24 of The Best Ice Cream Spots in London
I scream, you scream, we all scream. Yeah, I’d say that rather accurately sums up the last 12 months of life, wouldn’t you? If there’s one thing that being cooped up inside my flat has taught me it’s that life is short. To be more specific, it’s taught me that life is too short for bad ice cream. Treating yourself to a scoop of genuinely good gelato can take your day from average to above-average with a few tertiary licks and it’s high time that we all stopped settling for sub-par ice cream.
2021 is all about looking after yourself and, with the weather looking up the sun threatening to turn every verdant park in its wake to a dry and arid landscape, there’s no better time to seek out the very best ice cream parlours and shops in London.
From newbies like Nonna’s Gelato – which operates out of a tricycle in Hackney because, y’know, Hackney – to classic frozen dessert haunts like Marine Ices, the capital is full of some brilliant people making brilliant ice cream and gelato. There's even a load that you can get delivered to your door. Which I'd recommend trying out if you've run out of SPF or really can't be bothered to leave your sofa. You’ll find an assortment of different flavours and styles at all of these great London ice cream shops and, whether you’re a tutti frutti lover or a vanilla purist, there’s bound to be at least one spot on this list that’ll end up being your new favourite. Honestly. That's my promise to you. These are 24 of the best places to get ice cream in London, MOB. Enjoy.
There aren’t many words on this planet that you can tag onto the end of “ice cream” to make it more enticing than it already is but “sandwich” and “cake” are definitely two of those words. Happy Endings – which was founded by Terri Mercieca in 2014 – has become a London staple and their sweet ice cream sangers and ice cream cakes are available for delivery and purchase at a glut of different restaurants, stores, and cafés. Why? Because they’re fucking delicious. Every flavour, whether it’s ‘The Naughty One’ or ‘East Side Vegan’, could quite easily be crowned as the best ice cream in London. Ramming strawberry cheesecake parfait ice cream, vanilla marshmallow, and strawberry jam between two buttery brown sugar shortbread biscuits? That’s a stroke of genius, MOB.
Arch 437, Burdett Road, Mile End, E3 4AT
Bears Ice Cream
Where can you find the best ice cream in west London? At Bears Ice Cream. Made from Jersey milk, the ice creams at Bears Ice Cream are rich and luxurious without being overwhelmingly sweet. They’re the sort of scoops you want to ease yourself into after a hard day; the dairy equivalent of a Tempur mattress. Flavours like rhubarb crumble and custard – a personal fave that's given a slightly savoury edge by the presence of Maldon salt – and the Golden Syrup sponge ice cream exemplify what Bears is all about. Which is this: simple concepts executed to absolute perfection. Or should that be paw-fection? Terrible puns aside, Bears Ice Cream is brilliant. You should hit them up.
244 Goldhawk Road, W12 9PE
Clapham Common in the summer is a sight to behold. Alongside the endless sea of gingham blankets, craft IPA tinnies, and wayfarers, a common accessory you’ll see being wielded by most sun-worshippers in SW4 is a tub of Nardulli’s famed gelato. With flavours that range from fresh fior di latte to aromatic amaretto, Nardulli serves proper Italian gelato and sorbet. It's the kind of thick, creamy ice cream that makes Haagen Dazs taste like Halo Top. I’ve yet to find a flavour that Nardulli churns out which isn’t excellent but standouts among the stacked roster include their coffee, pistachio, fig, and tiramisu. Nardulli is one of the best ice cream shops in London and is worth the wait no matter how anaconda-like the queue gets. Just make sure you get at least two scoops. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t.
29 The Pavement, Clapham Town, SW4 0JE
Festok is one of the few producers of proper Lebanese ice cream in London. Their high-end artisan products are served at luxe spots and restaurants like A.Wong, Harrods, and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. Delivery is also available across the capital if you want to serve some for dessert at your next dinner party. Which, after trying Festok's ice cream, you definitely will. Lebanese ice cream is famed for its somewhat elastic, almost chewy texture (owing to the use of mastic) with Festok highlighting just what makes that dessert so special through its rendition of traditional flavours like pistachio, rose, and ashta (clotted cream). Along with those classics, you can also find more adventurous riffs and flavours such as osmalieh, halva, date, turmeric, carob, sea salt caramel, and meghli. Slowly working your way through that cornucopia of ice cream sounds like an excellent use of a summer to me, MOB.
109-125 Knightsbridge, Belgravia, SW1X 7RJ
Have you ever wanted to live in an ice cream utopia where your individual likes and dislikes are taken into consideration and actually listened to? Well, I’ve got some good news, MOB. Every month, Udderlicious puts it up to their customers to pick which flavours they should stock in the freezers at their London ice cream spots. Abstract options like chocolate and Marmite or builder’s tea and digestives are but two examples of the varied flavours you can choose from but the classics are all present and correct, too. It’s a democratic process that can occasionally mean your favourite is left out to dry but that’s just how life works, mate. Besides, I’ve yet to find a flavour of ice cream from Udderlicious which isn’t udderly delicious.
187 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1RQ
Located opposite Jacob Kenedy’s lauded Bocca Di Lupo, Gelupo is an Italian gelateria that’s been helping make life in central London a little bit sweeter for over 10 years now. Gelupo’s ricotta sour cherry gelato isn’t just one of the best desserts in Soho: it’s an institution. Every classic scoop from Gelupo is a buttery, slightly nutty joy with their seasonal specials always delivering the goods. That being said, you can’t go wrong with anything that Gelupo has to offer, to be honest. Even the dark chocolate sorbet, which sounds like something that shouldn’t work at all, works almost a little too well for my liking. You’ll be baffled at how something so creamy and delicious can possibly be vegan and you won’t stop daydreaming about it until your next inevitable fix.
7 Archer Street, Soho, W1D 7AU
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream
Inspired by the ice cream sold on the streets of Manila, Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream specialise in Filipino ice cream, halo halo shaved ice, and bilog. The blog – a fetching toasted pandesal ice cream sandwich that’s guaranteed to hit triple digit likes on your Instagram – is one of the best hot-meets-cold desserts you can get in the city and sells out unsurprisingly fast. As for the ice cream itself? It’s sweet, it’s soft, and it comes in a literal rainbow of flavours including Filipino classics like ube, queso, guayabano, Milo, calamansi, and black buko. All of which are worthy and a welcome change from mint chocolate chip.
91 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8NY
Sheer yakh (which roughly translates to mean “frozen milk” in English) is a traditional Afghan dessert that’s not dissimilar from Indian kulfi. One of the best places to get your fill of sheer yakh in London is at Afghan Sheeryakh. All of the sheer yakh at this Hanwell dessert parlour is organic and hand-made – a fact that the owner and staff both pride themselves on for good reason. Flavoured with rose water, the velvety ice cream arrives in a snowman-esque stack and is served with clotted cream and topped with crushed pistachios. A must-try for those who both are (and aren’t) already familiar with sheer yakh’s allure.
177 Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, W7 3TH
Ice Cream Union
Unions are a great and wonderful thing. Unions that are dedicated to everyone’s favourite frozen dessert are an even greater and more wonderful thing. The folks at Ice Cream Union are all about quality and want to change the way that you think about ice cream. And they’re doing that one glorious scoop at a time. All of ICU’s products are made in small batches and incorporate only the very best ingredients, whether’s Sicilian blood oranges picked at peak season or fresh milk sourced from The Estate Dairy. The Ice Cream Union are constantly striving for icy perfection and tinkering with their recipes but, if I’m being honest, a cooling quenelle of their cornflake ice cream on a hot day is pretty much perfect to me. It’s nostalgia in a cone, MOB. Join your nearest union today.
166 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, SW1X 0AW
Chin Chin Ice Cream
Chin Chin Ice Cream was lauded as Europe's first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour when it opened up in 2010 and it hasn’t taken long for that style to get a foothold in the favour of the general populace. Chin Chin now boasts multiple outlets across London where the clever clogs behind the counter are hand-churning enticing ice cream flavours like tonka bean and burnt butter caramel with liquid nitrogen. Adding liquid nitrogen means that the fat and water particles in the ice cream remain small and tightly knitted together during the freezing operation, resulting in intensely creamy ice cream. With unique toppings like hazelnut sand, glossy cherries, and bee pollen honeycomb available, Chin Chin also offers you a wide array of options to complement your creamy cone. The future of ice cream is here, MOB, and it’s tasty mighty good to me.
49-50 Camden Lock Place, Camden Town, NW1 8AF
Ice creams so thick you could stab a flag in them and sorbets so refreshing that they make Calippos seem insipid are the calling cards of Ruby Violet. The ice cream makers at Ruby only use organic milk, free-range eggs, and fresh fruit to produce small batches of dairy ice cream, vegan ice cream, and vegan sorbets in the kitchen at the back of their petite parlour in Tufnell Park. Ruby's has recently expanded to open up a second joint in King’s Cross and even offer nationwide delivery of their tubs of love via their website. Which is very good news for anyone who’s yet to have a languid lick of Ruby’s wonderful raspberry ripple or life-changing coconut and white chocolate ice cream.
118 Fortess Road, Kentish Town, NW5 2HL
Soft Serve Society
The Soft Service Society sounds like the sort of society that I wish had existed when I went to university. Just imagine the socials that you’d have had: neck-deep in cookies and cream with the only tangible danger being the possibility of waking up the next day still buzzing with a sugar rush from the night before. I’d certainly prefer necking back litres of soft, whipped ice cream and shots of marshmallow fluff than fluorescent bottles of WKD and sambuca. It’d be bliss. If you want to give yourself the full triple-S experience, you should head down to Soft Serve Society in Shoreditch and order one of their super Instagrammable ice creams. Available in cups or cones, the ice cream comes in either vanilla, matcha, or charcoal coconut flavour and can be scattered in a range of decadent toppings. Go nuts, MOB.
Unit 35, BOXPARK, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6GY
Sammie Le’s Chinatown dessert parlour is the best place in London to get your mitts on macaron ice cream sandwiches. Distinctive south-east Asian ice cream flavours like Chinese egg tart and pandan coconut are wedged between two crisp and chewy macarons for one of the best sweet treats in the whole of the capital. Made from free-range eggs in small batches, the ice cream has a luscious texture that holds its shape even when the summer sun is at its violent, forehead-burning peak. The Vietnamese coffee flavour at Yolkin is a God tier ice cream and a real wake up call of just how delicate and layered the dessert can be. Get it.
24 Rupert Street, West End, W1D 6DQ
Set up by Christian Oddono, whose grandmother used to make banging homemade gelato back home in Italy, Oddono’s is one of the highest quality ice cream franchises in London. Fresh, natural Italian gelato is what you can expect from any of Oddono’s London outlets with the group producing all of its flavours from scratch in their South Kensington lab on a daily basis. Oddono’s have made over 130 flavours in their time but the move to make, for my money, is a scoop of the austere Madagascan vanilla. You can’t beat the classics when they’re made with this level of expertise.
Potli is a wonderful sit-down restaurant that excels at Indian short eats and flavourful dishes designed for sharing with your closest chums. You’d be rude not to come for a blowout lunch or dinner at this Hammersmith local but it’s the dessert at Potli – which means “little bag of gold” – that might just be its most valuable asset. The paan ice cream, which gets its distinct colour and flavour from betel leaf, is one of the best versions of that refreshing, herbal-y dessert you’ll find in London. The unflinching presence of betel leaf offers a palate-cleansing punch that, in combination with a liberal amount of gulkand (rose petal jam), makes for an ideal end to a heavy meal.
319-321 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9NH
A family business based out in the heart of Richmond, Gelateria Danieli is an excellent spot for some authentic Italian gelato. Owners Bridget Hunt and Carlo Valiasindi have made it their mission to educate Londoners on what real gelato is meant to taste like and I’ll be damned if they haven’t done an excellent job at doing just that. All it takes is a tentative lap of pistachio, purchased from their Brewer’s Lane flagship on a balmy day, to realise how many pretenders are actually out there. Gelateria Danieli; however, is the genuine article.
16 Brewers Lane, TW9 1HH
Sophia Brothers’s grandmother, Elsa, is the eponymous Nonna that inspired this brilliant Broadway Market gelato spot and – having sampled Sophia’s fine work on many an occasion – I’ve got to say I’m rather envious that I didn’t grow up with a dessert expert in my own family. Nonna’s Gelato separates itself from the Mr Whippys of the world by ensuring that their gelato is made from the finest ingredients possible. Sophia only uses the freshest milk and cream from the best Jersey cows in the UK, sourced by The Estate Dairy, and fruit and nuts from local farms in Kent. Some of which are even handpicked by the Nonna’s team. Every flavour that Nonna’s Gelato does is bang on the money but the collabs with local London businesses like Climpsons & Sons and Five Points Brewing Co. are particular standouts.
Broadway Market, London Fields, E8 4PH
Romeo & Giulietta Artisan Gelateria
Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Stoke Newington, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil ice cream makes civil hands unclean. Or – y’know – something like that. Romeo & Giulietta is a sweet neighbourhood ice cream parlour that you’re destined to fall in love with as soon as you walk through the door. Flavours run the gamut from tiramisù to lemon pie with every last lick being something to savour. Preferably while you make lusty eye contact with someone you’ve got a massive crush on.
137 Albion Road, Stoke Newington, N16 9JU
There aren’t a huge number of dessert options available at BAO but the ones that they do have? Well, they're very, very good. You can find some of London’s best ice cream at any one of BAO's Soho, Fitzrovia, Borough and King’s Cross premises in the form of their Horlicks and milk tea ice cream bao. Those sweet ice cream sandwiches – which are crisp on the outside and duck feather-soft on the inside – almost steal the show away from their savoury brethren with the BAOnoffee ice cream sundae (an exclusive to Cafe BAO) also being a worthy contender. There’s nothing that BAO can’t do, MOB.
The name “La Gelatiera” refers to the traditional gelato churn that’s been used by well-trained ice cream artisans to make gelato for centuries. La Gelatiera carries on that tradition in its laboratory while also incorporating more modern twists through Heston Blumenthal-esque flavours such as basil and chilli or porcini chocolate cream. The latter is a flavour totally unique to La Gelatiera – a blend that marries the earthy notes of a porcini mushroom with sweet and creamy chocolate. It doesn’t sound like it should work, MOB. But just trust me that, like everything else that this ice cream shop makes, it really does.
27 New Row, Covent Garden, WC2N 4LA
TSUJIRI is a dessert tea house that specialises in everything matcha. Yep, if you’re not a fan of that finely ground fluorescent green tea powder then you’re probably not going to be a huge fan of TSUJIRI. If you’re mad for the stuff, though, you’re in luck. The soft serve matcha ice is the star of the show; wonderfully bitter, sweet, and creamy all at the same time. And that’s coming from someone who’s not a big matcha head. The supporting cast of sakura (cherry blossom) and black sesame ice cream are on par with the main matcha attraction if you want something slightly less herbal.
47 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 7PD
Having plied Londoners with high-quality gelato since 1931, Marine Ices knows exactly what it's doing. They know you don’t need any fuss or frills to make fucking good ice cream at this Chalk Farm icon and, with over 40 fantastic flavours available, you won’t be stuck for choice either. Grab a banana split or a whopping knickerbocker glory for a nostalgic sugar buzz that’ll give any other ice cream parlour in London a run for its money. Marine Ices is a living embodiment of why you should always keep it simple, stupid.
61 Chalk Farm Road, Chalk Farm, NW1 8AN
What’s the difference between ice cream that’s made from cow’s milk and ice cream that’s made from goats’ milk? Well, for starters, you won’t find the former at this Borough Market mainstay. The Greedy Goat specialises in British goat’s milk ice cream that comes in a host of flavours ranging from simple vanilla to salted caramel and chocolate orange. The scoops from here are wickedly smooth with just a slight sour edge that makes them even more moreish. You’ll never look at chèvre the same way again.
Borough Market, Bedale Street, SE1 9AL
Covering an ice cream cone in a tutu of candy floss and sprinkles might seem like a bit much but you can’t deny that Milktrain’s ethos of “more is more” has made it one of the most popular ice cream shops in London. Yes, it might be a gimmick aimed at getting punters to take #FoodPorn shots and do some free advertising on the ‘gram, but you can’t hate Milktrain for being media savvy, can you? And, to be honest, you can’t really hate their ice cream, either. The creamy base ice cream is more than serviceable and the variety of different mix-ins means you can customise your dessert until it’s pretty much exactly what you’re craving. There’s a time and a place for a Milktrain marvel, which is why it’s rightfully earned its spot on this list of the best ice cream in London.
12 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7PH