Six years ago, the Brighton Eye (akin to the London Eye) was replaced as a seafront landmark in Brighton by the British Airways i360, a 162-metre-tall vertical tower and its observation pod which lords it over the seafront.
It is located opposite the South African War Memorial statue that stands guard by Regency Square and close to the site of the derelict West Pier that was burned down by fire in 2003. You can still see the sad ruins of the beleaguered pier in the water.
Some have dubbed the observation pod the “doughnut” due to its shape, while others have been known to refer to it as something far cheekier (best left unquoted).
Whatever you call it, there is no doubt that the i360 is a huge feat of engineering. You can find out more after the flight at the free exhibition.
This is the world’s tallest moving observation tower with an observation pod built around a central column. It is, in fact, a fully enclosed futuristic glass sphere that gently lifts (the movement is hardly discernible) up to 200 people to a height of 138 metres.
Checking into the BA i360
Like any flight, you have to allow time to check-in – around 20 minutes. You can collect your ticket or download it onto your phone to show before going through security – a sort of light version of airport security – a process that is guided by staff dressed in BA livery.
Once through security, you wait and watch as the previous flight lands. Seeing the i360 as it descends is quite extraordinary.
Inside the BA i360
Straddled by two BA staff, the doors slowly slide open, and passengers are shown into the very spacious 360-degree observation deck. There are some banquettes for those that need to sit but most like to walk around and visually drink in the views over Brighton from various perspectives.
As the pod rises, the views inevitably become ever more expansive across the sea, both sides of the beach and way into the city and beyond over the Downs.
It is a serene experience with the odd chatter in the background unless, of course, you get on with groups of kids, so be sure to ask which flights are free from school outings.
Though the flight lasts around 25 minutes, it seems all over far too soon, and I hardly had enough time to sip the champagne I liberated from the pod Sky Bar.
There are several ticket options. I opted for the fly and dine experience with a traditional fish and chips at their beachfront restaurant – well, I was at the seaside after all.
VERDICT: The BA i360 is a slick operation – nicely done. The ride is gentle, and with a glass of bubbly in hand, it feels festive. I highly recommend the experience.
- Adults: £17.50
- Add a glass of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee: £24.75
- Add a two-course lunch at the beachfront restaurant: £33.35
For more options and book a flight visit the BA i360 website.