At the movies: The best cinemas in London

Luxury London

1 June 2021

From silver screen stalwarts to boutique pop-ups and intimate rooftop venues, expect comfy seats, expert service and proper popcorn at these exceptional cinemas.

1 June 2021 Luxury London

Whether you're a film fanatic or sporadic visitor to the big screen, the closure of cinemas has been been a small but keenly felt side effect of the pandemic. With cinemas reopening this week, alongside indoor dining, pubs and hotels, now is the time to treat yourself to a great night out at the movies. But forget your local mutliplex. For the luxurious experience you deserve, treat yourself to a ticket to one of London's truly sophisticated cinemas. Here are our favourites...

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. Comfort food and cocktails are on offer from the in-house Electric Diner while the whole venue can be booked for private hire for a really memorable night out.

From £17.50; 191 Portobello Road, W11; electriccinema.co.uk

Backyard Cinema, Wandsworth

Image: Grant Walker

Backyard Cinema's sell-out immersive film experiences will be returning to the capital this summer, transforming the blank canvas that is Wandsworth's Capital Studios. This season's two themes are L.A. Nights and Miami Beach. Sip cocktails under a palm tree as you snuggle up on the cinema's comfy bean bag chairs at the former and feel the sand between your toes under guaranteed sunshine at the latter. The all-American blockbusters on offer this season include The Greatest Showman, Grease, Pitch Perfect, E.T. and La La Land

From £19.99; 13 Wandsworth Plain, SW18; backyardcinema.co.uk

The Cinema at Selfridges, Mayfair 

In 2019, Selfridges became the first department store in the capital 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, while the cinema is also part of the offering in Selfridges' new wedding packages.

From £20; 40 Duke Street, W1U; thecinematselfridges.com

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.

From £8; Belvedere Road, SE1; bfi.org.uk

Curzon, Mayfair

Located in a Grade II-listed building in the heart of Mayfair, which was commisioned by Marques Casa Maury in 1934, 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.

From £10.60; 38 Curzon Street, W1J; curzoncinemas.com

The Ritzy, Brixton

One of south London's oldest cinemas, The Ritzy in Brixton is 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. 

From £7.90; Brixton Oval, SW2; 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, as well as an extensive food and drink offering. 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. 

From £12.50; 22 Arches Ln, SW11; archlightcinema.co.uk

Read more: When are West End theatres reopening?