I love the Gate cinema in Notting Hill http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Gate_Picturehouse/. It’s welcoming and cosy, giving a sense of the personal to your visit, even when surrounded by strangers. This might have something to do with the layout. You start in a small foyer which, on a busy night, involves getting to know those strangers better than you’d expected. You then walk straight into the auditorium (there’s only one screen) which is always darkly lit and has chairs comfy enough to pass in your sitting room. A word of warning however: do choose seats further forward than you’d first think necessary. The screen is relatively small. There are double love seats at the back, but if you’ve actually come to see the film rather than smooch, you might want to forgo the romantic seating!
The building dates from 1861, but only opened as a cinema in 1911, with a knocking shop above and billiard hall below. The original domed roof and façade were damaged in WW2 and changed again when Notting Hill Gate was widened in the 1950s, but you can see the rather beautiful (restored) Edwardian plasterwork. Despite various refurbishments, this cinema isn’t especially disability friendly. There are no disabled toilets and the ones that exist are pretty tiny. I can only repeat second hand from Colin that in order to wash your hands in the gents, you have to step over the urinals which is a bit difficult if they’re in use at the time. Likewise, there’s limited disabled parking nearby. Despite all that, this is a great area for a night out and not too busy for central London – all the tourists come in the day and immediately turn right out of the tube station to head down Portobello Road.
We saw The Imitation Game, which fitted the retro surroundings well. I’d be happy to see most films at the Gate, but it’s not the place for big blockbusters or special effects. Not that you’ll find the next Marvel on its schedule anyway!
I’ll just finish with a mention to the Coronet which is just up the road from the Gate. If you know the area, you’ll be wondering why we’re not visiting here next. Another beautiful Victorian building, it’s being refurbished by its new owners, and should be reopened as a cinema later in 2015 http://www.the-print-room.org/cinema/
How comfy were the seats? 7/10
How good were the snacks? 7/10
How nice were the staff? 8/10
How sticky were the floors? 5/10
How great was the ambience? 8/10
How much did we like the film? 9/10