Friday 30 September 2016

View from the Brighton BA i360 Tower

Saturday our family took a group of the volunteers who live as part of our community over to Brighton. I think everyone knows that Brighton is a great place to visit. There is so much to do with dozens of cafes, bars, restaurants of every type, the beach, the gorgeous lanes shopping area, modern shopping in Churchill Square, museums, galleries, theatres, the cinema and so much more.

Our plan for the day was very loose but our family did have some tickets to ride the new British Airways i360 attraction, which is the worlds first vertical cable car where you travel up 450 feet in a stunning glass pod and have 360 degree views of Sussex. My husband and son both said they didn't really want to take the ride (or flight as BA call it) but that was fine as we had a couple of Romanian friends who were keen to try out this new experience.

And what a lovely experience it is and its been receiving good reviews on TripAdvisor. I think we chose a perfect day as the sun was shining and the sky was clear and boy do you get some amazing views. You can see the Brighton townscape, the hills of the South Downs and of course out to sea and on a really clear day the Isle of Wight can even be spotted.  Just look at the image below and tell me you wouldn't enjoy that sight -

A photo posted by Michelle Pannell (@michelletwinmum) on

Booking and Costs
As with most attractions it is advisable to book the i360 in advance as there is a 10% online booking discount when you book at least three days in advance. This means you also get to chose the flight time that suits you as every ride is timed.

The online cost for an adult is £13.50, a Senior (60+) or student is £11.25, a child (aged 4-15 years) is £6.75 and 4 and under are free. I think these are pretty reasonable prices for something that would be a special treat. You can combine your flight with an afternoon tea in the Belle Vue Restaurant underneath if you want a very special treat. Residents of the local area and also Uni students based in Brighton will be able to secure a substantial discount too.

The opening hours for Sunday - Thursday are 10am to 8pm and this extends to 10pm a Friday and Saturday and I bet the sight is glorious at night, time it right and you could watch the sunset as you take the flight.

If you wish to take a group of 15+ you need to call during office hours to secure the best price and also if you have someone in your party with a disability or who is a wheelchair user then please do call ahead.

Excited to ride the i360

We had booked our flight for 12 noon on Saturday and you are advised to arrive 20/30 minutes before this time. When we arrived we joined a queue of about 30 people. The entrance and queueing reminded me of the London Eye but I suppose that is to be expected as it is the same architects who designed this. It didn't take long for the queue to go down, we all had our tickets in advance and we were just waiting to have our bags checked and be scanned before we went through to take the flight. I was very pleased to see that British Airways are taking security really seriously as an attraction like this could be a high-profile target for trouble.

After security there was the opportunity for a photo against a green screen but we declined to have our photo taken and the photographers were fine with this, not pushy at all. I knew that I would get enough pictures of us all to be very happy and I didn't need to spend on any more.

Once through we waited on a wooden deck area with seating, deckchairs and toilets. This was a pleasant place to wait on a nice day as you could look and see the old West Pier and enjoy the views. I'd imagine on a miserable rainy day it wouldn't be so much fun as there was no shelter, which seems a shame.

Patiently waiting to board the flight with the old West Pier behind her

The Flight
Getting in and out of the pod is well thought out as they happen on different floors, so there is no rush or crowds. We were booked to board at 12 noon but didn't actually get on until about 12.10pm. This wasn't really an issue to us and staff did inform us there was a little delay. Just before 12 noon we headed over in the direction of the doors and waited so we could get on promptly and secure the best area but actually there was no need to rush as everyone got to see exactly what they wanted. No-one stayed in the same position, as people kept milling around to get the 360 views and we found people to be really considerate moving for family pictures etc.

The flight itself took about 20 minutes to go up and back down and I was super impressed with how smooth  the journey was, I didn't even realise we had started to move at first. Miss M was a little worried that she might feel unwell as she gets motion sickness but she didn't feel poorly at all and there were seats around the middle of the pod if anyone needed to sit down during the flight.

We had feared that the pod might get too busy inside and it would feel cramped and claustrophobic but as you can see from the photos above we travelled at peak time on a Saturday and it really didn't feel cramped or over-busy at all.

You'll notice in the top right photo that there is a Nyetimber sky bar in the pod and this serves fine English sparkling wine at £10 a glass and limited other alcoholic and soft drinks.

The 360 views from the pod really are wonderful but it is pretty tricky to get a good photo of the views when the sun is shining as you get lots of reflections and shadows, as you can see below.

As soon as we arrived back at the bottom the doors opened for us all to exit and we came out into a gift shop, which was well stocked but of course it leads to the children all saying they want to buy something and the little keepsakes can be pricey.

The Beach Building
The i360 is housed within the beach building which is home to the Belle Vue restaurant serving quality local food the West Pier Tea Room in a beautifully reconstructed 1866 West Pier tollbooth. There is a large terrace area for Al Fresco dining and this is such a nice addition to the area. We didn't enter the eating areas so I can't make much comment on them except to say they looked fabulous and are available for private hire. I'd imagine this would be an excellent venue for a corporate event or wedding.

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Disclosure: We were provided with five complimentary tickets of the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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