Whether it’s a romantic date or a trip into the centre of town with your friends, the wide variety of film choices in central London means that you’ll often find yourself looking for somewhere to eat and drink in and around the heart of the city.
Although there are more cinemas and a wider variety of films in central London than in any other part of town, there is one unavoidable downside. No matter where you go, you’ll end up paying more for the pleasure. To help out, we’ve picked out some of the best cinemas in the area and also highlighted some of our favourite spots to grab a bite to eat.
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The place most people associate with film in London, and arguably the biggest tourist destination too, Leicester Square is perfect for those looking for a full variety of movies and food to take in.
The Prince Charles Cinema
The cult cinema that all Londoners rave about. There are a selection of films that are on general release as well as classics to enjoy. Keep an eye out for their legendary all-nighters and movie marathons too!
Vue West End
Central London’s recently refurbished Vue location, complete with reclining seats and a fancy selection of food and drink.
Empire Leicester Square
This super central grand old girl is one of the oldest cinemas in London. Originally a theatre, it opened in 1884 and was converted to a cinema in the 1940s. After a recent refurb, it now boasts a huge IMAX screen and a 400 seat Impact theatre.
Odeon Leicester Square
One of London’s largest cinemas, the Odeon Leicester Square is home to the biggest premieres in the capital as well as the newest blockbuster releases.
Mr Fogg’s Tavern
Bar, Pub, Sandwich Shop, British, Pub Grub, Salad Bar, $$$
The home of Phileas Fogg, adventurers and casual cinema fans can drop in and enjoy a beverage. It also has a fantastic sister in Mayfair that’s definitely worth heading to (see below).
Bunga Bunga Covent Garden
Bar, Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Bunga Bunga is beloved by locals and now there is a central branch of the quirky
Italian restaurant. Bunga Bunga Covent Garden
is even bigger, bolder and brasher than its big sister, with a speedboat table, a Berlusconi-themed burlesque show and a bar hidden behind a meat locker.
The hustle and bustle of Oxford Street can get a bit much at times. Sure, you can shop till your heart is content (or more likely until your bank account is empty), but there’s also a fairly new cinema around the corner from Oxford Circus station to find solitude in.
Regent Street Cinema
Regent Street Cinema
has a venerable history as the first cinema in the UK to show moving pictures. Part of the University of Westminster campus, it was used as a student lecture hall from the 1980s, re-opening as a cinema in 2015. Regent Street Cinema screens documentaries and more experimental films alongside big cinema hits. There is also a regular schedule of festivals and themed seasons.
“Hairclubbing” is the trend you never knew you needed in your life. The concept is simple enough – you can catch up with friends over blow-dries and bubbles, relax with a hot chocolate or a glass of wine, binge on Netflix whilst waiting for your highlights to develop, or simply enjoy a terrific Old Fashioned and shoot the breeze with a drinking buddy during your haircut.
One of London’s newest cinemas is in the fastest-growing part of town. Once seen as a virtual no-go area thanks to a seedy reputation, King’s Cross was transformed when it became the UK’s main station to Europe. With the Eurostar to Paris taking less time than it takes for your breakfast to digest, planning your next incredible meal is essential.
Everyman King's Cross
Split over two venues in this rejuvenated part of central London, the Everyman King’s Cross is one of the newest cinemas in town. It’s a more luxury experience than your average cinema, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from this chain.
Bar, Restaurant, Fusion, Halal, Street Food, Indian, $$$
In spite of a great reputation for lunch and supper, Dishoom
remains a relatively in-the-know spot for brunch. It shouldn’t be. Head over early and you’ll find a menu which offers morning-altering dishes such as The Big Bombay; a plate laden with Akuri, char-striped smoked streaky bacon from The Ginger Pig, peppery Shropshire pork sausages, masala baked beans, grilled field mushroom, grilled tomato and buttered pau buns, alongside a simpler range of naan options with egg or sausage. For conservative brunchers, the usual host of granolas and fruits are also available, sprinkled with a subtle Dishoom touch, though you’d be mad not to try something spicier.
Bar, Restaurant, Fusion, $$$
Spiritland has a cafe, bar and radio studio in King’s Cross, as well as a shop in Mayfair that is built around a deep love of music and the culture that surrounds it.
Bar, European, $$$
The unusual name comes from the space being a Grade II listed building in King’s Cross, built in 1865 for th German Gymnastics Society. It went on to become England’s first all purpose built gym that even hosted the first ever indoor Olympic events in 1866. The stunning venue is open-plan with an ultra elegant interior…some would say, the perfect setting to make a few sophisticated cocktails. German Gymnasium offers two types of cocktail masterclass, a Curious (£37.50 pp) and an Adventurous class (£55 pp) for guests to choose from when booking, both include a selection of tasty bar snacks and a guided workshop from the Bar Manager. If you opt for the Adventurous option you’ll even get a chance to try your hand at ice carving. The Meister Bar’s new ‘Icons’ menu celebrates the art in all forms as well as showcasing the talent and imagination of it’s bartenders, which are all very Instagram-friendly.
Not too far from Leicester Square sits the even busier Piccadilly Circus. There are two luxurious cinemas a short distance from the tube station, and a number of quirky dining spots too.
For all those who are passionate about films, premieres and festivals, Picturehouse is a fantastic destination.
Odeon Luxe Haymarket
If you’re after more of a luxury experience, then Odeon’s latest branch in central London is the one for you. Formerly known as the Odeon Panton Street.
Bar, British, $$$
A new bar bursting onto the London cocktail scene born out of pure imagination, Cahoots has caused something of a stir. Officially booked up for weeks, those who make it in will soon see why it’s worth the wait. Housed in a former air raid shelter now decked out like a 1940s tube station, stepping into this bar is like stepping into a slice of post-war London. The ’newspaper’ cocktail menu is on-point, the staff are firmly in character, and while costumes aren’t compulsory, they are definitely welcomed.
Tottenham Court Road
Not too far from Oxford Circus, and just one stop away on the Central Line, Tottenham Court Road has undergone a major overhaul in recent years. All part of the Crossrail project, it’s certainly taken a long time to complete, but the result is that the previously rundown end of the main shopping street in London is now looking particularly shiny.
Odeon Tottenham Court Road
One of the most established film venues in London, the main road might be quite busy but the actual cinema is a little secluded escape perfect for movie watching.
Mac & Wild Fitzrovia
Restaurant, British, $$$
One of London’s favourite restaurants, Mac & Wild began its journey as a Scottish street food sensation, serving up one of Scotland’s finest exports – wild game – for London’s everyday people.
Restaurant, Thai, $$$
The first London outpost of the popular Thai restaurant, Greyhound Cafe is a new dining spot in the heart of the West End. The traditional dishes feel authentic to the tastebuds, and look just as appealing. There are some great cocktails on the menu too, all of which can be enjoyed either inside in the cosy surroundings of the dining area, or outside in the spacious terrace.
Mayfair is home to plenty of high-end fashion and designer shops, but there are also plenty of places to dine too. The cinema is hidden away somewhat, but is worth tracking down, as are the places we think you should visit after your film screening. In addition, for the more arty types, there are a number of museums and galleries in the area too.
is the place to inject some glamour into your viewing experience if you’re tired of the sticky floors, chatty teens and cheap nachos of a bog-standard cinema. With plush blue carpets, velvet armchairs and private royal boxes, it’s this glitz that attracts celebrities to the red carpet premieres held here. And if it’s good enough for them…
Mr Fogg’s Residence
Bar, Cocktail Bar, British, Tea , $$$
Situated roughly five minutes’ walk from Green Park station, Mr Fogg’s Residence
on Burton Lane sells itself as the base of the eccentric British adventurer Phileas J Fogg, whose tale of traversing the world in 80 days has travelled just as far as the fictional man himself. The classy cocktail bar is littered with exotic ornaments that give the bar a worldly vibe with all the style and sophistication of Victorian England.
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
Now with two London restaurants, one in Chelsea and another in Marble Arch, Kurobuta
is fast becoming one of the most sought after restaurants in the capital. A pristine level of service, quality and flavour is to be expected at all times, The creative menu is divided into quirkily named sub-sections such as Junk Food Japan, Something Crunchy, and Significant Others and at around £15 for a main course, Kurobuta remains reasonably priced despite its high acclaim and delicious flavour combinations. Try the tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, or the kombu roasted Chilean sea bass with spicy shiso ponzu
to really awaken the taste buds.
Restaurant, Fusion, $$$
Enjoy the fantastic New American cuisine served in London restaurant Avenue
. The restaurant has styled itself on the vibrant New York dining scene with modern decadent environs and mood lighting. Avenue’s Saturday brunch menu is extensive and delicious. Enjoy home-made waffles served with maple syrup and streaky bacon or, for a fresher mouthful, plump for mixed berries and creme fraiche. Guests looking to quench their thirst should take advantage of the option to add unlimited Prosecco or bloody Mary’s to their meal. The latest addition to the drinks menu is a visually impressive selection of cocktails inspired by the Myths and Legends of South America and Asia. The Black Turtle is a definite must from their list.
There’s very few places to shop around Russell Square, but plenty of fine dining options. The cinema close by also offers films you might not get elsewhere, so although the area is a little out of the way, it is worth a visit.
Situated in the Brunswick Centre, Curzon Bloomsbury is a destination venue for the curious and adventurous. With five screens dedicated to the most exciting and inspirational cinema you are bound to find something new to watch and discover.
Restaurant, French, $$$
New dishes include starters of French snail cassoulet with garlic butter, parsley and shallots; honey baked camembert; and classic Fish Soup served with gruyère d’Alpage cheese, rouille sauce and croutons. Whilst tempting debut mains include the likes of chicken escalope with mushrooms and dauphinoise potatoes; roasted salmon accompanied by fennel and a leek velouté, and Bon Vivant’s ‘Dirty Burger’ packed with cheese, baconnaise, tomato, onion and French fries.
Synonymous with Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street is a bustling, multicultural part of town. Most venues in the area feel a little bit too “touristy” but there are still a few gems scattered across the quarter if you look hard enough.
Everyman Baker Street
This intimate cinema
near the shopping hubs of Oxford Street and Regent Street is perfect for taking that special someone for a cosy movie and a cuddle. There’s a plush cocktail bar, and you can saunter through into the screening room still clutching your refreshing drink when it’s time to watch the film.
Restaurant with Rooms, French, $$$
Modern takes on classic French dishes, Orrey is in a converted stable block with roof terrace and church views.
Venturing south of the river now, you can find the biggest cinema screen in Europe which can be accessed directly via a series of tunnels from Waterloo station. There are plenty of food and drink options along the Southbank and also the superb BFI hub, home to the British Film Industry.
Boasting London’s biggest cinema screen and a retina-busting 540 square metres, this
stunning, round glass feat of architectural engineering is handily located next to Waterloo station. This is the place to see a huge blockbuster with killer special effects, amazing soundtracks and stunning visuals as the size, volume and quality of the sound are just about the highest around. You’ll leave with your head spinning and no doubt planning your next visit.
BFI Southbank is another heavy hitter in the UK film industry. Showing the widest range of films anywhere in the UK, you can expect to see international films, as well as independent, historical, art-house and experimental film. With film festivals throughout the year, it’s well worth getting a membership to get generous discounts.
Skylon Restaurant Bar & Grill
Restaurant, British, Vegetarian, $$$
at the Royal Festival Hall
offers a touch more than just gastropub fare if you’re after something a little more special. This is British fine dining with views over the Thames in an amazing space anchored by a centrepiece bar (which has a fab cocktail list). Book in for a treat.
During the week, the “city” part of town is where you’ll find business men and women going about their work and rarely looking up from the phones. When offices shut, however, the nightlife really picks up and the Barbican Centre regularly plays host to special events, screenings and festivals.
Barbican Cinema Café and Conservatory
The Barbican Centre
is pretty peaceful at most times, but the Cinema Café has an edge. There’s free wifi available, plenty of space and it’s open every day, as well as being quiet enough to concentrate at the weekends. If you’re there on a Sunday, pop round the corner to visit the Conservatory
on the roof of the Barbican Centre. This oasis of tropical plants sits in stark contrast to the brick and concrete of the centre’s exterior and is one of the most striking spots in the City of London.
Restaurant, Bar, Fusion, $$$
This trendy spot just opposite St Paul’s Cathedral offers some of the best views of the city as well as a fine selection of cocktails and nibbles.
Cafe, British, $$$
Situated in Exmouth Market, one of the trendier areas near Old Street station, Coin Laundry offers 70’s style fittings but with food that feels modern. The bottomless brunch selection is a highlight, with everything you would expect as well as some locally-sourced treats thrown in. You can try the light and tasty avocado on toast with Devon chilli cucumber salad or the filling Purple sprouting broccoli & merguez sausage hash, fried egg dish. There are a few chain restaurants in the area, but this is a genuine one-off.