Where To Go When You Just Want A Hot Chocolate

Whether you’re a whipped-cream-till-I-die person, blowtorched marshmallow stan, or like to stare into a clear pool of chocolate sans toppings, there’s a hot chocolate for you in this guide.
Where To Go When You Just Want A Hot Chocolate image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

When you can’t watch a Real Housewives marathon or listen to brown noise, there’s the comforting embrace of a hot chocolate. When done right, liquid cocoa is a thing of beauty, but a lot of the time it’s an overly sweet mug of regret. We’ve braved the sugar highs and lows to search for London’s best rich, smooth, well-balanced hot chocolates. Whether you’re a whipped-cream-till-I-die person, blowtorched marshmallow stan, or like to stare into a clear pool of chocolate sans toppings, there’s a hot chocolate for you in this guide. 

If you've got a sweet tooth (we're assuming you do, since you're here), check out our favourite desserts in London right now and the best bakeries according to us.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch


Notting Hill

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Why We Rate It: For its perfect balance between milk and dark

To risk sounding like a Nigella Lawson M&S advert, this hot chocolate is intensely chocolatey. It’s not one for the casual drinker, but if you like the sound of a chocolate IV drip, you’ll like this. It’s smooth, thick, and richer than the inhabitants of the Notting Hill townhouses surrounding Melt Chocolates' shop. It’s made using 35% milk or 70% dark chocolate buttons which are melted into the milk. We like the milk one: on the venn diagram of chocolate it’s perfectly balanced, falling somewhere between sweet and rich. Ask for a small cup if you want to avoid an almighty sugar comedown later, and take it outside to savour on the charming courtyard table. 

Why We Rate It: For the sea salt topping that makes us feel grown-up

Fancy ceramics, chocolate shaving garnishes, and chit chat about cocoa beans is all well and good, but it also slows you down. Knoops is the answer when you want a chocolatey hit without delay. There are multiple shops around London but our favourite is the Richmond location. There are a couple of stools inside, but getting your drink to go and walking to Richmond Park is the move. You can choose the percentage of cocoa content, spices, and type of milk but our order is always 43% milk chocolate. It’s sweet but not cloying, so you still get hints of nuttiness coming through. Get the Maldon sea salt topping too. It keeps the sweetness in check and makes you feel like a proper adult.

Why We Rate It: For the XXL blowtorched marshmallow

If Goldilocks’ thing had been hot chocolate instead of porridge, she’d have declared the one at Maya’s Bakehouse “just right”. The small Tulse Hill bakery uses 72% Pump Street chocolate and their own sugar-salt blend. But the best bit is the massive marshmallow which is blowtorched until it’s a toasty, bubbling thing of beauty, as you look on, probably clapping and openly weeping. Maybe that’s just us. There’s not a hint of bitterness and each sip is rich, but still very smooth and drinkable.

Why We Rate It: For its perfect froth

You might stop by this deli, butcher, and bakery in Camberwell for cabbage, but you’ll leave with armfuls of flowers, a well-stuffed chicken focaccia sandwich, and an excellent hot chocolate. Or sit in at the long wooden table and enjoy the frothy drink in a beautiful ceramic mug—your Sports Direct mug and Cadbury sachet could never. Unlike some of the more decadent hot chocolates around, this feels like something we could drink every day. And you can: they sell the exact Divine powder they use in their hot chocolates—it’s fairtrade and made with 100% cocoa butter. Just don’t tell your dentist we said so.

Why We Rate It: For the hints of raspberry

Warning: the drinks at this Paddington cocoa specialist are not for any old novice. Nor are they for anyone who’s ever used a hot chocolate spoon. London Chocolate is for self-appointed connoisseurs who’ll get giddy at the smell of chocolate that slaps you in the face as soon as you step inside this small cafe. The hot chocolate menu is small, with Dominican, Tanzanian, and Cuban beans, and the mocha-coloured walls make it feel like you’re inside one of the aforementioned cocoa beans. The notes of berry and hazelnut hit as soon as the thick film of creamy chocolate touches your lips. This is so rich that we needed a bottle of water to hand at all times.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Why We Rate It: For the huge mug that you’ll still finish

We like Qima Cafe’s hot chocolate, not just because of the elaborate milk art, or the fact that the mug needs two hands to grip it. But because it’s not doing too much. It’s not too rich despite the mix of 72% dark chocolate and 70% guanaja blend. The addition of brown sugar gives it a deep sweetness too. We can drink a whole cup—and then some—without being overwhelmed. The Yemeni cafe in Fitzrovia also adds a sprinkle of sea salt which provides a perfect balance.

Why We Rate It: For the alternative matcha flavour

The irony of getting a hot chocolate from an ice cream specialist isn’t lost on us, but Soft Serve Society doesn’t do anything by halves. This Boxpark shop in Shoreditch has a selection of hot chocolates, which include actual melted chocolate, and the option of blowtorched marshmallow fluff (yes and yes). Our hot chocolate of choice is the matcha and white chocolate number, which has the perfect balance of bitter, earthy matcha, to sweet melted marshmallows. 

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