Chocolate shops in London are never short of business. Ever since cocoa beans finally reached our shores in the 1650s (after the Mayans had been enjoying them since 600AD!), we’ve been mad about chocolate. After National Chocolate Week fired up the capital, there’s no better time than the present to check out London’s best coco-based boutiques events, drinks and recipes.
A brief history of chocolate in London
Chocolate was originally consumed as a luxurious, rich drink, reserved for the most elite members of London society during the 17th and 18th century. Instead of milk, flavours and spices like citrus peel, jasmine and vanilla were added, making it very different from the chocolate we know today!
The first chocolate houses began to open in the 1690s around St James Square in Westminster, and were frequented by politicians, lords and earls. They often became centres of Machivellian plotting and intrigue, and developers actually found a secret tunnel underneath White’s chocolate house during renovations in the 1920s, leading to a tavern in Picadilly for quick escape.
The arrival of new transport and production methods during the Industrial Revolution helped spread the joy of chocolate to the masses, and led to the launch of confectionary companies like Cadburys and Rowntrees. Recent statistics show that 26% of Londoners now eat chocolate every day, so we’ve come a long way from the exclusive chocolate houses of Westminster!
The best chocolate shops in London
Forget about your bog-standard Cadburys and Nestle from the supermarket - as a result of our long and dedicated history of chocolate appreciation, we have a brilliant selection of artisan chocolate boutiques throughout the capital. Many of the ranges from these shops are also sold in the dreamy food halls of Liberty and Selfridges, if you want to get to grips with the different types before choosing. We'll let the chocolate do the talking now...
Address: 3 Porchester Pl, London W2 2BSPhone:020 7706 2770
Address: 13 Lowndes St, London SW1X 9EXPhone:020 7245 0317
Address: 30-32 Foubert's Pl, London W1F 7PSPhone:020 7734 9713
Address: 14 Princes Arcade, London SW1Y 6DSPhone: 020 7494 3372
Luxurious chocolate-based drinks
London is finally catching on the deliciousness of French-style hot chocolate - thick, rich and as luxurious as you can imagine. Our favourites are served at the Paul A Young store in Soho and Artisan du Chocolat, and are more similar to a chocolate soup than a milky drink!
If you fancy something a little stronger, London's growing cocktail culture has led to the invention of some incredible chocolate-based cocktails. Treat yourself to one (or a few) after work, and you'll be saving time and money on dessert too.
Hotel Chocolat know their way around the sweet stuff, and they're now trying their hand at drinks. Try the Chocolate G&T or the Chocolate Martini, and you'll be converted to the dark side in no time.Address: 2 - 4 Bedale Street, Borough Market, London SE1 9ALPhone: 020 7378 8226
London Cocktail Club
A favourite of bartenders after-hours, London Cocktail Club have created a chocolate cocktail for those who prefer just a hint of sweetness. Made up of whisky, vermouth and chocolate bitters, it's the perfect after dinner tipple.Address: 4 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 8QJPhone: 020 7580 1960
Last but certainly not least, Artesian Bar in the Langham Hotel won the accolade of Best Bar in the World 2014. Their Unfolding and Exploring menu features two elaborate chocolate cocktails: the Selfie Compatible, and the What Is Agugu?!Address: 1C Portland Pl, London W1B 1JAPhone: 020 7636 1000