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Review: Brighton i360, Sussex, UK

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.

Incredible engineering

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.

The views

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 exhibition

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.

Extreme 360

For the ultimate views, for adrenaline junkies, book the one-hour walk on the roof of the pod. A thrilling – but safety harnessed – adventure.

The cost

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.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. It’s such a great idea that I can see other British seaside towns constructing something similar. Especially now that Brighton’s shown how it can be engineered.

  2. If I’m going to do i360 I’m going to go Extreme. Why do the pod when you can go even higher?

    I’m not really a sipping sparkling wine behind the glass sort of person, I prefer to have the wind in my face.

  3. My father-in-law was living in Hove when the i360 was being constructed and he used to take a bus into Brighton to watch the build. As a retired civil engineer he was drawn into watching for hours as he’d never seen a project like that.

  4. The thought of a high altitude pre dinner drink, ideally bubbly, at altitude on the i360, followed by dinner at the Mettopole must tempt a lot of people to stay a night or two in Brighton.

  5. It’s such a different way of building that the exhibition must be a big draw. When I went to Dubai’s Burj Khalifi there were many people who spend more time at the exhibition at ground level than taking in the views from the world’s highest building.

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