The perfect cinema in Hull that's like taking a trip in a time machine

A general view inside Reel Cinema at Hull St Stephens Shopping Centre
A general view inside Reel Cinema at Hull St Stephens Shopping Centre -Credit:Hull Live

I used to love everything about going to the cinema - the smell of popcorn, the trailers, the anticipation of seeing the latest film on the big screen.

But mainstream cinema has taken a weird turn in the past decade. I've started to notice them being restyled with bland grey carpets and neutral walls, like everything now has to look like an executive lounge. Sleek. Functional. Utterly boring.

And the marketing fads - everything is "luxury" this or "exclusive" that. And who thought up reclining seats? Good cinema is supposed to have you gripping your armrests in excitement, not lying down for a long nap.


Don't get me started on the prices - one leading cinema chain in Hull has prices for a seat beginning at £9.95. And then you've got the frankly insane cost of popcorn, pick-n-mix sweets, and soft drinks.

With all my grumbling, it's surprising I go to the cinema at all. But quite by chance, I discovered Reel cinema tucked away on the top floor of St Stephen's when it was the only place still showing Dune: Part Two.

The happy sight of a reasonably priced bag of sweets at a cinema
The happy sight of a reasonably priced bag of sweets at a cinema -Credit:Hull Live

The film itself was far too long and didn't have the visual and audio impact and tight storytelling of the first Dune, but I came away utterly smitten with the cinema. I felt like I'd fallen into a time machine.

Bright primary colours - yellow and blue - made me feel instantly nostalgic for the days of Blockbuster Video when film was a proper occasion and you'd head down with your mates to argue over which DVD or VHS to pick for a movie night at home - fighting over a Netflix menu is just not the same.

Happily, the prices were also suitably retro. With the Meerkat Movies two-for-one deal it came to just £3 each. That would leave enough money left over to indulge in a £2.35 bag of vanilla fudge.

The cinema lobby did have a mundane grey carpet but I was overjoyed - yes overjoyed - when I turned the corner and it was laid with one of the gaudiest carpets I'd ever seen. It was an unforgivable clash of colours straight out of the nineties.

It reminded me of a time when we weren't in a constant economic doom spiral and watching films with friends - and then furiously debating them afterwards - was a weekly treat.

Reel is much smaller than the other cinema chains in UK - it has just 16 locations including Hull. Some of them appear to have modernised and now offer plush "premium experience" sofas with charcoal grey upholstery.

I know I sound like a dinosaur, but I hope Hull's cinema keeps it Reel for a bit longer.