These Are The Best Cinemas in London

BFI IMAX screen | Courtesy of BFI IMAX
BFI IMAX screen | Courtesy of BFI IMAX
Photo of Nicholas Atkins
30 August 2017

If you love heading out to the flicks to check out the latest blockbusters, some arthouse masterpieces or some old classics, this list of the best cinemas in London show you the best and brightest movie theatres the city has to offer.

BFI IMAX screen | Courtesy of BFI IMAX

PeckhamPlex

Movie Theater
Map View
Peckham, London, UK. 1 December 2017.  The entrance to the Peckhamplex cinema, now home to the 'Underexposed' portraits. David Rowe/Alamy Live News.
Peckhamplex is an independent cinema | © David Rowe / Alamy Stock Photo
A place of pilgrimage for South London film fans, the PeckhamPlex has been a monument to great films for two decades. So it’s a bit rough and ready, but it’s warm and welcoming, full of charm and character and the locals love it. Peckham in a nutshell. The tickets are mind-blowingly cheap, starting at £3.99. PeckhamPlex mainly shows the latest big releases and sometimes slipping in a wildcard. You can’t go wrong.

Barbican Cinema

Concert Hall, Library, Cinema
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Barbican Hall
Barbican Hall | © Lee Mawdsley
Now they’ve been tarted up the Barbican Centre’s Cinema screens are ready for a night at the flicks. Screen One is a spic and span 280 seat auditorium which shows a combination of newly released blockbusters and some seriously classy arthouse films. The two other smaller screens now boast some very comfy plush new seats and a delightful café where you can grab coffee, cakes, pizza, beer and wine. A real treat.

Clapham Picturehouse

Cinema, Theater
Map View
The pride of the picturehouse chain, this gem opened in 1992 and shows indie films alongside a roster of new releases. It is located next to Clapham Common and attracts a crowd who are tired of the mega-chain multiplex cinema experience and want something a bit more ‘mom and pop’. Forget your bog standard popcorn and fizzy pop. There’re posh snacks galore and even some healthy choices. The bar is popular in its own right and you can slip casually from the bar area to the screen still carrying your drink.

Empire Leicester Square

Cinema
Map View
This super central grand old girl is one of the oldest cinemas in London. Originally a theatre, it opened in 1884 and converted to a cinema in the 1940s. After a recent refurb, it now boasts a huge IMAX screen and a 400 seat Impact theatre. There are 9 screens in total showing mainstream releases. It’s not cheap due to the location, but if you’re after history and eye-popping screen quality, this is the place for you.

Genesis Whitechapel

Cinema
Map View
This pretty little cinema is as charming as it is reasonably priced. It’s a fabulous local little cinema perfect for a casual evening and its recent refurbishment has left it looking the part on the inside as well as from the street. The popular café is the perfect spot for a post film debrief, an alcohol bar and a snack bar which sells pick n mix and jumbo hot dogs. The Studio 5 boutique screening room with its cosy armchairs is perfect for a more intimate occasion.

BFI Imax

Cinema
Map View
imax-from-shell-650x473
BFI IMAX Exterior | © BFI IMAX
Boasting London’s biggest cinema screen and a retina-busting 540 square metres, this stunning, round glass feat of architecture 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 and screen are just about the highest around. You’ll leave with your head spinning and no doubt planning your next visit.

The Ritzy

Cinema, Movie Theater
Map View
Anyone who knows Brixton knows this landmark film institution. The Ritzy was originally opened in 1911 and provides locals with a warm and friendly, indie-feeling cinema experience. The movie programme is a nice balance between indie films, Hollywood blockbusters, late night showings and the occasional old classic thrown in. There are two bars and a café where you can take in an array of club nights and the occasional stand up comic. A local legend.

The Lexi

Cinema, Movie Theater
Map View
The front of the Lexi Cinema
The front of the Lexi Cinema | Courtesy of Lexi Cinema
This little single screen cinema is certainly not the biggest around but it may well have a claim to be the friendliest. All the profits go to a South African charity and the place is mostly run by lovely volunteers who genuinely want to be there and give their time. They show everything from big blockbusters, to arthouse and foreign flicks, and they host regular special events like movie Q&As and classic movie seasons.

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