Londoners have the choice of over 100 cinemas, making it one of the best cities in the world for movie lovers. From indie picture houses where you can catch reruns of David Lynch films to monolithic cinemas where you can watch the latest Blockbuster films in HD or 3D to boutique arthouse joints which regularly hold niche film festivals, the cinema scene in London has everything covered.
For film fans that want to stick to the Eastern side of London, we’ve curated a list of the top 5 cinemas in East London, as voted by Londoners themselves! So, whether you’re looking for places that are great to grab a fresh bucket of popcorn or a stylish haunt where you can take a cocktail into the screening, one of the below cinemas will be able to tempt you away from watching Netflix on your laptop!
Even though many of the large cinema chains are struggling to bounce back from the closures in 2020 and 2021, many of the independent cinemas in London are still thriving and a popular choice for a relatively cheap night out!
If your budget is tight, but you don’t want to miss out on all of the best and latest flicks, the good news is that it is possible to be thrifty when you head to the cinema. Many cinemas on this list offer cheap tickets, money-saving memberships or two-for-one deals!
The Top 5 Cinemas in East London
1. The Castle Cinema in Hackney
With a 4.8-star review on Google, The Castle Cinema is the highest-rated cinema in East London. The semi-reclined armchair-like seats, the 1920s art deco interior and the lush velvet carpets create an atmosphere that is worlds away from the cinema trips you will remember from childhood.
The bar and restaurant are just as interiorly decadent. Whether you grab a quick bite before your screening or head to the bar to dissect the narrative and comment on the mise en scene from the film you have just seen, it is all too easy to make an evening of heading to The Castle Cinema.
If Ice Blasts and hot dogs that have been rotating for hours don’t appeal to your appetite, The Castle Cinema caters to more refined tastes with its barista-quality Dark Arts Coffee. The coffee menu can be paired with pastries and cakes – vegans and vegetarians won’t feel limited by the menu!
While The Castle Cinema isn’t averse to screening the big blockbuster films, you can also catch a few independent films that won’t be screening anywhere else in East London! Every Monday, you will have the chance to grab £5 tickets to screenings in the one-screen cinema, which is just a stone’s throw away from a host of trendy Hackney bars.
Address: First Floor 64 – 66 Brooksby’s Walk, London, E9 6DA
2. Genesis Cinema
Located in the heart of Bethnal Green, Genesis Cinema is an arthouse cinema that started as a pub in 1848 before repurposing as a theatre and cinema in 1912. Whether you’re looking to sit in front of the latest Blockbuster or discover your new favourite indie arthouse director, the jam-packed screening schedule won’t disappoint.
Genesis Cinema is especially popular with student film lovers due to the annual membership, which is free to join and allows students to watch films all day for just £5. The membership also ensures no booking fees when booking online, and there is a 10% discount on food and drink. In contrast, the standard membership fees vary from £40 – £70!
Food and drink-wise, the Kitchen serves the award-winning Pie Minister pies, while the ultra-chic Paragon Bar will serve delicious cocktails. The Paragon Bar hosts a monthly poetry slam, free bar screenings, and weekly live music from some of London’s hottest up-and-coming artists.
The Grindhouse Café is also locally famous for its Nude Espressos and freshly baked pastries which come as a courtesy of the 100-year-old family Rinkoff bakery. In the summer months, The Yard, which remains after the pub era of Genesis Cinema, is the perfect spot for a pint and pizza in the sun! Alternatively, if you fancy more traditional cinema snacks and beverages, the kiosk serves popcorn, nachos, hotdogs, confectionery, crisps, and ice cream.
93 – 95 Mile End Road, London, E1 4UJ
3. Stratford East Picturehouse
For foreign cinema fans, the Stratford East Picturehouse, nestled away in the Stratford Cultural Corner, is a trendy hotspot that breaks the monocultural movie mould. In addition to screening everything from the latest Marvel movies to Pixar animated films for the younger cinemagoers, the Stratford East Picturehouse also runs unmissable events and seasons.
From film festivals based around the work of some of the most iconic filmmakers to question-and-answer events with revered directors, there is always something to look forward to at Stratford East Picturehouse – making a membership with the picture house more than worth the money.
For students, the annual membership plan costs £20 and comes with a plethora of benefits, including free film screenings and hot drinks from the café bar, priority booking, exclusive access to the member-only bar where you will get to rub shoulders with other high-priority members, and ticket discounts.
The cinema is also one of the most exclusive and accessible cinemas in this list of the 5 best cinemas in East London. It is one of London’s only dog-friendly cinemas, so your four-legged friends will never be turned away at the door, which is great for anyone who always needs the company of a service animal. The cinema also runs autism-friendly screenings, subtitled screenings of all films, not just the world cinema releases, and special screenings for patrons with dementia.
Stratford Picturehouse, Salway Road, London, E15 1BX
4. Everyman Canary Wharf
Everyman Cinemas have been cropping up across the UK in the past few years. It may be a cinema chain, but it is a cinema chain with a difference. The loveseat reclining chairs in the screening rooms make Everyman in Canary Wharf the ideal cinema to grab your tickets at if you’re on a date or want your bestie comfortably in arm’s reach while you are watching a horror flick.
As expected from a chain cinema, there aren’t as many independent film screenings as at independent cinemas, such as Genesis Cinema or The Castle Cinema. However, it isn’t too rare for Everyman in Canary Wharf to throw special events.
For example, at the time of writing, the cinema is hosting its Throwback Season, which will allow ticketholders to watch classic flicks on the big screen and enjoy a pizza or hotdog on the house! National Theatre Live will also be arriving at the cinema soon; during this event, attendees will see West End performances from household names, including David Tennant and Zachary Quinto of American Horror Story and Star Trek fame!
The annual and membership deals are a little more expensive than the ones offered by the independent cinemas, with the cheapest plan coming in at £99 a year and the most expensive costing £650 annually, but if you are serious about film, the unlimited free tickets offered by the memberships may pay off eventually.
The major USP of hitting any Everyman cinema is the ultra-swanky foyer bar, which provides an American menu of dirty burgers, shakes, pizza, fries and other small bite bar snacks, such as smoked almonds and salt & pepper cashews.
Crossrail Place, London, E1 5AR
5. Cineworld Cinema West India Quay
Independent cinemas have their charm, but rarely can they rival the viewing experience of larger cinemas, such as the West India Quay Cineworld Cinema. As there are ten screens to entertain patrons with at this cinema, you will get far more options when choosing which screenings fit better with your schedule.
If you want to immerse yourself in film, the Screen X theatres will provide a 270-degree viewing experience. The RealD 3D will allow you to taste the action as though it is unfolding right under your nose, and the Superscreens will transform any movie into a visual masterpiece. For any film fans that don’t want to forego the VIP experience, Cineworld is more than able to accommodate, with its luxury seats and unlimited snacks for those willing to pay the VIP price. Alternatively, for those on a budget, an unlimited cinema pass costs as little as £10.99 a month! The unlimited cinema pass can also be used to get two-for-one meals in a range of popular restaurant chains throughout London. Or if you are flying solo, you can get 50% off your bill!
One slight drawback is that the food and drink options at Cineworld Cinemas may not be as appealing as what is offered by Everyman and the other indie cinemas. However, you can still grab a Starbucks Frappuccino, a tub of Baskin Robbins ice cream or get your sugar fix at the CandyKing Pick & Mix station – mind how you go, those Pick & Mix bags could end up costing more than double or triple your cinema ticket!
West India Quay, Hertsmere Road, London, E14 4AL