London has many unique and unusual cinemas so if you want to catch a film whilst you are in the capital then why not consider one of the independent cinemas first? Many are decadently laid out and offer a more luxurious surrounding than the mainstream companies and it would be a shame to miss out on experiencing a special screening in one of these individual cinemas, especially if you are only staying in London for a holiday break.
The Electric Cinema
Situated on Portobello Road since 1910, the Electric Cinema is one of London’s oldest cinemas, and the rich interior certainly reflects the cinema’s long history. Leather armchairs, footstools, side tables, cashmere blankets and large sofas offer the ultimate comfort and there are even six double beds at the front row for a truly unique cinema experience. The Electric Cinema screens both mainstream and art house films.
This trendy four screen cinema shows a wide mixture of films including classics, contemporary, avant garde and contemporary films. What makes this particular cinema so interesting is the Media theque which offers visitors the chance to explore hours of film and TV from the BFI (British Film Institute) archive for free. Once you’ve enjoyed the delights of the cinema, be sure to take a walk alongside the Thames through the rest of Southbank; this culturally rich area of London is home to many fantastic attractions, restaurants and bars. The street artists which frequent here of an evening alone are well worth looking out for.
The Gate Cinema
Located in Notting Hill, the Gate Cinema is part of the Picture house group and is housed in a stunning Edwardian building. With only one screen it offers a more intimate cinematic experience, which is helped by the plush seating and beautiful interior decor. The Gate Cinema screens predominantly foreign language and art house films although it does occasionally show mainstream movies as well.
This arts and performance centre was described the Queen as one of the ‘modern wonders of the world’ and it certainly is an apt description for this cultural hub in the city. Not only does it offer three cinemas which screen a mixed programme of mainstream and specialist films but it is also home to the London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall, the Barbican Art Gallery and two theatres which showcase some of the finest international performers. Despite it’s less than attractive appearance, the Barbican Centre is without a doubt one of the most important and dynamic cultural centres in the country. The centre is easily reached if you are staying at The Montcalm Hotel At The Brewery London City which is just a short distance away.
Built in East Finchley in 1910, Phoenix Cinema is one of the UK’s oldest purpose built cinemas. It can proudly boast to have continued screening films even through the two world wars and recently underwent a million pound refurbishment. Phoenix Cinema screens a mix of independent, foreign, specialist and mainstream films. It was saved from demolition by the creation of the Phoenix Cinema Trust in 1985 and continues to be run by the community charity.
Prince Charles Cinema
Known as the ‘best value cinema in the West End’, the Prince Charles does indeed offer cut-price tickets for a range of films including mainstream and new releases as well as specialist screenings. What makes this cinema stand out however are the sing-a-long nights where audience participation is almost mandatory. Films which have featured in these sing-a-long nights include the likes of Grease, The Sound of Music and the Rocky Horror Show.
This purpose built, two screen cinema is 100 years old and is one of the cheapest cinemas in the city. One of its main focuses is to serve groups in the community who are often ignored by commercial and mainstream releases and hosts annual film festivals which showcase gay and lesbian films as well as foreign movies. It also regularly has midweek classic film matinees, a kid’s film club and babes in arm screenings.
If you find yourself in need of a trip to the cinema whilst in London then any of these cinemas would be well worth a visit. You might discover a new favourite film, enjoy trying something different or just enjoy being seated in a more intimate cinema environment than you might otherwise get to experience.