Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
St. James's, London
12 Carlton House Terrace, Charing Cross, London SW1Y 5AH
- Piccadilly Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
- Charing Cross Station (0.5 km)
- Stuttgart (0.4 km)
- Charing Cross Railway Station (0.4 km)
- Contact us:
020 7930 3647
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27 reviews of Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in English
The ICA is one of those places that can make you feel fat and old, so cool it hurts. The bar is great and I believe that you can get a discount if you have a membership.The only reason I do not visit the ICA more often is usually the programme. I love art cinema but it tends to be a little too arty even for me. Another reason is that they’re closed on Monday and Tuesday which is a drag when these are days your available. The actual screens are small and cosy, with comfy seats.
Highly recommended, especially if you become a member, which allows you to attend free previews with one guest, gives you a discount at the bar, and the occasional invite to special events.
This is also the place to go to find the perfect present for a cinema-loving friend - the gift shop has a range of hard to find cult films on DVD.
Great coffe place which turns alive after 5pm. before it's my perfect spot for working in town with free wifi, a bit of good offbeat music (old blues playing today!).
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Yes, it is excellent value and a valuable opportunity to see a selection of films that are extremely unlikely to be benefiting from ubiquitous, city-wide screening; for a mere fiver, a veritable bargain. The seating won't be recorded in the annals of history as the most comfortable ever, but I've had worse.
My only gripe - and at the risk of accusations of snobbery - is that generally at art house style cinemas the punters are there to quietly enjoy the film. Last night it seemed that the low admission price attracted the heathens and the oiks, and I was once again called into my increasingly familiar (though self-appointed) role of arbiter of the audience.
I echo the sentiment of the last reviewer - I really should go to the ICA more often. Just over a year ago I decided I would force myself to go there more often by becoming a member, but still didn’t make very good use of the place. Boo to me!
What’s not to like? Brilliant comfy little cinema screens showing interesting arty independent films all the time (with all tickets £5 on Mondays), lovely bar, nice food (if a bit expensive), regular talks from brilliant people, one of the best gift shops in town…and only minutes away from where my local bus drops me in to town. Perhaps I should start my membership up again and make a proper effort this year!
I probably like the idea of the ICA more than I actually enjoy going. At least to the exhibitions - i’ve not been to see a film here - although there is always good stuff on - or a band and they have some interesting acts playing you won’t catch anywhere else as well.
But purely from an “art” perspective I’m often underwhelmed and leave with eyebrow raised.
Nice building though
The ICA is my public gallery of choice these days, not least because a good friend and trustee lets me hold art meets there… it’s also a place of unprecedented diversity in terms of cultural experiences. They do concerts (The Mars Volta were playing when I went last week) design-driven workshops and have a cinema - the ideal place to go for an eclectic collection of independent movies - as well as the usual art exhibitions.
I can spend hours at their bar sometimes as it’s always well stocked (with friendly, interesting strangers, as well as Belgian beer) and is rarely empty. And if you are looking for the unbelievable rare art magazines that even the Tate doesn’t stock, then their library is the place to go.
They’ve recently got rid of day membership, so the £1 hurdle that might have stopped a few of you coming is no longer there. So what are you waiting for?
How’s this for a bargain found on the ICA website?
Each Monday, cinema tickets for their eclectic selection of films cost a mere £5.00. If you decide to combine a flick with a bite at the ICA, you can take advantage of their meal deal. Simply present your ticket when ordering at the cafe and the nice ICA people will give you a burger, fries, AND beer wine or soft drink for another £7.95 making your total evening’s expenditure a very crunch-friendly £12.95.
They even have veggie burgers for the non-carnivores among us.
Looks like we now have something to look forward to on Monday evenings…
Quite notably the place where nearly a decade ago you would visit an experience and someone would show you their (ahem crotch) in the name of art.
However in recent times it has been the venue for the iTunes London Festival and even a R.E.M. gig. The exhibitions are perfectly positioned for the odd tourist to visit and be amazed with what can be considered the oddest in town. I’d prefer a visit to the Toy Museum, mind you is that even open still?
It’s actually now free to go to the ICA bar, but if you’re a member you get a 10% discount off food and drink.
The bar upstairs is great in the daytime as it’s full of light and very airy.
The food is OK. I know that OK is damning by faint praise, but considering how nice the bar is and looks, I thought it could have been a lot better. However, they serve some great looking cup cakes & nice pots of tea.
Also has free wifi so a nice spot to have a arty lunch and chat with friends.
I went there on Wednesday evening, really just to get out of the rain, and it was great. You have to pay £2 entry to the ICA, and by the time we were there the galleries had shut. The bar seems small at first, up a short flight of stairs, but there is another room on the ground floor level that has a little green room towards the rear filled with solid leather sofas. I bought a cappuccino and an orange juice and it was very reasonably priced. I presume, although I have little evidence of this, that it gets very busy at the weekend, but if you’re looking for a quiet place to take somebody during the week, this is the spot.
What a fantastic venue! I went with a pal to see a Spanish film (King of the Hill). Got there at 8.30pm and started with a drink in the buzzing bar before taking a beer to the screen. Excellent seats and acoustics- and beer! The exhibitions are various, ambitious and interesting and the shop has some great arty gifts for the loved ones. This is one cool hang out in the heart of London’s regal area; worth a visit, lots of visits!
As someone who has grown up in a village where the peak of creative exhibition involves water-coloured paintings of the village bridge, best jam rosettes and Classic Car exhibits I am always aroused with cautious optimism when the word 'Contemporary’ is used. And few places excite that trait more than the ICA.
I must admit however that over the course of my two visits there I have been brought round (to some degree) to the 'Contemporary’ way of life, my first visit was to attend a talk on the Future of Group activity by Clay Shirky and I found the ICA to be a fantastic house for the talk.
My next visit was a real Nathan Barley esque experience at an event run by 'Hide & Seek’ where they were promoting the forgotten past-time of game playing. I must confess that I found the idea of a mass game of thumb wrestling a little strange but once my preconceptions had resided I began to really enjoy myself.
Finally I feel the bar/cafe should get a special mention as it really is a great place to sit and drink a relaxing cup of coffee or tea (depending on which side of the fence you sit.
Went to the bar here for a friend’s birthday. Very glad I bumped into her in Trafalgar Square or I would never have found this place! Felt a bit surreal walking down the Mall in the dark and totally quiet - then following the coloured lights to one side to enter the big gallery space. Prices are what you’d expect. Friendly staff, bright plastic furniture. Plenty of room for big groups. I can see if you worked near here you might pop in, but I’m not sure it’s somewhere I’d purposely go again on a night out.
A great place to catch a random movie! I’ve seen some great flicks here over the years!
One of the great things about living in London is the opportunity to catch great movies around town. There’s a lot of variety and once you break away from the multiplexes there is a real world of wonder out there.
The ICA is one of the best places for the level of independant film they are able to attract and screen.
The screens aren’t huge, but it’s well worth coming down and supporting the place once a while.
The ICA is one of my favourite buildings in London. It’s got so much amazing stuff going on (although usually I remember about it the day after it’s happened). There is always something interesting to do - they’ve just had a great comic exhibition, I was there for Gay Bingo last week, and the Social Media Cafe has just moved there (although I’m still yet to get there for that).
I need an ICA membership for Christmas. They’re about £35 and worth every penny. Love. The ICA has such a diverse range of events it’s worth getting excited about.
It’s a great art and cinema venue.
There’s a great bar serving nice food.
The cinema is intimate. The host some fantastic events and all night performances.
The toilets are a little grotty considering the rest of the venue is so great.
The gallery space is separate and routinely changes the show on display. there’s also other rooms higher in the venue that sometimes feature a display.
They sometimes hold speed dating events as well.
If you are a member you can get cheaper rates.
There’s also a small book and film shop just inside the entrance which has some rare versions and great postcards.
Not sure what to make of the new membership policy. I suppose there aren’t enough arty people around to fill the bar at all times. It generally appears to try and become a little less avant garde and more accessible to a larger base.
Still, as a member you receive a 10% discount at the bar, which is always a good thing.
I love coming here during the day and was pleasantly surprised by some delicous mini cupcakes on Saturday afternoon. A very welcome break after a long walk.
I think they must have changed their caterers, but the food has always been very good (used to regularly come for lunch when I worked in the area).
It’s a great music venue as well as gallery.
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