As far as my kids are concerned, every day is the perfect day for ice cream. Which is just as well, if we waited for the sun to shine in London before ordering an ice lollies or soft serve then we could be waiting a long time! Yes, ice cream is a the perfect hot day or rainy day activity in London.
The city is packed with delicious ice cream parlours, sublime gelaterias and shops specialising in ice cream sandwiches or the kind of ice cream concoctions that would make Heston Blumenthal jealous.
If you’re wondering where to get the best scoop then read on for the 13 places serving the best ice cream in London.
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Chin Chin Labs
Chin Chin is less an ice cream shop and more Willy Wonka type laboratory where quick freezing liquid nitrogen is used to create gourmet ice cream. It’s the first of its kind in Europe and, not surprisingly, is a huge hit with kids.
Flavours change with the seasons and range from traditional to completely bonkers – strawberry with hay or watermelon and dill are just two examples! What you can be certain of, however, is that the ice cream is just as good as the in-parlour theatrics.
Winner of dozen of awards is La Gelatiera, home to “London’s finest artisan gelato”. If you like experimental flavours then this is one of the best places to try after all, there aren’t many ice cream shops serving up porcini mushroom chocolate cream. Honey, rosemary and orange zest is their best seller but there are a vast array of flavours to choose from including fresh watercress and lime and peanut butter, chocolate and caramel.
La Gelatiera has various locations in London including in the East Village (Stratford) Covent Garden and Crouch End.
Hans & Gretel
This fairytale-inspired ice-cream parlour in Camden is heaven for anyone who loves a sweet treat of two. The decor is colourful candy kitsch with oversized lollipops, marshmallows and cakes hanging from the ceiling. But what you’re really here for is the highly instagrammable ice cream and deserts.
Not only does Hans & Gretel serve a range of ice cream flavours (these all come with toppings and sauces as standard) they also serve bubble waffle cone, doughnuts, freak shakes and cotton candy. Their speciality are chimney cakes: sweet, caramelised dough which is toasted and then filled with ice cream and a selection of sweets.
This brilliant family-run business in London’s Covent Garden creates delicious organic ice cream from organic milk that’s “hand-moo’d” in store daily. What’s particularly wonderful about Udderlicious is that the flavours of the month are voted for by customers.
Choose from flavours including the traditional chocolate, lemon sorbet etc.. to the completely crazy; Marmite and chocolate and black sesame and bourbon carrot cake have all featured on the menu. They’ve even had seaweed in the past! The best part is that winners get free ice cream for a month.
There are other branches around London including one in Islington.
For the kind of gelato that you can traditionally only find in Italy, head to Gelatorino in central London. Here, authentic Italian gelato is made in-house using artisanal ice-cream machines from Italy and then stored in pozzetti, traditional Italian tubs. There are no tricks or theatrics here, just smooth, creamy, utterly delicious gelato in a range of traditional Italian flavours.
You’ll find another branch in Richmond.
Named after founder Julie Fisher’s maternal grandmother, the story behind Ruby Violet is almost as good as the ice cream they serve. What started as a hobby – albeit a very serious one that involved freezers in her living room – has transformed into a magical store where ice cream is made on site in small batches using seasonal fresh fruit.
The flavours are wonderfully creative and have included Chocolate Orange, Masala Chai, Early Grey and Pink Gooseberry Hazelnut Meringue. As for what will be available when you visit, you’ll just have to wait and see! The original shop is located in Tufnell Park, in north-west London. A second shop can be found in Kings Cross.
Snowflake Luxury Gelato
With over 50 homemade gelato flavours to choose from, there’s something for everyone at Snowflake Luxury Gelato. Choose from firm favourites such as dark chocolate and pistachio to more unusual taste sensations such as Popcorn with Sea Salted Caramel and Honey and Date. All their gelato is made by hand, the traditional Italian way, so each one is naturally unique – just like a snowflake!
In August 2017 they launched their Billionaire Soft Serve, a £99 (yes, really!) ice cream cone compete with a gold leaf wrapped Flake in homage to the iconic 99 Flake of British childhoods. There are several branches around town; the flagship Snowflake boutique is on Edgware Road near Marble Arch. Their other branches are in Soho, Bayswater, South Kensington, Westfield London and at the O2.
Address: 44 Edgware Rd, London W2 2EH
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream
For ice cream with a Filipino twist head to Mamasons. “Dirty ice cream” is the nickname given to ice cream made with ice and salt in a steel drum in Manila and is what you’ll find here in London’s Chinatown. The eclectic ice cream parlour, decorated with palm-leaf print walls and neon signage, serves all manner of Filipino desserts but their speciality are bilog, the Filipino answer to the ice cream sandwich.
Other treats on offer include halo halo, dessert pots filled with everything from coconut shavings to wafers, as well as ice cream. Don’t come expecting vanilla or chocolate flavours, however, this is where you’ll find black coconut, bark coffee and use (a type of purple yam). And they’re all delicious.
You’ll find branches of Mamasons in Chinatown and Kentish Town.
Another popular spot in Chinatown for an ice-cream sandwich is the street stall turned ice-cream sandwich shop, Yolkin. The amazing colourful creations are both highly instagrammable and incredible delicious! Egg whites are used to make the macarons and the egg yolks go into making the ice cream – they’re then put back together in a macaron ice cream sandwich.
Flavours are fun and different; choose from pandan coconut, soy sauce caramel or black sesame. You can have them in a cup, a cone or sandwiched between two freshly baked macarons. Flavours and ice-cream sandwiches change regularly or you can choose to create your own.
Romeo & Giulietta
t’s hard to choose London’s best ice cream but we definitely think that Romeo & Giulietta is in the top three. Located in Stoke Newington, this small, independent Gelateria serves homemade Italian-inspired gelatos that are absolutely delicious. They offer a range of classic flavours as well as combinations including ricotta and fig, Speculoos biscuit and strawberry cheesecake. They also serve a range of vegan sorbets.
This family-run Italian ice cream parlour has been serving gelato to Londoners for the last ten years. Traditional techniques are used to create delicious, authentic, preservative-free gelato. Flavours range from peanut butter and cookies and cream to the more whimsically titled Breakfast in Turin, a coffee flavoured gelato, and Fior de Latte. You’ll also find refreshing mango, lemon and passion fruit sorbets.
They also sell baking and pasta bundles and deliver to a number of London postcodes. You’ll find branches of Gelatorino in Covent Garden and Richmond.
The creations coming out of the Milk Train Cafe look more like magical cloud formations than ice cream. Fortunately, however, they taste just as good as they look. The Milk Train is home to the UK’s first candy floss ice cream cones and candy floss milk shakes. There are also travel inspired ice cream pints.
Choose from one of the three flavours on offer then pick your toppings and your sauces, and watch the ice cream be wrapped in a mass of fluffy white sugary candy floss. It’s a lot of fun and kids will love it!
You’ll find the Milk Train Cafe in Covent Garden.
Located in Borough Market is this excellent Italian ice cream shop selling the perfect gelato. The name comes from the address of the lab where the founders created their first artisanal ice cream was created. Today, they’re a Borough Market stalwart .
You can watch the 3Bis team hard at work in the market creating fresh batches of gelato daily using traditional Italian equipment, including an authentic machine from the 1950s. As well as gelato, 3Bis create shakes, yogurts, waffles and crepes. Their latest invention is the chocoshot.
There are branches of 3Bis in Borough Market and Notting Hill.
Soft Serve Society
For crazy colours, fanciful creations and gravity-defying ice cream cones, look no further than the Soft Serve Society. With locations in Shoreditch, Wembley and Croydon, this dessert bar specialises in soft serve ice cream. There are only a handful of flavours on offer – vanilla, charcoal coconut and matcha – but it’s how the ice cream is presented that is unique.
‘Cloud 9’ features popping candy, berry candyfloss, strawberry sauce and strawberry crunch as well as ice cream. ‘Oh, snap!’ comes with salted caramel sauce, salted caramel bits, gingerbread crumbs and waffle. If you want to go all out, order one of the ‘Freakshakes’, an enormous milkshake decorated with all manner of toppings.