Best cinemas for dates in London
From the double beds of the Electric Cinema to the pyjama parties of the Prince Charles: these are the best cinemas for dates in London
If a night with Netflix isn't quite doing it anymore but the prospect of sticky floors and uncomfortable venues makes you want to skip your next evening at the pictures – we're here to help.
London is full of brilliant cinemas: luxurious venues, members-only experiences, outposts with a magnanimous historical legacy. Whether you're planning a first date with a twist, celebrating a special occasion with a partner or just treating yourself to the good times you really deserve, there are plenty of places to bookmark, to discover your next best picture.
Read on our selection of the best cinemas to go on a date, with a mate, or just to treat yourself with a solo trip to the movies – the rumours are true, it's really great.
The Electric Cinema, Notting Hill
Double beds and cashmere blankets cocoon an intimate cinema experience at the Electric
The Electric Cinema on Notting Hill’s Portobello Road is so geared towards hosting couples that it actually has six double beds in place of a front row. If you’re too worried about the temptation to snooze through the entire film, then you can perch yourself on one of the two-seater sofas at the back, or you can wrap yourself up in a cashmere blanket on one of the 65 comfy leather armchairs.
There’s an extensive bar menu on hand to help those on a first dates to loosen up a little, while you can make a whole night out of going to see a film by dropping in for dinner at the Electric Diner next door before or after the screening.
Location: 191 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2ED
Art Deco design and even a few royal boxes complete the experience at Curzon Mayfair
Curzon venues are dotted around the country for an experience of curated independent cinema in comfortable settings, but the Mayfair outpost was the very first one. The cinema boasts Art Deco design in its main screen, which also features two royal boxes to complete the experience.
Netflix films occasionally get a limited cinema release, at select Curzon cinemas. So whether you need to catch up on Roma, discover a new arthouse release, or make the most of brilliant theatre on the big screen, bookmark Curzon for your next night out.
Location: 38 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London W1J 7TY
Olympic cinema, Barnes
The legendary Olympic recording Studios, which once homed The Beatles, is now London's premier Dolby Atmos surround sound cinema
In the 1960s, the Olympic Sound Studios welcomed the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Queen to make new music, with room enough to house a 70-piece orchestra. The legendary recording studio began as a a cinema when it opened in 1906, and returned to its origins in the 2010s, reopened as the Olympic Cinema.
The cinema is now bedecked with wool felt seats, bespoke brass tables and powerful Dolby Atmos speakers, to honour the history of the venue. Impress your date with a bit of pop culture trivia – the film music for The Rocky Horror Picture Show was recorded in Studio Two in 1975, while the final act to record was U2, in 2009.
Location: 117-123 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
BFI Southbank, South Bank
A brand new restaurant and bar relaunch the date night appeal of the BFI Southbank
What could be more romantic than watching an invigorating film at the home of British cinema, and then going for a stroll on London’s beautiful Southbank under the glow of the city lights? The BFI is not only a perfectly located venue but also offers great value for screening tickets – especially for young cinephiles under 25.
In terms of food and drink, the site was recently refurbished to boast a brand new Riverfront bar and restaurant on the ground floor, and the Balcony Bar upstairs which boasts terrific views over the Thames.
Location: Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XT
The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
From all-night marathons to cult anniversary screenings, the Prince Charles offers unique entertainment
Nestled behind Leicester Square, The Prince Charles brings the vibe of a quirky east London independent cinema to the heart of one of the city’s busiest areas. No frills, excellent customer service and an ever-surprising programme cater to every kind of moviegoer.
It’s host to new releases, cult classics, movie marathons, pyjama parties and sing-a-long nights – the latter of which seem like a unique and gloriously awkward way to spend a first date. Look out for special anniversary screenings and members' discounts – a cheap date doesn't have to mean it's a bad one.
Location: 7 Leicester Pl, London WC2H 7BY
Ciné Lumière, South Kensington
Colette retells a key moment in French history – why not experience it in a hub of xx at Ciné Lumière?
There's no denying the romantic aura of the City of Lights – for a date night that travels, without leaving South Kensington, head to the Ciné Lumière, part of the Institut français, for a celebration of foreign language cinema.
The worldwide network promotes the teaching of the French language, while the cinema showcases new releases as much as a celebration of overlooked classics. Try something new with a change of tone, for a brief Parisian affair. Allons-y?
Location: 17 Queensberry Place, Kensington, London SW7 2DT
Whirled Cinema, Brixton
Enjoy an exclusive, members-only experience under the tunnels at Whirled Cinema
Tucked under the railway arches of Loughborough Junction in Brixton, Whirled Cinema offers a members-only experience to remember. By purchasing a membership (£9.99/month or £99/year), Whirled opens its doors for as many films as you want, with no ads or trailers, a fully stocked bar with everything from cocktails to hot snacks.
Members can bring a guest for free, too – so you can treat your other half (or friend you haven't seen in too long) to a particularly special screening, far from the bustling crowds.
Location: 259-260 Hardess Street, Loughborough Junction, London SE24 0HN
The Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley
Support independent cinema by taking a trip to one of the oldest cinemas in London
The Phoenix Cinema prides itself on being one of the oldest cinemas in London, and maintaining its priority of supporting independent film culture. The not-for-profit cinema is owned by the Phoenix Cinema Trust, giving meaning to the sense of community.
Patrons include film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach as well as actor Benedict Cumberbatch, all supporting the unique venue which has been running as a charity ever since the beginning. There's no compromise on content or design, though – see for yourself how impressive the sight remains to this day.
Location: 52 High Road, East Finchley, London N2 9PJ