 0DF
Udderlicious, Seven Dials and Islington
Why: With two branches in the capital, Udderlicious is a popular spot for some truly democratic ice cream. Wondering what we’re on about? Well, the ice cream flavours here are voted for each month by customers, which means it’s a little bit of a guessing game when you pay a visit (but that’s all part of the fun!) Flavours you might come across include malt and crushed Maltesers, a banana and Nutella combo, and chocolate honeycomb.
Where: 24 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LN; 187 Upper Street, N1 1RQ
Gelataria 3BIS, Borough and Notting Hill
What: Found trading at either Borough Market or Portobello Road, this ice cream parlour might have a tongue-twister of a name (the postcode of the first ice cream factory in Italy apparently), but its ice cream is delightfully uncomplicated. 3BIS is a little on the expensive side, but it’s worth it for this level of quality and flavour. Don’t miss their gelato crepes either.
Where: Borough Market; 178 Portobello Road
Gelataria Danieli, Richmond
What: This small, but perfectly formed shop in Richmond is something of a childhood dream, specialising in both authentic Italian gelato and high-quality chocolate. There are a whole myriad of flavours to choose from too, ranging from the traditional likes of strawberry and rum and raisin to more contemporary options such as bakewell tart, elderflower and honey and Champagne truffle.
Where: 16 Brewers Lane, TW9 1HH
Gelatorino, Covent Garden and Richmond
What: The ice cream at this cutesy cafe is about as authentically Italian as you can get without booking a flight to Rome. The ice cream is made daily in machines imported from Italy and served via a spatula, because it is so creamy and smooth that there is no need to use a scoop. Flavours are just as old-school as the methods used to make the stuff, with options to try including pistachio, dark chocolate and amarena.
Where: 2 Russell Street, WC2B 5JD; 405 Upper Richmond Road, SW14 7NX
La Gelatiera, Covent Garden, Crouch End and Stratford
What: Now boasting three locations across the capital, La Gelatiera has rightfully won legions of fans across the years thanks to its wide range of ice creams. The menus change often, but there are around 90 different flavours of gelato on rotation, with top orders including the likes of Calabrian liquorice and Porcini chocolate cream.
Where: 27 New Row, WC2N 4LA; 17 Topsfield Road, N8 8PP; 1 Park Walk, East Village, E20 1DH
Marine Ices, Camden
What: Ice cream parlours come and go in London, but Marine Ices truly stood the test of time, having been serving scoops since 1931 (the parlour used to be based in Haverstock Hill before packing up shop and moving to these Camden premises in 2014). Serving up gelato, sorbets and indgulent sundaes, Marine Ices has a little something for everyone. Our favourite flavours? The chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry shortcake.
Where: 61 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AN
Morelli’s, Covent Garden
What: Found in a tiny unit along Covent Garden’s Piazza, Morelli’s is a fourth-generation ice cream parlour that has been around since 1907. There is a tempting range of traditional flavours to choose from and if you’re short on time or want to see the Covent Garden sights, you can simply grab a scoop to go. If you do have some extra time though, we’d recommend nabbing a table and treating yourself to one of Morelli’s decadent sundaes.
Where: 20A, The Market, WC2E 8RB
Oddono’s, various locations
What: With no less than seven outposts across the capital, including Kensington, Hampstead and Chiswick to name but a few, Oddono’s is something of a staple among the well-heeled of South West London. Flavours are simple, yet effective, which means you might find yourself tucking into the likes of coconut, strawberry or mango.
Where: Various London locations
Instagrammable ice cream in London
If you're looking to up your Instagram game, a shot of some over-the-top ice cream is guaranteed to rake in the likes. It doesn't necessarily have to be a case of style over substance either – these Instagrammable ice cream spots in London are a treat for both the eyes and the taste buds.
Chin Chin Labs, Camden
Why: Liquid nitrogen might seem gimmicky these days, but Chin Chin were among the first to use it with ice cream when they started out back in 2010. There’s reason behind it too, as the ice cream’s custard base is frozen instantly, giving it a nice, dense flavour. The best part is that you can pimp up your creation with all sorts of sprinkles and toppers, while flavours include burnt butter caramel and banana jam pie.
Where: 49-50 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF
Milk Train Café, Covent Garden
Why: Taking pimping up your ice cream to brand new heights, Milk Train café is an ice cream lover’s (and Insta fanatic’s) paradise. Here, cones are filled with matcha soft serve ice cream, before being topped with the likes of colourful sprinkles, cookies or chocolate chips. What happens next is Milk Train’s piece de resistance – the team will weave a circle of pastel-coloured candy floss around your cone, making it pretty as a picture.
Where: 12 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PH
Soft Serve Society, Shoreditch
Why: Known for its over-the-top creations, Soft Serve Society has reinvented ice cream for the social media generation. Vanilla, matcha green tea, charcoal and coconut are the four base flavours, but your ice cream can be topped with all manner of items, including waffles, crushed Oreos and honeycomb. The most Instagrammable order is Cloud 9, a tooth-achingly sweet concoction of vanilla ice cream, berry candyfloss, strawberry crunch, strawberry sauce and popping candy. If that's too much though, you can always keep things simple, like above.
Where: Unit 35 Boxpark, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY
Why: The clue is in the name at this ice cream parlour, which aims to cut down on food waste by making its ice cream from leftover egg yolks used to bake batches of macarons. The macarons that are made act as the bookends for Yolkin’s ice cream sandwiches, which are dense and colourful sweet treats. Flavours to try include matcha Oreo, taro and cornflake, and condensed milk tea.
Where: 24 Rupert Street, W1D 6DQ
Snowflake, Marble Arch and Soho
Why: With more than 40 flavours to choose from, this ice cream parlour means business. There are branches in both Marble Arch and Soho, and while its usual flavours are pretty classic - think coconut or biscotto - Snowflake has been known to pander to the Instagram crowd before, like when it unveiled a matcha flavoured gelato that was shaped to look like a halved avocado.
Where: 44 Edgware Road, W2 2EH; 102 Wardour Street, W1F 0TP
Amorino, various locations
Why: Forget buying us flowers, we just want a bouquet of ice cream instead. Amorino is known for topping its cones with layers of ice cream that are shaped to look like petals, resulting in a gorgeous flower-esque ice cream. At Amorino, fruity flavours abound, so tuck into the likes of blood orange, blueberry cheesecake or Amarena cream with black cherries, and there’s the option to enjoy your scoops on a waffle or crepe too.
Where: Various locations
Greedy Goat, Borough
Why: If you love ice cream, but ice cream doesn’t love your stomach, you’re probably better off skipping the lactose and enjoying a scoop or two at this family-run Borough Market favourite, where ice cream is made using goat’s milk. Flavours to choose from include everything from the standard vanilla and strawberry, to the more adventurous likes of chocolate orange, rhubarb and custard, and caramelised biscuit.
Where: Borough Market, Bedale Street, SE1 9AL
Mamason’s Dirty Ice Cream, Chinatown and Kentish Town
What: You’ve heard of dirty fries, but allow us to introduce you to ‘dirty’ ice cream. This Filipino ice cream parlour is inspired by the street food snacks found in Manila, which means you’ll encounter some pretty unusual ice cream flavours here - think the signature ‘ube’ flavour made with a native purple yam or coconut with activated charcoal that is served in a black cone.
Where: 32 Newport Court, WC2H 7PQ; 91 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8NY
Luxury ice cream in London
As children, whether or not we were allowed ice cream was down to our parents. As adults though, we can do what we like (take, that Mum!) If you want to indulge in some fancy chilled treats, you can give ice cream eating the sense of ocassion it deserves at these posh ice cream shops and restaurants.
The Parlour at Fortnum & Mason, Mayfair
Why: Perfect for both children and big kids, this colourful space on the first floor of Fortnum’s foodie emporium is a haven for all things sweet and sugary. Unsurprisingly, this is a bit of a tourist hotspot, but we think it’s worth battling the crowds to try out Fortnum’s range of shakes, sundaes and floats. As for the flavours, you can expect to find the classic likes of raspberry ripple, mint chocolate chip and pistachio at The Parlour.
Where: 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
The Colony Grill Room, Mayfair
Why: Although it’s only been open since 2014, The Colony Grill Room feels like it’s been around for decades, and we mean that in a good way. Traditional grill fare and old-school charm are the major draws here, but for us, dessert is the highlight. If you opt for a sundae to end your meal, you get the unrivalled childish thrill of ticking off which toppings you like, and these range from chocolate flakes and marshmallows to honeycomb and crushed meringue.
Where: 8 Balderton Street, Brown Hart Gardens, W1K 6TF
Harry's Dolce Vita, Knightsbridge
Why: Found a short distance from Harrods and other upmarket shopping destinations, Harry's Dolce Vita is perfectly accomodating for a spot of post-shopping dining. If lugging around all of those bags has worked up a sweat, you can cool down with one of Harry's delicious ice cream sundaes. You're able to enjoy them either inside or out on the terrace, and flavours to choose from include an apricot, mango and yoghurt combination or lemon sorbet topped with candied lemon and whipped cream.
Where: 27-31 Basil Street, SW3 1BB
Paul A Young Fine Chocolates, Bank, Islington and Soho
Why: Don’t let the name on the door fool you, Paul A Young may be a master chocolatier, but he also sells ice cream at his trio of upmarket boutiques across the capital. Scoops here are provided by Hackney Gelato, while chocolatey toppings are naturally left to Young and his team. Complete your ice cream by showering it with the likes of cocoa nibs, dark chocolate pearls and hot chocolate sauce, or just go all out and ask for all of the toppings at once (we won’t judge).
Where: 20 The Royal Exchange, Threadneedle Street, EC3V 3LP; 33 Camden Passage, The Angel, N1 8EA; 143 Wardour Street,W1F 8WA
Vegan ice cream in London
Just because you're a vegan, doesn't mean you need to miss out on the fun of eating ice cream. London already boasts a few options for vegan ice cream, and we're sure that plenty more will open in years to come. Check out the best vegan ice cream London has to offer below.
Why: Plant-based ice cream has been around in supermarkets for a little while now, but finding a vegan ice cream parlour is a little more difficult. That’s where Yorica comes in, which is - wait for it – London’s first dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and gluten-free ice-cream shop. Ice cream here is made with rice milk and on-trend flavours, such as passion fruit and cookies and cream, can be topped with the likes of fresh fruit or vegan brownie bites.
Where: 130 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 8ZN
Club Mexicana at The Spread Eagle, Hackney
Why: At this entirely vegan pub (which is cruelty-free down to the faux leather bar stools), plant-based street food operation Club Mexicana has taken the helm at the kitchen. For dessert, the team serve up a scrumptious ice cream sandwich, which consists of corn and malt ice cream sandwiched between two slabs of biscuit flavoured with smoked salted caramel and miso - don't forget to check out the deep-fried ice cream too, topped with warm chocolate sauce.
Where: 224 Homerton High Street, E9 6AS
If you’re enjoying ice cream, that must mean it’s sunny outside (at least, we hope). On that note, it might be an idea to read through our top pick of the best al fresco dining spaces in London.