Known for its cultural diversity, vibrant art scene and top-notch cuisine, London is a favourite destination among different types of travellers, especially foodies. Besides taking visitors on an aromatic trip around the world, London’s food scene is also a delight for travellers who love to indulge in all things sweet – from traditional cakes and bakes to innovative and Instagram-worthy desserts
I have asked some of my fellow (sweet-toothed) travel bloggers to share their favourite dessert in London (and where to find it!). Whether you’re planning a coffee and cake crawl on a rainy day, or want to treat yourself after a long day walking around the city, here are 14 delicious desserts in London that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
“My first London doughnut obsession was courtesy of St John’s, the restaurant made famous for nose-to-tail eating by chef Fergus Henderson. The St John’s doughnuts were the creation of Justin Gellatly, who found his calling as a pastry chef and baker after joining the St John’s team, where he worked for many years.
In 2013, Gellatly and business partner Matthew Jones founded Bread Ahead, in Borough Market
. Since then, the bakery and baking school have enjoyed huge success, opening additional branches in Chelsea and Soho. Bread Ahead doughnuts are a thing of beauty, plump, filled dough stuffed with chocolate, salted caramel or vanilla custard, or a seasonal jam – these are what all doughnuts should be.
Combine a doughnut pilgrimage to Bread Ahead with a visit to Borough Market, but be warned, it’s best to get there early if you want a choice of flavours, and if you’re too late there will be no doughnuts left at all!”
“Cookies and Scream’s cookie sandwich is one of London’s most decadent deserts. Furthermore, Cookies and Scream is a gluten-free and vegan bakery meaning that almost everyone can enjoy these incredible sweet treats. Situated on the Holloway Road in Islington it is a great place to unwind and try everything on offer! Cookies and Scream bakes a variety of cookies, doughnuts and brownies, as well as produces incredibly decadent dairy-free milkshakes. It is hard to choose a favourite, but the cookie sandwich is the true queen of Cookies and Scream.
The cookie sandwich is quite literally a sandwich: two crumbly yet chewy cookies joined by creamy ice cream as the filling. There are normally a few cookies to choose from. A particular favourite combination of mine is to have the ginger ninja cookie on top and the base is formed by the double chocolate cookie. The cookie sandwich is heaven on a plate. The only negative is that it is so big that you need to make sure you visit Cookie & Scream with a very large appetite!”
“I am a huge fan of the Hummingbird Cake at the Gallivant Hotel! It’s filled with pecans, pineapple, and banana and it’s totally heavenly. The Gallivant serves locally sourced ingredients with almost everything homemade. They also have one of the largest English wine lists around. You should definitely make a full meal of it at the Gallivant because everything that I tried on the menu was utterly delicious. End it all with the Hummingbird Cake which pairs rich milk chocolate, with the pleasant surprise of the delicious nuts and fruits inside. Definitely a highlight every time that I visit London!”
“If you are looking for some must-try desserts in London, then no other place springs to mind than the BB Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
. What better way to enjoy the historical city centre than driving in a double-decker bus. You’ll be able to enjoy the sights of famous landmarks while consuming a delectable afternoon tea served with cute little desserts.
You’ll find that there are in fact many appetising things you can choose from the etagere when you take your seat. However, the chocolate macaroons stand out the most. The outer layer is nice and crisp, however when you fully bite into it, you begin to appreciate the fine and delicate work behind making macaroons. The interior of the macaroon is soft like a cloud, and then your palate is intrigued by the dark chocolate filling. Simply delicious. Hence, it’s no surprise that these chocolate macaroons disappear quite quickly from the table.
I look forward to my next trip on the afternoon tea bus tour. Keep a look out for these delicious little things if you do decide to book a trip!”
“Portobello road is always teeming with people, so not knowing where things are could be frustrating. Thankfully, knowing my way around, I could easily locate the famous Hummingbird bakery, known for their red velvet cupcakes among many varieties. It’s very close to the Travel Bookshop where the movie Notting Hill was shot, so you can’t miss it!
While there’s no seating provided, it’s best to eat on the spot to savour the freshness and moisture their cupcakes are known for. The cupcakes at Hummingbird all look tasty and inviting and it might be difficult to pick just one, so try some from their big selection. The red velvet cupcake, at £2.85 a piece, richly covered in cream cheese frosting and dusted with red cake crumbles, is not just a joy to look at, but it’s especially yummy, too! And if you are one of the few people who eats “free from” cakes, you’ll definitely find an alternative from Hummingbird”
“Saint Aymes is one of the most Instagram-friendly cafes in London. The unicorn cakes are particularly cute and tasty, and shouldn’t be missed. They are reasonably priced. The cafe is really quaint and has a flower petal wall outside and some tables. On the inside, there are plenty of flower walls, unicorn-themed cakes, and of course, some unicorn latte, which you can get decorated with real gold.”
“One of my favorite dessert experiences in London was at this legendary pub/café called the English restaurant, a very traditional and charming spot located on the East End of London at Spitalfields. One of their traditional desserts served is an elegant bread pudding with either ice cream or a dollop of fresh cream served to your liking. It is a sublime experience with crispy chunks of bread and a soft creamy center, plus the huge dollop of cream to add to the texture and gooey delight. I loved having a nice large café mocha and just absorbing the wonderful space and company on this food experience.
“One of our favourite places for dessert in London has to be Milk Train. It is the perfect place to go if you want an ice cream cone that is both delicious and Instagram-worthy. The main item on offer at Milk Train is soft serve ice cream in a cone with a cloud of ferry floss floating around it. The ice cream flavours vary, but when we went we decided to go for the Matcha Green Tea flavour. You can put pretty much what you want on it too, from sprinkles to popcorn, and a whole host of other inventive toppings.
The whole idea of the cotton candy apparently came about as a sweet compliment to some of the more bitter ice cream flavours like Matcha and Hojicha which is a Japanese green tea. Milk Train has become popular with tourists and Instagrammers alike. Just don’t spend ages taking pictures like we did, as you will end up with a lot of Matcha ice cream dripping down your arm.”
9. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych
“When you’re in London, you simply must have an afternoon tea, and my favourite is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych. When you arrive, you’ll be given a specially designed menu, each decorated with a family from Roald Dahl’s fabulous book. There is a list of teas to choose from, and the yummy menu explains what you will get to eat.
The feast begins with a selection of savoury items, including sandwiches and a cheddar scone with bacon jam. These are delicious, and you can order the same again if you’re feeling hungry – but save room for the sweet things which is where the Chocolate Factory comes to life! A red stand holds an assortment of chocolatey delights that could have been made by Willy Wonka himself! A bottle of chocolate caramel milk, some candy floss, a golden chocolate egg filled with a creamy lemon cheesecake mouse, a chocolate cake pop and a bubble gum flavour mousse are all beautifully presented alongside a basket of cakes with raspberry jam and lemon curd to drizzle on top. And if that wasn’t enough, you could also order more of anything you fancied, and several different flavours of tea too. The service was excellent, and the fun, unusual choices made this afternoon tea truly special.”
10. Chocolate Brownie & Salted Caramel Popcorn Pave at Paul A Young
“I’m addicted to the chocolate at Paul A Young in London. Everyone knows I fell in love with this artisan chocolatier many years ago when I stayed at the Soho Hotel across from the shop. I had no idea when I walked inside the Soho shop with the purple façade that I would enter into a tasty addiction. I bought a dense fudge brownie as dessert and brought it back to the hotel to pair with a glass (or two) of red wine because it was so rich and indulgent. The next day, I tried the truffles, artfully arranged on the circular centre table and full of flavor.
On the third day, clearly a new fan, I hit the chocolate jackpot with the sea salted caramel popcorn pave. The thin chocolate squares have bits of caramel and popcorn mixed in so the sweet and salty combo is fantastic. I bought loads of chocolate to bring home, some of which was eaten on the plane. Thankfully, living in Philadelphia, the shop doesn’t ship internationally or I’d really have an expensive addiction. They do deliver in London and ship in the U.K. – don’t blame me for your new chocolate addiction.”
“Upon first glance in the counter, it comes across as an indulgence in the calories. Like a birthday cake but even more sugary sweet. The Hummingbird Bakery’s signature cake of six different coloured layers of sponge is the sort of guilty pleasure you can allow yourself to be treated to every once in a while. Whether or not you can finish it all by yourself or would need to share with someone is up to you. All things considered, I could not say no to a “Man vs Food” challenge. Finishing without feeling full was not easy!
First launched in Notting Hill’s always vibrant Portobello Road in 2004, the Hummingbird Bakery has also found locations elsewhere in the capital in Soho, Islington, South Kensington, Spitalfields and Richmond-on-Thames where you can get your colourful cakes!
You’ve got to admit, that photo is tempting you isn’t it? Too perfect to get into! Though I would advise you to make sure at least 24 hours have passed since your last intake of anything high on the sweet side.”
“If you haven’t yet tried a pastel de nata (or Portuguese custard tart as it’s sometimes called in English
), then it absolutely belongs on your bucket list. London has a large Portuguese community, and several Portuguese-owned cafes and restaurants, so this is definitely one of the best cities for you to try one.
Lisboa Patisserie on Golborne Road is one of London’s longest running Portuguese cafes, having opened sometime around the early 90s. The cafe makes hundreds of pastéis de nata every day, and with more than 20 years experience they definitely know what they’re doing.
It’s worth noting that they’ve become incredibly popular in recent years and you really should get there early as they’re often sold out by as early as 2 pm.”
“When I was tiny and still believed in Father Christmas, my stocking each year had a mandarin orange in the toe followed by a walnut whip. Like any self-respecting 6-year old, I’d wait until my parents had finished pretending to be Father Christmas, then immediately, at 1am, fish to the bottom of the stocking and devour the walnut whip in one go. Chocolate with a mallow filling and a walnut on top, I thought it was the height of sophistication.
I can only imagine that Alyn Williams, the Chef who heads up an eponymous restaurant at the five-star Westbury Hotel has similar memories because he’s created a dessert with the same name. A rich walnut parfait sprayed with chocolate and finished with a candied gold leaf coated walnut. This is after all Mayfair and one of London’s top restaurants to boot. For the rest of the menu you’ll find seasonal British produce delivered in a contemporary British cuisine at this elegant and comfortable one Michelin starred restaurant.”
“For a real treat with a view, make a booking at Aqua Shard on Level 31 of The Shard for afternoon tea. As you sip your tea (or champagne!) and taste each delicate cake, you can watch London’s busy city life carry on below you.
Afternoon tea includes sandwiches but don’t fill up on these. While delicious, nothing can compare to the selection of cakes and petit fours. The standout was a chocolate mouse with ginger crumb and raspberry shot – so indulgent and delicious!
I love the combination of this centuries’ old tradition enjoyed in the iconic modern building The Shard. The stunning panorama is matched by the creativity of the afternoon tea.”
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What other delicious London desserts would you add to the list?
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