Check out our sticky-fingered guide to the best cold stuff in the capital. Think we've missed a great London ice-cream parlour? Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
The best ice-cream in central London
What’s postwar Soho best known for? No, not clip joints and muscle marys, but Italian cafès. You’d think Old Compton Street would have more than just a sprinkling of gelati shops, but Amorino is one one of only two parlours on Soho’s main thoroughfare. It looks traditionally and typically Italian, with jars of biscotti on display and wooden furniture adding to the warmth of the interior. The ice creams are organic and free from preservatives, artificial flavourings and colourings. Among the best sellers of the 24 flavours are pistachio, hazelnut, salted caramel and tiramisu while weekly specials might include Sicilian citrus sorbet. On a warm evening you’ll need to queue – and seats will be at a premium.Read more
A five-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus, Freggo is the UK branch of Argentina’s best-known posh ice-cream chain, Freddo. Its Argentinian heritage comes across strongly in flavours such as dulce de leche (they have full-fat and light versions), tramontana (vanilla with dulce de leche and chocolate cookies), and malbec and berries. Other options include milkshakes, empanadas and excellent coffee, which you can enjoy in the small, very purple interior. Two-flavour cones cost £3.95, and take-home 250g tubs are £6.96.Read more
This is the offshoot of the well-respected Soho Italian joint Bocca di Lupo. Gelupo makes simply outstanding ice cream. There are up to nine regularly changing innovative flavours such as lemon curd, ricotta, sour cherry ripple, and fennel seed and pine nut. Sorbets and slushy-like granita are also available as well as tiramisu, panna cotta and Italian cakes. While the ices are all fabulous and the servings consistently generous, we can never get a seat here; the back room, vacant apart from a few shelf displays, is wasted space. Hey Gelupo, how about a few more tables and chairs out the back?Read more
Imaginative – rather than outlandish – flavours give La Gelatiera an edge in an increasingly crowded market (Covent Garden market, that is). The chocolate and chilli has a good kick while sour cherry and meringue is another blissful union, dotted with chunks of chewy fruit. Ices are made from carefully sourced seasonal ingredients, with no additives. Through a glass floor, you can see into the basement ‘laboratory’ where the magic happens. This summer it will also be selling its scoops at a few different markets and squares around London.Read more
At Covent Garden’s Gelatorino, the machines churning the ices take pride of place. Be sure to try the ‘breakfast in Turin’ – a milky coffee flavour with fine fragments of dark chocolate. It is an iced play on a popular Turin speciality, bicerin, which is a hot chocolate espresso drink topped with cream. Other highlights include fig ripple – a rich, cream-based flavour with strands of juicy figs. Gelatorino also experiments with new offerings such as white chocolate gelato and kiwi sorbet. Staff are happy to offer tasting spoonfuls too.Read more
Once a fixture of the Harrods food hall, master gelato-makers Morelli’s has recently vacated its former spot. Its ices are now merely part of the selection at the store’s brand-new Ice Cream Parlour, which is next to the gift shop on the second floor. Seating more than 50 customers, the dazzling space is tricked out in floor-to-ceiling white with splashes of candy colours. It offers about a dozen crowd-pleasing flavours of ice creams, as well as sundaes and shakes. We were impressed by the fruity burst of flavour in a scoop of fragola (strawberry), and the mix of textures in ‘cookies’ (a milk-chocolate base with shards of chocolate-covered wafers and dark chocolate sauce). There are some downsides, however. Morelli’s bespoke flavour-making service is sadly no more, and takeaways are only available in up to three scoops.Read more
We’ve always found it a shame that this excellent Covent Garden gelateria doesn’t feature outdoor seating to complete the Italian picture. Still, the Covent Garden piazza and Seven Dials are only a short walk away, so purchase a cone and enjoy it while perched on hot cobblestones. Matteo Pantani’s sheer enthusiasm for his frankly superior product is contagious – and justified. Many of the ingredients for his frequently changing palette of gelati are imported from esteemed suppliers in Italy. The pistachio is one of our perennial favourites, thanks to the distinctive smoky, creamy flavour of nuts from Bronte, a Sicilian village known for its pistachios. There’s also an outlet on Soho’s Brewer Street, and a third one in Kensington.Read more
William Curley may be better known for his chocolates and patisserie, but his ice-cream collection is not one to be overlooked. Around a dozen flavours are available in the café-shop at any one time, including toasted sesame, apricot, peanut butter and green tea. More oddball options such as chocolate, rosemary and olive oil or caramelised white chocolate with miso might tempt, too. You’re likely to find popular favours such as the Toscano 70 per cent dark chocolate or the sea-salted caramel to be available most of the time. If you have time, eat at the dessert bar where creations such as strawberry tart with raspberry ripple ice cream and citrus chocolate mousse with Earl Grey and lemon sorbet are served.Read more
The best ice-cream in north London
Lab coats, liquid nitrogen and lots of ‘mist’ – not what you’d usually see in an ice cream parlour, but they like to do things a bit differently at this Camden venue. Pick your flavour and watch the theatricals as the staff freeze it to order with the liquefied gas. The four flavours on offer change regularly and include the likes of caramel with cashew brittle, mango brûlée or Corona lager and lime sorbet. There’s also always one vegan option. If you’re after further experimentation, there’s Monmouth coffee and Valhrona hot chocolate to try.Read more
Since 2010, this gastropub has been selling takeaway ice creams as a sideline, which has proved popular wilth strollers from nearby Hampstead Heath. There are typically five flavours to choose from, which change daily. On one day, for example, there might be Ferrero Rocher, rum and raisin, blueberry marshmallow and millionaire’s shotbread. Nab a few to take on to Parliament Hill.Read more
Blackstock Road, the stretch between Finsbury Park and Highbury, is best-known for its Turkish grocery stores and cafés. Now, an Italian ice cream parlour is throwing some gelato into the mix. Cremeria Vienna, which already has a previous branch in High Barnet, is making a mark with its daily-changing selection of ice creams and sorbets.Read more
Some of the best ice creams seem to be made by those who dabble in the cacao, it seems (see ChocStar and William Curley). Paul A Young, the acclaimed chocolatier, is dedicated to all that is delicious – it’s only natural that ice creams would be part of his repertoire. Made each morning with all-natural ingredients (proper double cream and the highest quality chocolate, of course), Young rolls out flavours such as his signature sea-salted caramel as well as a lower-calories dark chocolate sorbet. As if the ice creams weren’t decadent enough, you can also add crunchy cocoa nibs and Valrhona chocolate syrup. The Soho flagship is not currently making ice creams, but both the Islington shop and City branch are. Other branch: 20 Royal Exchange, Threadneedle Street, EC3V 3LP.
Wanting to connect more with her community, Tufnell Park local Julie Fisher jacked in her desk job and ploughed her savings into this funky ice cream parlour, named after her granny. It was worth the risk. She makes more than 100 terrific ice creams – with 18 available on rotation – such as a variety using Hampstead Heath honey, or Seville orange and marmalade apple (using marmalade that she makes in January, to last the year). There are unusual flavours such as horseradish too, but the bestseller is the salted caramel with almond nut brittle.Read more
With its pastel tones, bunting and even a swing-chair (which you’ll have to fight for), it’s summer all year at this dinky Islington ice cream parlour. It was launched last October by a husband-and-wife team, and core flavours include chocolate and peanut butter and salted caramel. Each month, they also run a competition for customers to come up with the ‘flavour of the month’ – previous gold medallists have included strawberry and basil (the current bestseller), rhubarb and fig, or chocolate and pretzel. If you win, you get a free scoop, every day, for a whole month.
The best ice-cream in south London
There’s nothing quite like an ice cream at the seaside. Sand between your toes, cone in hand and the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore in your ears. You won’t find that in Greenwich, but it does have water, boats and good ice cream. Black Vanilla’s second branch, offering 36 flavours of ice cream, is perfectly located at the centre of Greenwich's tourist hotspots: the Cutty Sark, the Old Royal Naval College and the indoor market. If you really want to get into the holiday mood, Black Vanilla also offers afternoon and champagne teas.Read more
Tucked between Neal’s Yard Cheeses and Monmouth Coffee, 3bis is definitely another feather in Borough Market’s culinary cap. There’s an emphasis on creamy, milky flavours, from panna cotta to vanilla custard. Classics sit next to experimental flavours (peanut butter, eton mess etc), with around 16 usually on offer. There’s also a running chocolate tap to enhance ice cream cups. If you’re lucky you can try one of 3bis’s rich blends just-frozen from the constantly churning line-up of gelato machines.Read more
For superior sorbets and ice creams on Richmond Green, head to this dinky gelateria. In high summer the interior can feel as packed as a generously filled ice cream cone, with queues stretching out of the door. Choose from classic flavours like milk chocolate, pistachio or tiramisu, or opt for something a little more leftfield like the jammy ‘Bakewell tart’ or date, cinnamon and caramel. When not rushed off their feet, the friendly staff even invite you to try before you buy. There are other branches in Battersea, Kingston and the West End.Read more
Kitty Travers’s tiny van is a rather unassuming vehicle for such a range of unusual ice creams with flavours that defy convention. She can usually be found pitching up at Bermondsey’s Maltby Street on Saturday mornings, and the ‘menu’ frequently changes depending on what ingredients Travers has sourced direct from farmers, from contacts or from foraging herself during the week. Elderflower, cucumber and sour cream, blackcurrant custard and peach leaf ice creams have all featured at some point, while a pink gooseberry and hazelnut crumble offering is one of her newer creations. And while the locations and ingredients change constantly, the milk and crème fraîche reliably come from Ivy House Farm.Read more
Could life for the mummies of Nappy Valley get any yummier? Oddono’s, an old-school gelateria of the highest quality, has just opened a fourth branch on the Northcote Road. Much like its other outposts, the counter takes centre stage, brimming as it is with 16 varieties of freshly-made gelato, from ever-popular chocolate, pistachio, or cookies and cream to more unusual seasonal flavours (green apple, say), though there are a handful of seats too. And while the first scoop costs £2.30, each extra scoop only costs an additional £1. If that isn’t an incentive to test-drive every flavour, we don’t know what is.Read more
This small, simply decorated ice-cream parlour is handily located on the northern perimeter of Clapham Common. It’s a low-key, traditionally Italian affair, with a score or so of the more traditional flavours made by Lorenzo Nardulli and his small team. The ice creams here are smooth-textured and clean-flavoured – just like a proper Italian gelato should be.Read more
Tell someone who’s lactose-intolerant that they ‘can just have the sorbet instead of the ice cream’, and you’ll be lucky not to end up wearing what you’re scoffing. Instead, take them to the Greedy Goat. Four chums have got together to make rich, creamy goats’ milk ice cream in delicious flavours including raspberry and chilli, or pistachio with a drizzle of olive oil. There’s even one called Billy Vanilli. It’s easy to digest and low in sugar: try it at the Borough Market stall too, whether you’re lactose-intolerant or not.
The best ice-cream in east London
East London is curiously bereft of good ice cream parlours, but this branch of the chain is handily located for the passing trade going into Old Spitalfields Market. A takeaway counter sells a dozen or so ices, from £1.85 a scoop – including ‘banana blue’ which tastes of frozen banana, but has lurid food colouring staining it bubblegum blue. Other flavours include Irish cream and double chocolate – and, typically, around another dozen choices. If you’re eating out, the gelateria counter faces a large square with wooden bench seating and a sail-like sun canopy. There are also milkshakes and sundaes on offer. The original Gelateria Valerie near Sloane Square has an even more extensive selection of ices, freshly made every day.Read more
The best ice-cream in west London
Despite having spawned a handful of younger, shinier offshoots across London, this original branch remains popular as ever, with queues often stretching down Holland Park Avenue. Cheery staff in bright orange T-shirts dish up generous portions of gelato in a score of traditional flavours (think pistachio made from nuts dried in the Sicilian sunshine), along with sorbets, sundaes and shakes. On our visit, we sampled a terrific amareno (delicately creamy fior di latte with chunks of marinated dark cherries); classic stracciatella (the same subtle base, but this time swirled with shards of chocolate), and an intensely dark and cocoa-spiked cioccolato. Other branches include: Haverstock Hill, Muswell Hill, Notting Hill, St John's Wood and Fulham.Read more
Duke of York Square, near Sloane Square, is prime territory for people-watching. Pull up a chair outside the glass building where Chelsea Gelateria Valerie sits, and savour creamy gelato in flavours such as Irish cream, after-dinner mint, tiramisu or blueberry under the shade of the big, bright-blue umbrellas. Handmade on site each day and with more than two dozen flavours on show at any one time, the selection should sate even the pickiest of gelati connoisseurs. If you’re eating in, the coolly decked-out interior offers swivel stool seating all along the glass frontage. In addition to the gelati, they have a range of ice-cream sundaes, like the ‘Picasso’ (£6.70), which combines seeded vanilla and wild strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and raspberry sauce.Read more