Cinema: The Phoenix
Price range: Between £8.50 and £12, depending on the time of day. £7 all day on a Monday.
After putting a call out on Twitter for amazing London cinemas to visit, it became very clear very fast that I was going to have to make the next stop on the tour the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley.
This cinema was first opened in 1912 as the East Finchley Picturedrome (what a great word), and the first film shown was about the recently sunken Titanic. Apparently there were twice as many seats as there are now, and an orchestra pit to boot. I would quite literally trade my left arm to go back and visit it then! But unfortunately, live in shitty 2019 we must.
Luckily, it’s still a wonderful experience.
Arriving at the cinema I was immediately enamoured with the balcony overseeing the front of the building, with a few patrons sat outside enjoying a drink in the much belated sunshine. Joyful.
Things only got better from there: whilst queueing to buy my ticket, an angel dressed as an unassuming fellow patron approached me and asked if I’d like to have her extra ticket as her friend wouldn’t be able to make it – refusing to take any money for it. So I also treated myself to a glass of wine (£5 for a medium – not at all bad) because clearly this was my day, and also I love to daytime cinema drink.
I’ll be donating the cost of my ticket to their Just Giving page, because there’s no point enjoying this beautiful place if I’m not contributing, you know?
Now things are about to get slightly dramatic, but if there was ever a time for unelected drama this is it. Upon entering the screen, I was overcome with emotion. After the lovely ticket incident and me faffing around with my wine, trying to take photos with my free hand, I had sort of forgotten everything I’d heard about the screen being so amazing.
Well, amazing was an understatement! The room was airy and cool underneath it’s domed ceiling, with a surprisingly (to me) large amount of soft classic-cinema-red seats tiered down perfectly towards a large screen covered by plush gold curtains. Before the adverts began the curtains elegantly drew backwards, bringing an element of drama and theatre to my Saturday afternoon that almost made my heart explode.
Also, it smelt really nice in there. Not something to be scoffed at, since the Odeon really often smells like toilets and the Vue always smells like dead dreams. I also actually noticed the quality of sound was a lot better than in any cinema I’d visited recently – something I’d normally be far too oblivious to spot.
The whole experience was relaxing, easy and endearing. From the chirpy conversation with the staff, to the other patrons politely asking to squeeze by, to the sight of the cakes sat on the counter in the comfortably sized cafe upstairs. This is an old school cinema with all the lusciousness of its new school rivals (the Everyman chain springs to mind), but at almost half the ticket price. Absolutely worth travelling to East Finchley for.
Is this the loveliest cinema in London? It’s definitely the best I’ve come across so far. It exudes so much charm and warmth that it’s enough to make you never even want to sniff near a vacuous Vue ever again. I just can’t wait to go back.
The Phoenix Cinema is also a charity, and you can donate to them. Or just visit, because I literally just gave it a 10/10 and what more do you want?