LUV - If Groupon had its shit together, it’d shelve all those “chocolate experience days” where you file into a sterile room and a stern woman shouts at you about the discovery of the cocoa bean then makes you do a bunch of trust exercises using melted chocolate and marshmallows that you’re NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO EAT. If Groupon knew the first THING about chocolate, it would forget all that rubbish and just dump a truckload of starving, premenstrual, unsupervised women into a branch of Hotel Chocolat, shout “THERE ARE NO RULES” through a megaphone, lock the doors and drive away.
And it’d make a fortune.
Because just imagine having the run of a Hotel Chocolat shop. Imagine gorging on – and then building a fort out of - giant slabs of marbled dark and white chocolate. Imagine rolling around in piles of chocolate-enrobed maraschino cherries and showering yourself with handfuls of salted caramel puddles. It’d be wonderful. It’d be a mess. It’d be a glutton’s paradise.
Hotel Chocolat is the closest thing that we have to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
I mean, what do you get the minute you set foot in any Hotel Chocolat anywhere in the world? That’s right, FREE CHOCOLATE. Someone will sidle up to you with a tray of fancy chocolates and offer you one, sadly – as though you’d be doing them a MASSIVE FAVOUR by taking one off their hands and/or you have a terminal disease.
And Hotel Chocolat shops are always so lovely and boutiquey. But not like a beauty boutique where you’re instantly intimidated by the price and packaging, or like Pretty Woman-style Rodeo Drive clothes shops where Julia Roberts tries to buy a dress but the snotty assistants are all I’M SORRY MISS I DON’T BELIEVE WE HAVE ANY DRESSES THAT EVEN FIT YOUR VAGINA. Hotel Chocolat is that rare thing, an INCLUSIVE boutique, and there’s nothing to be intimidated by because, well, it’s chocolate. It might be chilli chocolate, or balls of chocolate that have been dyed a mottled pink and look uncomfortably like human testicles, but it’s still chocolate, it’s delicious, and everyone’s pleased as punch about the whole idea.
Two more brilliant things about Hotel Chocolat:
1. There is actually A HOTEL CHOCOLAT. It’s a luxury spa hotel in St Lucia with an infinity pool, chocolate-themed restaurant and stuff like “cocoa pedicure” on the spa menu.
2. Hotel Chocolat is branching out from chocolate. It does chocolate balsamic vinegar and chocolate olive oil now. It does chocolate mustard. Next: chocolate WD-40, chocolate dildoes and chocolate tampons. What? Too far?
HAT - Why does Hotel Chocolat employ people to swan around its branches with trays of complimentary chocolate? It needn’t bother. People don’t go to Hotel Chocolat to sample its marzipan ingots, you know. There is one reason, and one reason alone, why anyone has ever been to a branch of Hotel Chocolat.
It’s because they’re shit at presents.
We’ve all been there. It’s your birthday. A friend hands you a gift. You unwrap it in a flurry of breathless excitement only to discover that - oh - it’s a Hotel Chocolat slab. Silently, you make a solemn vow to gouge them out of your life them at the earliest possible opportunity.
Because a Hotel Chocolat slab isn’t just a Hotel Chocolat slab, is it? It’s a sign that your friend didn’t know what else to get you. It means they either don’t know you very well, or they just couldn’t be arsed to think. A decade ago, you’d have got a basket of fruit-scented Body Shop soap, but now it’s a Hotel Chocolate slab. Well fuck them. They don’t deserve you, the shitty gift-giving wazzocks.
You didn’t get this with Thorntons, you know. True, Thorntons chocolate tended to be so stuffed with cream that your heart would splutter and burst after a couple of mouthfuls, but at least they’d write someone’s name on an Easter egg with icing if you asked them nicely enough. It was harder to convince them to ice a cock and balls on anything, admittedly, but at least they put a bit of fucking effort in.
And then there’s that fucking name to deal with. I live in South London. How the tits am I supposed to pronounce Hotel Chocolat? My instinct is to call it ‘Hotel Chocolate’, with an E on the end, but that sounds too deliberately artless. The alternative is to go full-on French with it, cocking an eyebrow and murmuring ‘Oh-teyl Shhocolatte’ in the way that the founders probably intended.
But you know who does that? You know who breaks their normal English accent to pronounce foreign words in a foreign accent? Cunts, that’s who. Everyone you’ve ever hated, that’s who. And that’s why I’ve only ever been able to self-consciously mumble ‘Hotel Chok-o-lat’ in the most noncommittal way possible whenever I’ve referred to it. Why couldn’t they have just called themselves HOTEL CHOCOLATE or CHOCOSHACK or HOUSE OF QUITE POSH ROLOS?
Finally - and I feel that I should address this directly to Hotel Chocolat itself - YOU ONLY SELL CHOCOLATE, YOU BELLENDS. You don’t sell rubies or jetskis or unicorns. It’s just chocolate. Stop being such ponces about it. Stop naming your boxes The Signature Collection. Start calling them Just Some Fucking Chocolate In A Box That I’ll Give To Someone I Don’t Really Give A Shit About or something. Nobody would mind. In fact, they’d probably prefer it.
And that is why I hate Hotel Chocolat. That said, if my dad is reading this, he should probably ignore the third and fourth paragraph. Father’s Day is coming up and he’s really difficult to buy for.
- Stuart Heritage