If you were asked to name a luxury chocolate brand, chances are – if you live in the UK – your first answer would be Hotel Chocolat. Since the first shop opened in 2004 the brand has expanded and evolved over the last ten years and there are now over 80 stores worldwide.
With the manufacturing facility in Cambridgeshire the business has strong links with the Cambridge area. The founders had a dream of opening a new type of cafe in Cambridge city centre – in their words, “our first ever ‘refuel station’ where the cocoa and coffee love match is united at last”.
In 2015 that dream was realised; they moved their store a short distance from its previous location in Petty Cury to a larger home in Lion Yard, and opened their doors to the public on 26th October. The week before, I joined them for a launch event.
Rushing out of the door to catch the train I managed to leave my DSLR behind, so made do with my iPhone to capture a few images.
Within Hotel Chocolat’s new Cambridge home you will find their familiar boutique selling a large range of their luxury chocolate: from large boxed gifts to single chocolate ‘licks’. Oh, and I was very excited to see they have Cocoa Gin!
Along one side of the store is a bar where you can choose from a selection of teas, coffees and seven flavours of drinking chocolate. Choose one of the hot chocolates and you can customise with a (free) chocolate whip and choice of sprinkles: chopped nuts and dried strawberries, among them.
If you want to spend a bit of time relaxing, they have wifi in a comfortable seating area with all important plug sockets – essential for us bloggers! 🙂
On the night we were treated very well. A glass of prosecco on arrival and lots of staff handing out samples of their brownies and even cocoa nib beef jerky.
I met with two other bloggers – Laura and Pippa – both huge fans of salted caramel. So we couldn’t resist trying a (large) mug of salted caramel hot chocolate topped with chocolate whip. Utterly delicious, if a little sweet for me after all the other treats we’d devoured.
Providing an insight into their School of Chocolate – where they hold sessions for chocolate making, decorating and tasting – they had set up a table for us to decorate a chocolate slab. We had fun with this, although it’s not as easy as it might seem. I attempted to make two flowers, though they do look more like glasses Elton John might have worn in the 70s!
Co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell gave a speech about the new cafe’s concept, and it was obvious that he is very proud and passionate about the business he has created with Peter Harris. It was refreshing to see.
In fact, every staff member came across as enthusiastic about the brand. They were welcoming, happy, and keen to know how our evening had been.
There are a lot of cafes in Cambridge, but after visiting and hearing their story and tasting their products, there’s no doubt that I shall be spending most of my Cambridge coffee breaks at Hotel Chocolat.
If you’re in Cambridge pop in for a warm welcome and a chocolate fix!
Hmm. All this talk of chocolate has given me the munchies. I’m off to get some. 🙂
Bye for now!