H2G2 in London
April 23, 2005 8:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning on hopping on a plane to London to see the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film next weekend, either Friday or Saturday. Not being familiar with the city's cinemas, I need to know a couple of things.

First of all, I want to see it on the best possible screen/sound system; I am willing to pay extra for "first class" features like adjustable comfy chairs, extra legroom and so forth. What are London's finest offerings?

Secondly, I want to book a ticket as far in advance as possible, to ensure that I do get a seat, and if possible that I get the best possible seat. In my country (Norway) I can book tickets online, three days in advance. I can also choose the exact seating arrangement. Do any such services exist in the UK?

Those are the essentials. For bonus points:

I'm trying to find the cheapest flight (I'm traveling from Oslo, round trip); using a generic search engine, probably hooked up to Amadeus, the cheapest I found was a British Airways flight at £150 (€207), which seems a mite expensive. Where else might I look?

I'm also trying to find a cheap, clean, modern hostel that provides online booking. Recommendations would be welcome.
posted by gentle to Travel & Transportation around London, England (10 answers total)
I can only help with part of your question; RyanAir has flights for around 90 GBP round trip, Oslo to London. The prices vary wildly depending on when you travel, though.
posted by bcwinters at 9:07 PM on April 23, 2005

Best answer: The Odeon Leicester (pronounced "Lester") Square is the premier cinema, although there's no guarantee that the movie will be showing on their premier screen - you might want to call to check. You can book online here. Conveniently it's slap bang in the middle of London, so it's easy to find.
Try easyhotel for a cheap place to stay - as long you're anywhere close to a tube station you'll have no problem getting to and from the cinema.

Also, when comparing prices of flights, don't forget to factor in the price of getting from the different airports to the city - for example from Heathrow you can take the tube which is about 5GBP each way, from Stansted it costs 24GBP round trip.
posted by forallmankind at 9:50 PM on April 23, 2005

Best answer: Scoot will show you where H2G2 is currently showing relative to a location you enter (eg WC2). Leicester Square is re-assuringly expensive, but you're paying for the location as well as the comfy seats, and I'd also recommend trying one of the Screen cinemas north of the city centre.
posted by amestoy at 12:58 AM on April 24, 2005

Best answer: Oh dear. I'm fairly confident that Easyhotel is not open yet.

Secondly, it is possible to find cinemas where you can book the particular seats, but often the online services only allocate you their best choice of seats... so to pick your own it is sometimes necessary to phone the telephone booking line.

Sometimes it's worth phoning the hotline and then deliberately messing up the touch tone codes ("press 1 for bookings", "press 2 for information" etc) to make sure you get quickly connected to a human operator.

I know the Greenwich Filmworks (run by UCI) has a more exclusive screening room called "The Gallery" with big seats, free drinks etc. But it's not in central London - it's probably about 25 mins out of the West End by tube.
posted by skylar at 2:04 AM on April 24, 2005

The easyhotel itself isn't open yet, but the easyhotel website has a great search engine of cheap places to stay.
posted by forallmankind at 9:13 AM on April 24, 2005

If you're going for the best seat around, can't beat the Electric Cinema in my opinion. Electric Cinema in my opinion. Armchair style seats. Looks like they are showing it as well.
posted by lloyder at 10:16 AM on April 24, 2005

Odeon Leicester Square is one of the nicest, but they're only showing the movie on Monday May 2nd. VUE West End is also big and fancy (and pricey), but they're not showing it at all. It's on at the Empire Leicester Square, which is also big and fancy (book here, Friday and Saturday are not available to book yet, they don't usually have the following week's times until Wednesday).

They're the main 3 big ones, all located inside Leicester Square, and therefore easy to find. But if you want to venture out of the West End, I can heartily recommend the Electric Cinema and the Greenwich Filmworks (as mentioned above), for that different kind of vibe. Have a good time, and bring your own snacks (hide them in your bag), all cinema treats are way overpriced...
posted by ralphyk at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the extremely informative responses. Just what I needed.

I'm mostly concerned that I won't get seats at all -- I'm sure this will be a popular movie, and while it's not LOTR, big event films like that are, in this city, sometimes fully booked for several days after the premiere.
posted by gentle at 12:22 PM on April 24, 2005

Something like Episode 3, which is already selling out, then yeah, you might have trouble finding seats. But I really don't think it'll be a problem - if you're that worried, either book online, or wait until the weekend after, when it should have calmed down somewhat. But there are a lot of cinemas in London, nice big ones, you shouldn't have a problem. Arrive at the Empire on the Friday, if you can't get seats for that day, book them in person for the next day.
posted by ralphyk at 2:58 PM on April 24, 2005

Response by poster: ralphyk, you're right. The aforementioned thefilmworks, for example, will let me book as soon as Wednesday, which is great. Thanks again, everyone.
posted by gentle at 3:45 PM on April 24, 2005

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