You may have never even heard of the Brighton i360 and that’s not surprising, because it only just opened. But the 160 metre high moving observation tower has been under construction on Brighton’s beachfront for 2 years and now it dominates the skyline. Before the tower even opened it had already claimed two world records: tallest moving tower and thinnest tall tower. I’m pretty sure it can also claim to be Brighton’s hottest new attraction.
I chose a particularly sunny day to travel down to Brighton (40 minutes from London) and check out the views from this super skinny tower.
Finding the i360
The Brighton i360 is located on the beachfront opposite Regency Square. To get there from Brighton train station all you need to do is walk down the hill directly opposite the station; this will take you to the beach at which point all you need to do is look for the giant tower and walk towards it. It takes around 20 minutes to walk from Brighton station to the i360 and the city centre is about 15 minutes away.
Queuing and Security
When I arrived at the base of the i360 I looked on in horror at the size of the queue in front of the security checkpoint. Mercifully, I quickly realised that things weren’t as bad as they seem when nearly half the queue disappeared within 5 minutes.
Regardless of the queue when you arrive, you will probably be waiting at least 20 minutes till you board the i360; in fact the tickets tell you to arrive half an hour before your booked time slot. Before entering the main waiting areas you need to go through the aforementioned security checkpoint where they check your bags and give you a quick scan. It’s all rather painless however the waiting can drag on a bit.
Once you are through security you are led into an outdoor waiting area where you wait for the previous i360’s ‘pod’ to come back down to ground level and let the previous passengers off.
A ride on the Brighton i360 takes around 20-30 minutes so you may be waiting this long for the previous time slot to finish. It’s a shame then that the outdoor waiting area is rather void of things to do. While there are some deckchairs provided and an attractive seafront location, I feel that this space could be better utilised with some art work, a bar, some information about Brighton, anything other than empty space!
360 degree view of the i360 waiting area.
I found myself feeling a bit bored waiting for the i360 to return to earth, but thankfully the wait lasted only 15 minutes and was well worth it once my trip began.
A ‘Flight’ on the i360
When the moving pod of the i360 makes its way to the departure area, you await for one of the flight crew to open the doors at which point you make a scramble to get the best viewing spots. Getting 200 people through doors that are only a metre wide obviously leads to a bottle neck and some pushing and shoving. I feel like the staff could set up a more orderly queue for entry into the i360.
Once you’ve battled your way onto the pod you’ll want to find a good viewing spot, thankfully the pod is almost completely transparent all the way around so there is plenty of room for everyone to see the view.
The pod feel much larger than it looks from the outside; it’s primarily made of glass and metal and feel very light and spacious. There is a champagne bar, seats and screens providing information about your ‘flight’.
There are more than a few airliner references at the i360. You need a boarding pass to get on, your flight will be 30 minutes long, the flight crew will be here to help you. This is because the whole venture is sponsored by British Airways and they want to make it known at every available opportunity.
The view emerges, slowly.
Once everyone is on board (the pod can hold 200 people), the flight will begin. You may not even notice at first, because the pod moves very smoothly and quite slowly. This isn’t some fairground ride where you’ll feel your stomach left behind as you shoot upwards. The i360 moves silently and gracefully, allowing even the most speed and height phobic person (like me) to enjoy the ‘flight’.
It takes about 6 minutes for the pod to reach its maximum height of 140 metres above ground level. During this time you start to see the fantastic view emerge all around you. At about the half way point you can see the entire city of Brighton, its many unique buildings sprawling northwards.
Once you reach the maximum height of the i360 the pod will slow to a halt. You are now roughly 140 metres above sea level and at this point the view is at its best. Looking north you will be able to see the entire city of Brighton and the stunning countryside beyond it.
360 degree view inside the i360.
Looking east or west you will see the full extent of Brighton’s beachfront and in the distance you will spot the huge white cliffs that make England’s south coast to beautiful. Looking south you will see nothing but the English Channel, a magnificent still blue that contrasts so strongly with the urban environment in the opposite direction.
You will have around 10 minutes at the very top of the i360 to enjoy the view in every direction. You may also like to get a drink at the champagne bar or watch the information video. You will only have time for one drink though, because before you know it the i360 pod will begin its decent.
It’s a shame that the pod doesn’t stay at the top of the tower for slightly longer. I think 20 minutes, rather than 10, would give guests more time to enjoy the view without rushing to take photos, selfies and record videos.
You’ll spend another 6 or so minutes creeping your way back down the tower until you are released from the pod on the lower ground level, which is where the customary gift shop is located.
The Brighton i360 is a crazy, random idea that fits the equally unique city of Brighton to a T. Whilst not all will enjoy the fact that this towering steel structure dominates the beach front, none can deny that the views from the top are absolutely stunning! I can’t think of anywhere else in the UK where you can see such a unique view, with the ocean on one side, the beach just below you and the rooftops of a beautiful city in every other direction. Even the tallest buildings in London can’t provide such a unique spectacle.
Whilst there are some issues, including a rather dull waiting area and a lack of organisation to get 200 people onto the moving pod, these are minor grievances that will no doubt be rectified once the attraction has been open for a while longer.
So if you are thinking of taking a day trip to Brighton and fancy doing something that will really make the day special, I fully recommend the Brighton i360. It’s not particularly expensive, won’t use up all of your day and it located very near Brighton’s other attractions. Remember to book in advance as there may not be space on the day!
Check out this 360 degree time lapse video of inside the Brighton i360:
You can see more on my 360 degree video channel
London Writer and Blogger. Featured in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times.