ce cream is a kind of kindred spirit of Champagne; there is never a wrong time to have it.
If its miserable out, the silliness of having it bring joy. When the tar is melting, it’s a saviour.
While London might not have those types on the Amalfi coast squeezing lemons the size of watermelons over crushed ice, the city is full of decent ice cream parlours. The ice cream men still do a top job, but the past seven or so years have really given rise to first-rate frostiness.
Whether you’re strictly worshipper of the holy trinity (vanilla, strawberry, chocolate), or love to tuck into experimental scoops of, say, blue cheese gelato, the chilled connoisseurs of the capital have all tastes covered.
From liquid nitrogen-churned ice cream to gelato just like Nonna used to make, take a look at our pick of the sweetest places to keep your cool in London.
A fan of Italian gelato’s denser, thicker texture? Soho’s Gelupo is with you on that one. This West End spot comes from Jacob Kenedy, the chef behind pasta restaurant Bocca di Lupo (which is across the street), and it’s the Italian larder that gets raided for flavour inspiration. Varieties include espresso, ricotta and sour cherry, tiramisu and Bacio (inspired by the Italian sweet), and gelato is also served inside pastry cannoli bites. Kenedy is such a fan of the stuff that he’s just written and published Gelupo Gelato, a gloriously thorough compendium of ice cream recipes.
7 Archer Street, W1D 7AU, gelupo.com
There are a lot of Amorinos around – not just in London but across Europe too. While it’s a chain, its ice cream is still second to none. Classic flavours are the focus here and it tends to be simple but effective: see an Amorino and you’ll get a cracking cone. Amorino’s way of serving their scoops has rightly become well known, too: servers build petals of ice cream, gradually building up a rose sprouting from the cone, filled with as many flavours as you see fit.
15 across London, amorino.com
Ruby Violet likes to think outside the tub. The organic, hand-made ice creams here have come in a vast array of flavours over the years, ranging from sweet treats including violet and honey, masala chai, and blackcurrant liquorice, to more savoury characters like black sesame, purple sweet potato and beetroot with horseradish. Flavours change weekly, but you can also order bespoke creations, and look out for the vegan sorbet too.
NW5, N1, rubyviolet.co.uk
In Covent Garden, queues often form here. There’s something pleasantly old-fashioned about its looks, at least inside, but that helps it feel rather authentic – you almost imagine it could be hidden away in a small seaside town on the Amalfi coast that most people just drive through. It’s made the old way here, with eggs, and so the gelato really is very good, all very natural and traditional, with flavours to match. Try their coffee, too.
WC2, SW14, gelatorino.com
Seasonal ingredients are at the focus of La Gelatiera, so flavours tend to change most weeks – and so return visits can be attributed to curiosity over greed. Its award-winning gelato is made with cream and milk from Jersey cows, with a selection of vegan alternatives available too. Of those we’ve had, its honey, rosemary and orange zest is a fragrant favourite, Cornish blue cheese is mixed with walnuts for a savoury option, while a dairy-free dark chocolate gelato comes spiced with Calabrian chilli.
N8, WC2, E20, lagelatiera.co.uk
This historic ice cream parlour is a veritable institution in Camden – it has, after all, been selling ice cream to Chalk Farm residents for 90 years. Italian Gaetano Mansi opened his first Haverstock Hill ice cream store in 1931, which moved in recent years to a new spot on Chalk Farm Road. Natural, Italian-inspired ingredients are used to make the gelato, with 24 flavours available everyday, ranging from amarena cherry to roasted pistachio. Rightly a local favourite.
61 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AN, marineices.co.uk
Soft Serve Society
Swerving away from the richer delights of gelato, Soft Serve Society keeps its ice cream light and bright. The sweet Shoreditch spot now boasts a second home in Market Halls Victoria, and this ice cream parlour whips up soft serve in unexpected flavours – vanilla and coconut are joined by matcha and charcoal – or served in towering sundaes. Frozen fiends can go for the candyfloss billowing Cloud 9 sundae, or tuck into a multi-storey freakshake. A step up from your beloved ice cream man-in-a-van.
E1, SW1, softservesociety.com
Oddono’s has been serving up Italian gelato to the folk of South Kensington for 15 years now – and its proved so popular, that rapid expansion across the capital has followed of late. Inspired by his Italian grandmother’s gelato making skills, Christian Oddono’s flavours have ranged from boozy vodka lemon to best selling chocolate and nocciola, made with hazelnuts from Piedmont. “Life’s too short to eat bad ice cream,” they say; hear, hear.
N16, NW3, SW7, SW11, SW19, SE22, W4, oddonos.com
Chin Chin Labs
The sweet treats get scientific at Chin Chin Labs, where all the ice cream is hand-churned with liquid nitrogen. Its short but inventive menu of regular flavours includes tonka bean and burnt butter caramel, with an array of topping options including bee pollen honeycomb and truffle crumble. Can’t make it out? They’ll pop it in the post.
N1, NW1, EC2, chinchinicecream.com
The ice cream at Gelateria Danieli is quite literally fit for a Queen: this gem of a gelato joint has sites in Kingston and Richmond – one of which sits in a particularly pretty spot on the green – and its vanilla creation is so good it was served at the Queen’s 80th birthday party in Kew Gardens. Sure, that was a little while ago now, but the standard remains as good as ever. Health conscious ice cream cravers will also be pleased to know that the gelato here is all low fat, with frozen yoghurt, dairy free, nut free, egg free, high protein and gluten free options available too.
KT1, two in TW9,gelateriadanieli.com
For properly posh gelato, head to one of Snowflake’s “boutiques”. You may recognise the name from its most famous creation from a few years back, the avolato, an avocado-shaped ice cream dessert made with the millennial-favoured fruit. Times and fads have fortunately changed though, but diners can still tuck into their crepes, milkshakes and sundaes – these days, they’re more a dessert parlour than than ice-cream parlour, but there’s still plenty of choice to tuck into.
W1, two in W2, W12, SW7, SE10, snowflakegelato.co.uk
Udderlicious take the democratic approach to ice cream, with punters given the opportunity to vote for the flavours they want to return next month. The family business is run by a married couple and prides itself with experimental flavours like dandelion and burdock, seaweed and even “Builder’s Tea and Digestives”. Some flavours even get a topical, tongue-in-cheek moniker – get yourself a scoop of “Brexit Mess” or “Game of Cones”. The sorbets – some of which are vegan – are first rate, too.
N1, WC2, udderlicious.co.uk
Bears Ice Cream
While everywhere claims to serve the best ice cream in town – and Bears do too – they do at least have a sense of humour about what they do. Ice cream here is fun: all sorts of flavours (with the owners clearly having a sweet tooth), often piled high with hundreds and thousands, brownie bites, Lotus biscuits, Smarties, and sauces galore. The little bears – designed to look like, you guessed it, baby bears – are particularly adorable. Gelato, sorbet and soft-serve are all available.
W12, three in W6, bearsicecream.co.uk
Sophia Brothers's ice cream creations are inspired by the cooking of her Italian grandmother – or Nonna – and mix the Mediterranean method with British flavours. Among the all-year-round flavours are an award-winning Kentish cobnut, Five Points porter and dark chocolate ripple and salted toffee apple. Nonna's Gelato doesn't have a permanent spot at the moment, but it can currently be found at Broadway Market most Saturdays.
Broadway Market, E8 4QJ, broadwaymarket.co.uk