Unique and Unusual Cinemas in London

Find London's unique and atmospheric cinemas, showing foreign language films, 3D events and sing-a-long specials.

London has lots of unique, intimate and independent cinemas.

You can relax in decadent surroundings at the Electric, feel like you're part of the action at IMAX cinema or sing along to your favourite movie musicals at the Prince Charles. We've picked a selection of London's most interesting cinemas, all of them well worth a visit.

The Lexi Cinema

The Lexi Cinema is an 80-seat venue in North-West London. It's the city's first "social enterprise" arthouse cinema, where all profits go to charity. The Lexi shows latest release films as well as hosting special screenings for festivals and fundraising events, which are often accompanied by parties in the cinema's chic surrounds.    

BFI Southbank

BFI Southbank screens classic, contemporary, avant garde and traditional films from around the world and much closer to home. Visitors can also browse hundreds of hours of film and TV from the BFI (British Film Institute) National Archive, check out the drop-in studio cinema, and shop for a range of films and books at the Filmstore.

The Ritzy

The Ritzy in Brixton is the UK's largest independent specialist cinema. It shows a mix of arthouse, mainstream and world movies on its five screens. Built in 1910, the Ritzy retains its unique proscenium arch, as well as a few stray cherubs, making it one of the most complete examples of London's early cinemas. 

Tricycle Cinema

The Tricycle's output reflects the diversity of its community in the London borough of Brent. In 2009, more than 40,000 young people visited to see films and plays, or to take part in workshops. As well as a theatre, the Tricycle houses a modern, 300-seater cinema, showing the best independent and arthouse films from around the world. 

Phoenix Cinema

East Finchely's Grade II listed Phoenix Cinema is the UK's oldest purpose-built cinema still in operation. A £1.1 million refurb was completed in 2010. Phoenix's film programme includes new releases, independent, foreign-language and specialist films, plus a repertoire of old and new classics. The venue regularly hosts a kids club, festivals, talks, screenings and school workshops.

Screen on the Green

Perhaps unusually for a cinema, Islington's Screen on the Green is best known for hosting a legendary 1976 gig featuring the Buzzcocks, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. Nowadays, the Edwardian moviehouse with just one screen boasts an in-cinema bar serving food & drinks and your choice of comfy cinema seats or double couches. 

Gate Picturehouse

Part of the Picturehouse group of cinemas, the Gate is a beautiful and intimate Edwardian single-screen cinema in Notting Hill. Specialising in foreign language and art-house films, the Gate also shows mainstream releases and has a well-stocked bar and famously plush seats.

Rio Cinema

The 100-year-old Rio Cinema on Kingsland High Street in Dalston proudly claims to serve sections of the community who are often ignored by mainstream commercial cinema. Annual film festivals showcase the work of Turkish, Kurdish, Spanish and Gay & Lesbian filmmakers. Plus there's midweek Classic Matinées, a kids' film club and babes-in-arms sessions. 

Aubin Cinema

Aubin Cinema is a 45-seat theatre featuring velvet chairs and sofas, with a separate bar area. The cinema is in the basement of the Aubin & Wills concept store on Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, which features a retail store and Aubin Gallery. The cinema is run in conjunction with Shoreditch House private members' club but anyone can buy tickets to films here. 

Coronet Cinema

The Coronet opened as a theatre in 1898. Nowadays it operates as two-screen cinema that's known from a scene in the movie Notting Hill. The Coronet has three tiers of seating, stalls, circle and gallery (presently unused) comprising of 400 seats. Screen two has 151 seats. Although in need of refurbishment, the Coronet remains a wonderful venue not only for films but also for other functions.

IMAX 3D at the Science Museum

For an exciting cinema experience, head to the Science Museum's IMAX 3D cinema, don a pair of silly-looking glasses and immerse yourself in the action. While you're at the state-of-the-art museum, explore the science of IMAX, as well as other scientific delights. Want more? Check out BFI IMAX, home to the UK's largest cinema screen.

Prince Charles Cinema

Just off Leicester Square, the Prince Charles is an independent cinema offering cut-price tickets for a range of films: blockbusters as well as specialist screenings. Don't miss the sing-along nights, where audience participation is strongly encouraged. Belt out your favourites from The Sound of Music, Grease or the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Electric Cinema

Opened in 1910, the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road is one of London's oldest cinemas. Nowadays, The Electric screens both mainstream and arthouse films. Comfort is paramount with large leather armchairs, footstools and side tables for your food and drink, plus a well-stocked bar at the back of the cinema.

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