Top 11 Independent Cinemas

Want to find a unique cinema experience but don't know where to go?

Movies are a special place. They let you escape from the real world for a couple of hours. They let you explore whole new places, you can walk amongst the stars, you can be in shoot-em-ups with gangsters and you can be a superhero.

But sometimes the theatre you sit in is equally as special. Sometimes you will have theatres from 50's, 60's, 70's and later renovated and restored, like a step back in time. London is no different, and this list will explore the top 11 theatres in London to truly experience cinema like never before.

1. Regent Street Cinema

Step into the newly refurbished foyer of the Regent Street Cinema and you would be forgiven for not realising you were in the birthplace of British cinema. But while the outside is deceptively modern, the screening room is just as grand as one would expect from the 1800s. In fact, the gilded interior is so pretty you might forget to watch the film. Screening a selection of arthouse and world cinema, the schedule changes daily, sometimes with double screenings during which food is laid out in the interval. And if a film doesn't take your fancy, grab a glass of wine at the bar, one of the best-positioned and quietest on Regent Street.

2. Electric Cinema Portobello

Electric Cinema Portobello underwent an extensive £2 million overhaul in 2001 (think lush red leather armchairs, footstools and double beds), so you may find it hard to believe it is one of the oldest working venues in England. Before you become entranced by one of the mainstream or art house films on show - whilst wrapped up in a cashmere blanket and sipping a glass of red - try the American '50s-inspired Electric Diner for a feast of smoked pork belly and Nevada Pale Ale.

191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London W11 

3. The Phoenix Cinema

Built in 1910, the Phoenix's antiquated exterior lends it a nostalgic appearance that will excite architecture obsessives and movie fans alike. Beyond showing feature films, live international opera and art house hits, it holds weekly screenings for children and toddlers, film studies classes and discussion groups. Grab a snack and a glass of wine in its café bar upstairs, where you'll find a selection of homemade cakes, soups and stews.

52 High Road, East Finchley, London N2

4. The BFI Southbank

Anyone who knows their Godards from their Tarkovskys will have heard of South Bank's unmissable, four-screen British Film Institute. As well as screening more than 2,000 titles each year, from the classic and contemporary to the critically-acclaimed, it hosts the BFI London Film Festival, the UK's largest public annual film event. Its mezzanine exhibitions showcase posters, scripts and costumes, and a wealth of books and free films fill the shelves of its Reuben Library and Mediatheque. Even if you don't have time for a film, pop to the Riverfront Bar & Kitchen and tuck into a salmon burger or scampi while looking out at views of the Thames.

Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT 

5. Everyman Baker Street

Set near shopping superhighways Oxford Street and Regent Street, the modestly-sized yet intimate Everyman Baker Street is extra cute for couples. You can lounge about in its lavish cocktail bar and take your drinks into the theatre when it's time for your film to start. Families with young children might prefer the Hampstead venue (5 Holly Bush Vale, Hampstead, London NW3), which has a yoghurt bar and an upper lounge that can cater to children's birthday parties.

96-98 Baker Street, London W1U

6. Greenwich Picturehouse

The Greenwich Picturehouse may be a relatively small space, but its reclining chairs, reasonably-priced screenings and healthy mixture of popular and classic titles more than make up for whatever it lacks in size. It is set near key family-friendly attractions, including Greenwich ParkCutty Sark and the Royal Observatory, and has a bar on the first floor for locally brewed craft beers and wines which you can ask to try before you buy.

180 Greenwich High Road, Greenwich, London SE10

7. Curzon Mayfair

For world-class art house pictures try the Curzon Mayfair, where blue carpeted floors, velvet armchairs and private royal boxes make for a prestigious experience - and a fitting venue for the dozen or so red carpet premieres it hosts each year. It mostly offers independent films, but also screens live satellite transmissions from the National Theatre, London's Royal Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

38 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London W1J

8. Rio Cinema

Rio Cinema is old-fashioned but cosy, and puts on an impressive variety of foreign and independent films alongside current Hollywood big hitters. On top of its late-night Saturday screenings, Sunday Matinees and monthly Classic Matinees, its programme includes bargain children's films and even subtitled screenings for parents with particularly vocal babies.

107 Kingsland High Street, London E8 

9. Arthouse Cinema

There's a bit of everything for everyone at ArtHouse Crouch End: it's a must-visit North London destination for fans of film, fine art, theatre, comedy or dance - essentially, most of the arts. It screens a rich list of alternative content alongside a handful of the best popular picks of the moment. There's also a stylish café bar that hosts art exhibitions, comedy nights and live music, as well as an intimate mezzanine that can be privately hired.

159A Tottenham Lane, London N8

10. Cine Lumiere

Part of the Institut Français, the French Cultural Institute in London, Ciné Lumière is an Art Deco charmer right in the heart of stylish South Ken. Named after the Lumière brothers, its emphasis is on showcasing French, European and world cinema, and it is therefore a popular choice for foreign film lovers. The venue shows French classics on Sundays and subtitled films for children aged four and above - ideal for families or those looking to brush up on their beginner's French.

17 Queensberry Place, London SW7

11. Prince Charles Cinema

For an extra special cinema outing, head to this London institution in the ever-frantic Leicester Square. It hosts a stream of both quirky and classic screenings and events, such as 007 Retrospectives and Sundays dedicated to Studio Ghibli (the  Tokyo-based animation film studio, for anyone to whom Japaneseanime is of another universe). Regular sing-alongs are also part of the programme, to the pleasure of die-hard fans (sick of that Frozen tune? Stretch your lungs to Moulin Rouge and Dirty Dancing instead).

7 Leicester Place, London WC2