London for film-lovers

London is a city made for cinephiles, says Destination Guide editor Laura Tennant. Here’s where to find a sprinkling of celluloid stardust during the BAFTAs and beyond

Once regarded as a mousy country cousin to the Oscars, the British BAFTAs have grown into one of the glitziest events in the international film calendar, drawing starry mega-wattage to the event itself and spawning a host of before, during and after-parties. With London this full of acting talent both home-grown and imported, you can hardly fail to bump into a famous face – and if you’re a visiting movie-lover, there are plenty of other ways to find celluloid nirvana. Here are six of the best:

1. Independent cinemas

Multiplexes a little soulless for you? London has a burgeoning independent cinema scene combining art-house and mainstream film with bars, restaurants and even beds.

The Electric, Portobello This 100-year old cinema, tastefully pimped by the Soho House Group, offers groovy extras including beds, cashmere blankets and an on-site diner serving drinks until 1am from Thurs to Fri.

Everyman Cinemas Located in London’s most haute bohemian areas (Hampstead, Maida Vale, Baker St), the Everyman’s special events include opera live from the ENO and Met.

The Curzon Cinema, Mayfair The area tucked between Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Piccadilly remains London’s smartest address and this family-owned cinema, with its ‘Royal Boxes’ and private screening room and bar, fits right in.

2. The British Film Institute

The BFI is part of the cultural hub that is London’s South Bank, and runs seasons devoted to auteurs, themes and events from Derek Jarman and Buster Keaton to Gothic film and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. A buzzy bar and Benugo restaurant help draw the capital’s hip filmgoers.

3. A museum of cinema

The London Film Museum is housed in the former market’s historic brick-vaulted ‘Flower Cellars’, but there’s nothing low-tech about the museum.

4. Books and memorabilia

Forbidden Planet’s flagship store on Shaftsbury Avenue is heaven for fans of science fiction, fantasy and cult entertainment, including Dr Who and Star Wars. At the Cinema Store you’ll find original and repro film posters, books, toys, movie soundtracks and collectibles (the Japanese Kotobukiya superhero figurines are especially covetable).

Cool art bookshop Magma stocks an elegantly curated range of cinematic volumes, but for quantity as well as quality, head to Foyle’s at Charing Cross Road, Europe’s biggest bookshop, which has an extensive film and television department.

5. Movie tours

The Warner Bros Studio Tour: the Making of Harry Potter entirely lives up to expectations of all things Hogwartian. If you don’t want to leave the capital, try the Harry Potter Walking Tour of London, which takes in ‘Diagon Alley’, ‘Platform 9 and a half’ as well as real-life movie locations such as the Millenium Bridge. For a more adult-orientated approach, Brit Movie Tours, which includes 35 London film locations, is a better bet.

6. Star-spotting

Ask well-connected London friends to take you to private members’ clubs The GrouchoSoho HouseShoreditch House, or The Arts Club, all of which are popular celeb haunts. Can’t locate a member? Not to worry – London’s restaurants and nightclubs are a fun way to sample a little celebrity lifestyle too.

Book dinner at China Tang, the Dean St TownhouseJ Sheekey or Scott’s, and then dance the night away at The BoxBoujisChinawhite or MahikiWhisky Mist is a favourite Royal hangout. Arrive early and dress glam to ace the door policy.

Photo by Alamy Images

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