Some hotels are just rooms, most have bars, many have gyms, and others have cinemas.
I found out about Firmdale during my time working at The Pelham in South Kensington which was once part of the Firmdale group until it was sold a few years ago. Although touches of the Kemps remain at The Pelham properties they still own are dotted all over London; Number Sixteen is just around the corner from The Pelham with Knightsbridge Hotel not too far away, then there’s Charlotte Street, Covent Garden, Dorset Square, Haymarket and the new hotel, Ham Yard.
There’s also The Soho Hotel which is where I saw ‘Her’ at the beginning of April in one of their in-house screening rooms. At the weekend the hotel, along with Covent Garden and Charlotte Street, operate their Film Club and for £35 per person you see a film and have either afternoon tea, lunch, or dinner (this differs at Covent Garden where it’s £35 for afternoon tea or a two course dinner with a glass of wine). Sweet and salt popcorn is also provided and next to the screening rooms in The Soho Hotel is a bar where drinks can be bought and consumed during the film.
Screening room 2 is quite an intimate spot with around 50 or so big armchairs to get cosy on and a small table to perch your popcorn. At no point did I feel squished or uncomfortable and as someone who is 5’9″ I was able to stretch my legs right out without touching the seat in front of me. Ideal. The hide seats were a little itchy but they look super cool so it didn’t really matter.
The films range from classics to new releases with upcoming films listed on the website and instructions on how to book. I had initially wanted to see Dallas Buyers Club but it was sold out so make sure to book a few weeks in advance to guarantee you see the film you want.
As part of the Film Club package we opted for the three course dinner which was filling and hearty, and what I noticed while in Refuel Bar and Restaurant is that although the hotel, restaurant, meeting rooms, screening rooms and common areas are all very quirky and artsy, it’s the type of place that would suit businessmen as well as those in more creative professions such as artists, fashion designers, and writers. The creativity adds to the appeal and doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the hotel as a functioning business. It’s definitely the type of place where, if I was ever to write a book, I would seek inspiration with a cocktail in hand.
For dinner I had deep fried goat’s cheese with marinated beetroot and walnut, roast rump of beef with Yorkshire pudding and creamed horseradish, and Oreo cookies cheesecake to finish. One of my pet peeves is when waiting staff comment on what’s left on your plate and unfortunately our really attentive waiter did just that, probably innocently enough to make conversation but it was unnecessary and a bit uncomfortable when I had to explain why I left some beetroot on my plate. Other than that though the service and food were both really top notch and somewhere I’d like to return to for a laid back lunch one weekday.
The £35 per person doesn’t include the service charge of 12.5% so for both me and my boyfriend the whole afternoon came to £78.75, excluding drinks.
The Film Club is a much more enjoyable way to see a film and a chance to see classics that the average cinema has long since shown. I love when creativity and thought can be seen in a hotel not just in the decor but also the amenities offered, and at The Soho Hotel is it evident in abundance at every turn without being complete overkill.