Take two for London’s Olympic Studios
From the late 1960s until 2009, The Olympic Sound Studios – as it was then known – was a recording studio where legends including The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Queen and Led Zeppelin came to make music. Today, local residents and new owners Stephen and Lisa Burdge are hoping that its latest role as an independent art house cinema will be as well-received.
In a smart financial move, the new Olympic Studios, located in the leafy southwest neighbourhood of Barnes, will have two screens. The larger of the two will show mainstream movies in what was the primary recording studio, while the second 65-seat basement auditorium (where John Lennon reportedly used to park his car) will screen lesser-known indie flicks. To honour the building’s long tradition of superior sound quality, the Burdges have installed a state-of-the-art Dolby Atoms surround sound system with 66 ceiling speakers. In addition, reclining seats covered in soft wool felt, plus love seats, sofas and individual brass tables for popcorn and drinks promise to make this more than just a trip to your local cinema.
The Olympic Cafe and Dining Room on the ground floor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, with the seasonal menu focused on simple, hearty British dishes; this winter try the Welsh lamb chops, cream of parsnip and thyme soup, home smoked salmon and marinated root vegetables. For something more casual choose from gourmet hot dogs or a classic salt beef and picked cabbage sandwich – or head to the Sweet Shop for homemade popcorn and a selection of old-fashioned sweets to nibble on during the film.
The new Olympic Studios still has a charming vintage feel, retaining many of the original ceiling beams, wooden floors and exposed brick walls. And as a tribute to the building’s rich musical history the bar is decorated with photographs of some of the musicians that recorded here, as well as a painting by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood that was created especially for the space. The only thing that would make an evening at The Olympic Studios more entertaining would be if these walls could talk.
Malika Dalamal is the London Localite for BBC Travel