Catch a flick in one of these London’s best-looking cinemas.
Best Independent Cinemas In London
BFI Southbank – Festival mainstay and Riverside Gem
As the home of many film festivals, Q&As and other events, this South Bank, riverside cinema complex has a special place in my heart. The excitement of strolling through the cafe, shop and film archive on the way to a screening really can’t be beat, and that’s not forgetting the little magic touch that is the occasional free written film notes distributed on your way in. Combine it with a stroll along the Thames for a lovely post-film chat with your friends.
Rich Mix – Enjoy a feast of culture
This Shoreditch hub was a former warehouse and now has three screens over five floors of culture, including art exhibitions, live music and theatre, plus a great bar. One of my favourite things about this is the organisation really gets involved in the local community, which is always nice to see, plus the little walkway you take to reach the screens, where you’ll often see the stage being set up for a concert or theatre show below.
Peckhamplex – Your go-to Discount Cinema
This South London landmark not only has one of the best logos, but is a great choice for cinema on a budget, with cheap tickets galore – and I’m not talking ‘London cheap’, with a mere £4.99 entry fee any time of the day! Combine a showing with a drink at one of the nearby rooftop bars for a lovely summer evening treat.
Electric Cinema – Cosy Cinematic Bliss
Hidden off the famous market street of Portobello Road, this west London cinema was putting the ‘d’ in decadence way before the high-end chains caught on and started serving up champagne and high-end cuisine to everyone who wanted it. The building is stunning, and the red seats, table lamps and front-row beds really make this one of the cosiest cinemas in the capital – just remember not to fall asleep and miss an important plot point!
Genesis – Come for the films, stay for the pastries
This famed East London venue is known for its good value ticket prices, particularly on weekdays, as well as for its luxury options with armchairs and footstools to really get lost in the moment. Aside from the films of course, my favourite spot is the Grindhouse Cafe, serving up incredible pastries and coffee from nearby bakery heroes Rinkoff, with comfy sofas surrounded by classic movie posters.
Prince Charles Cinema – The Film Lovers’ Cinema
You might know this Central London cinema one from its big letter board display, which aside from film titles often has a jubilant thought of the day plastered over it, which you can’t help but smile at. This spot is where dedicated film aficionados flock to for their sing-a-long specials and all-day marathons with cult classics galore.
Rio Cinema – Late Night Magic and a Rather Special Basement Bar
This North London fave may have the most beautiful facades in the capital, but once you enter you’ll be won over again by its gorgeous art-deco Ludski Bar, inspired by ‘that’ hotel bar from The Shining. On top of that, this Dalston spot is known for its incredible selection of independent and foreign films, often shown as part of super late-night screenings, as well as for hosting Q&As and arts festivals.
ArtHouse Crouch End
This North London cinema haven was converted from a Salvation Army outpost and now plays host to all range of theatre, music, comedy, dance and most importantly, lots and lots of fantastic films. The large range of community arts gives this a unique feel, plus prices are extremely competitive.
This East Finchley gem has been continuously in operation since the 1910s and hasn’t let up – its art-deco style auditorium may be one of the most stunning screening rooms you’ll ever see. The little bits of cinema history on display add to the feel of being somewhere that lives and breathes cinema.
Regent Street Cinema
Despite being a relatively new location and refurbishment, this gorgeous little screening room is actually the birthplace of British cinema, being where the first motion picture in the country was screened way back in 1896! Fast forward a hundred years or so and the art-deco features have been refurbished and the place is showing an impressive range of independent and mainstream films.
Best One-Off Chains In London
While this South London mainstay has since become part of a chain, you still can’t go wrong with its historic features, good food and the range of cultural treats on offer at its Upstairs at Ritzy bar and nightclub. Keep an eye out for its letterboard signs, which range from the cheeky to the heartfelt (David Bowie – Our Brixton Boy – RIP).
Everyman Screen on the Green
While its name might be misleading – there’s no outdoor cinema on the green here – you can’t help but feel excited when staring up at its neon sign outside enticing you in to witness whatever great film they’re screening inside. They also host niche festivals, Q&As and special cult screenings.
Just off Piccadilly Circus, this relatively new cinema has a stunning foyer you’ll want to walk through again and again. While the huge number of screens does give off multiplex vibes, the floors definitely aren’t sticky here, with good quality seats, sound and visuals. If you’re lucky enough to be a member, check out the fantastic rooftop area, with views across Central London.
This Central London film house is steeped in history, having been one of the main places in London to see foreign language films back in the 1960 and 1970s, and they haven’t stopped, with countless art-house and independent films graving their screens every day. This Soho spot is a great place for catching Q&As and small festivals, as well as enjoying their cosy basement bar.
Amid some stiff competition, the historic screen at this Notting Hill spot is breathtaking, as is the small but stylish bar, making this the perfect place to impress. The seats are super comfy as well, and if you’re lucky enough to book them, there’s sofas to spread out on too.