THERE IS no chance of missing your destination when walking towards the British Airways i360. Since it first opened to the public in August 2016, it has quickly become an iconic attraction which looms high over the Brighton seafront.
The British Airways i360 is the world’s tallest moving observation tower and was conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye. The British Airways i360 pod is ten times the size of a London Eye capsule and carries up to 200 passengers. The pod gently glides up to 450ft to give visitors 360-degree views across Brighton & Hove, the South Downs and the beautiful Sussex coastline.
As we walked along the seafront on a gloriously sunny Autumnal day we were greeted by a large metallic British Airways sign and entered one of the restored 1866 tollbooths to collect our tickets. The British Airways i360 is located opposite the now-derelict, but still very charming, West Pier. The juxtaposition of the new and old structures form part of the attraction’s commitment to ‘looking to the future while respecting the past’.
As we walked towards the security for our ‘flight’ we were greeted by friendly staff – yes, you really can feel the influence of BA. Before our flight we had some time to look around the very interesting 'British Airways i360: How it was Built' exhibition.
The flight really is fascinating. As we slowly glided up towards the sky the whole of the pod was enthralled by the stunning scenery. Even my afraid-of-heights travel companion forgot her fear and was quickly gazing out along the skyline and soon taking selfies.As we boarded the pod, I must admit I cynically wondered what we would be able to see; I worried that an expanse of sea and rooftops may not hold my attention for the whole ride. How wrong I was!
Being able to walk freely around the large pod allowed us to view the beautiful scenery and see far across the South Downs and coastline. It was also fascinating to view the city from a different perspective.
Located within the pod is the ‘Nyetimber Sky Bar’, which only serves drinks from the local area including Nyetimber English sparkling wine, Brighton Gin, local beer and soft drinks. TLTB loved this celebration & support of local products, and the Nyetimber sparkling wine was one of the nicest I’ve tried in a long time – absolutely delicious!
After pausing at altitude, we slowly descended to ground level. In total the ride takes about 20 minutes, and I found this to be the perfect amount of time to enjoy the sights spread out beneath us.
No day out at the seaside is complete without a stop at the souvenir shop. It should be worth noting how classy and stylish the gifts on sale are – no sticks of rock here! In a continuation of the support of the local area the gift shop was filled with local food gifts and modern prints of the i360 and Brighton painted by local artists.
There are two dining options at the British Airways i360, the West Pier Tea Room and the West Beach Bar & Kitchen. After our flight we opted for the West Beach Bar & Kitchen and a classic Afternoon Tea.
The restaurant looks out to beautiful views of the seafront and piers, and the interior is decorated with a bespoke piece by celebrated local neon artist Andy Doig and artwork by other Brighton artists, which will be displayed for sale year-round.
Brighton prides itself on being stylish, a little bit different and modern. On the one-year anniversary of the attraction opening, Brighton and Hove Mayor Mo Marsh, declared that the British Airways i360 is ‘… unique; just like our city!”. I think I am inclined to agree with her.
Sarah Bryans 14/11/17