When the temperature takes a tumble one of my go-to central heating choices is a delicious hot chocolate. From the moment my icicle hands start to melt as I wrap them around a hot mug, to the second the molten warm chocolate meets my lips, I’m in sweet hot drink heaven. I’ve spent most of my life content with Options (mint is my favourite), Cadburys and most recently Twinings, but living in London means I knew there was better out there so I went on a mission to try the capital’s best hot chocolate. Here’s what I discovered…
The chocolatier’s one – Rococo, Belgravia
The mission started at some point during a cold spell around October 2014. James was studying in Victoria and I thought a stroll to Motcomb Street for hot chocolate at Rococo’s would be a pleasant break and a chance to see each other during the weekend. I’m a big fan of their chocolate, which make great gifts and include plenty of experimental flavours, and knowing that they have an experienced Chocolatier behind the scenes I had some high hopes. Luckily it didn’t disappoint! I loved the cute branded China mug and it was a pretty perfect portion of the kind of hot chocolate I’m most used to, but with the froth you can only get in a cafe and the taste you can only get from chocolate that has more cocoa beans and less sugar.
Perfect for: A pit stop whilst exploring one of London’s most luxurious areas (even the Waitrose has a fancy facade!).
Address – 5 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8JU
The central one – Said, Soho
I first heard of Said via Cider With Rosie and I knew from the moment I saw Rosie’s video that I had to try their Italian chocolate lava. It was one of those occasions where I was shopping in Soho near the beginning of the year and I suddenly stumbled across it. As soon as I saw the chocolate display, I couldn’t resist stepping inside for a treat. You know you’re drinking the good stuff when it looks like this and has a perfect tempered sheen. It’s not for the faint-hearted though, and I’d say due to its thickness it’s a little closer to being a dessert! A small is certainly enough for most people in my opinion.
Perfect for: Hiding from the winter temperatures when you’re in the centre of London.
Address – 41 Broadwick St, London, W1F 9QL
The shopper’s paradise – Paul A Young, Soho
A couple of weeks ago I was meandering around Soho filling time between lunch with friends and dinner with James. I’d recently read the Londonist’s hot chocolate edit and thought I’d get my hands wrapped around a delicious hot drink from one of Soho’s best chocolatiers. I was so distracted by the wall of chocolate and the mouth-watering smell which filled the room that I almost missed the pot bubbling away in the corner, luckily I was saved from distraction when I heard someone put in an order. I was offered original or flavoured (nutmeg, chilli etc) and whilst I was tempted by chilli I went for the original. It definitely hit the spot, achieving the tricky balance of a fine chocolatey flavour without being too thick.
Perfect for: A mid-shop sugar boost.
The rich one – Melt, Holland Park
I made a special trip to Melt because I’d read about their chocolate on so many websites (it comes up every Christmas and Easter!). I opted for the Holland Park branch because Notting Hill gets a little crazy at this time of year (or any weekend in fact!), and I knew it was guaranteed to be a little quieter. They have a select few seats and it’s a peaceful place to stop for a while and imagine life in an upmarket part of town. I could easily see myself as a regular here of course!
But on to the hot chocolate! They make it with melted chocolate and double cream so it’s super indulgent. The texture is similar to Said, being thicker than most hot chocolates, and you can certainly taste the chocolate’s luxurious flavour. I was offered chocolate samples whilst I was there and I challenge you not to come away with one of their small chocolate bars (I picked up the sea salted one). You see more of Melt in my video here.
Perfect for: Winter trips to Holland Park and its cute high street, or Portobello Market where you’ll find their other branch.
The specialist one – Jaz & Jules’, Islington
Given that London has plenty of restaurants that specialise in certain things, (like I love Nata – which amazing, Chicken Shop, The Cereal Killer Cafe, and Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium), you’d think that there would have been a hot chocolate cafe a long time ago. However, Jaz and Juls are the first one’s to set up shop and see what happens. They started out at Broadway Market (where you’ll still find them at the weekend), but recently opened a cute cafe at the top of Chapel Market in Islington.
With my mission in full swing, I knew I had to visit so I popped down there last weekend. As you’d expect there’s plenty of choice and I was offered three different types of chocolate, plenty of different flavours, homemade marshmallows and cream. I was feeling indulgent so I went for Brazil origin with whipped cream and marshmallows. It was good but I regretted the cream a little as it made it harder to taste the chocolate flavour and compare it to other hot chocolates. However, its consistency was much closer to Rococo’s and I can’t deny that it was good.
Perfect for: Overdue catch ups, north of the river.
Address – 1 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ
The Hyde Park hot spot – Cocomaya, Connaught Village
Cocomaya is a mere 10 minute walk from the office but would you believe that after 6 years of working in the area I’ve never been in? I was working one Sunday and felt a treat on the way home was in order, this was the first place that came to mind. I ordered a regular hot chocolate to go and given that there was no obvious counter for hot drinks, no visible hot chocolate, and cakes definitely looked like their specialty, I wondered if it would be just another standard drink. I was gladly proven wrong as they handed over a cup of hot chocolate not too thick, not too sweet, not too milky and not to chocolatey. Almost the perfect balance!
Perfect for: Winter strolls around Hyde Park. It’s less than a 10 minute walk from Marble Arch underground station and less than 10 minutes away from Hyde Park.
Address – 12 Connaught Street, London, W2 2AF
What I’ve learnt from this research is that the finest hot chocolate comes in many different forms – from the fine chocolate flakes that mean you can recreate the experience more easily at home, to the carefully crafted molten chocolate thickened with cream, and the ones that lie in between (being my favourite).
I’ve got a couple more to test out and I’ll be sure to update this post when I stumble across them. Do you have any recommendations for me to try?