I have a confession to make: I’m a bit of a photobooth addict. It’s become more prevalent recently as I’ve remembered how much I love them and have been seeking them out – sadly the online community has dwindled slightly so I thought I’d take it upon myself to find out where the analogue photobooths are in London – so you can have fun in them too!
Having trawled the web, Instagram and Twitter, I believe there are 6 photobooths in London that qualify as analogue booths, and I’ve made it my mission to find them. Just like Pokémon. I’ll catch ’em all.
N.B. Please do check the opening times of all these locations before visiting, all websites are listed for you to find out more – I don’t want anyone wasting time visiting a location in the morning if it’s not open yet! :)
We’ll start in East London, because that’s where you can find the most photobooths. It’s unsurprising really considering the East London scene, in my opinion it’s the most thriving creative part of the city, where photobooths fit right in. Other countries that house photobooths often have them out in the open but in London it’s a little bit different, I’m not sure how well a photobooth could handle the British elements in the open…
Just a quick note – all but one of these photobooths have been modified to accept contactless cards, I used Apple Pay, so you don’t need any cash at all! They physically don’t accept coins; this could be a problem if, like me, you don’t have a contactless card though so it’s just something to be aware of. I think you can pop your card in the bottom of the machine but I’m not sure how that works – I’ve just used the contactless method.
Edit: Thanks to @pplinphotobooth I’ve been told you can just pop a debit/credit card in the bottom of the machine and it’ll work! :)
I took the tube to Old Street station and walked to The Hoxton Hotel from there, it’s about a 5 minute walk and one of the two hotels in Shoreditch that have booths. The photobooth is located in the lobby of the hotel, you can see the lit up Photos sign as you walk towards the reception desk!
If you carry on down Great Eastern Street you’ll find The Old Blue Last, a pub and live venue with a booth hidden away in there too. I’d recommend getting here a bit early on in the day if you’re not seeing a set here because I presume it can get very busy! When you go into the pub it’s to the right, you’ll see a Photos sign and then there’s another seating area with the booth tucked away in the right of that area.
Keep on going down Great Eastern Street and then turn down Holywell Lane, you’ll soon see Pizza East in front of you. This was the only booth that I had a slight issue getting to, as I wasn’t dining in the restaurant and the booth wasn’t in the main level I had to ask where it was and almost ask permission to get to it! It’s located downstairs in between Pizza East and Concrete, the club space, by the toilets.
Next up is the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street, where you can find the booth in the lobby of the hotel. This is an easily accessible booth, you can see it as soon as you walk in if you go through the right hand doors of the hotel. This area is also a busy workspace so if you want to come here to get work done too it’d be a fun way to take a break! This photobooth is the only one where you’ll actually need cash and you’ll need 3 £1 coins.
From here you can walk through Rivington Street back to Old Street station, it’ll take about 10 minutes – all of these photobooths are literally within about 5 minutes walking distance from each other! From Old Street you can either hop on the tube and get the Northern Line to King’s Cross and walk to the next location, which will take you around 15 minutes, or in total it’s a half hour walk.
The next location where we can find a photobooth is The Big Chill House, literally just 5 minutes down from King’s Cross St. Pancras. It’s a bar and event space with a roof terrace too, and the booth is very obvious on the right when you go in.
Wowza, only one more to go! Hop back on the Northern Line to Leicester Square and then walk up Charing Cross Road (or take a shortcut through Little Newport Street if you’re a Londoner), turn left onto Shaftesbury Avenue and you’ll spot where our next photobooth is hidden.
The photobooth in the Curzon Soho cinema is the one I discovered this year that re-ignited my photobooth obsession, I feel like it’s still relatively unknown but it’s right in the heart of Central London! It’s tucked away in the corner of the bar downstairs, but you can just walk into Curzon and down the stairs to find it.
And that’s all of them! You’ve seen the photos so you can tell how the prints come out, but here’s a few more notes on what I think of the booths. The Hoxton booth was slightly over-exposed and I’m not sure how much I love the branding behind you in it. Great advertising for them though! The Old Blue Last booth gave a nice result, and clean finish. A tad over-exposed but overall really nice. At the Pizza East booth I also experienced a bit of over-exposure but it was definitely the cleanest print of the bunch chemical wise! With the Ace Hotel booth the first shot takes very quickly so be ready! But apart from that I have no complaints about it, it takes a really nice strip. I liked how the print from Big Chill House was sepia rather than straight black and white, especially how it contrasted with the top I was wearing, plus it had great contrast in the portraits. Lastly I really like the Curzon booth for the fun background but there has been a lot of chemical residue every time I’ve used it so far, I don’t know if using it at a busier period would clean this up but that’s my experience of it.
My favourite booth personally is probably the Ace Hotel one, the prints just came out a lot cleaner, however there are a lot of factors involved in this. I don’t know much about the inside mechanics of photobooths but I presume that the more they’re used in a day the less chemical residue is left behind and as I was visiting these booths quite early on in the day they likely hadn’t been used much yet. To be honest though, that’s kind of part of the appeal of film photography anyway isn’t it? The photos aren’t always going to be perfect, but that’s what makes them great.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this blogpost and that you’ll be visiting some of these photobooths soon. I’d love to see the pics you get from them so make sure you leave a comment, or tag me on Twitter or Instagram when you get them! Plus if there are more photobooths in London that I haven’t mentioned here please let me know so I can add them to my list ;)