No matter if you’re one or 100 years old, the allure of a good chocolate shop is just as great. From the warming scents that wrap around you like a hug to the pleasingly perfect rows of edible creations tucked behind glass, a fanciful candy counter can conjure up all manner of trips down memory lane. Luckily, London has some spectacular spots for cocoa. Here are but a sprinkle of our favorites.
This whimsical place is a must-visit stop on any visit to the British capital. A shoppable museum of chocolate curiosities, Choccywoccydoodah features fantastical displays of colorful cakes, animal-shaped confections, marshmallow towers, ChoccyWoccyRockyRoad lollypops and chocolate still-life sculptures that look straight out of a Baz Luhrmann film set.
Originating in the seaside town of Brighton, this two-of-a-kind shop’s London flagship can be found in Covent Garden. It’s a red-velvet-decked boudoir where you can browse and buy, or book ahead for a spot in the 10-seat Parlour for an hour-long tasting session that includes dipping pots of molten chocolate, platters of cake and ice cream sundaes.
Three tons of Sicilian lemons go into Pierre Marcolini’s products every year, each one zested by hand. The same army of creators is responsible for shelling 15 tons of almonds, and everything else that goes into producing the gem-like chocolates that are lined up so beautifully in the boxes and stores.
Meanwhile, Marcolini — a former pastry chef who was crowned “World Pastry Champion” in 1995 — travels far and wide each year in search of the rarest cocoa beans, which he roasts himself, before they’re turned into rich, ganache-filled shells and other edible creations at his Brussels workshop.
The Belgian chocolatier has three outlets in London: a concession in Selfridges and Harrods, and a standalone boutique on Marylebone High Street, where there are more than 150 products to deliberate over, including chocolates, marshmallows and macarons.
Inspired by a weekend job selling sweets at Harrods, Rococo Chocolates founder Chantal Coady set up her own luxury confectionery boutique in 1983 on the Kings Road in Chelsea.
Fast-forward 35 years and the brand has grown to four stores, while Coady has penned five books on the subject and received an OBE (British royal recognition for contribution to the arts and sciences) for “Services to Chocolate.”
The stores are cheerful treasure troves stacked with iconic blue-and-white boxes of chocolates, as well as fun, giftable items, such as the smoky Cuba dark chocolate “cigar” with lapsang souchong tea and sea salt that’s packaged in a metal cigar tube; salted caramel seagull eggs, which look very much the real thing; and pocket-sized bee bars that come in flavors such as Earl Grey tea, cardamom and raspberry fizz.
In addition to the inaugural Chelsea store, you’ll find others in Covent Garden and Marylebone. But for an extra special treat, visit the brand’s Belgravia flagship shop. Located on Motcomb Street, this boutique is home to the Chocolate School, Chocolate Café and a hidden Moroccan-style garden planted by the founder herself.
Vegans in search of a sweet fix should look no further than this West African-inspired cocoa house on London’s Brick Lane, where the beans are pure and the fruit is fresh.
But don’t worry, dairy fans. There’s a great deal here for you, too. Among the handcrafted delights at this Ghanaian chocolate shop are rock-like 85 percent cocoa truffles in flavors such as gin and lime, flambéed cognac, and cardamom and orange, piled high in wooden bowls; giant seashells overflowing with metallic, ganache-filled “pearls;” and Instagrammable cups of thick hot chocolate spiked with your choice of spice and topped with dark, milk and white chocolate shavings.
Open until 10 p.m. daily, Dark Sugars is the place to grab a takeout cup of the signature sweet sip and peruse the street-art-filled neighborhood near the shop.
Paul A. Young
While the central table, topped with a pick-and-mix selection of chocolates, is one of the first delicious sights and scents to greet you when you walk through the door of the Paul A. Young flagship store on Wardour Street, there are plenty of other treats to tempt you inside.
Chocolate mice, the popular sea-salted caramel and Aztec hot chocolate that’s topped with chilli, cinnamon and sea salt are all handmade on site by a team of carefully trained chocolatiers.
Try your hand at crafting these delicate confections with one of the shop’s monthly Tasting and Making Masterclasses — you’ll even get to take home everything you create.
Young, who was named Outstanding British Chocolatier in the 2014 International Chocolate Awards, has two other boutiques in the city: in Islington and inside The Royal Exchange.