From modern luxury screens to buildings with a rich cinematic history, London’s best cinemas are a destination in their own right. You could watch Barbie from a cinema bed or see the King’s Speech at the Prince Charles Cinema. London has long embraced the magic of cinema, and it has a wonderful selection of screens and eclectic films to suit your mood. Here’s our pick of the best independent London cinemas to catch a flick.
Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Place
Just off Leicester Square, Prince Charles Cinema is Central London’s only independent cinema, and a film industry favourite. You could well sit next to directors Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright and Kevin Smith (who has a toilet cubicle named in his honour). A former 1960s theatre, it does things a little differently. Missed a new release? Catch it here on a second run. Stuck for ideas on a wet Saturday? Check out the weekend double bills. Fancy a cult classic? There’s always one on the bill. This is also the home of sing-along screenings and all-night movie marathons. Come here for films chosen by film lovers for film lovers.
The Cinema in the Powerstation
A new kid in London, The Cinema in the Powerstation opened its doors in 2022 on the third floor of the iconic Battersea Power Station. This cinema is all about the luxury cinematic experience, with two fantastic state-of-the-art screens and cutting-edge sound systems. So you can see film spectacles like 2001: A Space Odyssey at their vivid best. There are plush reclining seats and the sort of private balcony boxes with a minibar you see at a theatre. Wherever you sit, you can recline in comfort with a cocktail or glass of bubbles, pick some snacks from the menu and enjoy a thoroughly immersive cinematic experience of films at their best.
Fancy an art-house flick? The British Film Institute’s four-screen cinema in Southbank always has an eclectic programme of films on show – every day of the week. Here, you could catch a re-released classic, attend a Q&A screening of a documentary or see an animated short by a first-time director. BFI Southbank also hosts the annual London Film Festival, so if you time it right, you could find yourself at a premier screening of the next big thing. There are films every day, and in the archive collection at the BFI Mediatheque, there are over 95,000 film and television titles for free.
Electric Cinema, Notting Hill
If you don’t take nonsense lying down, then perhaps try a movie with your feet up instead. The front row of the Electric Cinema on Notting Hill’s Portobello Road is all double beds for two where you can lie back under a blanket and enjoy a night in bed, at the cinema. There are also large leather armchairs and back row sofas too. Opened in 1910, this is one of London’s oldest picture houses, with an ornate main screen room. There’s also plenty of food, cocktails and a cool bar to enjoy here too. It’s perfect for a date night.
Lexi Cinema, Kensal Rise
This is a small community cinema with a big heart and oversized letters on the building which say “I Am Cinema: Love Me.” That’s very much what locals have been doing since 2008, with all the money they raise supporting a much-loved South African community project, Sustainability Institute. Volunteers run Lexi Cinema and the choice of films is truly independent, so the volunteers pick films for local community groups as well as showing popular releases. The Lexi also has an impressive sound system, and it’s not unheard of for the odd celebrity to pop in unannounced. Don’t miss the original Tracy Emin artwork in the lobby.
When the summer arrives, outdoor screens pop up across the capital too. Find out the best spots to watch a film under a warm starlit sky here. And if you want a place to rest after a big screen night, come and join us at The Clermont, Victoria or The Clermont, Charing Cross for a luxurious stay wrapped in comfort and classic London heritage.