19 February 2017 | 11 °C

London's 11 Best Independent Cinemas

London's 11 Best Independent Cinemas

If you're a cinephile in London, you're in luck.

London's independent cinemas are flourishing, with more and more quality venues showing films past and present, home-grown and foreign.

Note: we know cinemas from the Curzon, Everyman and Picturehouse groups have plenty of local fans, but we're not including them in this list, because, even though many of them are very lovely, we're not sure they absolutely fulfil the 'indie cinema' criteria any more.

Disagree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below.

1. Arthouse Cinema

More than just a cinema, the Arthouse in Crouch End mixes the world of film, art, live music, theatre, dance, workshops, live streaming, comedy, and anything else that takes their fancy into one community-serving arts venue. They've even got a film-themed book club.

Arthouse Cinema, Crouch End.

The cosy two-screen cinema opened in Crouch End's former Salvation Army Hall in 2014; it's become a welcome addition to London's indie cinema scene, particularly since the seats were done up.

Best for: Cosy cinema, and some art on the side
Prices: £7-£11
Address: 159A Tottenham Lane, N8 9BT
Website: www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk

2. BFI Southbank

The BFI Southbank's four screens show classic, independent and non-English language films, plus new and re-releases.

Outside the BFI. Photo by Martin Carey.

As well as showing more than 2,000 films each year, The BFI Southbank also hosts the annual BFI London Film Festival (the UK's largest film festival) and offers punters an exciting exhibition space, plus masses of books and free films in the on-site Reuben Library and Mediatheque, and well-appointed cafes and bars for pre- or post-film sustenance.

Best for: Getting your cinema geek on at the same time as seeing critically acclaimed films
Prices: £5.59-£9.15, more if you want to add gift aid. (Last-minute tickets for under 25s are just £3.)
Address: South Block, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT
Website: whatson.bfi.org.uk

3. Cine Lumiere

Cine Lumiere is part of the Institut Francais, the French Cultural Institute in London, just a stone's throw from the V&A and the Natural History Museum.

The Institute Francais, which houses the Cine Lumiere. Photo by Michael Goldrei.

Located in an art deco masterpiece (look out for the marble staircase, complete with Rodin statue), and named after the Lumiere brothers, this cinema shows contemporary French, European and world cinema, as well as French classics on a Sunday. And there's special programming for kids.

Best for: Foreign films
Prices: £10-£12; A fiver if you're under 25.  
Address: 17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT
Website: www.institut-francais.org.uk/cine-lumiere

4. Electric Cinema

The Electric Cinema is one of the oldest working cinemas in the country; not that you'd know from its beautifully refurbished, plush interior.

Electric cinema. Photo by The Wright Archive.

Watch new releases with a glass of red, from one of of 65 leather armchairs with footstalls and side tables; or push your cinematic boat out and book one of the six double beds in the front row, complete with snuggly cashmere blankets.

It's like watching films from the comfort of your own home, but, well, much, much better.

Best For: Indulgent film watching
Prices: £12.50-£22.50.
Address: 191 Portobello Road, W11 2ED
Website: www.electriccinema.co.uk

5. Genesis

This incarnation of the Genesis Cinema opened in 1999; but the Whitechapel venue has been offering real East Enders a variety of different forms of entertainment since 1848 (pub, music hall, cinema: you name it, the building's done it).

Genesis Cinema. Photo by Alex Pink.

Today's Genesis offers five screens of cinematic delights: choose between mainstream and accessible arthouse offerings, as well as festivals, special events, poetry slams and more.

For a special treat, book seats in the luxurious Studio 5, and take one of the 40 armchairs, footstools and blankets before ordering from the in-screen bar.

On top of that, the Genesis Cinema's cafe offers Cro-doughs, the kitchen serves pies, and bar dispenses cocktails. What more could you want?

Best For: A luxurious boutique cinema experience  
Prices: £4.50-£14
Address: 93-95 Mile End Road, E1 4UJ
Website: genesiscinema.co.uk

6. The Lexi Cinema

This boutique, independent cinema inside a renovated Edwardian theatre is also a charitable social enterprise; those friendly staff helping you to tickets, popcorn and drinks are pretty much all volunteers.

The Lexi Cinema.

The Lexi's single screen plays a mix of everything from today's blockbusters to arthouse and foreign films; plus they host special events, and Q&As; the Saturday morning Kids Club raises money for local schools; add to that comfy seating, a stunning sound-system and a cosy bar. The cinephiles of Kensal Green are a lucky bunch.

Best For: Planning a private screening — you know all your money's going to a good cause.
Prices: £5-£11
Address: 194B Chamberlayne Road, NW10 3JU
Website: thelexicinema.co.uk

7. Peckhamplex

Peckhamplex is London's only independent multiplex. Scruffy around the edges but with a big heart, like the rest of Peckham, The Plex is mainly loved for the cheapness of its ticket prices.

Peckhamplex.

There are six screens, usually dominated by blockbusters; but recently the 'Plex team has committed to showing at least one "independent, art-house or foreign language film" a week. They also host Q&As and special events; it's one of the venues in the innovative Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival.

You don't choose Peckham Plex because it has a great website, plush seating, or organic on-trend snack options; you go because it's cheap and cheerful.

Best For: Pretending you're stuck in a 90s time-warp. And did we mention it was cheap?
Prices: £4.99, all day, every day.
Address: 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Website: www.peckhamplex.london

8. Phoenix Cinema

The Phoenix on Finchley Road is one of the oldest continuously running cinemas in the UK; it opened in 1912 and is still flourishing today, showing a combination of new releases; arthouse films; live streams from theatre, opera and old school classics.

Phoenix Cinema at night after the centenary works were completed. Photo used under wikicommons licence.

By contributing to this charitable enterprise, punters at the Phoenix are in good company; its patrons include Benedict Cumberbatch, Maureen Lipman, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Michael Palin and Mark Kermode.

Best For: Old school cinematic charm
Prices: £5-£11
Address: 52 High Road, N2 9PJ
Website: phoenixcinema.co.uk

9. Prince Charles Cinema

The Prince Charles is the last remaining independent cinema in the West End; previous uses for the 1960s building have been a theatre, and a porn cinema.

Today, the Prince Charles proudly offers a little bit of everything: quirky and classic film screenings, blockbusters, special events and retrospectives. Seasons dedicated to 007 and Jurassic Park have run alongside Sundays dedicated to Studio Ghibli and Jacques Rivette and Ingmar Bergman.

We particularly like the sing-a-long-a sessions at the Prince Charles: very silly evenings dedicated to dressing up and crowing along to the Sound of Music, Grease, Dirty Dancing and more.

The Prince Charles Cinema. Photo by taigatrommelchen.

Kudos too, to this cinema's cool use of its canopy; as well as advertising films, it also sports cult film quotes, obscure messages, other gags and taunts other local cinemas.

Best For: Movie marathons and fabulous singalongs
Prices: £4-£16
Address: 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY
Website: www.princecharlescinema.com

10. Regent Street Cinema

A film lover's dream, the Regent Street Cinema is the birthplace of British cinema: it's here that in 1896, the Lumière brothers' Cinématographe was first shown to a paying audience.

Following a £6.1m restoration project, completed in 2015, the stunning Regent Street Cinema is now one of the few places in the country you can see 16mm and 35mm film, as well as the latest in 4K digital film.

Inside the freshly restored Regent Street Cinema.

Alongside exclusive premieres, retrospectives, documentaries, animation and experimental cinema, the cinema hosts a kids club, and offers indulgent double-bills.

Best For: Gilt-edged cinematic history
Prices: £7-£12
Address: 309 Regent Street, W1B 2UW
Website: www.regentstreetcinema.com

11. Rio Cinema

The not-for-profit Rio Cinema in Dalston offers just one screen within its lush, Grade II listed art deco interior.

Rio Cinema, Dalston. Photo used under wikicommons licence.

Films shown on the Rio's one screen range from blockbusters to arthouse classics, with late shows at the weekend, some double bills on Sundays, and popular special screenings for children and the over 50s. If you have a Hackney library card, your Tuesday night tickets are even cheaper.

Best For: Grandparents and kids. Separately, or together.
Prices: £4-£11
Address: 107 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB
Website: riocinema.org.uk

Last Updated 27 September 2016

Mark

The Phoenix is located in Finchley, which is a a good 10-20 minutes from Finchley Road...

Marla

The Prince Charles cinema is by far the best cinema in London. 35mm and 70mm equipped!!

ML

Another independent cinema worth visiting is the 52 seat Shortwave cinema in Bermondsey Square. Could it be the smallest cinema in London?