Celluloid-derived delight: London’s finest cinemas

Prince Charles Cinema on Map

So, you’re thinking of coming to London and probably staying in the leafy, aspirational environs of Kensington and Chelsea? Well, one of the things to consider for such a short-break – in addition to where to stay in Chelsea – will doubtless be where to go out of an evening in the area (and further afield in Central London). In which case, how about visiting one of the city’s several, highly acclaimed cinemas for a night of celluloid-derived delight…?

Prince Charles Cinema

(7 Leicester Place WC2H 7BP)

Notorious for its bill that’s chock-a-block full of cult classics, the Prince Charles is revered by its devotees for its commitment to eclecticism but also its encouragement for audience participation at many screenings – some of which can feel more like attending a pantomime or even a football match than a movie-showing. All of which makes for an evening spent at this picture-house as something a bit different – it truly can be a bit of a liberating experience watching a movie in public in such a manner. For instance, this is the place in London to pop along to for sing-along screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Sound of Music and Frozen, ‘acapella-alongs’ of ‘Pitch Perfect’, all-night pyjama-party-marathons of horror and teen movie greats and even highly interactive showings of the so-awful-it’s-fantastic schlock-fest that’s The Room. Indeed, there’s a reason why this wild-card of a cinema has been voted the city’s ‘best for fun’ by Time Out.

Screen on the Green

(83 Upper Street N1 0NU)

One of the oldest cinemas in the entire UK, the marvellously monikered Screen on the Green (whose name refers to Islington Green, located more or less across the street from it) first opened its doors 105 years ago and has never evolved into anything more than a single-cinema-screen venue, which is wonderful in its own way; certainly rather quaint. Nowadays, its mixture of mostly arthouse movies old and new can be viewed from either standard or premier seats (the latter are ideal for spoiling yourself on a night out, being ‘luxurious sofas with footrests’). You’ll find a well-stocked bar located at the back of the building and, should you be lucky, your visit may also coincide with a screening attended by that film’s director, there to deliver an introduction and/ or Q&A session.

Electric Notting Hill

(191 Portobello Road W11 2ED)

Another decades-and-decades-old London picture-house, Notting Hill’s Electric cinema is a great evening-out highlight of West London, not least because it’s also a particularly romantic attraction for loved ones to visit on a short-break spent staying at the relatively nearby San Domenico hotel. Having been lovingly restored by the Soho House property group, it nowadays features the likes of leather chairs, footstools, luscious cashmere blankets and even waiter-served cocktails (direct to your seat); in short, the height of luxury for a cinema. But what truly makes it so ideal for an amorous evening out? Well, its front row of seats are effectively velvet-lined beds, meaning that smooching’s expected on the front not the back row here!

Ciné Lumière

(Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, 17 Queensberry Place SW7 2DT)

Finally, there’s no better reason for foreign-language-film-lovers to flock to vintage Kensington than to give a visit this venue, which is tailor-made for screening new releases and old classics of world cinema. Actually located in L’Institut Français (or for non-French speakers, the French Cultural Institute), it’s somewhere that unsurprisingly is a go-to should you be interested in not just seeing the work of French filmmakers, but also to catch them themselves, when they’re in town, for ticketed discussions of their oeuvre. Graced with both a decent café-restaurant and a marble staircase in its fetching lobby, this is a hard to resist cinema, to say the least.