I am a die hard chocoholic and am always on the look out for new and good quality chocolate products and bands to try. It was this search for the perfect chocolate brand that led me into a hotel chocolat shop for the first time. It was then and there my never ending love affair with this amazing brand and its so gorgeously divine chocolates.
The first time I visited a hotel chocolat outlet it was a store in Windsor. The other store I have visited is in the Oracle in Reading. Both shops have the same welcoming, warm and really premium look. As I entered the store I was greeted by a welcoming smell of chocolate. The whole store looked inviting and luxurious. I felt like I had entered Alice's wonderland or Aladdin's cave of wonders. Where ever I looked I saw gorgeous and inviting displays of chocolates each more inviting than the other. The prices and the names of the chocolates were displayed clearly. The choice and variety of the chocolate was amazing. It was in that instance that I fell in love with hotel chocolat and after that I have never ever managed to cross this store without entering it and letting them bankrupt me.
THE LOOK OF THE SHOP:
When you first look at the hotel chocolat outlet everything about it says premium and professional. The displays in the windows are always imitating and full of interesting varieties of gorgeous chocolates. You just cannot help entering the store and trying the goodies inside.
THE STORE FROM INSIDE:
The two stores I visited were both small and this made them look warmer and nicer. In the centre there is the till and on all the walls there were display of chocolates on shelves after shelves. There is a wide table on one side that always had the best offers in the store or chocolates based on what ever event is coming up like Valentine 's Day, Christmas or Easter. The walls and all decoration in the store are also chocolate themed. Over all the stores have this very warm and luxurious look. You walk in the store and you just know that you are in for a treat.
The best thing about the store is how clearly the store is divided into different sections and each section has a different kind or style of chocolate. On one side you find huge slabs of chocolates in different flavours ,on another side you can see the cooking chocolates and the drinking chocolates, on yet another are the gift packs displays with an assortment of different chocolates. My favourite part of the whole store is the biggest section of the store dedicated to the selectors chocolates. These are all around 100 gms packs of chocolates and come in either sets of 6 chocolates in one pack or one small slab of chocolate. These are further divided in to kinds varying from Nutty,Fruity to boozy etc. So I can easily find my favourite type of chocolate and then select any variety of it. This range also includes chocolate coated nuts and fruits. These usually cost £3.75 each, but if you buy three you pay £3.20 each. So I always end up buying them in 3s or 6s.
The best thing about the display in these stores is that each section and type of chocolate is categorised clearly in bold letters and it is easy to understand where everything is and find your type of chocolate.
The different types of chocolates are packed in gorgeous and premium looking packs.
Most of the packs are transparent so you can see the chocolate from inside and decide if you like it or not. Also the packaging clearly states whether or not the chocolate is vegetarian, Alcoholic or nut free.
The hotel chocolate has a huge variety of chocolates available in Dark, Milk or white chocolate. You can buy caramels, coated nuts and fruits, pralines, truffles ,chocolate slabs etc in a wide choice of sizes and packaging.
The service at all hotel chocolat stores is fantastic and impressive. Every time I have gone in to one of these stores I am offered with free samples of chocolates to try. The staff always welcomes you and makes you feel attended. They make conversations and provide as much help as they can in selecting your chocolates. The staff keeps the atmosphere of the store very cheerful and vibrant.
The chocolates at this store do tend top be a bit pricey. For eg the big slab of chocolate costs £16 .The selectors range is £ 3.75 each and if you buy three together its £ 3.20 each. So you can easily spend quite a lot here and it would look like you haven't bought much. But the store promises the best ingredients and ethical trading for their chocolates and also the chocolates taste and look very premium and delicious. So I think they are worth every penny.
I cant express enough of my love for this gorgeous brand and its delicious chocolates. It is especially great for buying my Christmas day, Valentine's day and mother's day presents. The store also does special selection of chocolates for Easter. Although the prices are a bit high but the quality and variety of the chocolates is worth the money.
Hotel Chocolat is an upmarket shop selling a range of chocolate goods (think a more luxurious version of Thorntons!)
My local store is in Cheltenham, but I have also visited the store in York, Newcastle, Nottingham and Manchester, and the service in each store has been good across the board.
Staff are always friendly and attentive, and knowledgeable on the products. They go out of their way to help you - when I went in to get my free chocolate lollipop (O2 Priority Moments freebie!), I also picked up some Christmas presents, and the lady at the till also told me I could use another voucher on O2 that would get me 10% off, which I had not been aware of!
One downside is that the stores tend to be quite small, and if you end up being the only customer in-store they can be a bit too attentive - in one trip the lady offered to carry the things I had planned to purchase and had in my hand, and then proceeded to follow me around the store giving me 'help' while I tried to concentrate on what I needed to buy!
Hotel Chocolat sells a large range of chocolate products, from the usual boxes and selections to the more unusual chocolate pasta and even a range of health and beauty products containing chocolate!
They also do seasonal ranges, so this Summer they had a summer cocktail themed range, and of course Christmas ranges, Halloween and Easter ranges.
All of the products are beautifully packaged, making them ideal gifts, and the store often has the more unusual gifts that end up as talking points - for example, wreath-shaped chocolates at Xmas, or spicy chilli chocolates.
While Hotel Chocolat is quite pricey in comparison to say Thorntons, I think you do get something extra special from this store - they use high quality ingredients, and invest in ethical trading. If you buy a gift from someone here, people tend to split into 2 camps - either they know of HC and love the gift, or they don't, and wonder why you've been so stingy with the chocolate, as you can easily spend £60 here and it doesn't look like you have bought much!
There are too many chocolate ranges to discuss in detail, so I thought I would tell you about my favourites :
These are large 500g slabs of chocolate, that have different 'bits and pieces' included. Flavours include Rocky Road (marshmallows and crunchy cookie), and my favourite, Cookies and crème caramel (...you guessed it, bits of cookie included!). They look absolutely fantastic, and make a nice change to the dull Dairy Milk Bars you get. Each year I get a different one as a gift for my brother, but I also noticed this year that they have a set of 4 miniature versions, which is great if you don't want to commit to one flavour! These cost £16 per slab.
These are kind of like picnmix for chocolate boxes, and cost £3.75 each, or £3.20 each if you buy 3 or more, so I always grab 6 or 7 packs and pop them in Christmas stockings / filler presents.
They each are around 100g worth (so 6 chocolates to you and me!), and come in a huge variety of chocolates and flavours. Personal favourites include the heart-shaped Caramel Giandujas and the white chocolate champagne truffles. The range includes milk, white and dark chocolate ranges, as well as alcoholic, fruit, and nut inspired ranges, so there really is something for all chocolate lovers, and as the packaging is see through, I find it easier to judge which ones to go for. I love the idea of these, as it allows for you to try a large range of the products without spending a lot of money on chocolates you don't turn out liking!
Hotel Chocolat is a great store to buy gifts for the chocolate connoisseur, and while you don't physically get much for your money, the range of gifts are always beautifully packaged and of the highest quality - ideal for Christmas presents.
Conforming to female stereotype a bit here, but I love chocolate (and also pink, kittens, scented candles and occasional nagging). Not just any choccie will do though, I like a little bit of class in my calorie. I'm never let down and always spoilt for choice when it comes to Hotel Chocolat.
(Some information taken from Hotel Chocolat's website and catalogue - with thanks.)
Hotel Chocolat was founded around 20 years ago, by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, two people who should be praised for their efforts to ensure no chocolate craving go unanswered.
It started as an online business, but in 2004 they branched out into physical shops too. Hotel Chocolat take their ingredients very seriously and herald the 'less sugar, more cocoa' approach, which is very commendable. They are well known to be not just chocolatiers, but cocoa growers as well. Their ethics are pure and simple - sustainable benefits for the cocoa communities, and quality chocolate for the customers. Who can refuse that ethos?
The Hotel Chocolat website is well laid out and simple, yet classy in design. There's something for everyone to be found here, and they cater for Diabetics, Vegans and Vegetarians too. Hotel Chocolat follow Diabetes UK's opinion on diabetic chocolate, which is that packing the goodies with artificial sweeteners in place of sugar isn't particularly recommended as it can cause similar blood sugar problems. Instead, they offer chocolates with extremely high cocoa content and less sugar, for Diabetics to enjoy in moderation as part of a healthy diet. This honest approach to a serious issue is wonderful, as being a chocolate company they could so easily cash in on the idea of 'Diabetic Chocolate'.
You can find exactly what you're after online by navigating your way through their choice of menus at the top of the screen - Occasions, Products, Person, Genre or Corporate. Or, if you can resist everything except temptation, you can head for the 'show me everything' button and browse through every single thing the company has to offer.
Divine. If Dooyoo allowed one word reviews I probably would have just said 'Divine' and left it at that.
Hotel Chocolat do so many different products, from selection boxes of individual chocolates to giant slabs, from chocolate enrobed fruit to dipping kits, from hot chocolate to chocolate spread... I could go on, but I'm afraid I may drown in my own drool at this stage. They also offer 100% cocoa bars, for the purists out there.
I think when it comes to such a posh choc, you have to taste it to understand. Some say 'how on earth can you spend THAT much on chocolate?' and stare at you like you're in strong need of a padded cell and a 'special' jacket. Well the answer is this: once you've tried it, you can't forget it. You go to nibble a bar of cheaper chocolate and all you can taste is sugar. It tastes insipid and sickly. With Hotel Chocolat products you can taste the richness and the depth of real, quality cocoa. It's a special treat in our house, where we have a chocolate or two instead of wolfing down a whole box in an evening. It's too rich to eat in large quantities, even for chocoholics like me!
~~~The Customer Service~~~~
I've been an online customer of Hotel Chocolat for many years, and they've never disappointed me yet.
They dispatch orders quickly, and offer you a choice of standard or named day delivery, often upgrading standard orders to next day delivery at no extra charge in hotter weather so as not to risk the quality of your order. If you experience a problem with your order, the response to their online contact form is swift, helpful and always polite, something that can be quite refreshing when dealing with some of the other companies out there....
I placed an order for some of their Easter sale items this year, and when it arrived I noticed one item was missing and another had been changed for something else. This has never happened to me before in years of buying with them, and I assumed it may have been the chaotic rush of the sale that caused it. To me, the strength of a company is always in how they deal with you when problems arise - I can forgive most errors, if they're dealt with well. This is where Hotel Chocolat excell most. I dropped them a quick email asking if they could explain the exchanged item and the whereabouts of the missing one, within 48 hours I had a very polite message back explaining that the item I had ordered was out of stock so they'd upgraded it for a more costly product. Without me having to even ask, they refunded both the missing item and the price of the item that had been exchanged, all with speed and a polite attitude throughout. To me, that's customer service at its best.
For me, Hotel Chocolat offer a winning combination of the best customer service and the best chocolate imaginable.
Thanks for reading :)
I was desperate for that minute gift, so after work I legged it to Hotel Chocolat in Victoria Street. Just as I was about to rush in and pick up a slab of Rocky Road they slammed the door on me despite seeing me from the shop window. I knew I wasn't late but just to be sure I checked the time with a shop next door. I then returned to see if they would see fairness. They could have even openned the door and directed me to their Charing Cross branch which is open until 7.30 and is less than 30 minutes away by bus or taxi. This was a real disappointment in customer service, I have raised my complaint with their HQ and I am still waiting for a phone call back!
I have shared an upsetting experience of bad customer service as I feel that it sums up what I have experienced before which is a general lack of a warm welcome. This is an area that the company must improve upon as it is in contrast to what the chocolate conveys.
What I can't fault about Hotel Chocolat is the variety and quality of the Chocolate. The array of chocolate is outstanding, very easy to explore and I could stand for hours deciding which to go for. The look, smell and feel of the chocolat is warm and vibrant and always puts a smile on the face of a loved one. The chocolate melts in the mouth and always gives a sense of joy. This all comes at a very reasonable price!
For me, the joy of the chocolate can be outweighed by the treatment of the customer and therefore I do rate the overall buying experience very poorly!
Hotel Chocolat is a godsend for Christmas presents. Not only do their products taste fantastic, and come in a huge range of flavours and gift types, but whomever you give them too will know you have bought quality!
There is a huge range of products available, from the selector packs which have 6 chocolates of a specific variety, such as cappucino, banana splits, whisky truffles, cherry bakewells, etc etc, to the 'sleekster' boxes which are fairly large boxes of chocolates containing a large range of chocolates (with two of each provided). Any of the boxes larger than the 6-8 are usually designed to share, so that you get two of each chocolate provided. This can differ with specialist boxes however.
Hote Chocolat provides a wide range of seasonal chocolate, for occasions such as Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, and is always introducing new products.
Although not the cheapest chocolate on the market, you will rarely be disappointed with anything you have bought, and neither will the recipients of any gifts.
Products are available for all tastes, from children (shaped chocolate lollies, tiddly pots), to the chocaholic, to the boozer (boozy selection), fruity chocolate lover, and the chocolate dunker (chocolate dipping selection). It is a chocolate lovers paradise!!
If you really love chocolate you may want to join the tasting club, where you can sign up for boxes of chocolates to be delivered to you each month with the latest flavours.
I have recently visited the Brighton branch of Hotel Chocolat and I have to say that although it looks nice and the products are good, the staff are appalling!
The manager, Gill Mitchell, was particularly rude and unhelpful. We asked her for a reccommendation, as we expected her to have some sort of knowledge of her product, but her response was that she did not know, we should pick something ourselves as she was busy! If that wasn't enough she told us to go to a rival chocolate store up the road instead! As there were no other costumers in the shop we were unable to figure out why she was so busy. She seemed to be stacking shelves. Mystifying and extremely rude!
Needless to say we did not purchase anything from this surly individual. We are very disappointed, particularly as staff in other branches have always been lovely in our experience, and we do like the company's chocolates.
~*~ Hotel Chocolat ~*~
I am a big chocolate lover. I'm so bad that I can't actually have any chocolate in my house because as soon as I buy it, I eat it, therefore I make sure when I do buy chocolate I buy single bars or packs, even if 1kg of Galaxy is being sold for 50p because my hips will suffer the consequences otherwise!!
I don't usually shop for normal 'everyday' chocolate in specialist chocolate stores, but this Easter I was looking for something special for my boyfriend and decided to give this store a go. I'd had a couple of items from the store in the past and was satisfied, and thought that, given how expensive the chocolate is, it must be good!
~*~ A little bit about the brand ~*~
Hotel Chocolat is, surprisingly enough, a chocolate store. They sell 'luxury chocolate for him and for her' in a selection of white, milk, dark, praline, caramel... the list goes on and on.
Some of the products offered by the store include boxes of chocolate, chocolate hampers, chocolate bars and slabs, Easter eggs, drinking chocolate... pretty much anything chocolate you can think of, they have it covered!
~*~ The prices ~*~
A box of 24 standard chocolates will set you back around £25 from this store. A mini slab of chocolate starts at around £4, and larger slabs £8. The most expensive box of chocolate retails for a staggering £80 which I personally could not bring myself to pay for something that would last me a couple of days at most!
~*~ End of season offers ~*~
The end of season offers on sale from this store are definitely worth a look at. The website is, for example, currently selling a 'Taste of spring' Easter themed gift bag full of goodies for just £3.50 (much better than it's original £11 price tag!)
~*~ The taste ~*~
The chocolate is good, I can't deny that. However, Hotel Chocolat sells that rich, expensive chocolate that doesn't really melt in the mouth. It is quite sickly, and I have found that, in general, the chocolate isn't as creamy as, say, Thornton's.
My boyfriend bought be a box of chocolates from the store on Easter along with an egg, and I must say that although the chocolate was good, next time he can save himself £25 or so and buy me one from Thornton's!
~*~ The verdict ~*~
The chocolate is undoubtedly good, and of excellent quality in this store. However, I don't think it's worth the price and would much rather buy a bar of Cadbury's (or Thornton's at a push!) and save myself the pounds.
Worth a try 
HEAVEN & HELL
I have an incorrigible sweet tooth and a particular fondness for chocolate. Unfortunately, I also have Type 2 Diabetes, which I suppose is analogous to cheese lover with a dairy intolerance. Who said life was fair? That said, the consumption of chocolate is not actually prohibited to diabetics, as long as a beady eye is kept on blood sugar and the emphasis remains firmly on quality rather than quantity. As such, I have developed quite the discerning palate when it comes to premium chocolate, on the reasonable premise that if I can only have small amounts of it, it may as well be bloody good.
Having recently landed a plum job in the City of London (which I start in a couple of weeks) I had some time to kill during one of several interviews, and whilst having a look around what I hoped (at the time) would be my new "work" neighbourhood, I discovered a branch of Hotel Chocolat (pronounced in a snooty French accent as "Sho-koh-lah" - simultaneously ensuring that one's nose is elevated at a precise 45 degree angle to the ground). I spent ten minutes window shopping (and struggling not to drool) before spending almost £25 on various chocolate creations for my wife and daughter. I don't know how other marriages and relationships work in on-line review land, but my wife expects presents when I go into town, and I know better than to disappoint.
ANGUS & PETER'S CHOCOLATE SHOP
It may surprise you that despite the posh-sounding French name, Hotel Chocolat is a British company (I suppose its current moniker sounds a bit more exclusive than the English translation - "House of Chocolate"). Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris started their chocolate venture as a mail-order company in 1993, originally called "ChocExpress", before making the move on-line, and finally moving into retail with the opening their first "high street" establishment in 2004.
They now have over 40 retail outlets up and down the country, as well as concessions in most John Lewis stores and four international branches - two in Boston and another brace in the Middle East. Hotel Chocolat was awarded the accolade of "Emerging Retailer of the Year" by Retail Week magazine in 2007, also earning a shout as a "UK Cool Brand" the same year. The business has maintained its on-line service (www.hotelchocolat.co.uk), and also has a tasting club - first established in 1998 - that currently boasts around 100,000 members.
WHAT DO THEY SELL?
If it has chocolate in it, odds are they have it. A trip into one of their shops is like journeying into an Aladdin's cave - except the riches there are measured in the percentage cocoa they incorporate, rather than in the weight of gems and jewels. The front part of the shop is usually dedicated to seasonal specialities and holidays. For example, you will find Easter Eggs, Valentine's chocolates, and Christmas-themed chocolates at the appropriate times of year.
On the back wall of the Moorgate branch where I do most of my ogling and buying, is a large selection of chocolate packaged in two ways - as a single slab, or as a six pack of individual chocolates. There is a diverse variety of flavours and combinations, from dark chocolate filled with salted caramel, ganache-filled truffles with a hint of cherry, velvety pralines, booze filled concoctions, to more traditional fruity creams. In other words, something for everyone and every palate.
They also do chocolate covered fruit, my favourites being their delectable kirsch cherries, orange tang, and mango slices - what better way to delude yourself into thinking you've had one of your five a day? Their "Purist" range is for those who like their chocolate largely unsullied by other ingredients and introduces the consumer to region-specific chocolate from exotic locations such as Brazil, Madagascar and Ecuador.
Fancy cooking with chocolate? Then the shelf dedicated to its use as an ingredient should tickle your fancy, containing everything from chocolate pasta, liquid drinking chocolate in various flavours, chocolate and black truffle salsa, to cocoa powder and chocolate pellets perfect for melting.
HOW DO THEY SOURCE?
Hotel Chocolat mainly comes from two sources - St Lucia and Ghana. They have a cocoa plantation - the 140 acre Rabot Estate - near Soufrière in St Lucia where they grow their own cocoa, and are also planning to build a factory nearby. The usual industry business model is to source the cocoa from the nation of origin by buying it from local growers and cooperatives, but then do the actual chocolate making somewhere else. This is why Hotel Chocolat's approach is so different.
They have established what they call an "Engaged Ethics" programme, details of which are extensively provided on their excellent web site. The idea is to engage with, train and empower the local West Indian community to produce the chocolate from bean to finished product, ensuring that the farmers see a profit and the local community benefits from job creation and skills training.
The first two stages of their project - buying a plantation, growing their own cocoa and building a factory are to be followed by a third - a "chocolate hotel", where enthusiasts can book a Caribbean holiday - not to lay on sandy beaches and drink rum punch all day - but to experience and get under the skin of life on a cocoa plantation and to really understand and appreciate just how chocolate is made from bean to bon bon.
STAFF, SERVICE & OTHER DETAILS
When you first enter the shop, it won't be long before someone approaches you with a free sample. Whilst you munch happily on your lip-smacking freebie, staff will be happy to answer any questions, point you to what you need or leave you in peace to browse for as long as you like. The chocolate is not cheap, but you would not expect it to be. First of all, their unique ownership of the whole supply chain necessarily adds a layer of expense, but so does the quality of the chocolate and the process of making it to such exacting standards.
A trip to their web-site will give you the best information about specific prices, but as an example, I usually buy a combination of bars and selection six-packs, which are either £3.25 each, or £2.50 each if you buy three or more. The pots of kirsch cherries are £7.50 for 150g (or get three different pots, such as the mango strips, rum soaked sultanas, or orange tangs go for £20). The Easter Egg I bought for my wife (which was called Eggtastic!) was £22 and consisted of two very thick separate halves - one dark and one milk, with various chocolate concoctions wrapped separately in between the two halves. Unsurprisingly, this is now on-sale at half-price given the short shelf life of quality chocolate.
They accept most credit cards as payment, except for Amex. If you sign up for their mailing list, you also get a free chocolate by way of a thank you. Another thing worth checking out is their very popular and successful Tasting Club which the staff will be happy to tell you about, or alternatively, check the website for details.
Hotel Chocolat provides a huge selection of outstanding, creative and original chocolate which easily competes with the very best for quality. The fact that it is a British run company with a solid and transparent ethics programme is an added bonus for the discerning consumer. It is undoubtedly expensive, but not outrageously so - and it's good to know that the premium you are paying is for a reason other than brand snobbery.
© Hishyeness 2010
Hotel Chocolat is basically an up market chocolate shop which opened around fifteen years ago. They grow their own cocoa powder to make the chocolate and also use their own recipe's to create each bar. The chocolatiers who work for hotel chocolat work very hard to create a range of great tasting chocolate, It appears to be hand made, as no two bars ever look the same.
If you are a member of Fat Fighters then this is not the shop for you! As soon as you walk into the shop you are surrounded by chocolate, literally, every wall is full of bars, you can really sense the luxury, the shops are very spacious and are well decorated, you can smell the choclolate smell and are instantly drawn into to start spending! If you are lucky you will catch them on a day where they have free samples to try, this usually embarrass the girlfriend as i usually stand at the counter and finish off the tray.
The range Hotel Chocolat includes dark, white and milk chocolate. Favourites include a large slap of chocolate called Rocky Road. This bar includes marshmallows, white & dark chocolate, fudge pieces and rice crisps, at £13.50 for the bar, its not cheap, but as it is so rich in taste it does tend to last a while, the bar measures around 14cm x 8cm so you would be doing well to finish it off in a night.
There is a huge range of boxed chocolates, chocolate bars, drinking chocolates, and at the moment there are easter eggs! The most expensive box of chocolates is priced at £80. This is called the Chocolatiers table luxe, we have had this selection at works meetings before and they are divine, although personally i wouldn't spend £80 of my own money on them. I always make sure I am last out the meeting so i can take the box home! My girlfriend believes they are a gift for her, until she opens the box and finds half are missing!
In the easter egg selection they are selling extra thick easter eggs, these are £22 but are worth it, the chocolate shell is around 2cm thick and it is full of smaller chocolates, If you are buying an egg for someone special then this is something different you could try which differs from the usual Cadbury's and Nestle.
I have commented more on the expensive products from Hotel Chocolat, but they do offer smaller bars which are affordable by anyone. Although when you enter the shop, you will soon see the expensive ones are best!
Overall, not somewhere you would want to visit every day, because it would bankrupt you, and you would soon pile on the lbs! I give it four out of five, although the chocolate is very nice, i think the prices are a bit on the steep side.
To find some great chocolate recipe's go to http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/chocolate-recipes-AInspiration/ We made the Christmas yule log, although it didn't look exactly like the picture on the website, it did taste very good.
Hotel chocolat is a high end chocolatier with an online store and also a few concessionary stores in some branches of John Lewis. They are quite ethically focussed with their chocolate being grown in St Lucia and Ghana where the cocoa farmers receive an ethically fair price for their work and a fair price for their cocoa. Despite the name, it is not actually anything to do with a hotel although in the latest advertising brochure they sent me it does say that they have now actually built a hotel you can stay at in St Lucia to see the cocoa being grown etc. Now I wouldn't mind that for a holiday...St Lucia and chocolate tasting mmmm!
Hotel chocolat basically sell pretty much anything you can think of that could have chocolate in it. From their famous huge 1kg chocolate slabs, easter eggs, boxes of chocolates and hampers to chocolate used for cooking, chocolate vinagrette dressing, liquid drinking chocolate and even chocolate pasta! Whatever the occasion is you will absolutely find something fun, fitting and exorbitant looking here.
When most people think of chocolate, they think of a bar of Dairy Milk or Thorntons, however, hotel chocolat is quite different. For example, their latest easter collection features giant ostrich eggs which look amazing! The chocolate comes in all different flavours like caramel, strawberry, dark, bitter, alcoholic...a vast variety.
Now to the important bit - the taste. I got the huge caramellow slab as a Xmas pressie this year. Half of it is milk chocolate and the other half is caramel and it is sprinkled with crunchy bits and bobs. The milk chocolate tasted very different to that which you can buy normally - it was much richer tasting and more cocoa flavoured. The caramel chocolate was beautiful - very smooth and creamy with a sickly sweet taste of caramel. The slab itself was very thick and chunky and beautifully packaged in a plastic sleeve too. My only problem concerning the taste aspect was that the pictured slab on the website was decidedly more garnished with all the goodies on top compared to mine which was a little bare and sparse looking on top. The caramel portion of the slab was way smaller than the milk chocolate segment too which I was a little disappointed in as the caramel bit tastes better. But, I suppose this is true of all food advertising - like big mac adverts then you open the box to find a meat disc inbetween 2 pancakes.
If you are thinking of checking out this website then I can guarantee most of you will be put off by the very costly price tags of the chocolate. It is by all acounts very expensive, bordering on overpriced. However, for the money you are getting 'designer chocolate' which looks and tastes beautiful and is a bit different to other readily available brands. Do I think it's worth the money? Probably not, no. But I would probably still buy it as it makes a nice gift. It's not something I would buy for myself to eat, unless I was completely loaded as it's too expensive. But I would be delighted to receive it as a gift which says it all really!
Delivery for a single item is £3.95 and for 2 or more items it's £4.95. Very expensive for a small item but probably fair if your getting a heavy slab or huge hamper. They also offer next day delivery for a higher price.
Hotel Chocolat is one shop that I usually try to avoid. I receive a tasting box and so appreciate the quality of the chocolate. I just know that if and when i enter a shop I shall be so tempted - almost like an alcoholic in an off licence. And so, today, was the case!
I went to the shop in Meadowhall and was amazed to see the wide range of merchandise. Almost every type of chocolate that had been in my tasting box was on offer in packs of six. Along the centre was a wide range of additional items - like small pots of chocolate buttons, drinking chocolate and chocolate lollipops. Down the other side of the shop were the slabs - the large Rocky Road slab (about the size of an A4 piece of paper) looked too inviting. There were also tubs of chocolate to cook with and slabs of pure 100% chocolate. In short my nightmares were coming true - where should I start -how could I contain my addiction?
And the shop assistant was no help - they indulged my every question and gently suggested alternatives. I left, spending nearly twenty pounds and feeling ever so guilty with the pleasure rush.
This is a quality shop, with quality products and excellent staff. Now if they could only find a non fattening version I'd be a lifelong fan!
I was introduced to Hotel Chocolat by my girlfriend and have been a chocolate addict ever since!
Now i must start off by saying the chocolate is quite pricey but once you've tried it, you wont be disappointed, so dont be put off by the price.
They have an amazing range of chocolate,White, Milk or Dark and everything in between. They also cater for any event.
Whether you are looking for a nice stocking filler at xmas, a little present for valentines day or a big gift for a wedding or works do, they cater for everything.
I know chocolate it usually seen as a bit of a cop out when buying it for birthdays or christmas but because the the Hotel Chocolate selection is so varied, creative and luxurious i'm sure who ever you buy it for would appreciate it.
The only thing I think is a downside is, if you were buying something as a gift for someone and they hadnt heard of Hotel Chotolat i'm not sure they would appreciate the quality and expense that may have gone into your choice of gift.
I personally love the Chocolate in their shops though, so if anyone was to buy it for me i'd be over the moon!
The most important parts now:
The shops themselves are always very well presented
The decoration of the shop gives it that posh, executive feel.
The staff are very helpful and polite. Here is a personal experience of how I was treated in the shop:
I like how they have tasting trays and if there is a type of chocolate you would like to try they have always been more than happy to open a packet and give me a piece to try in the past. (I asked them if I could try the chilli penguins at xmas because I wasn't sure if i'd like the chilli chocolate. Sure enough, the shop assistant went out the back, opened one and gave me a piece.The chilli chocolate is something to be experienced! I really enjoyed it and now I get some as a treat occasionally!
I recommend Hotel Chocolat to everyone.
I first discovered Hotel chocolate 5 years ago and it still fills me with excitement whenever I visit.
There are not an abundance of their retail outlets around and our nearest is 60 miles away. You can shop online but it does not compare to browsing the shop, breathing in the rich aroma and if your lucky, tasting bits from the tray offered on entry.
It is a beautifully designed environment and this follow through to the packaging which is simple to emphasize the extravagant chocolate. Hotel chocolate works as a complete experience from taste, appearance and environment. It reminds me a lot of the mac make up brand.
It is a lot more expensive than your regular bar or box of chocolates but it is also quite unique with flavours like Balsamic caramel, black pepper and strawberry, chilli and and orange to name a few.
The reason they appeal to me particularly is because they have an extensive vegan range. This unfortunately seem to be diminishing with each year for some reason which is very disappointing. It is still the only place that myself and my husband will consider buying an easter egg from each year even if it does come to £40 for 2!
I once was very lucky to receive from a friend a Sleekster box of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat, this was my first introduction to the company and its chocolates. After tasting the delicious chocolates and sharing them with friends and family (it was a large box) I wanted to find out more about this company.
It seemingly began over 15 years ago as a catalogue based business, progressing to a website then in 2004 opening its first high street store. Hotel Chocolat is a British owned company who claim to be committed to real authentic chocolate and devoted to re-establishing the reputation of British chocolate. The cocoa ingredients are sourced from their West Indian Cocoa plantation, Rabot Estate in St Lucia and enables the company to be in control of its full production.
I used to think that Thorntons were luxury tasting chocolates but now I have to admit they have been blown out of the water by Hotel Chocolat. All the chocolates taste very luxurious and chocolatey with amazing fillings, I can never have too many at a time which I think is always a sign of a good chocolate. While they might not be the cheapest chocolates they are definitely one of the best quality and I think are certainly worth the cost (although you wouldn't be buying them all the time). They are fabulous to give or receive as a gift and also can be sent to the recipient directly which makes it easy to send as a gift to friends and family that live some distance away.
There is a wide variety of products on offer and include all different sizes of boxed chocolates from truffles to fruit flavours or cocktail flavours to hand piped chocolates. Their pink champagne truffles are especially good as are their fruit dipped in chocolate (like mango, sultanas and cherries to name a few). A favorite of my family is their mini slabs of chocolate which come in a variety of flavours like strawberry crème, rocky road, chilli & orange and is also available in different strengths of chocolate and milk, white and dark. They always do special occasions chocolates sets or slabs for xmas, valentines, mother's day and easter which makes gift giving easy. Kids will also love their vintage button and puddle selection which comes in a variety of yummy flavours.
Hotel Chocolat has a variety of stores throughout England though none as yet in Scotland, so whenever I am in London I always make an effort to visit one of their stores. What is nice at their stores is an assistant is normally walking about with samples to entice you and give you a chance to try some of their yummy chocolate.
Delivery costs £3.95 for one item in the UK or £4.95 for 2 or more items, delivery is also available worldwide although costs do vary.
I discovered Hotel Chocolat quite recently considering that the company has been around since the 90's, originally starting as a catalogue based company before opening their first store in 2004. My nearest Hotel Chocolat store is a good hours drive away from me in a city I do not go to often, but when I heard about the company last year and was in the area I decided to pop in and see what all the fuss was about!
On walking into the store, I was immediately impressed by the sleek and sophisticated image that the company has created by using modern and seductive branding. The products were packaged in sexy black sleeves and boxes and many of which showed the enticing chocolates awaiting the customer inside. By looking around and taking in the experience, there is no doubt to you, the consumer, that Hotel Chocolat is a premium brand! I used to think that Thorntons was luxury chocolate at it's best, but I hadn't experienced the joy that is Hotel Chocolat then and I have to say that their chocolate is just not in the same league...
So what is so great about the chocolate that Hotel Chocolat make and sell I hear you ask? Well I have spoken about the packaging, which is an important part and gives an excellent first impression, but the chocolate itself is to die for! With a vast selection of products available including the absolutely heavenly Caramellow slabs (thick slabs of caramel and milk chocolate swirled together with caramel drops and florentine) and the divine Chocolate Log (chocolate with praline and pistachio pieces), this really is a chocolate lover's paradise! Whether you are a milk chocolate fan or somebody obsessed with chocolate covered fruits, I challenge you to not be able to find a favourite among the stock on the shelves.
The shopping experience is further enhanced by staff members coming round periodically and offering you a taster of one of the chocolates that they sell whilst you browse - on separate occasions I have had the pleasure of trying Raspberry Puddles (raspberry flavoured chocolate buttons with a gorgeous tang) and some amazing white chocolate too with no obligation to buy. These samples are just a little touch, but one that is appreciated and makes you feel cared about - and who could possibly turn down a free sample, not me that's for sure!
Yes, this chocolate does come at a price - it is not as cheap as Cadburys, Lindt or even Thorntons, but in my opinion it is completely worth it as the quality is just amazing. You really can tell that you are consuming quality ingredients and not just huge amounts of sugar and fat and to be honest, cheaper chocolate just doesn't cut it now that I have tasted the real thing! Hotel Chocolat do have regular "End of Season" sales online and in store which do make their products more affordable, but to just give you an idea of normal prices; Kirsch Cherries are currently £7.50, 8 Handpiped Chocolate Selection is £6.00 and a 500g Rocky Road Giant Slab is £12.50.
I have purchased goods from both their Norwich and Lakeside stores and via their website (www.hotelchocolat.co.uk) and have never bought anything that I have later been disappointed with. The products make amazing gifts or are a perfect treat for yourself too (I am currently eating a Cookies, Caramel & 40% Milk Chocolate Wreath which I *may* have made my Hubby buy me for Christmas...). They have always been well packaged by staff and my online orders have also arrived in one piece too having been wrapped in protective bubble wrap and individual cardboard boxes.
I would thoroughly recommend Hotel Chocolat to anyone and I have to admit that I have not gone into Thorntons since making my discovery of how great they are. In fact I am now a member of the Chocolate Tasting Club too, but that is a completely different review!
If you haven't experienced the joy that is Hotel Chocolat, then I urge you to visit your nearest store (these are listed on the website) or browse the website and see what takes your fancy!