London's Best Ice Cream

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 60 months ago

Last Updated 23 July 2019

London's Best Ice Cream
London's best ice cream: Gelupo
Gelupo. Photo: Steven Joyce

While there's nothing wrong with a 99, it's worth visiting London's ice cream parlours to sample their wares and find the best. We're confident that the following places won't disappoint — though bear in mind that gelateria often chop and change their flavours to keep it interesting. If we've missed your favourite, let us know in the comments. If gelato's more your thing, you'll be more at home here, and we've got vegans covered here.

Ice cream at Gelupo

When we asked around for ice cream recommendations, Gelupo kept being mentioned. Turns out we know some smart people: Gelupo was the last on our tasting list and, to be frank, we were starting to feel literally sick of the idea. Then we had a mouthful of melon sorbet with hints of cinnamon and jasmine which was so light, refreshing and damn tasty that our faith was restored. We don't want to say this is definitively the best ice cream in London but we can't imagine what could beat it.
Where: 7 Archer Street, Piccadilly Circus
Anything else? Cakes, flatbread sandwiches and an Italian deli in the back of the shop. Oh, and you can get it delivered
Most outlandish flavour: Ricotta chocolate and black pepper? Blood orange? Cherry and sambuca?

Ice cream at Chin Chin Laboratories

Chin Chin Laboratories serve  liquid nitrogen ice cream, some of the best in London
Chin Chin Laboratories

These guys use liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream, which makes their shops look more like labs than gelaterias. Tonka bean, Valrhona chocolate and burnt butter caramel are always available, plus four changing weekly specials; then choose a topping (held in science beakers) or sauce. We had the rich, smooth vanilla topped with heather honeycomb, like posh Crunchie. It's the only one on our list to get near the home-made experience, where cream temporarily cloys to the roof of your mouth (that's just what happens when cream gets cold).

Where: 49-50 Camden Lock Place, under the bridge. Also in Soho and Shoreditch
Anything else? Got a party coming up? Chin Chin also offer some pretty impressive party cakes too
Most outlandish flavour: Coffee and olive oil makes a regular appearance at the Soho outlet

Ice cream at Shake Shack

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Yeah yeah, burgers, whatever. What caught our eye when Shake Shack opened was its frozen custard — which is basically ice cream heavier than gelato. You can get vanilla or chocolate served up in a cup or cone, or 'concretes': chunky tubs of dense ice cream with added bits. Each venue offers different flavour combinations. We went for a single Union Shack, a chocolate ice cream more putty-like than concrete (though this could have been down to the heat), with St Jon Bakery brownie, Paul A Young chocolate chips and fudge sauce. Unsophisticated but a lot of fun.
Where: 24 Market Building, Covent Garden. Also in Soho, Leicester Square, Canary Wharf and a bunch of other location
Anything else? Er, burgers
Most outlandish flavour: Blackberry Buttermilk

Ice cream at Paul A Young

Best ice cream parlours and shops in London: Paul A Young turns his chocolate skills to ice cream
Paul A Young

If you want chocolate ice cream, where better than a top chocolatier? All three Paul A Young shops in London sell ice cream; we visited the latter and found tubs of ready scooped dessert waiting in the freezer. Time saving. We opted, naturally, for the chocolate sorbet, which tastes like they've taken 70% dark chocolate, churned and frozen it. Which they sort of have.
Where: 20 The Royal Exchange, Bank; 33 Camden Passage, also Islington and Soho
Anything else? Masses and masses of chocolate
Most outlandish flavour: The chocolate is pretty outlandish

Ice cream at Gelateria 3BIS

Best places to eat ice cream in London: Gelateria 3BIS
Chocoshot at Gelateria 3BIS

Of course Borough Market would have a proper Italian gelateria, and 3BIS has its roots in Rimini. You can choose from two flavours in the two smaller sizes, or three flavours if you pay a bit more, plus you get a wafer and the option of liquid chocolate drizzled into the base of your cup. We tried the coconut bounty flavour which has bits of coconut and chocolate mashed into the ice cream and feels gimmicky compared to our other choice, the velvety smooth mascarpone and figs. That's a proper, grown up ice cream.
Where: 4 Park Street, SE1 9AB. Also Notting Hill
Anything else? 'Chocoshots', where you can stuff your favourite ice cream flavour into a flavoured shot-shaped cone
Most outlandish flavour: Kinder

Ice cream at Ruby Violet

Best shops and cafes to eat ice cream in London: Ruby Violet
Ruby Violet

After some fervent reader recommendations we went out to find if Ruby Violet's reputation is justified. With two bases in Tufnell Park and King's Cross, we tried the malted milk and chocolate/cherry flavours, which turned out to be two of the subtler options but still incredibly rich and creamy. They go out of their way to source local ingredients and use organic milk and free range eggs.
Where: 118 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park, NW5 2HL and 3 Wharf Road, King's Cross, N1C 4BZ
Anything else? A couple of puddings plus all manner of shakes (including boozy shakes) and some sweet-style cocktails
Most outlandish flavour: Horseradish

Honourable mentions

Olivogelo, one of London's best ice cream shops

Oddono's: gelato is made daily in South Kensington, including its surprisingly woody award-winning pistachio.
Venues across London, but South Kensington is the flagship store

Amorino: they make your ice cream cone in the shape of a rose, which is adorable. Try the speculoos sorbet.
41 Old Compton Street, Soho; 7 Garrick Street, Covent Garden; 67A Kings Road, Chelsea

Udderlicious: This little independent lets its patrons choose the monthly flavours, from wild cherry to jam doughnut. Also... marmite and chocolate?
187 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1RQ. Also in Covent Garden

Nardulli: Choose between tub or cone, and a range of classic flavours. The fig is top notch.
29 The Pavement, Clapham, SW4 0JE

Olivogelo: Sardinian ice creams made in house with traditional ingredients. Less traditional, but equally tasty, are the ice cream-filled brioche buns.
28 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9RB

This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital's top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.