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My London Chocolate Shop Walking Tour, With Tips For Your Trip

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In December, I planned a last-minute trip to London. The combination of cheap coach tickets (the train to my local bus station cost more than the coach journey from Cardiff to London) and discounted hotel accommodation at Heathrow was enough for me, sweetened by the fact that Cocoa Runners hosted their final pre-Christmas live event in Canopy Market during my visit.

If you check out my list of chocolate makers, chocolatiers and chocolate shops in London, you'll quickly realise that visiting all of them in the span of two days is an impossible challenge. Thanks to the limited duration of my trip, I had to cherry pick places I hadn't visited since my last time in the capital when I attended the Speciality Food Fair in 2019.

I went in search of new chocolate brands as well as new-to-me shops that I hadn't visited before this trip.



My London Chocolate Shop Tour

Here's what I got up to, followed by some handy tips should you want to plan your own chocolate walking tour of London. I've popped the shops in alphabetical order.


Cartografie Chocolate

In the grand scheme of things, Cartografie Chocolate is the new kid on the block, but it has already made a splash in London since its inception, gaining both major press coverage and a loyal customer base. The brand, based on London City Island in East London, focuses on crafting luxury single-origin chocolates.

Co-founded by Daniela Nunzi-Mihranian, Kae Shibata, and Sven-Hanson Britt, the brand sources its chocolate from the likes of Original Beans, Amedei and Islands. The team focuses on filled chocolates that utilise the finest ingredients to deliver maximum flavour while complimenting the nuances of the cocoa's terroir.

  • Where? London City Island, 39 Lyell Street, Leamouth Peninsula, London, E14 0SZ.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening times here.
  • How? It's near Canning Town Underground Station (Jubilee Line) and Canning Town DLR Station.
  • Why? If you value provenance of ingredients, the nuances of cocoa from different regions of the globe, and some glitz and glamour, you'll love what you find here at Cartografie.
  • What to try? The key products here are the filled chocolates as well as the single-origin tasting range, complimented by a small range of hot chocolate blends. Cartografie also hosts tasting experiences and hands-on workshops for couples and small groups.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason Christmas light display 2021
Fortnum & Mason's store decorated as an advent calendar for Christmas

Fortnum & Mason is a high-end grocer in London, and offers many own-label products that focus on quality and flavour. Unsurprisingly, the store has its own chocolate department, with a selection of chocolate bars, chocolate boxes, and loose chocolates on sale.

A visit to Fortnum's is a must for most tourists, and they jostle with the regular customers inside the always-busy Piccadilly attraction to secure gifts, souvenirs, and treats. So, you'll likely need to take a ticket and wait to get served at the chocolate counter. Once at the front, you'll find an assortment of loose chocolates that span the gamut from caramels to truffles.

Even though it is very busy, there are plenty of friendly staff on hand to help direct you to the products you seek.

  • Where? 181 Piccadilly, St. James's, London, W1A 1ER.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening times here°.
  • How? It's near Green Park Underground Station (Piccadilly, Jubilee and Victoria Lines) and Piccadilly Circus Underground Station (Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines).
  • Why? Everyone deserves a slice of luxury, and Fortnum's allows you to do this relatively inexpensively at its loose chocolate counter (budget around £1 per chocolate). Plus, its zany signature truffle (see below) is not one you'll find in many other places.
  • What to try? Brace yourself. Fortnum's history of stocking Heinz's products has lead to the creation of a Heinz Baked Bean Chocolate Truffle. Otherwise, browse the range of English caramels, pralines and ganaches. If the queues are too much for you, their literature-inspired chocolate bars are displayed line shelves near the entrance for a swift purchase.

Harrods

This world-famous department store needs no introduction. Harrods is heralded right around the planet for quality. Its Chocolate Hall (nestled amongst the Food Halls area) has recently benefited from a makeover, and it looks lovely. As you'd expect for a store of this stature, it's always very busy, so visit early or late in the day if you prefer to browse the shelves in peace and quiet.

The Chocolate Hall is home to many concessions, so, if you are looking to pick up chocolates by the likes of Pierre Marcolini, William Curley, Patchi, Läderach, and others, and don't want to traipse around London so much, a visit to Knightsbridge may well pay dividends.

Prepare to get lost for a while in this department store. I didn't find it easy to navigate due to the lack of maps and clear signage. I also didn't spot any available staff to help me either, due to the sheer volume of customers crammed into the ever-popular Food Halls.

  • Where? 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7XL.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening times here°.
  • How? It's near Knightsbridge Underground Station (Piccadilly Line).
  • Why? Most shopping trips should take in a visit to Harrods, even if it is to see how the other half live. Besides their own range, Harrods hosts a number of concessions by chocolate brands so a visit here could save you time and effort in sourcing chocolate during your own tour of the capital.
  • What to try? There's plenty of choice in the concessions, but Harrods also produces a library of its own-branded chocolate bars. It also has an on-site kitchen where it produces a small selection of loose chocolates.

Italo

Italo Deli
A quaint deli in a leafy suburb of London

Step into Bonnington Square and the hustle and bustle of Vauxhall suddenly melts away. A delightful garden is flanked by rows of town houses in this leafy part of town. Opposite the Bonnington Square Pleasure Garden is a quaint little deli that anchors the community.

Italo is a great place to enjoy a lazy morning coffee or pick up a few nibbles for lunch or a picnic. The delicatessen is also a handy little gem if you are looking for Chantal Coady OBE's latest brand, The Chocolate Detective.

  • Where? 13 Bonnington Square, London, SW8 1TE.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening hours here.
  • How? It's near Vauxhall Station (National Rail and Victoria Line underground services).
  • Why? It's an early adopter of The Chocolate Detective's product range, plus it's full of charm.
  • What to try? Check out The Chocolate Detective's range of chocolate bird eggs, in cute egg box packaging decorated with illustrations by talented artists. There's also a small range of bars from The Grenada Chocolate Company, as well as chocolates from Italian brands.

Läderach

Enjoy luxury Swiss chocolate on one of London's busiest shopping streets. The double-height glass-clad façade makes it appear more like a designer technology or fashion boutique from the outside. Step inside and you'll find a dizzying range of boxed, bagged and loose products, with a delectable aroma to boot.

The store is constantly busy - as you'd expect from an outlet located on Regent Street - but there are plenty of friendly and helpful staff on hand to help. The walls are lined with a variety of products in all shapes and sizes, with plenty of availability too.

Besides this Regent Street store, Läderach also has a boutique in Westfield London (Shepherd's Bush) and a concession in Harrods (Knightsbridge).

  • Where? 254 Regent Street, London, W1B 3AA.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening times here.
  • How? It's near Oxford Circus Underground Station (Bakerloo, Central, and Victoria Lines).
  • Why? The Swiss have been mastering the art of chocolate since the dawn of time (nearly). Läderach ups the ante with delightful presentation and attentive customer service in a modern and stylish store.
  • What to try? The pretty boxes of seasonal chocolates will tempt you, as will the signature window display of FrischSchoggi (giant slabs of fruit- and/or nut-studded chocolate). You can buy segments of these slaps by the gram, or pre-packed into handy sharing packs if you prefer to sample a wide range of flavours.

London Chocolate

I met Asel back in 2019 at London's Speciality & Fine Food Fair, where I tasted pure chocolate made from single-origin cacao and natural cane sugar. That was it. Just two ingredients, creating a flavourful product that celebrated the nuances of the terroir of the various cocoa growing regions.

London Chocolate has gone from strength to strength, and this small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker has now opened its first boutique in London. While the core focus is still on single-origin chocolate slabs, the shop lends itself nicely to stocking indulgent hot chocolates, chocolate truffles, addictive cocoa nibs for snacking and baking, as well as fun products such as cocoa nib-infused honey.

  • Where? 17 Connaught Street, London, W2 2AY.
  • When? It's normally open between Tuesday and Saturday. Check opening times here.
  • How? It's near Marble Arch Underground Station (Central Line).
  • Why? This is the first shop established by small-batch bean to bar chocolate maker, London Chocolate. It's nicely decorated, comfortable, and specialises in single-origin chocolate.
  • What to try? The shop sits in a lovely part of town, so if you like people watching, enjoying a hot chocolate sat next to the window sounds ideal. Be sure to try the freshly made truffles, and if you can, the utterly delightful cocoa nibs.

Lucocoa Chocolate

Lucocoa's Workshop
Lucocoa's workshop beneath the railway tracks

Tucked away in a railway arch is a chocolate factory, crafting a range of bean-to-bar chocolates as mainline trains rumble on the tracks overhead. Lucocoa is leading the way in crafting single-origin chocolate bars using cocoa beans, lucuma, and coconut sugar.

Amarachi Clarke sources beans from Haiti, Belize, Guatemala, and Dominican Republic to produce around half a dozen core bars, with limited edition bars available periodically.

More of a factory than a shop, you just need to knock the door if it appears closed when you arrive. I visited on a weekday but it's the weekend when the place really comes alive. Inside, the aroma is heavenly and Amarachi's love, care, and attention is on display to see.

  • Where? Arch 3, Spa Business Park, Dockley Road, London, SE16 4EJ.
  • When? It's normally open between Tuesday and Saturday. Check opening times online.
  • How? It's near Bermondsey Underground Station (Jubilee Line).
  • Why? Head here for bean-to-bar chocolate made with love. Amarachi Clarke's passion is clearly on display and her enthusiasm is simply infectious.
  • What to try? You'll want to try the various chocolate bars. Depending on which day you visit, you may be lucky enough to pick up a pack of the much-lauded Bourbon Biscuits.

Montezuma's

Montezuma's can trace its history back to the year 2000 when former lawyers Helen and Simon Pattinson began to produce ethical chocolate. This small business has grown rapidly during the Coronavirus pandemic, amassing nine brightly-coloured branches across the south and east of the country.

The Spitalfields store may well be one of the smallest on their books, but it punches above its weight in terms of service and charm. Friendly and exuberant staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the products, and their passion for chocolate is infectious. The neon packaging leaps off the dark shelves, and the flavour combinations excite.

  • Where? 40 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6AG.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening hours here°.
  • How? It's near Liverpool Street Station (for National Rail services and the Central, Metropolitan, Circle, and Hammersmith & City Lines).
  • Why? Montezuma's story began in Brighton, and this small business now has a handful of outlets dotted around the country. This charming tiny shop, opposite Old Spitalfields Market, is literally crammed to the brim with bars, bags, hampers and loose chocolates.
  • What to try? The 100% Absolute Black bars and the vegan Like No Udder bars fly off the shelves, as do the flavoursome Truffle Bites. You'll certainly be spoiled for choice when you stand in this store.

Paul A Young Fine Chocolates

Paul A. Young Islington Shop
Paul's iconic purple store front

I love discovering unusual chocolate flavours and got hooked on Dominique Persoone's The Chocolate Line while on holiday in Bruges many years ago. The likes of cola ganache, bacon ganache, and curry ganache might revolt some, but excited me no end.

Then, Paul A. Young found himself on my radar thanks to his equally outlandish flavour combinations, such as Marmite truffle, Goats Cheese with Lemon and Rosemary, and Black Pudding with Rye and Sourdough. I discovered a source of zany chocolate flavours right here in Blighty, and have popped into Paul's shops every time I have visited London since.

If you like your chocolatiers to push the boundaries of what flavours pair well with milk, dark and white chocolates, you'll love sampling Paul's handiwork.

The Islington shop is tiny, so expect to wait outside during peak times. Once inside, there's not much room to browse. You'll find the loose chocolate counter in front of you as you walk through the door, and a selection of bars, boxes and bags to the right hand side. Staff are attentive and can help direct you to products that suit your tastes and preferences.

  • Where? 33 Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1 8EA.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening times here.
  • How? It's near Angel Underground Station (Northern Line).
  • Why? A visit to celebrity chocolatier Paul A. Young's shop is a must if you enjoy sampling flavourful chocolates, and perhaps a curve ball or two when it comes to flavour combinations.
  • What to try? Be sure to check out the counter of fresh chocolates. These are produced based on demand, so you never know what will be in there until you are stood there in the shop. You'll normally find a range of traditional flavours alongside some curiosities. If you've not tried one before, a slice of chocolate brownie is an absolute must, too.

Pierre Marcolini

I remember fondly the moment I stepped into a captivating chocolate boutique in Brussels for the first time. Tempted inside by the most ornate Christmas chocolate sculpture in the window, I was greeted by an amazing collection of exquisite chocolate products. If you travel to Belgium, seek out Pierre Marcolini's utterly divine hot chocolate. Attention to detail is core and central to Marcolini's proposition, with each chocolate looking (and tasting) its best, and flawless mirror-like finishes adorning many cakes.

The boutique in Marylebone faithfully recreates that experience. Staff are attentive, and shelves are fully lined with charming chocolate boxes and slabs, together with an inviting counter of chocolate and pâtisserie items. There is clearly attention to detail throughout the boutique, with nothing out of place. I also like the small details that adorn the shop, such as the cute bronzed door handle in the design of Pierre Marcolini's signature tasting bar mould.

  • Where? 37 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4QE.
  • When? It's normally open seven days a week. Check opening hours here.
  • How? It's near Baker Street and Regent's Park Underground Stations (Bakerloo, Metropolitan, Jubilee, Circle, and Hammersmith & City Lines).
  • Why? Enjoy a slice of high-end chocolate and macarons in London from this Belgian chocolatier.
  • What to try? The boxes of seasonal chocolates and the colourful pyramid of macarons should not be missed. Smaller boxes of chocolates are ideal as a treat, and the chocolate slabs demonstrate strength of flavour.


London Walking Chocolate Tour Tips

So, you're heading to the Big Smoke, and want to visit as many chocolate shops as you can manage? Good on you! Preparation is key. I visited as many shops as I could during my weekend trip to London, and it was only possible by planning ahead.

Here's some handy tips you might find useful, should you fancy walking in my footsteps.

Travelling Around

  • Plan your trip carefully. It sounds obvious but having a list of chocolate shops you want to visit isn't enough. You need to check opening hours, and then plan some sort of route to make sure you can visit all of them before they all close. You don't need to use military precision in crafting a schedule, but be aware that some shops open later to support later closing times. Also, some shops close on weekdays and others on weekends. I had hoped to visit William Curley's new boutique just off Piccadilly Circus, but the shop was closed on Sunday and Monday - the two days I toured London. Similarly, some of the shops I visited only opened mid-morning and closed mid-afternoon, constraining the opportunity to visit.
  • Carry a smartphone loaded with mobile data and credit. Free public WiFi everywhere is still a pipe dream, but mobile data is the next best thing. It's incredibly convenient using Google Maps as a live route planner, pointing you towards the next bus due or the closest Tube station.
  • Expect to hit your daily Transport for London Oyster/contactless fare cap. If you budget for using a full day's travel allowance, you can then relax, using as many bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and National Rail services within London's fare zones as you like. Be sure to check the geographical limits to avoid travelling without a valid ticket. Staying at Heathrow and travelling into the capital meant I travelled between travel zones 1 and 6, incurring a daily fee cap of £13.50. I found I hit this cap around lunch time, meaning the remaining journeys for the remainder of the 24 hour period were effectively free.
  • Carry a bottle of water, and top-up often. London's pretty big, even when you use public transport to get around. I used the Transport for London network as much as I could and still racked up 30 miles walking across three days. London's Underground network is great, but the stations are often large, and you still need to walk to and from the shops.
  • Take breaks. If, like me, you love heading from shop to shop, meeting passionate chocolatiers and chocolate makers, it can be easy to do way to much too quickly. Factor in small breaks, or a lunch break along the way. London is littered with quaint gardens and parks away from the hustle and bustle should you need a few minutes to yourself.

Visiting Chocolate Shops

  • Don't expect free samples. Everybody loves free chocolate. Some shops offer a try-before-you-buy service to tempt you into making larger purchases, while others do not. Do not demand nor expect free chocolate as it's just plain rude. Consider samples and tasters as a little perk should you be offered them.
  • Price does not indicate quality. This is London, where rent and labour costs are sky high. Some shops will charge eye-watering prices for their chocolates. This alone does not mean it'll be the best chocolate you'll ever taste, but neither should you disregard this information. You need to draw judgement based on a number of other factors, including, of course, the provenance of ingredients, the passion of the staff, the ethos and sustainability credentials of the brand, the brand's heritage and reputation, plus your gut instinct. Sometimes that's the best decider in whether to pay upwards of £2 for a single chocolate bonbon.
  • Talk to the staff. You know you are in a shop that cares about its products and customers when the staff engage with you with passion and exuberance. Even if they don't make the chocolates on-site, they should still know their own products inside-out and be only too happy to wax lyrical about them, giving you pointers on what's best to try. Thanks to my homework, I only encountered several rude and discourteous staff in one shop I visited (a brand I once held in high regard, too). This speaks volumes about the brand, its values and its culture.
  • You don't need to spend a fortune. You don't need to buy a massive chocolate box from every shop you visit (although you can if you want to). Most of the shops I visited allowed you to buy just one or two individual chocolates. This worked out to around £1 to £2 per loose chocolate, although that varied from shop to shop. I used the experience to try a variety of chocolates, and then placed a large Christmas order when I got back home.
  • Try something new. Tasting chocolate should be a pleasure and an absolute joy. Seek something unusual or something a little bit different to what you'd normally buy. You might not like it, but you might also hit upon your new favourite chocolate brand. Remember that your chocolate fix needn't always be in bar or bonbon form. Test out hot chocolates, chocolate brownies and cakes, chocolate gelato, and more. If you are really good at planning, scope out chocolate making experiences that you can book onto during your trip to the city.
  • Department stores are ideal for finding a high concentration of chocolate brands under one roof. A visit to Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Harvey Nichols might appeal as one visit there could save on visiting multiple stores elsewhere. You might pay a premium for convenience, though.
  • Keep an eye on Twitter and Instagram. Pop-up shops are always worth visiting, as are new store openings, and some shops host impromptu events. There may also be events, such as Cocoa Runners' takeover of Canopy Market where you'll get an extra dose of chocolate goodness during your trip.

Ready Made London Chocolate Walking Tours

Can't be bothered with the leg work of finding the best chocolate shops to visit in London? If you just want to buy a ticket and join an organised walking tour, there are several options available to you.

  1. Mayfair Chocolate Walking Tour (around £15 to £50 per person)
    Get an introduction to Britain's chocolate heritage as you tour Mayfair, sampling a small selection of chocolates along the way. There's no details on which shops are included but at a guess, I'd expect there to be around four to six stops on this tour. One appears to be Prestat.
    Available at Red Letter Days°; Into the Blue°; and Experience Days°.
  2. Chelsea Sweet Walking Tour (around £51 to £54 per person)
    Similar to the tour above, this tour covers gourmet bakers, patisseries, and chocolatiers within the Chelsea and Belgravia area. You'll still get to taste some samples, but this is less chocolate orientated.
    Available at Into the Blue°; and Experience Days°.
  3. Chocolate Street Challenge at My Chocolate (around £25 per person)
    Combine chocolate with a treasure hunt as you partake in a fast, fun and creative race against the clock across East London. In this scavenger hunt you'll solve clues as you navigate around Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane, Shoreditch and Hoxton. You'll leave with a bag of Belgian chocolates too. This is less of a London chocolate walking tour and more of a London walking tour with chocolate, so is probably better for those who haven't explored East London before. You might discover gems along the way but you won't have time to visit them during the challenge.
    Available at Red Letter Days°; Into the Blue°; Experience Days°; and Buyagift°.

Which chocolate shop is top of your list when you next visit London? Let me know in the comments below.

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