Melt chocolates
Photograph: Melt

London’s best chocolate shops

For a deliciously decadent treat, visit one of these superior chocolate shops in London

Sarah Cohen
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Let’s face it. You can’t go wrong with chocolate, whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or if you want to indulge yourself. And you’ll find the perfect sweet treat in one of London’s highly seductive chocolate shops. Cadbury’s is great, obvs, but these places raise the bar for cacao, offering everything from purist-pleasing super-dark chocs to sugary white varieties, in the form of truffles, slabs, bars and all kinds of innovative, artful creations. If you’re cocoa nuts, these are your temples and London’s chocolatiers are your gods.

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London’s best chocolate shops

As you might guess from the name, the people behind this high-end mini chain take chocolate very seriously. Billed as ‘adventurers in fine cocoa’, they produce their own stuff from ground beans, rather than buying in couverture (high-quality processed chocolate) from elsewhere. The standard range is excellent (salted caramels, boozy truffles, honeycomb bites, cleverly filled ‘thins’ and pistachio pearls) and there are seasonal treats and designs for occasions such as Halloween. We also love the options for people on special diets – including sugar-free bars, chocolates made from buffalo milk, and veggie specialities such as strawberry-coated mallows. There’s a boutique in Chelsea plus an outlet in Selfridges.

Charbonnel et Walker
Charbonnel et Walker

We can thank Edward VII for bringing Madame Charbonnel and Mrs Walker together back in 1875, and there’s still a kind of magic about their vintage shop on Bond Street’s elegant Royal Arcade. Cue lashings of Victorian nostalgia in the shape of their drawing room and grand ballroom collections (inspired by noble houses of the period), as well as seasonal treats such as vanilla raspberries or ‘chorus line crackers’ filled with sea salt caramel and praline. Best of all are its speciality truffle boxes, with flavours ranging from Chase vodka and rhubarb, Sipsmith gin and afternoon tea to iconic Pink Marc de Champagne. Otherwise, Charbonnel is rightly known for its 70 percent dark hot chocolate. As well as the Bond Street flagship, there are outlets in Canary Wharf and Broadgate and you can also buy C&W chocolates in Selfridges and Harrods.

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You’ll smell Dark Sugars before you see it. The scent of Ghanaian cocoa beans wafts up Brick Lane, making it nigh on impossible not to pop your head round the door. Mounds of uncut truffle shards are heaped into mango leaf bowls or piled on cherry wood stands, ready to be bought as pick-and-mix boxes or individual items. Flavours are kaleidoscopic, from choc-overdose truffles to more leftfield tastes like cinnamon cider or Irish kiss pipette with a squirt of Baileys on top.

  • Cafés
  • Southfields

Residential Southfields is lucky to have this smart but friendly chocolate shop and café selling elegant handmade treats as well as tennis-themed morsels for the Wimbledon crowd. DeRosier’s fresh chocs are currently produced using single-origin couvertures from Venezuela and Peru, with a choice of approachable flavours such as passion fruit, hazelnut praline or sea-salted caramel. We also love the bars wrapped up in colourful prints and novelties such as chocolate phones. If you want to linger, sit down with a cup of artisan coffee or one of its hot chocolate beverages, made with pieces of single-origin chocolate scooped straight from the tub and steamed with plenty of milk. It also serves a limited selection of cakes, brownies and sandwiches. Also in Earlsfield.

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Le Jeune Chocolatiers
Le Jeune Chocolatiers

The chocolatiers of the title are Ivan and Harika Le Jeune, who spent 14 years learning their trade in Geneva before opening this little shop, café and workshop in Covent Garden back in 2013. They produce everything in a bespoke basement below the store, and their handcrafted chocs are all about quality, innovation and attention to detail (inherited from their Swiss mentors). We adore their artisan bars (especially the blackberry and strawberry version), as well as their pralines, truffles, slabs and novelties ranging from hand-painted ‘goose eggs’ filled with sweet goodies to festive chocolate log cabins and even a choc-filled mini pool table complete with a wooden hammer for smashing. You can quiz the chefs about recipes or just sit down with one of their legendary hot chocolates – made fresh with milk, pure chocolate and nothing more.

 

Isabelle Alaya’s Chocolate Boutique & Café has a casual community vibe, not only supplying Peckham residents with their regular fix of croissants, brownies and truffles, but also offering up chocolate-making sessions (at the owner’s Chocolate Museum in Brixton), various chocolate and wine-tasting workshops, and even classes in painting with chocolate. Melange’s hand-layered Belgian chocolate slabs (milk, dark and white) have some inspired herbal and spicy flavour combinations: coffee and aniseed, coriander and grapefruit, lavender and lemon, cumin and mint, white pepper and vanilla, plus new hits such as rose and thyme or turmeric and truffle oil. There’s an impressive range of veggie and vegan options too, as well as a line-up of sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate drinks, smoothies, frappés and French grocery items. 

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Chocolate is the only food that melts at body temperature – hence the name of this trendy outfit founded by Louise Nason in 2006. Colourfully glam packaging is bang on for the corner of Notting Hill where its boutique sits, but there’s real substance too. What’s more, Melt’s kitchen is in the shop itself, so you can watch your treats being made, or chat about flavour combos with the team of chefs and chocolatiers. We like zany flavours such as toast and marmalade, caramelised popcorn and pistachio blonde – and who can resist the Van Gogh blossom wrapping around their vegan Easter eggs? It also sells brownies, mud pies and various prettily presented chocolate blocks for dissolving into cups of hot milk. There’s an offshoot in Holland Park and the owners also have a concession at Selfridges.

Pierre Hermé
Pierre Hermé

Dubbed ‘the Picasso of pastry’ by Vogue and voted the fourth most influential Frenchman in the world by Vanity Fair, patisserie chef and chocolatier extraordinaire Pierre Hermé now has a foot in Covent Garden in the shape of this chic boutique on Monmouth Street. Trays of his world-famous multicoloured macarons immediately catch the eye, notably the iconic Isaphan version, named after a variety of damask rose and made with lychee purée, sévarôme rose essence and dried raspberries (aromas that echo the gewürztraminer grape of Hermé’s native Alsace). Chocoholics should home in on the ‘pure origine’ bars, truffles, bonbons and creations such as the 2000 feuille with praline and hazelnuts. There’s also a line-up of luscious desserts, exotic pound cakes and ice creams. Also in Selfridges.

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  • Pâtisseries
  • Marylebone

Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini has shops from Kuwait to Tokyo, and his London outlet on Marylebon High Street glows as pristine white as the gloves used by staff to pick out his neatly arranged chocolates. Fancy eclairs with perfect choux pastry, inspired centres and haute-couture toppings get star billing (try the mojito version filled with lime, white rum and minty custardy cream), but this is far from your average chocolate shop: there’s also a macaron carousel, a tasting area and a sweetie bar. Go when you feel like splashing the cash, or pick just one delicacy and savour the complex flavours – perhaps a merveilleux desire (dark chocolate shell with meringue, a crème fraîche ‘insert’ and vanilla mascarpone), a square of mille-feuille des rois or an insanely glossy chocolate tart. You can also find Marcolini’s wares in Selfridges and Harrods.

He penned ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, so it’s probably no surprise that Roald Dahl was a huge fan of Prestat’s beautifully presented chocolate truffles. With posh flavours such as champagne, yuzu saké and Earl Grey on offer (all in elegant, brightly coloured packaging), it’s hard to believe that this snazzy range comes from one of England’s oldest chocolatiers. The brand has been around for more than a century, but the current owners are bang on trend when it comes to promoting the health advantages of chocolate. Prestat’s Ruby bars, truffles and thins, for example, are processed gently to maximise antioxidant content and nutrients. Although the company’s chocs are a staple of high-class delis and fancy food halls, nothing beats a trip to its bijou boutique in St James’s genteel Princes Arcade.

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