Today marks three years since I arrived in London with my suitcase in one hand and a certain someone in the other. In that time I’ve fully embraced the challenge to explore London’s restaurant scene, but London itself? I haven’t attacked that with as much zeal. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve visited no more than a handful of the many museums and galleries, and I don’t snoop around new neighbourhoods as often as I would like to. I put it down to the ‘it’ll still be there next week’ mentality; the landmarks and attractions aren’t going anywhere, whereas that quirky pop up will be gone in a flash, which explains my prioritisation logic!
However this year, that logic is going out the window because while the landmarks and attractions might remain in London forever and a day, I might not. We have no concrete plans but I have a feeling we might only have another year or so in this fine city and as a result, it’s time I started playing tourist a little more. The first attraction I’m ticking off the list? The London Eye. It’s on almost every tourist’s London bucket list but I’ll confess, it never really tickled my fancy because the queues are always huge and knowing my luck, I’d end up riding it on a particularly grey day. So I just never bothered.
But then a dear friend told me about the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Experience and I became less concerned about the views being thwarted by grey London skies… The experience involves a couple of rotations on board the London Eye, a few glasses of prosecco, and of course, a lot of chocolate, which all sounded pretty good to me! The process of getting onboard was a little chaotic, but once we managed to wade through the queue (fast track all the way, baby!) and get onto our pod, it was smooth sailing. The prosecco was immediately popped and poured, and the Hotel Chocolat chocolate ambassador wasted no time in introducing us to the first of our tasters which completely distracted us from the fact it had started to rain!
We started with a very dark sample, definitely too dark for my sweet tooth, and were given a brief rundown of how chocolate is made and where the Hotel Chocolat stocks come from. From there, things got sweeter and more interesting in my opinion… as an example, did you know there is such a thing as a ‘supermilk’ chocolate? It’s got the creamy taste of milk chocolate which I love, but a much higher cocoa content at 65% and less sugar, so perhaps it’s slightly better for me than the not-so-super milk chocolates? If you really like sweet things, then white chocolate is definitely your poison, though some would argue that it’s not real chocolate as it doesn’t contain any cocoa… something to think about the next time you indulge in a milky way!
With the chocolate basics explained and tasted, we moved onto the speciality flavours such as Dizzy Praline, Eton Mess, and their best seller Billionaire’s Shortbread. My favourite of the three was the Dizzy Praline, I adored the silky smooth hazelnut praline in the middle and the creamy milk chocolate around it, but I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the Eton Mess as I don’t usually eat white chocolate. That’s always a perk of these tasting experiences I suppose, sometimes you discover something new that you really like… though one might argue that finding yet another chocolate variety to like is actually a negative outcome, particularly for your waistline!
I clearly enjoyed the chocolate and prosecco very much, but what did I think of the London Eye experience itself? It’s iconic and the views were great so I can completely understand why every newbie to London is lining up for it come rain or shine. However, as someone who has seen London at this dazzling height from various other angles, I didn’t think this was the best and it was really the chocolate tasting which made it a memorable experience!
If I haven’t put you off going on the London Eye then I absolutely recommend you book the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Experience because not only do you get to eat copious amounts of chocolate onboard, it’s much better value than just going for a single spin which would cost you at least £22. Instead, for around £54 you get two rotations, all that chocolate and prosecco, and a box of Hotel Chocolat’s best-selling chocolates to take home!
Have you been on the London Eye? Where are your favourite spots to view London from up high?