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The 25 best cinemas in London

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

Ciné Lumière, Kensington
1/25

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)
2/25
©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
3/25

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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PeckhamPlex
4/25

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
5/25

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

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Greenwich Picturehouse
6/25

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
7/25

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
8/25

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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Barbican
9/25

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
10/25

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
11/25

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
12/25

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
13/25

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
14/25

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
15/25

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
16/25

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 
17/25

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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BFI IMAX
18/25

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
19/25

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
20/25

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
21/25

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

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BFI Southbank 
22/25

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
23/25

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
24/25

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 
25/25

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

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