Once Brighton was renowned for horizontal piers, three of them, stretching out towards a horizon where blue sky merges with blue seas. Now Brighton has a vertical pier reaching for the sky. The i360, royally opened by Prince Phillip in the summer of 2016, is a futuristic UFO-like addition to Brighton’s historic bucket-and-spade shoreline.
A decade in planning – but just 10 weeks to construct the central slender tower – 17 ginormous cans were imported by barge from Holland, joined together by 1336 bolts. Though, the entire project, including extensive foundations, took 25 months.
Visionary design has created an 18 metres diameter glass pod, with 360-degree views, that is both a lift and a viewing gallery for up to 175 passengers.
In geometric terms the pod is an oblate ellipsoid. Rising 138 metres it gives uninterrupted panoramic views. Though to locals it has become affectionately known as the doughnut on the stick. Then there’s a further 24 metres to the apex of the tower at 162 metres.
On a clear day you can see as far as the Isle of Wight. With good visibility, you can look across the South Downs National Park too.
Down below, ant-like people walk along the seaside promenade. For 25 minutes you can take in the quirky city of Brighton, spotting what remains of the setting for Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.
The storm-battered skeleton of the West Pier is a reminder of the mid-20th century when people flocked to Brighton on seaside specials at every opportunity. To the east, the finger of the Brighton Palace pier, opened in 1899, still hosts its fairground rides and candy floss stalls.
There is a choice. Book a daytime flight for coastal views. Or an evening lift-off for Brighton’s lights. Then again there is sunset, followed by lights twinkling through the dusk.
The South Coast’s highest bar
Literally 450 feet above sea level, the Nyetimber Bar serves locally sourced drinks, obviously including Nyetimber’s award winning sparkling wine.
For a taste of Brighton there is a Lemon Verbena Garden Collins by local distillery Brighton Gin. Alternatively, local Sussex Company Folkington’s supply a great selection of fruit juices.
The i360’s departure lounge hosts an exhibition of images, narrative and statistics telling the story of the attraction’s creation.
Recreating the exact grandeur of the two Victorian ticket booths that served the original West Pier was another challenge for the project. One booth now sells tickets for the i360 whilst the other is a cafe.
For the ultimate views, for adrenaline junkies, book the one-hour walk on the roof of the pod. A thrilling – but safety harnessed – adventure.
Adult prices for the pod start at £17.95 whilst a walk is £40.
A place to stay
The i360 is located immediately opposite the Doubletree by Hilton Brighton Metropole.
Take a pre-prandial high altitude drink in the Nyetimber Bar then stroll across for dinner in the hotel’s restaurants before heading up to a sumptuous Sea View room.
Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by Brighton i360.
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