Mini Guide To The Cinematic London
This West End oldie has a fantastic lineup featuring the best indie films, plus shorts and mini-festivals. Regular Q&As with directors draw film enthusiasts, too. It’s possible to make a night of it at the Curzon, thanks to the Konditor & Cook cafe upstairs (the cakes are a highlight) and an ultra-comfortable bar.
Tucked under Waterloo Bridge is the British Film Institute, with four cinemas that screen thousands of films each year (mostly arthouse), a gallery devoted to the moving image and the mediatheque, where you can watch film and TV highlights from the BFI National Archive. It also has a film store for books and DVDs, a restaurant and a gorgeous cafe.
LONDON FILM MUSEUM
Although technically dedicated to British film, this museum currently hosts only one exhibition: Bond in Motion. Get shaken and stirred while browsing the largest official collection of 007 vehicles, including Bond’s submersible Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me and his iconic Aston Martin DB5.
This 1770s Palladian masterpiece fronting the River Thames is home to two galleries, including the Courtauld Gallery, and is often used as a filming location: period drama Down ton Abbey, several Sherlock Holmes films and action movies Golden Eye and X-Men: First Class all shot scenes here. An outdoor cinema is rolled out in its courtyard during warmer months.
Nicknamed for its unusual shape, 30 St Mary Axe is arguably the City’s most distinctive skyscraper. Built in 2003 by award-winning Norman Foster, the Gherkin has become an emblem of modem London and often appears in films. Searcys restaurant on the 39th floor can be booked for private hire and has occasional public-dining nights. The Gherkin is sometimes open during the September Open House London weekend too.
PORTO BELLO ROAD
Portobello Road Market trades an eclectic mix of food, antiques and street fashion. Scenes from 2014 film Paddington were shot here, but this heaving strip of West London life is most famous for its starring role in the British romcom Notting Hill. Book to see a film at the street’s Electric Cinema or stop for a bite at its appropriately retro diner.
WHERE TO STAY
Clink78 is a fantastic 630-bed hostel in a 19th-century courthouse where members of The Clash stood trial in 1978. There are pod-bed dorms plus private rooms – some in converted cells.
The four adorable, spacious suites at Main House in Notting Hill have vast bathrooms; the uppermost suite occupies the entire top floor. Owner Caroline is full of local knowledge.
Handsome and luxurious, the Beaumont in Mayfair is all Art Deco opulence. Rooms and suites are swish, with a 1920s Modernist aesthetic. Prices include local drop-offs in the hotel’s vintage Daimler.