Discover the Charm of Prestat’s Boutique in Princes Arcade – Prestat Chocolates

Nestled in the heart of London’s prestigious St James’s, the Prestat boutique in Princes Arcade is more than just a chocolate shop; it’s a destination that encapsulates the essence of luxury, history, and a touch of theatrical flair.

A Very French British Chocolatier

Before settling into the elegant surroundings of Princes Arcade, the first Prestat shop was opened at 24 South Molton Street and the business clearly thrived. Antoine Dufour soon opened a more eye-catching store a few hundred yards away at 405 Oxford Street and we suspect the South Molton premises were principally used for manufacturing.

It is now one of London’s more fashionable shopping streets and the days of manufacturing in central London have long since gone. Antoine also opened a store in the City of London at 28 & 29 St Swithin’s Lane to satisfy the gluttonous financial community.

We have pictures of Antoine, who was completely bald, beautifully dressed in starched collar and dress shirt with a neatly trimmed beard and a magnificent moustache. He was a striking and elegant man.

Antoine and Amelia had five children (Tony, Jeanette, Winifred (aka Lesley), Doris and Warwick) and groomed their eldest Tony to take over the business. We don’t have a date at which Tony assumed control but we know that he ran the business through until the end of the 1950s.

The pictures we have of him are of a handsome young man in military uniform and as a much older gentleman in morning coat with a glass of champagne in his hand.

Tony, however, had two misfortunes in life, one of which was to contract tuberculosis, which affected his health throughout his life, and the second was to manage the business through the World War II. The building no longer exists.

It seems probable that it was destroyed during the war, as offices in nearby Brooke Street were flattened by bombs.

It might also have closed regardless of the Luftwaffe, as running a high-class chocolate business during the conflict must have been close to impossible. The St Swithin’s Lane shop had also closed by the time the war ended.

The South Molton Street shop became synonymous with Prestat’s exquisite chocolates and unparalleled service, attracting a devoted following of chocolate aficionados. These earlier locations laid the groundwork for Prestat's esteemed reputation, blending the quaint appeal of one of London's iconic shopping streets with the luxurious allure that the brand is known for.

The South Molton Street site was where Tony ran the business through the difficult period of rationing in the 1950s. It would have been a Herculean task and he succeeded only to be faced with the most difficult of all decisions.

Entering old age and with no children of his own, he would have to sell Prestat if it were to survive. The Dufour period of ownership was about to end.

At the same time, on the other side of the West End the curtain was being lowered on one of London’s shortest-lived theatrical productions – the run of All Year Round was closing after two days and three performances – and a distraught playwright was looking for a new career. Enter Neville Croft and his supportive, wealthier brother Maxwell.

The move to Princes Arcade in the marks a new chapter, building on this rich heritage while continuing to enchant customers with its theatrical and royal-inspired ambiance.

A Theatrical Touch: The Boutique’s Unique Design

Walking into Prestat’s Princes Arcade boutique feels like stepping onto a stage set for a whimsical play.

The design inspiration is drawn from the enchanting world of theatre. The curtain-like window frames evoke a sense of drama and anticipation, inviting you to indulge in the luxurious offerings within.

These elegant drapings not only catch the eye but also symbolize the grandeur and timeless elegance that Prestat represents.

The boutique's interior continues this theme, with rich, velvety textures and vibrant colours that create an atmosphere of opulence and indulgence.

Every detail, from the beautifully arranged displays of chocolates to the ornate decor and grand chandelier, is designed to make each visit a memorable experience.

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A Prime Location: Steps Away from Royalty

Located close to the iconic Buckingham Palace, Prestat’s boutique in Princes Arcade holds a prestigious position in one of London’s most exclusive areas.

This proximity to the royal residence adds a touch of regal charm to the boutique, making it a favourite among both locals and tourists.

As you stroll through the elegant arcade, the allure of Prestat's window display is hard to resist, drawing you into a world where luxury and tradition meet.

A Storied Past: The History of Prestat

Prestat’s legacy dates back to 1902, when it was founded by Antoine Dufour. The shop quickly gained a reputation for producing some of the finest chocolates in the world.

Over the years, Prestat has become synonymous with excellence, attracting a loyal clientele that includes royalty and celebrities.

One of the most notable moments in Prestat’s history is its connection to Roald Dahl, the beloved author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Dahl was a devoted fan of Prestat chocolates, often drawing inspiration from their delightful confections. This literary connection adds a layer of magic to the brand, enchanting both children and adults alike.

Beloved by All: Prestat’s Distinguished Customers

Prestat’s dedication to quality and craftsmanship has garnered a distinguished customer base.

From royal patrons to renowned celebrities, the boutique has served many illustrious figures. Sarah Bernhard was known to visit the boutique, and the story goes she requested a special chocolate be made for her: an inverted fondant cream, with the fondant enrobing a filling of chocolate. The "Sarah Bernhard truffle" was born.

The timeless appeal of Prestat chocolates ensures that they remain a cherished treat for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

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A Visit to Remember

A visit to Prestat’s boutique in Princes Arcade is more than just a shopping trip; it’s an experience that engages all the senses.

From the moment you step through the theatre-inspired entrance to the moment you savour your first bite of the exquisite chocolates, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of luxury and indulgence.

Whether you’re a local looking for a special gift or a tourist seeking a taste of British elegance, Prestat’s Princes Arcade boutique is a must-visit.

Come and discover why Prestat has been delighting chocolate lovers for over a century, and let yourself be enchanted by the magic that is uniquely Prestat.