Hotel Chocolat takes slice of café culture

Hotel Chocolat added the new café to its High Street Kensington store as part of a refit

Hotel Chocolat has opened the first of a number of cocoa cafés in Central London - and is celebrating its first-ever export deal.

The chocolatier refitted its High Street Kensington store as the first ‘cocoa bar/café’, containing a bar and a seating area at the back of the store. In addition to selling chocolates and cocoa gifts, the new store serves a range of 40 cocoa-based drinks - 90% of which are being tried for the first time in the Kensington store.

“We’ve tried to create a drink-led café and social space where you can eat, drink and shop,” said Hotel Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell.

The café and bar also provide a showcase for some of the novel products on sale at Hotel Chocolat, such as cocoa pesto and cocoa honey & mustard dressing.

The new store is similar to the retailer’s Roast & Conch shop in Covent Garden, which also has a café and makes chocolate on site. But it was a smaller format so it could fit into existing stores and add “extra depth and energy to the proposition”, said Thirlwell, who is currently assessing which stores are suitable for conversion.

Meanwhile, Hotel Chocolat will soon start supplying the upmarket Australian department store David Jones in a move Thirlwell said could be a stepping stone to opening stores in the country.