Here’s your guide to the most beautiful, unique and individual cinemas in London.
Good news friends: more women are empowering themselves to travel solo, visiting the far-flung corners of the earth on a pilgrimage of independence, self-care and, of course, fun.
The Post Office reports that three in 10 women have now traveled alone, with 20% more thinking about it. But funnily enough, although there’s been an increase in reports of the positive mental health benefits of taking a solo trip and the number of women sharing their stories, we still have a problem spending time by ourselves closer to home.
Maybe it’s the worry that someone we know will see us and think we look a bit odd if we’re caught having dinner alone in our local area, or that the familiarity of our hometown isn’t enough of a novelty to keep us entertained. Whatever the block is, there’s one place that seems to suffer the most, and it’s cinemas.
According to the Post Office’s research, 31% of us feel uncomfortable watching a film alone, which is a crying shame considering how many beautiful cinemas there are in London.
If you’ve been looking for the nudge to take yourself to the movies, consider this your go-to guide. We’ve hunted high and low to suss out the most beautiful, interesting, historic and quirky cinemas around London, all of which are truly lovely places to spend a few hours by yourself.
At the heart of the Institut Français is Ciné Lumière, an Art Deco cinema that has a particular emphasis on French, European and World cinema. Not only is the exterior of the building absolutely gorgeous, there is much to do inside, such as visiting the wood-panelled and parquet floored library, which features a balcony and stained-glass windows.
The cinema’s programme features new and old releases and often houses post-screening discussions with actors and directors, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a more in-depth cultural experience.
Surrounded by some of London’s other beacons of culture, Ciné Lumière can be found in South Kensington, just down from the Natural History and Victoria & Albert museums.
Electric Cinema Portobello
Now this one’s a looker. Take yourself for a delightful stroll down Portobello Road, and after seeing the pretty-as-a-picture sights on one of West London’s most famous streets, stop into the Electric Cinema for unique film-watching experience.
The cinema belongs to the Soho House group, who certainly know how to do things in style, so if you’re a member you’ll receive a bit of a discount although anyone’s welcome to attend a screening. The red velvet decor and gold touches make it a very special place to enjoy the wonders of the big screen, and the seating is extra comfy, too. Armchairs come as standard, but you can splash out on a mini sofa if you really want to sprawl out.
At the heart of the Brixton community lies the Ritzy cinema. Not only does it host small events with independent artists to support local businesses, but it’s readograph on the cinema’s exterior is often the source of a smile for those who walk past, as the Ritzy rents it out to cinema-lovers to spread messages of their choosing.
Because of all this the Ritzy is a pretty lovely place to be. The good-natured staff will happily pour you a glass of vino before your screening, and the upstairs bar is a nice place to read a book or have a bit of alone time while you wait.
The Prince Charles Cinema
The Prince Charles Cinema is the last independent still going in Central London’s West End and chooses a programme of films and seasons that reflect this. If you’re a fan of cult hits, you’re going to like it here, where all-nighters dedicated to Jurassic Park are the norm and visitors are invited to make suggestions to listings.
Although it’s super central location puts it among a sea of corporate giants, The Prince Charles is dedicated to holding onto its small business charms, and still includes ushers in all of its screenings for a personal touch.
Images: Alessia Armenise