I was in New York City last fall on a weekend trip with my cousin, and a sign outside a shop in SoHo caught my eye: "The Best Hot Chocolate in the World" it boasted. Naturally, that was a claim we had to stop and investigate!
Travel and chocolate are two of my very favorite things in life, and I began to ponder: where in my own peregrinations have I sampled the best hot chocolates in the world?
This list is the result of that reminiscing - five outrageously decadent and delicious hot chocolates from five amazing cities - Paris, London, Dublin, Madrid and New York City.
Ready to take a trip?
THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN PARIS
We're starting off in Paris, at a place we've seen on the blog before: the Cafe Angelina.
These wonderful tea rooms (or rather, hot chocolate rooms!) have several locations, but you don't get much more elegant than the original 1903 cafe on the Rue de Rivoli.
Once you make it past the counter of colorful and tempting macarons to your table, you want to order le chocolat chaud l'Africain.
Your chocolat chaud arrives at the table in a pristine white and gold pot.
Don't forget the whippped cream - or a chocolate pastry to go with your chocolate drink!
I dream of this hot chocolate - it poured in a beautiful, rich, velvety, chocolaty stream.
Angelina's hot chocolate is made from three carefully chosen kinds of African cocoa. It's thick, like melted chocolate, but still creamy and drinkable. A must-try Paris hot chocolate experience!
THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN LONDON
Our international hot cocoa quest brings us next to the red phone boxes of London. I first came across the funky coffee shop chain Apostrophe in St. Christopher's Place while wandering through the winding lanes off of Oxford Street. You'll find them in other locations throughout London as well.
This hot chocolate isn't as expensive as Angelina, but it's just as smooth and thick and delicious - and it comes in a bright, pink cup perfect for cheering up a grey London day.
A good hot chocolate isn't complete without a little something to munch with it! Apostrophe has some lovely croissants and treats as well as sandwiches and savories.
There's a thick version of the hot chocolate - it comes in a small espresso glass, it's so intense! - and a 'milky' version which is more mild but still delectable. You wouldn't expect this kind of rich and indulgent hot chocolate from a chain store, but Apostrophe hits it out of the park!
THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN DUBLIN
I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland for a year during college, so I got to know the hot chocolate scene there pretty well! I found myself returning to Butlers Chocolate Cafe again and again and again. They were founded by Ms. Marion Butler in 1932 and have the best slogan: "Purveyors of Happiness."
Each cup of rich, milky hot chocolate is topped with a cloud of light-as-air whipped cream, a generous handful of chocolate shavings - and a little chocolate truffle comes with it!
Butlers has locations all over Ireland and Dublin - even at the airport. They serve delicious pastries and cookies, although what they're famous for (apart from the hot chocolate) is their truffles...
So many different kinds! Maybe it's because of the truffle counters at the cafes, but I've always thought this hot chocolate tasted like pure, melted truffles. Just grand.
The white hot chocolate is a must-try as well. You can get it to go or...
...sit and savor it in a posh glass. I think I need to go back to Dublin now, guys...
THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN MADRID
Our next hot chocolate is Samantha Brown approved - she visited the Chocolateria San Gines in an episode of Passport to Europe! You'll find the chocolateria sign beckoning down a little street off the Calle Del Arenal.
This hot chocolate is fantastically thick and soupy - definitely for fans of very dark, strong chocolate - and it's not complete without the light and crispy churros! They've been serving this delicious combination since 1894.
I love the green and white mirrored interior of the space...a friend and I stopped here in the afternoon to refuel after a morning of exploring. We picked the perfect time - it gets more crowded in the evening.
Trying to scrape the cup clean...it was that good!
THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN NEW YORK
We have returned to where we started - New York City. Some of you may have been wondering about that shop in SoHo...how was their touted beverage? I am happy to tell you it was amazing.
I was blowing on the hot chocolate in this picture, and do you see what a tiny dent my breath made? That's how thick it was!
MariBelle is a beautiful chocolate shop with tempting truffles and trifles and beautiful decor; we headed straight back to the Cacao Bar to try that hot chocolate.
We got our chocolate to go, but another time I'd love to sit and stay - the Cacao Bar was a charming space, and the delicacies behind the case were beautiful!
First we had to choose our variety of hot chocolate: Aztec, Spicy, Dark, Maya, Hazelnut, or White. I loved the giant urns of cocoa gracing one side of the cafe. After some consultation with one of the nice servers, I decided on the 65% Aztec Chocolate, and my cousin Becky went with the Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut.
Hot chocolate selfie...obviously necessary.
This hot chocolate was like a melted candy bar...you could've eaten it with a spoon! We strolled through the streets of New York, sipping slowly - I didn't want to get to the end of my cup, because it was so scrumptious.
I'm afraid I can't pick just one of these five as the one definitive best, because they're each so incredible! And hopefully in future travels I'll discover even more "best hot chocolates in the world."