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If you're looking for decadent cocoa warmers, allow us to point you in the direction of London's most luxurious hot chocolates, which come decked in all manner of cream, marshmallows and chocolate shavings. If it's something more simple you're after, these are the best hot chocolate drinks in the capital.
Hot chocolate at SAID dal 1923, Soho
This Soho chocolate cafe is an outpost of the oldest chocolate factory in Rome, so you know it's going to be good stuff.
The 'cioccolata densa' (thick Italian hot chocolate) is extremely rich and comes in milk, dark or gianduja (that's hazelnut praline from Turin). We recommend — nay, insist on — trying one of each, melted chocolate glazing the outside of your cup as you sip. Oh yeah, it gets messy.
Said dal 1923, 41 Broadwick Street, W1F 9QL
Hot chocolate at Rococo Chocolates
Chocolatier Rococo has four London shops, but for the hot chocolate, head to the Chocolate Cafe in Belgravia. Here, you can slurp your hot chocolate in the secluded Moroccan garden (there is indoor seating, if the weather's looking iffy). Choose from classic, sea salted or spiced hot chocolate — and perhaps a slice of cake too.
Hot chocolate also available as take away at the Seven Dials branch.
Rococo Chocolates, 5 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8JU, plus shop locations at Chelsea, Covent Garden and Marylebone.
Hot chocolate at Artisan du Chocolat
Chocolate is king at this boutique and cafe — the hot chocolate section of the menu alone has nine different options, including gingerbread, espresso and salted caramel flavour options. Pair it with a plate of fresh chocolates or a chocolate dessert for the ultimate cocoa fix. They also deliver their drinking chocolate in fancy tins, for if you don't want to pry yourself off your sofa in this weather.
Artisan du Chocolat, cafes at 236 West End Lane, Hampstead, and 246 High Street Kensington, with other branches of the shop in Chelsea, Selfridges and Borough Market.
Hotel Chocolat and Rabot 1745
Don't write this high street chain off as simply somewhere for last minute presents — some of the stores are now opening cafes too. Here in London, the Seven Dials, Covent Garden and Euston station all have cafes serving chocolate treats including cakes, ice cream, and of course, hot chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most popular flavour, with salted caramel, hazelnut and chilli also on the menu.
Rabot 1745 is part of the Hotel Chocolat chain too, named after the St Lucia plantation where the company's cocoa is grown. The Borough Market restaurant, bar and cafe offers everything from cocoa cocktails to breakfast and brunch. But we're here for the drinking chocolate, of which there are eight varieties, ranging from the standard classic and milky, rum (with a shot of St Lucian rum) and 100% dark for true chocoholics.They're all made from real chocolate, rather than cocoa powder. Seasonal flavours make an appearance for Christmas and Easter too.
Hotel Chocolat, 4 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9HB, 10 The Market, The Piazza, WC2E 8RB and 46 Euston station, NW1 2DU.
Rabot 1745, 2-4 Bedale Street, Borough Market.
Hot chocolate at Melt Chocolates
You may be so dazzled by the stunning array of chocolates and goodies on offer at these west London boutiques (not to mention the delicious smells pouring out of the open-view kitchen) that you'll overlook the fact that they serve hot chocolate... but don't. Peruse the menu, chalked up on a blackboard and changing regularly, place your order, then sit back and watch them prepare it. For a little luxury, go for the 'fluffy bunny' with a tail of whipped cream, or make your own drink by stirring a hot chocolate block into warm milk.
The hot chocolate goodies are available to purchase to make your own drinks at home too.
Melt Chocolates, 58 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AA, and 6 Clarendon Road, Holland Park, W11 3AA.
Hot chocolate at Stanfords Coffee House
For our money, one of London's best milk hot chocolates could always be found in the tiny cafe tucked away at the back of Stanfords travel book shop in Covent Garden. Thankfully, when the store relocated just around the corner in early 2019, it took its cafe — and that hot chocolate recipe — with it. Made from real melted chocolate, choose from milk, white or dark chocolate (the first is too creamy for us, the latter too rich, pitting milk perfectly in the middle). No fuss, no bells and whistles, just simple, rich hot chocolate.
Stanfords, 7 Mercer Walk.
Hot chocolate at Paul A Young
This chocolatier has three boutiques across the capital, each serving up hot chocolate from an instore hot plate alongside the truffles, pralines and other sweet snacks it's known for.
The hot chocolate is a water-ganache based drink, instead of the usual milk base, making for a rich and luxurious serve. Feeling brave? Spice it up with an Aztec hot chocolate instead — choose from flavours including chilli, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon or sea salt to really warm your cockles. All well and good, but we're waiting for the day the brand's famous Marmite truffles make it into a hot chocolate.
Paul A Young, at Wardour Street in Soho, (open for collection from the window) and Camden Passage in Islington (open for visits).
Hot chocolate at Venchi, Covent Garden
This place in Covent Garden may look like it focuses on ice cream, but head inside to the cafe for the full drinks and snacks menu. The hot chocolate is velvet-smooth — would you expect any less from the Italians? — and made with 75% dark powdered chocolate.
Venchi, Unit 18, The Market Building, WC2E 8RB
Hot chocolate at Copperhouse Chocolate, Chapel Market
Previously known as Jaz and Jul's, this Islington chocolate house is completely vegetarian and largely vegan (and does a mean chocolate fondue). When it comes to hot chocolate, they really know their stuff, comparing the tasting process to that of wine or coffee. Choose if you want Madagascan, Ecuadorian or Peruvian origin cocoa in your drink, or go for one of their flavours; mint, raspberry, cinnamon and chilli are just some of the menu's offerings, and you can buy their hot chocolate ingredients to take home and make your own.
Copperhouse Chocolate, 1 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ
Hot chocolate at DeRosier Chocolates, Southfields
This small, local chocolate shop with three branches is family-run, serving drinks made from single origin chocolate from Venezuela, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Flavours include coconut, honey, caramel, mint and orange.
DeRosier Chocolates, 81 Revelstoke Road, Southfields, SW18 5NL, 380 Garratt Lane SW18 4HP and 255-257 Wimbledon Park Road SW19 6NW.