London is tops for cinema lovers!

I’m a great fan of cinema and much prefer seeing a film on the big screen than on the TV with all the fun of the movie going experience. London has an amazing range of cinemas, from the swanky thousand-plus seaters in Leicester Square like the Empire and Odeon, through to the many intimate local and boutique places.

London has great movie credentials as it hosts one of the world’s top film festivals in October every year when over 200 films are on show and the stars come to town to parade on the red carpets. As a venue for shooting of films there are too many to mention but from the top of my head come ‘Notting Hill’, ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Bridget Jones’ and of course the recently released ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.

My favourite cinemas are the small, boutique and quirky ones and here are my top 5, not in any order as it’s too hard to chose!  Those of you with a working knowledge of London cinemas will notice that these are all around the Notting Hill area. This is not just because I live there, but we have an amazing concentration of great movie houses and I celebrate that!

1. The Electric

This is the last word in luxurious film viewing with extra wide seats, a bar with snacks in the auditorium, plenty of space for drinks by your seat, a footstool, bed sized seats at the back for – well, best leave that there…. All this and up to the moment films and a long and interesting history as they have closed and nearly gone under many times since opening in 1910!  They are one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK

2. The Lexi

This a wonderful warm hearted little cinema, staffed by volunteers and sending their profits out to an amazing project in Africa, the Sustainability Institute. They show you a film about their work with kids so you are in no doubt as to the good they do.  You can catch the latest films here and it’s well worth heading out to find them.

 3. The Gate

The Gate is a very comfortable stylish cinema dating from 1911 with a splendid Edwardian interior. It is an independent cinema showing big name films as well as more hard to find gems and live screenings of opera and plays from the National Theatre, which is pretty cool of them!

4. Portobello Pop Up

This is a brilliant place – a digital non profit microplex, the antidote to multiplexes, made of recycled materials, sitting under the Westway.  The box office is made out of – you’ve guessed – cardboard boxes and the seats are a collection of odd reclaimed seats. They show a range of films, of with director’s Q&A. This year I saw My Beautiful Launderette with a chance to chat to Michael Frears. There’s no booking, no tickets, you just turn up – how refreshing! Just check when their season is….

5. The Coronet

Lots of history associated with the Coronet as it started as a theatre in 1898, featured in the film Notting Hill (remember the scene where Hugh wears his snorkel goggles – of course you do!) and I recall it being the last cinema you could smoke in – upstairs only!  The interior gives away its theatrical background and the tickets for all the latest films are good value too.

London has loads more great cinemas but these are my top 5 – which are yours?

Bye for now,

Champagne pub tour and a pop up cinema

Highlight of the week was the champagne pub tour courtesy of Geronimo Inns so yes all paid for this group but the write up is all me! We started at the Phoenix in Victoria for a little champers to get us in the mood then a fun ride to Battersea in an old routemaster – do love these fab old buses. More champagne on the bus and on arrival at the Prince Albert. They’d done up the upstairs room in their Christmas look and it almost got me festive even tho’ it’s only October. The theme here is dogs as it’s next to the park and near the dogs home so the wall paper is all doggy and many drinkers in the main room had brought their four legged friends out with them. Then back on the bus to two more pubs – the Northcote in Clapham and the Elgin on Ladbroke Grove, just near me. Lots more champagne on the bus rides so photos only from the early part of the evening. (Our transport, the Xmas table and the wall paper at the Prince Albert) These pubs are good and I’m not someone who chooses a pub over a bar but I did like them.


Some films to report on – firstly The Town and Made in Dagenham. Luckily I have a friend who belongs to the swanky Hospital Club who have a private screening room so the watching experience is delightful! The Town was a bank heist story which was gripping and Made in Dagenham was a slice of industrial history from 1968 and the campaign for equal pay for women at Ford’s Dagenham factory told with verve and humour. Both are worth a look.


On this film theme, one great local addition I forgot to mention recently is the Notting Hill pop up cinema on Portobello Road. They were showing shorts as part of the Notting Hill Film Festival til last week and it seems to be staying – I really hope so as it looks amazingly funky and fun – see photos! I went a special showing of Michael Winner’s 1963 film West 11 which was great and very moody. Michael himself turned up to do a Q&A afterwards so here’s a photo of him at the podium.
Restaurants visited this week included Le Cafe Anglais in Bayswater which has just been refurbished and they had a 25% off special in their new oyster bar and cafe section so that was an offer not to be missed. Sunday lunch was very good and we got some respite from the week long rain and the sun streamed through the big windows as we were leaving. Recommended are the steak and the fish pie, reasonably priced even at normal prices. Run by Rowley Leigh the food is bound to be good and we even had a close up magician visit out table and, as ever, I had no idea how he did the tricks!
Bye for now,