We've got date night covered.
Not all cinemas are created equal. Bypass your local multiplex in favour of a chicer cinema experience. Book your big screen time a glamorous viewing venue with interiors by the likes of Kit Kemp or in a location with a some social history. Options range from historic Masonic temples and original news theatres to the converted studios where The Beatles and The Spice Girls recorded their best-selling hits. These grown-up cinemas certainly beat the foreboding and overcrowded multiplexes hands down. These intimately-sized rooms offer generously sized seating, cashmere blankets to beat cinema chills and pinot to go with your popcorn.
The Temple at The Andaz Hotel
Hidden behind a secret wooden door on the 3rd floor of the Andaz Hotel in London is The Temple, an original masonic room which was created exclusively by Freemasons of the City 100 years ago.
For decades, staff regularly walked past an inconspicuous looking wall, unaware of what lay behind it. During construction, someone looking at the blueprints noticed there was an additional room that had long been kept a secret… but what was it? Once the wall was demolished, the heavy studded doors that lay behind parted to reveal an opulent combination of Italian marble and checked floors.
Descending the temple’s spiral staircase provides a better view of the stunning blue dome ceiling with gold zodiac detail, heavy mahogany throne chairs and an organ.
Built in 1912 by Charles Barry Junior (the son of Charles Barry, the architect responsible for the Houses of Parliament’s design), the Grade ll-listed Greek Masonic Temple was where Freemasons attended their Lodge meetings. It’s now been restored to its former glory and is regularly used as an event space for masquerade balls, dinner parties and movie screenings. Book tickets.
Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle
Newcastle’s beautiful Art Deco Tyneside Cinema has been showing films since 1937. Back then, the only way to get world news was to listen to the radio (if you could afford one) or read newspapers – that is, until newsreels (and “news theatres”) came out. Dixon Scott, a local film entrepreneur, spotted the opportunity and built Newcastle’s first News Theatre: The Tyneside Cinema opened as the ‘Newcastle News Theatre’ on 1st February 1937.
It was groundbreaking at the time, and people came to the Tyneside Cinema to spend sixpence to watch the news. The original News Theatre auditorium, now the ‘Classic’, would have a revolving door of people coming in and out at all times, as the 75-minute programme was continuously on a loop.
As Dixon (great uncle of Hollywood directors Sir Ridley Scott of Gladiator and Tony Scott of Top Gun) travelled widely in the Middle and Far East, the News Theatre’s décor was awash with gold, greens and purples, made to look like a Persian palace in Newcastle. It remains a stylish private cinema – with a fully licensed bar. Book tickets.
The Electric in Notting Hill
One of London’s oldest and now most luxurious cinemas, Notting Hill’s Grade II-listed Electric is the modern definition of a picture palace.
The Electric Cinema Theatre opened its doors on 27 February 1911 with a 25-minute biopic of Henry VIII, with the sixpence admission including a bun and an orange. Built by architect Gerald Seymour Valentin, its look is what is known as Edwardian Baroque – telltale signs include the domed corner roof, paired Ionic pilasters and carved garlands. Inside, the auditorium apes a 17th-century church, with more columns and a grand proscenium arch.
With a bar that serves wines, champagne and upmarket snacks, sixty-five leather armchairs with side tables and footstools that house cashmere blankets, sofas for snuggles at the back, as well as six luxurious double beds for fully reclining at the front, it’s no wonder it’s such a hit with loved-up couples. Book tickets.
The Olympic in Barnes
Originally a cinema that opened in 1906, the building was transformed into its most famous incarnation – a recording studio – in 1966. Over the following 30 years some of the most recognisable British songs were recorded there – from The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love to the Spice Girls’ Wannabe – before the cinema finally returned to its original use in 2013b with a complete new look.
With Norwegian reclining seats covered in soft wool, squishy love seats and sofas for snuggling in and actual tables on which to place real wine glasses and snacks (as opposed to built-in plastic cup holders) all help to create a grown-up and sophisticated cinema experience.
A restaurant downstairs and members’ club upstairs mean the night doesn’t have to end when the credits roll either. Book tickets.
Chapter Cinema in Cardiff
A converted school building and arts centre, the modern-day Chapter Cinema interiors couldn’t be any more different. Classrooms are now impressive cinema rooms, with theatre-style drapes, luxuriously upholstered walls and spotlights on the ceiling made to look like the night sky. Book it.
Firmdale Film Club
A ‘club’ by name only, the snazzy cinemas are open to both hotel guests and everyone else. Aside from super swanky surroundings (Kit Kemp is the creative force behind the Firmdale Hotel Group’s interiors), the cinemas also offer brunch, lunch and dinner, in one handy package.
A £35 ticket will not only give you an intimate screening of a ‘film of the week’ – a new release, a well-loved classic or an Oscar-winner – in one of their intimate in-hotel cinemas, it also covers a three-course meal, take-in drinks and popcorn! Book tickets.