One of the oldest working cinemas in Britain, The Electric Cinema on Portobello Road in Notting Hill is every movie lovers paradise. After being magnificently restored, the interior of the cinema defines luxury, with lavish sofas, armchairs and beds decorated with plush red furnishings. The romantic retro vibe is complemented by having an array of hot and cold drinks and food brought to your seats to enjoy while you get comfortable under soft blankets.
Gerald Seymour Valentin designed the cinema in an Edwardian Baroque style with 600 seats. As one of the first buildings in the area to be supplied with electricity, Notting Hill’s Electric Cinema has a fascinating history. Built shortly after the Electric Cinema in Birmingham in 1910, the first film shown was Henry VIII in 1911. The cinema had to shut for brief periods as it struggled to compete with popular picture palaces in the 1930s but despite the competition, it managed to remain open.
Interestingly, the cinema has survived two world wars, a bombing and a fire. During WWI, a mob attacked the cinema based on the assumption that the German manager was signalling to enemy aircraft from the roof after the bombing of nearby Arundel Gardens. The venue later became the Imperial Playhouse cinema at a time when the area of Notting Hill was experiencing poverty and known as ‘The Bunghole’. The cinema remained open during WWII, attracting customers despite on-going bombing raids. The building was evacuated due to a fire in June 2012 and remained closed for 7 months.
The Grade II Listed building was bought by its current owner Peter Simon in 2000, who invested in the restoration of the Edwardian architecture before leasing the site to Soho House. To this day, Electric Cinema prides itself on its exciting history and remaining true to its roots. After the refurbishment to design a luxury cinema experience, the Electric Diner next door has since been designed as a partner to the cinema.
Electric Diner is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before or after a showing as a French-American menu ensures that there will be something for the whole family to enjoy. Inspired by the speakeasy American bars, the diner and foyer of the cinema both serve classic American style delicacies, with the foyer even featuring a quirky doughnut bar.
Round the corner from Electric Cinema is The Ginstitute, a sophisticated venue specialising in a unique experience for gin lovers. With tours, distillery experiences and lodgings available on top of luxury bars, the opportunities to indulge in your favourite drinks are endless.
After visiting the Electric Cinema, feel free to book a table at Aubaine Notting hill and experience some authentic French Food.