From a cinema for two to a lavish affair for more than 200, hotels in London have gone full Technicolor as spaces have been transformed into screening rooms.
LONDON—Screening rooms are becoming ever more popular with hoteliers and guests, and the spaces and groups that use them come in all shapes and sizes, according to sources.
Business groups, parties of guests and visitors and event organizers love them for their mixture of comfort, uniqueness and entertainment options.
Alex Drown, group sales manager at The Curtain—located in the Shoreditch area of London—said his hotel’s cinema, named The Screening Room, has space for 60 people standing or 35 sitting on club-style leather seats and sofas.
“The Screening Room is generally voted as our guests’ favorite space in the hotel,” Drown said. “The screen itself is 5-foot-plus in size, and it has a private bar. And what cinema would be complete without popcorn? So we put in a popcorn machine, too.”
Drown said a wide range of people use The Screening Room at The Curtain, from business groups to private parties, and the space has its own cocktail bar and an adjacent green room with a private entrance, a bar and space for 100 guests.
The Curtain might have space for several scores of people, but the cinematic experience can be enjoyed by far fewer, according to Adam Rowledge, GM of the Georgian House Hotel in London.
In the Pimlico district, the Georgian House Hotel converted what Rowledge said was a “disused toilet, shower room” into what the hotel now calls “London’s snuggest cinema.”
The two-person—yes, two moviegoers—facility has a selection of movies to watch or the capability of allowing the hirer to connect to their own movie- and TV-streaming account, Rowledge said.
The adaptation of the space for movie purposes came from some brainstorming and the desire to avoid clichés, he added.
“Instead of doing the boring, obvious thing and use it for storage, could we use it for revenue generation?” Rowledge said. “To be brutally honest, we just threw loads of ideas around, and this was the one that stuck. The reaction has been 99% positive.”
Another property with a screening room is The May Fair Hotel London, which recently joined Radisson Hotel Group’s soft-brand Radisson Collection and is owned by Edwardian Hotels. One of London’s largest hotel screening rooms, the May Fair Theatre Private Screening Room has capacity for 201 people, manager Janis Monty said.
“The theater always has been part of the hotel, from its days when I believe it was an InterContinental (Hotels Group) hotel,” Monty said. “When we bought it, we just revamped it, and it is a totally different space today.”
Mayfair’s The May Fair Hotel has a screening room that can accommodate up to 201 people. (Photo: The May Fair)
Italian leather seating with arm rests and fold-out tables compliment adjacent pre- and post-viewing spaces such as a terrace and the Crystal Room that can host up to 280 people, which also has an adjacent green room.
“The space put on red-carpet screenings of movies, and there is a voting system incorporated in each chair for company events, but it is not used for the general public,” Monty said.
All three spaces, sources said, add a special something to their properties, but in the case of that of the Georgian House Hotel, that had to be marketed correctly, Rowledge said.
“We’ve tried to be as clear in the sales process as to what (the cinema) is to give a clear expectation. … Previously, we tried to position it to people who like going to the cinema, but actually because it only has capacity for two, we’re now positioning it as something to do on a date night,” he said.
Such a small space does not limit the full theater experience, Rowledge said.
“We’ve complemented the offering with F&B that fits the setting and our brand, so not so much a hot dog but rather an artisan sausage on locally baked brioche,” he added. “Something different to what you’d get at your local Cineworld.”