We don’t claim to be qualified therapists here at SquareMeal, but we’re pretty sure that ice cream is the answer to most of life’s problems. It’s good to know then, that come rain or shine, London is chock-full of fantastic ice cream parlours where you can enjoy a scoop or two. Whether you’re looking for a sundae, a shake, or an ice cream sandwich, our pick of the best ice cream in London should have something for you.
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
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.
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
Why: Although this world-famous bakery might be best known for inventing the cronut (that’s a doughnut-croissant hybrid, don’t ya know), we think it’s worth checking out the ice cream too. Our favourite at Dominique Ansel Bakery is the What-a-Melon soft serve, which is a juicy slice of fresh watermelon filled with homemade watermelon flavoured soft serve, along with chocolate chip watermelon ‘seeds’– guaranteed to rake in the likes.
Where: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9RP
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.
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 the most on-trend treat to order would be the insta-famous ‘avolato’ – yep, that’s ice cream shaped like two halves of an avocado. The avolato is made with 60% avocado, and features a scoop of beige nut-butter ice cream which mimics the core of the fruit.
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
Posh 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.
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
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
Image: Jade Nina Sarkhel
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
Why: This all-vegan fast casual joint was definitely designed to court a young crowd, with its Instagram-friendly interiors that include lots of millennial pink, neon signage and copper accents. Meat-free hot dogs and burgers are the stars of the show here, but dessert has a few stand-outs too. Post-meal at Genesis, tuck into a sweet treat of cashew and coconut soft serve, which can be topped with the likes of honeycomb, raspberry sauce and chocolate buttons.
Where: 144 Commercial Street, E1 6NU
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.