Chances are if you see a movie in London it'll end up being at one of the mega-chain's such as Vue or Odeon. Fortunately, a few boutique cinema houses still exist. One such is The Electric Cinema on trendy Portobello Road, a place everyone should experience at least once in their life. It's easy to miss on market days, but shines like a beacon at night, with the blue neon 'Electric' sign hanging over the pavement.
Known as 'that cinema with couches', The Electric offers a more affable movie viewing experience, with plush leather armchairs and footstools. It was restored in 2002, with cream coloured walls, red velvet-like recesses and golden trimmings – maintaining its early 20th century feel. Only 98 leather armchairs and a handful of leather sofas fill the interior, keeping the cinema sparse and roomy. Each chair also has an adjoining small wooden table for food, and a deep recess for a bottle of wine or water.
The Electric sells food and drinks to match the luxury seating experience. Forget about traditional cinema food such as buttered popcorn, sweets or pre-frozen ice cream cones. Expect mushroom risotto, stuffed quail eggs and breaded prawns drizzled with sweet Thai chilli sauce, all at only £3, served in small round tubs with wooden cutlery. And…what's this…a bar? Indeed. It serves booze and beverages, and closes before the feature starts so as not to ruin your enjoyment with the clink of glasses.
Ticket prices vary. Evening shows Tuesday through Sunday can cost £12.50, but this is still good value for the experience. Members, front-row sitters or odd-time-visitors can get in for an extremely reasonable £7.50.
The Electric Cinema is at 191 Portobello Road. Pre-book tickets – they sell out very quickly.
By Patrick Kua