Do you remember the cinema when you were younger? The thrill of the adverts and the smell of popcorn used to feel such a treat. The cinema was a real event to be savoured and excited for.
Adulthood changed all that for me. I spent most my cinema trips in a haze of paranoia (a la Howard Hughes) remembering the scene in Outbreak where the broken out disease is airborne.
It wasn’t only the close proximity to others which ruined the cinema for me, but the general low-budget element of cinema going. What happened to classic cinemas such the one Warbucks rents out in Annie? Why don’t ushers wear lovely suits and carry torches? Why must I have my drink in a plastic cup with a straw which continually squeaks when I sip at it? Why do I always sit behind someone taller than I with a wind problem?
When the Lounge in Whiteleys first opened I took the grand tour. I thought it looked good (buttons to adjust the leather recliners on the arm and at least half a metre between fellow cinema goers and yourself), but wasn’t sure of how the other features would fit in with a cinematic experience.
When I did, I felt a little as if I had stepped back in time. Yes, the ‘sound-proof trays’ do extinguish much of the irritating food-rattle but there is the reassuring clink of ice against a glass every now and then, giving the impression of a speakeasy film screening. This notion, it turns out, is founded in reality – the drinks here have grown up. Not only are they served in glasses, but they also have an in-house mixologist who can rustle you up a cocktail or mixer in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. The discreet waiters are polite, efficient and slide in and out of the cinema with very little disturbance. The menu features the classic popcorn (although the piggie in me hated the small portions, and didn’t want to order a second for fear of looking like said piggie) and other cinema foods, such as ice cream, with a twist. The foods have grown up, too, and are the brainchild of Cafe Anglais chef Rowley Leigh.
I enjoyed the film on account of comfort immensely. I can’t see myself wanting to visit the normal cinema any time soon – this has made going to watch a film feel like a real occasion again, and all for £18. The best bit? The strictly over-18′s policy. Saturday nights are sorted.