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The 25 best cinemas in London

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

Ciné Lumière, Kensington

A mecca for foreign film lovers, the Lumière is also possibly London’s most elegant cinema, a grade-two listed art deco building with its own Rodin statue.

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The Electric, Shoreditch (©Andrew Brackenbury)
©Andrew Brackenbury

Formerly the Aubin, this snug little cinema owned by the Soho House group has a private members’ club feel – with armchairs, footstools and cashmere blankets.

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Curzon Mayfair

So classy it’s still in possession of two royal boxes, this gorgeous Mayfair venue attracts a slightly older crowd than the Curzon Soho.

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It ain’t fancy, and yes, the carpet has been known to get a little sticky, but you’ll forgive almost anything for tickets costing £4.99 all day, any day (add £1 for 3D).

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The Rio, Dalston

We’re fond of the warm, welcoming shabbiness of the Rio, a proper community cinema showing brilliant flicks.

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Greenwich Picturehouse

Everything you'd expect from the brilliant Picturehouse chain – plump seats, excellent snacks and a programme mixing blockbusters and arthouse releases.

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Everyman Hampstead

Fans come for the cosy atmosphere and full-on luxury experience, with leather sofas, armchairs and waiter service.

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Screen on the Green, Islington

Part of the luxury Everyman chain, this classy little gem of a cinema has some of the fanciest seats in London, with footstools, cushions and drinks service to your seats.

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After a top-to-toe refurb, the Barbican’s cinemas are back, and might just be the most comfortable in London.

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Clapham Picturehouse

Like all Picturehouses this is a super-popular local with a devoted following who come for the anti-multiplex atmosphere and comfy reclining seats.

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Vue Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush

The Vue Westfield is a no-fuss multiplex with impressive sound, great screens and comfy seating – all at wallet-friendly prices.

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Curzon Soho

As regulars will tell you, watching a movie at the Soho Curzon feels special – surrounded by film lovers without it feeling pretentious.

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Hackney Picturehouse

A brilliant neighbourhood cinema, the Picturehouse has only been open for three years, but it’s hard to imagine Hackney without it.

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Cineworld, the O2, Greenwich

A multiplex that supersizes everything, from the jaw-dropping dimensions of the Sky Superscreen – the widest in Europe – down to the jam-packed programme.

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Empire Leicester Square

Prepare to be swallowed up by the screen in the Empire’s main IMAX auditorium, where the sound is big and, no matter where you sit, the view is impressive.

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Genesis, Whitechapel

Lucky old Whitechapel, having the Genesis as its local. This gorgeous cinema is cheap for tickets, beautifully refurbished and a treat if you want to fill your face.

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Electric, Portobello 

The Electric is one of London’s oldest and loveliest cinemas. And with six luxurious, velvet-lined double beds on the front row, it’s perfect for special dates.

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Big is best at the BFI IMAX, which is home to London – and the UK’s – biggest screen at 540 square metres.

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Odeon Leicester Square

Not only do you get blockbuster bangs at this massive 1683-seater cinema, you get them in splendour. The Odeon still has a fully-operational organ and gorgeous 1930s art-deco nymph motifs on the walls.

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Phoenix, East Finchley

The Phoenix lays claim to being one of London’s oldest cinemas. And with its art deco interiors, it’s definitely one of the prettiest.

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Ritzy, Brixton

A Brixton institution, the friendly Ritzy is one of South London’s oldest and grandest picture palaces.

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BFI Southbank 

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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The Lexi, Kensal Green

Locals love the Lexi, a friendly little gem of a community cinema run mostly by volunteers, with just one-screen, room for 77 filmgoers and a newly-refurbished bar. Best of all, all profits go to charity.

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Prince Charles, Leicester Sq

The Prince Charles is the only cinema in London where no one is going to shush you. In fact, it’s all about audience participation. Aca-along to ‘Pitch Perfect’ or sing-along to ‘Frozen’.

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The ArtHouse, Crouch End 

It’s only been open since March 2014, but regulars at Crouch End’s spanking new ArtHouse are so devoted they voted in droves. You say: ‘Friendly atmosphere’, ‘interesting Q&As with actors and directors’, and ‘Popcorn for £1.75!’ We say: ‘Sold’.

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We asked Time Out readers to vote for their favourite London cinema. 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. Do you agree with London’s picks? Comment below…

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By: Time Out editors