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The 25 best cinemas in London

We present London’s top picture palaces – as chosen by Londoners

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen
&
Time Out Film
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Nature is healing and so are London’s ever-resilient cinemas. After a year-and-a-bit of upheaval almost without precedent, the big picture is part of our lives again. It’s time to celebrate the city’s picturehouses in all their diversity and differences: Whether you’re after a luxury multiplex in Leicester Square or a two-screened independent in Hackney, this wonderful city has something to cater to all needs. And despite it all, there are more cinemas on the way.

With so many to choose from, finding a picture palace to spend your time in can be a risky business (see what we did there?). But rather than head around the capital to judge where you should see the next big blockbuster, we asked you, the Time Out readers, to vote for your favourites. The results are not entirely unexpected – a rundown of our city’s loveliest, buzziest and friendliest local cinemas, with a couple of the big boys thrown in. So without further ado, here are London’s best cinemas as chosen by you.

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London's best cinemas

BFI Southbank
  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • South Bank

The BFI Southbank, nestling under Waterloo Bridge, is movie heaven for film lovers (the kind who know their Kurosawa from their Kubrick).

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  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Stratford

This east London branch (further east than the Hackney Picturehouse) offers a nice, quieter alternative to the ginormous multiplex housed in Westfield. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon at the pictures. 

 

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Crouch End Picturehouse
  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Crouch End

With four screens and a restaurant, this Crouch End outpost of the Picturehouse's winning cinema chain is a firm favourite with Londoners. 

Empire Walthamstow
  • Cinemas
  • Walthamstow

With nine screens in its arsenal, this 1,200 seater cinema is not one to be sniffed at. Even better: it’s half-price on Tuesdays. 

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Lexi Cinema
  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Kensal Rise

Locals love the Lexi, a friendly little gem of a community cinema run mostly by volunteers where all profits go to charity. With help from that community, it has shrugged off a recent fire to expand with a new, crowdfunded second screen and a ‘Lexi Hub’ space. Expect all the same film and arts goodness, only even more of it.

Everyman Muswell Hill
  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Muswell Hill

Housed in what used to be an Odeon, this grade II listed building boasts three screens and is another jewel in Everyman's crown of luxury cinemas. 

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Rich Mix
  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Shoreditch

Shoreditch's independent cultural centre houses three cinema screens alongside exhibition and performance spaces and a cafe/bar. Run as a charity, it's a vibrant arts hub too. Any given week could see it hosting an assortment of gigs, theatre shows, art exhibitions, themed festivals and all manner of workshops. 

David Lean Cinema
  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Croydon

Located in an attractive grade II listed clock tower in Croydon, this community-run cinema screens arthouse films, classic re-releases and new blockbusters in intimate surroundings. The staff (mostly volunteers) are super friendly and the prices affordable – not your standard multiplex offering, then.

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