Before the end of my summer holiday, I was determined to see the sea (putting Mallorca to one side!). Spending a day at the seaside has memories of childhood flooding back by the bucket load. So, being ideally situated in where I live, within forty minutes I was standing on Brighton seafront, a big favourite of mine, along with my Dad for a day out. I love the fact that it doesn’t take us long to leave towns behind, with the landscape morphing swiftly into fields, rivers and farms.
Brighton is currently going through lots of changes, with the beach front being updated, and so far it is looking good, without losing its charm. The pier is still a major attraction but alongside that now is the brand new British Airways i360.
So what is the British Airways i360, I hear you say? Let me take you through some facts, tips and my own thoughts having had the chance to visit.
1. The i360 is the first vertical cable car and was designed by the London Eye architects. (Think the great glass elevator from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, but without the sideways movement or breaking through the ceiling!) The tower is 450 feet tall and is the world’s tallest, moving observation tower.
2. It looks a bit like a matchstick standing upright on the seafront, with a washer moving up and down it. In February 2016 the stem of the i360 was named the world’s slimmest tower.
3. The glass observation pod (the washer) can hold up to 200 people and is 10 times bigger than a capsule on the London Eye. Now that is a lot of glass!
4. Inside the pod there is a bar where you can purchase drinks (bit pricey in my opinion) whilst admiring the view at different times of the day.
5. Various parts of the tower were manufactured in different countries and brought together to form this amazing structure on Brighton’s seafront.
6. It is possible to see a distance of 26 miles from the top of the i360, which includes beautiful views of the South Downs National Park, chalk cliffs, both piers and much more.
7. The average ‘flight’ time is 20 minutes, which is good, but personally, I’d love a bit longer. Time increases to 30 minutes later in the day.
8. Think carefully about what you are carrying on the day of your visit. You pass through tight security with thorough bag searches and detectors. Things such as selfie sticks are not allowed. Items like this are kept in the security area to be picked up afterwards. My only niggle with this is that there is no ticket system, so you have to rely on the staff to give you back your belongings, which could have easily been taken by someone else.
9. The i360 opened on the 4th August 2016, and so is still in its infancy. It is located right in front of the ruins of the old pier, which gives a clear statement of Brighton’s past, present and future.
10. Prices are reasonable for the ‘flight’ and there is a smartphone app that you can download prior to the experience which gives more information in a variety of languages. A definite plus point. It cost me £15 as an adult, and my dad paid the senior adult rate of £12.50. There are savings to be made if tickets are booked online in advance. There is student discount and under 4’s are free.
11. Tickets can be shown via your mobile phone, which is great if you haven’t managed to print them off. Tickets can also be bought on the day from the ticket office.
For someone who loves cable cars, experiencing sights and getting a bird’s eye view of life below, this is a great activity to do and is extremely family and mobility friendly. I know it may seem extremely daunting to many people who suffer with vertigo (my dad included), but it is an achievable, secure height. There are seats in the centre of the pod which still allows some views but without the need to peer over the edge. Staff (cabin crew?) are on hand to ensure your flight is a pleasant experience and there is lots of space to spread out.
If you find yourself in Brighton at any point, pop along and have a look; I loved experiencing Brighton from the air.
What are your favourite views from the air?