There’s nothing quite like seeing a brilliant film on a big screen. And if it’s independent cinemas with colourful histories, design quirks, luxe features and plenty of character that float your boat, you’re in luck. The capital is blessed with a flourishing indie picture house scene, and we’ve scouted out the best independent cinemas in London – the best places to watch 2023’s hottest releases – plus a few luxury screening rooms to boot.
The Best Independent Cinemas In London
1. ArtHouse Cinema
The former Salvation Army base in Crouch End has been transformed into one of the city’s most dynamic arts and film centres. As well as catching a flick, you can also check out workshops, comedy nights and dance performances. And if you have a little one coming between you and a good movie, join the ‘babe in arms’ club every midday at Saturday and enjoy a parent and baby screening.
Where? 159A Tottenham Lane, London N8 9BT
BOOK IT: arthousecrouchend.co.uk
2. The Chiswick Cinema
For the first time since 1934, Chiswick locals don’t have to travel to catch a movie thanks to the launch of a new boutique independent cinema. Situated on Chiswick High Road, The Chiswick Cinema has five screens, as well as its own private members’ club and a dining room available for exclusive bookings. The venue screens a mix of big blockbusters and smaller independent films.
Where? 94-96 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London W4 1SH
BOOK IT: chiswickcinema.co.uk
3. The Cinema at Selfridges
The Cinema at Selfridges is a three-screen film hub complete with exceptional sound and vision. A collaboration between Selfridges and independent cinema specialists Olympic Studios, the futuristic film destination screens a spectacular range of independent and blockbuster movies with a food and drinks menu to envy all others – think delicious snacks from lobster rolls with lemon and chive mayonnaise to classic hot dogs with tasty toppings or popcorn chicken. If you’re feeling extra fancy, book out the whole cinema for a group of friends – check out the various different packages available here.
Where? 40 Duke Street, London W1U 1AT
BOOK IT: thecinemaatselfridges.com
4. Electric Cinema White City
Having opened its doors to the film enthusiasts of White City and beyond, Electric Cinema’s latest venue (BBC’s former home at Television Centre) boasts 44 luxurious mohair armchairs with cosy cashmere blankets and footstalls, fascinating artwork and an auditorium bar for all those crucial cinema snacks. Sit down to a brand new film release with a cocktail or glass of bubbles and enjoy this venue’s fantastic fusion of contemporary and decadent independent cinema.
Where? 2, Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, London W12 7FR
BOOK IT: electriccinema.co.uk
5. BFI Southbank
Why not take yourself straight to the heart of the action and take in a film at the BFI Southbank? The four-screen cinema shows a wide range of classic and contemporary films, and you can also check out an exhibition or two from the BFI archive.
Where? 0 Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT
BOOK IT: whatson.bfi.org.uk
6. Ritzy Cinema & Cafe
Open since 1911, Brixton’s ‘Electric Pavillion’ was one of England’s earliest purpose built cinemas with 750 seats in a single auditorium. After a host of name changes, it is now commonly known as the ‘Ritzy’. Since 2009 the interiors have been restored to the original style, and a live music offering has been added upstairs.
Where? Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane, London SW2 1JG
BOOK IT: picturehouses.com
7. Ciné Lumière
Popular with the hip young London crowd, this South Kensington cinema, named for the Lumiere brothers (and part of the Institute Francais), does a ‘film for a fiver’ deal for Under 25s. Known for its French, European and world cinema offering, it’s a London mecca for foreign film buffs (and those looking to brush up on their French).
Where? 17 Queensberry Place, South Kensington, London SW7 2DW
BOOK IT: institut-francais.org.uk
8. Electric Cinema Portobello
Independent cinemas don’t come more luxurious than this. The interior of Electric Portobello features 65 leather armchairs and footstools, a handful of two-seater sofas at the back and (for the really tired) the front row is covered with double beds. The kind folks at Electric even throw in a cashmere blanket to ensure you can get really cosy.
Where? 191 Portobello Road, London W11 2ED
BOOK IT: eletriccinema.co.uk
9. Genesis Cinema
If you like your cinema with a side-helping of history, check out Genesis. Entertaining the East End since 1848, Charlie Chaplin was a regular at the ‘Paragon Theatre of Varieties’ before becoming a Hollywood star. The building was converted to a cinema in 1912, and despite a closure in 1989, the latest incarnation of the picture house is a firm favourite in the London film scene.
Where? 93-95 Mile End Road, Bethnal Green, London E1 4UJ
BOOK IT: genesiscinema.co.uk
10. Regent Street Cinema
The birthplace of British Cinema, despite only reopening in 2015, this cinema has a rich history. Built in 1848 and housed within the Polytechnic Institution on London’s Regent Street, the screening rooms were the first in the country to show moving pictures. With grand interiors and a daily changing film schedule, it’s always worth a visit.
Where? 307 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW
BOOK IT: regentstreetcinema.com
11. The Lexi Cinema
A very different offering in the capital. This independent cinema is run by volunteers, with all proceeds going to charity. Choose between indie flicks and blockbuster hits, or rent out this impressive space for a private party or a wedding. Either way, you can enjoy your slice of the London film scene knowing you’re serving the greater good. That’s our kind of Friday night.
Where? 194b Chamberlayne Road, London NW10 3JU
BOOK IT: thelexicinema.co.uk
12. Everyman Cinema
The original Everyman Cinema is found in Hampstead, with two screens and staff serving food and drinks to a luxe sofa – you cant go wrong. The films on show are a mix of mainstream and independent, meaning that you can change it up between a blockbuster and an arts number. There are others dotted around London, everywhere from Chelsea to Belsize Park and King’s Cross.
Where? 5 Holly Bush Vale, London NW3 6TX
BOOK IT: everymancinema.com
13. Picture House Central
Situated on top of the old Cineworld in Piccadilly, this revamped independent cinema has more to offer than popcorn and a blockbuster. Aside from the comfy screening rooms, there’s a super café and rooftop members bar with excellent views, making it an unbeatable date venue.
Where? Piccadilly Circus, Corner of Great Windmill Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7DH
BOOK IT: picturehouses.com
14. The Phoenix Cinema
The Phoenix is London’s longest-running cinema, open continuously since 1910. The interior of this single-screened cinema a sight to behold; whether or not the film you’re watching floats your boat. Don’t leave without sampling the homemade cakes or hearty soups from the bar upstairs.
Where? 52 High Road, London N2 9PJ
BOOK IT: phoenixcinema.co.uk
15. Curzon Mayfair
This cinema, whose four walls have seen over 80 years of film, has two of its original royal boxes in Screen One, which seats 307 people. The Grade II listed building is a luxurious treat for movie-goers with its originally fitted Art Deco cafe that boasts fabric covered walls, vintage furniture and a healthy dose of 1960s class.
Where? 38 Curzon Street, London W1J 7TY
BOOK IT: curzon.com
16. The Rio
The grade-II listed independent Art Deco Cinema in Dalston has weekend matinees plus subtitled screenings for parents and loud children.
Where? 107 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB
BOOK IT: riocinema.org.uk
17. The Cinema Suite
This is, perhaps, not one for someone to complain about spending more than a tenner to see a film. The Cinema Suite in St James’s is, however, the answer to a special occasion for a cinephile who is feeling flush. The interiors are inspired by Hollywood and Indian cinema – that is 1,832 square feet of journey into film, equipped with an 85-inch high-definition 3D TV and a surround sound system from Steinway Lyngdorf. A butler serves cinematic dishes, the bar is fully stocked and there are two bedrooms, a dining room, study, kitchen and living room.
Where? Suites and Residencies, 51 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF
BOOK IT: taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk