This post about Curzon Mayfair was published in The Guardian’s Film Blog on 25 September 2012.
Cine-files: Curzon Mayfair, London
In the heart of Mayfair, very close to Green Park and Hyde Park Corner tube stations. There are plenty of good restaurants nearby, making the Curzon Mayfair a good destination for film plus dinner. Cuisines on offer include French, Lebanese, Indian, Spanish and Turkish.
The cinema opened in 1934. It has two screens and a total capacity of 420. Screen One is graced by two royal boxes. The Grade II-listed, seven–storey building is modern but not especially inviting from the outside. It’s much more welcoming once you get inside the door, though: you find a bar on your left with comfortable leather sofas, coffee tables and candles. Soft lighting, carpeting and neutral colours make for a cosy and attractive atmosphere. There’s free wi-fi in the bar, or you could just sit and have a drink while reading or chatting with friends. The staff are friendly; the bar serves summer coolers in hot weather such as Pimm’s, Bellini, mojito, cider and iced coffee. Occasionally Arabic music provides a welcome contrast to the usual 80s pop and jazz. Next to the bar there is a sales area for art cinema DVDs, where you can also watch the latest trailers. In terms of accessibility, there are two wheelchair spaces in Screen One. Both screens offer comfortable seating with ample legroom.
The majority of the clientele seem to be middle-aged Londoners. Ticket prices are between £8.00 and £14.50 for regular seats and £100 for one of the royal boxes, each of which seats four. Discounts are available for members. Although these prices are in the upper bracket of West End cinemas, it is a relief to have to watch fewer advertisements than in other cinema chains.
The diverse programming combines arthouse, world cinema, documentaries, independent films and auteur cinema, but it also shows some mainstream hits such as the Batman series. Broadcasts from the New York Met and the London’s Royal Opera House are also popular. In addition, the cinema hosts at least 12 film premieres each year.
The smaller Screen Two is perfect for midweek evenings. As it is often only half-full, it is easy to concentrate on the film without being distracted. You can enjoy drinks while watching the film as you are allowed to take them inside. I like the tasteful film selection and I’m glad of the company of cinephiles who don’t make a noise during the screenings. On top of that, Curzon publishes a bi-monthly magazine, which is downloadable from its website. Free copies are also available in front of the cinema and on the coffee tables inside. The only downside, for me, is the expensive membership schemes which make it difficult to justify the prices (£300 to £950 for a year – except for Cineaste membership, which costs £50 and includes two free tickets during the year).
For the original post: http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2012/sep/25/cine-files-curzon-mayfair