At the movies: the best cinemas in London

Forget Netflix and chill – for a real sense of occasion, visit one of London's most impressive cinemas, from silver screen stalwarts to boutique pop-ups and intimate rooftop venues. Expect comfy seats, expert service and proper popcorn.

12 February 2020

The Electric Cinema, Notting Hill

Originally opened in 1910, the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road is one of London’s oldest cinemas. Now owned by the Soho House empire, it has been beautifully restored with the group's signature cool and homely aesthetic, while still retaining an air of old-school grandeur. Recline in red leather armchairs or upgrade to one of six velvet-lined double beds – perfect for date night. 

Time: 9am-8.30pm (Sunday 10am–8.30pm) Price: from £12.50 Location: 191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2ED Closest Station: Notting Hill Website: electriccinema.co.uk

The Cinema at Selfridges, Mayfair 

In 2019, Selfridges became the first department store in the to lay claim to its own permanent cinema. Created in partnership with Olympic Studios, the immersive space boasts three screening rooms, the largest of which has 80 seats, and shows a diverse roster of blockbusters and independent films. Order food and drinks at the lobby bar, including afternoon tea, before settling into a plush reclining chair. There is a membership loyalty programme, which includes invitation-only screenings and complimentary tickets. 

Cinema at Selfridges

Time: 12-9:30pm Address: 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB Closest Station: Bond Street Website: thecinematselfridges.com

The Rooftop Cinema at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge has transformed its acclaimed rooftop into a winter cinema escape. Snuggle up in a cosy log cabin beneath the stars and watch You've Got Mail (1999) and The Greatest Showman (2017) every Wednesday and Friday throughout February, with a glass of champagne in hand. Fresh bites from The Berkeley kitchen are served throughout the film, which is shown on a large projector screen. The intimate alfresco experience sits just four couples per screening. 

The Berkeley rooftop cinema

Date: Every Wednesday and Friday in February Time: 5.15pm and 7.30pm Price: £95 per person, including food and hot drinks Location: The Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL Closest Station: Knightsbridge Website: the-berkeley.co.uk

BFI Southbank, Waterloo

The BFI Southbank is a cinema for film buffs and indie types, often showing cult classics starring Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen, alongside the latest releases. It is the flagship for the British Film Institute and regularly hosts festivals, Q&As and retrospective events. With views overlooking Waterloo Bridge and the Thames, the BFI Riverside Bar and Restaurant is a hangout in its own right too, with a lively alfresco terrace during the warmer months.

BFI Southbank cinema and riverside restaurant

Time: varies, see website for details. The bar and restaurant opens 10am-11pm Price: £6-£19 Location: Belvedere Road, Bishop's, London SE1 8XT Closest Station: Waterloo Website: bfi.org.uk

Film and Fizz at One Aldwych, Covent Garden

One Aldwych reopened last year following a multi-million-pound refurbishment, which included a redesign of the bar and restaurant. The popular Friday night Film and Fizz series includes an intimate film screening in the five-star hotel's screening room, which sits just 30 guests, followed by dinner in the newly revamped Indigo restaurant, or a set brunch at Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar on Saturdays. Films are handpicked in partnership with Curzon cinemas and this season includes Bombshell, Parasite and The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Film and Fizz at One Aldwych, Covent Garden

Date: See website for details Time: Friday: 6.30pm film screening followed by dinner; Saturday: brunch followed by film screening at 2pm Price: from £55 per person Location: One Aldwych, London WC2B 4BZ  Closest Station: Charing Cross Websiteonealdwych.com 

Curzon, Mayfair

Located in a Grade-II listed building in the heart of Mayfair, Historic England has described Curzon Mayfair as “the finest surviving cinema building of the post-war period…the interior of the cinema is the most elaborate.” The plush foyer, old-school charm and moody lighting make going to this cinema feel like an occasion. Become a member of Curzon cinemas and enjoy year-round access to previews, exclusive screenings and industry talks.

Time: Monday to Sunday, cinema opens 15 minutes before the first film of the day and closes 15 minutes after the start time of the last film of the day Price: from £10.60  Location: 38 Curzon Street, London W1J 7TY Closest Station: Green Park Website: curzoncinemas.com

The Ritzy, Brixton

One of south London's oldest cinemas, The Ritzy in Brixton a local institution. Now part of the Picturehouse cinema group, it offers a balance of blockbuster movies and independent films, as well the occasional cult classic. The ground floor cinema bar is a destination in its own right, with a buzzing atmosphere and an all-day cafe menu. The Upstairs Bar is a more intimate space, which regularly hosts stand up comedy shows and club nights. 

Time: Monday to Sunday, 3-10:30pm  Price: from £11.50 Location: Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane, Lambeth, SW2 1JG Closest Station Brixton Website picturehouses.com

Archlight Cinema, Battersea

A brand new cinema in the heart of Battersea Power Station’s regenerated district, this cinema is packed with the latest tech including state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos surround sound theatres. With a sound-proofed design, you’ll be fully immersed in the world’s greatest films as London Overground trains travel silently above you. Best of all, it's located in one of London's most exciting urban projects so the theatricality never stops. 

Time: Monday to Sunday, 10am-12am  Location: 22 Arches Ln, Nine Elms, London SW11 8AB Closest Station: Battersea Park Website: archlightcinema.co.uk