The best ice-cream in London: 2020 edition
With the city hotting up once more, here's where to find the best ice cream in London
Ice Cream Union
Locations: 166 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, London SW1X 0AW and Unit 1 Discovery Business Park, St James's Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 4RA
Ice Cream Union has been delighting Londoners for years with a vast array of flavours, often produced with homemade or hand-selected ingredients. You might have bought a cone from one of its ice-cream bikes in the past, or a tub served directly from the warehouse close to Maltby Street. Last year marked the opening of Ice Cream Union’s first proper parlour on Pavilion Street in Chelsea.
Among its rotating flavours – of which there are over 50 in total – are several which use house-made nut pastes, while others boast hand-selected Sicilian blood oranges and homemade honeycomb among the listed ingredients. If you like yours alcoholic, try one of the limited-edition sorbet flavours, such as Aperol spritz, champagne or Pimms (yes, really).
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Location: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, London, SW1W 9RP
Smartphones and tastebuds at the ready – Dominique Ansel's What-a-Melon soft serve is back for the fourth year running. Expect to see its refreshing-looking quiff all over Instagram again this summer, or try it yourself for £6.50 and see if it lives up to the cronuts Dominique Ansel is better known for.
Location: 7 Archer Street, Soho, London W1D 7AU
In the eyes of many London foodies, including Culture Whisper’s food editor, the best gelati in town come by way of Gelupo, a gelateria owned by the team behind acclaimed Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo. Expect exquisite flavours and limited-edition scoops showcasing flavours from various provinces of Italy. The parlour is currently operating a takeaway service, while the team are also delivering tubs by hand. You'll want to order in advance, though; at the time of writing, the next delivery slot is four days away.
Location: 9 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PF
London's China Town is known for many things, among which are its taiyaki fish (golden, fish-shaped batter filled with custard) and ice cream parlours serving an array of exotic flavours in even more unusual cones. Thanks to sumptuous-smelling Bake, you can kill two birds with one stone and get a soft-serve ice cream in a taiyaki fish cone. The ice cream itself comes in vanilla and matcha, while a Pirouette-shaped biscuit fills in for a Flake. Yes, China Town is known for many things, but few are Instagrammed as frequently as this unusual dessert.
Soft Serve Society
Location: Boxpark Shoreditch, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY
While the mere shape of the ice creams here might resemble a Mr Whippy, once you’ve chosen your flavour, added your toppings, and then some more on top of that, the offering at Soft Serve Society is anything but. Premium flavours and fun-loving extras are what this parlour’s all about. Whether you go for a sundae, a freakshake or a simple soft serve, your eyes and tastebuds are in for a treat.
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream
Locations: 91 Kentish Town Road, Camden, London, NW1 8NY / 32 Newport Court, Soho, London WC2H 7PQ
Europe is home to just two Filipino ice cream parlours. The good news? Both branches of Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream are in London. First came a little shop in Camden which proved so popular the team opened a second branch last September in China Town. You won’t find the likes of vanilla, strawberry or mint choc chip here; instead, all scoops are inspired by flavours of the Philippines (think Ube – a vibrant purple yam with a unique earthy taste; Milo – malt chocolate powder; and Black buko – a coconut concoction made with activated charcoal). We recommend going all out and getting yours served as a hot ice cream sandwich.
Locations: Marble Arch, Soho, Oxford Street, Bayswater, South Kensington and Westfield
If it's a seriously luxurious scoop you're after, Snowflake is the way to go. In 2018 the Selfridges branch released the Billionaire Soft Serve (yours for a crippling £99), which weighed nearly 400g and came complete with a Flake wrapped in gold leaf. Thankfully, other items on the menu aren't quite as extravagant. Our personal favourites are the white chocolate and rose water, and the Hot Fudge Snowdrift (caramel, chocolate and vanilla with fudge and honeycomb, smothered in chocolate and topped with hot fudge sauce).
Locations: 118 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park, London NW5 2HL and Midland Goods Shed, 3 Wharf Road, King's Cross, London N1C 4BZ
This ice-cream parlour with locations in Tufnell Park and King's Cross serves handmade sorbets and gelati in high-brow flavours like pistachio, rosewater and masala chai. It’s all very yummy mummy, but heavenly all the same. There's a £15 minimum for orders, which must be placed by 5pm the day before the requested delivery date. Deliveries are made on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoons.
Location: 103 Gloucester Road, South Kensington, London SW7 4SS
International ice-cream parlour Four Winters has just one UK outpost, on London's Gloucester Road. The offering here is far from your usual scoop, though. Four Winters freezes its ice cream with liquid nitrogen, resulting in a deliciously smooth texture, free of tiny bits of air or ice. Capturing the season's best ingredients, Four Winters creates interesting twists on our favourite flavours, such as Spicy Mango, Pineapple and Blue Violet.
Location: 12 Tavistock St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7PH
The most Instagrammable ice cream in London, and probably the world, comes by way of Milk Train, where the scoops come floating on a bed of candy floss (don't worry, there's a cone for support, too). As well as the usual flavours, you can tuck into matcha and tangy yuzu, while the sweet shop toppings are worth the trip alone. Be warned, this Covent Garden gem has a queue winding out its door virtually all year round.
Location: 29 The Pavement, Clapham, London SW4 0JE
This cutesy neighbourhood ice-cream parlour perched on the edge of Clapham Common often has a (socially distancing) crowd outside its doors. Keeping things traditional with genuine Italian ice cream, Nardulli has a friendly, family atmosphere and a wide variety of flavours sold in cones, cups or – for those looking for something a little more hearty – on crêpes or accompanying cakes.
Chin Chin Labs
Locations: Camden, Soho and Shoreditch
Back in 2010, Chin Chin Labs were the original nitro freezers; nine years on, their tag line 'the future of ice cream' might have lost its freshness, but their ice-cream certainly hasn’t. With a catalogue of avant-garde flavours (strawberry and hay springs to mind) on continual rotation, a visit to one of their parlours guarantees a surprise. Expect a theatrical experience complete with nitrogen tanks, goggles and lab coats.
Locations: Hampstead, South Kensington, Battersea, East Dulwich and Chiswick
'Life’s too short to eat bad ice cream' say the folk at Oddono’s Italian ice-cream parlour. We couldn’t agree more and thankfully, the gelati served here are among the absolute best. Whether you try the South Kensington flagship, or drop by one of the other four branches, no flavour will disappoint, but we have a special soft spot for the pistachio.
Location: Borough Market
Hours: Thursday - Saturday 10 AM - 5PM
With its offering of ice cream made exclusively with British goat's milk, Greedy Goat is a little different from your average parlour and a Borough Market staple. The flavours are unusual too, with honeycomb, gin and tonic, and raspberry Eton mess among them.
Dum Dum Donutterie
Locations: Various locations including in Soho, Mayfair, Shoreditch and Greenwich
If, for some reason, egg waffles don't appeal to you, try Dum Dum Donutterie's doughnut cones. Flavours include Crême Brûlée, Boston Creme and the Zebra: layers of croissant dough and chocolate croissant dough, filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with chocolate ganache. With branches across London and further afield, chances are you'll come across one on a hot day this summer.
Locations: Chelsea, Mayfair and Notting Hill
Founded in Florence in 1932, the Badiani brand now boasts three glossy ice-cream parlours in London and a further (temporarily closed) outlet at Italian food market Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. These high-quality gelatos are silky-smooth and laced with further enticing ingredients. There are over 100 flavours to choose from, plus fruity gelato glasses and chocolate-coated gelato cookies.
Location: Boxpark Shoreditch, 58, 2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GY
Childhood dreams you never even knew you had come to life with a trip to Nosteagia at Boxpark Shoreditch. Here, the specialities are bubble waffle cone ice creams and bubble teas. With your ice cream tucked snugly inside this edible bubble wrap, you'll never have to worry about losing a scoop again. There's a range of fun flavours too, including Marshmallow Chocolate and Bananarama.
Locations: 187 Upper Street Islington, London N1 1RQ and 24 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LN
The Udderlicious ice cream is, we’re pretty sure, made by wizards. Made fresh by smiley wife-and-husband duo, this Islington institution has a tempting pastel-coloured selection of gelatos. Bored of vanilla? Udderlicious’s flavour combinations are a foodie's delight. The strawberry and basil sorbet is like a mouthful of summer and, for all its cool creaminess, the apple crumble summons warm and cosy thoughts of home cooking. And, if you don't like what you see on the menu, play a hand in picking next month's flavours by voting for potential batches online.
Locations: Borough Market and Notting Hill
For an experience as authentic as it gets, try Gelateria 3Bis, a permanent fixture at Borough market. Ingredients such as mascarpone, pistachios, figs, liquorice are flown in directly from Italy and shared by the only other two 3Bis gelaterias in coastal Rimini. That batches are made on-site every morning is just one sign of the parlour’s trademark dedication to craftsmanship. And look: no wrappers! Yep, Gelateria 3Bis even has sustainability sorted.
La Grotta Ices
Location: 5 Voyager Estate South, Spa Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 4RP
Kitty Travers’s hand-made flavours are nothing if not wholesome: made with organic milk and strictly seasonal fruits, these are ice creams coaxed from her ex-greengrocers shop in north Lambeth. To feel virtuous as you indulge, try peaches, crème fraîche and tarragon, or apricot and chamomile sorbet. Ordinarily, Travers sells at Spa Terminus on selected days but her ice creams can be bought by the tub all year round from Leila's Shop on Calvert Avenue or the General Store on Bellenden Road. And, if Kitty's top-notch ices leave you keen to learn the craft yourself, you can buy the La Grotta Ices book online.
Location: Available online and in select stores including (Ocado, EAT, Harvey Nichols and Harrods)
We'd be hard pressed to name anything more desirable right now than frozen alcoholic juice on a stick. While ordinarily available from Ocado, Harvey Nichols and Harrods, you can currently order Ice Kitchen's delicious frozen dreamsicles on Deliveroo if you live near Battersea, Whitechapel, Crouch End or Swiss Cottage. And if you want to try making your own at home, take inspiration from Ice Kitchen's book: Poptails: 50 Sensationally Intoxicating Cocktail Lollies, which is available to order now.