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Touch the sky: dining on high at Brighton’s i360

Brighton’s British Airways i360 was a controversial opening. Designed by Marks Barfield Architects, more famous for designing the London Eye, the simple tower with its shining observation deck split opinions right from the get-go.

The futuristic glistening tower on the seafront is, to some, incongruous amongst the Regency architecture. For others it’s a clever way of limiting its impact for residents behind and not obscuring their lovely sea views.

I’ve always liked it. So often these ‘experiences’ are somewhat disappointing but every time I’ve taken a flight, I’ve loved it. The doughnut design provides a spacious area to wander around – the pod is 10 times as big as those on the London Eye – and enjoy a full 360-degree view over the Brighton and Hove to the South Downs National Park beyond and, of course, along the beach and out to sea. I’m told you can see the Isle of Wight on a very clear day.

For event organisers it offers a range of options. Situated a few minutes walk from the Brighton Centre, Hilton Metropole and The Grand hotel, it is ideal for some post-conference networking. A variety of event spaces on the ground offer flexibility for events and catering while there are many ways to use the glass pod, which itself can accommodate up to 175 people. The beachfront spaces including a lovely terrace can host up to 1,100.

The i360 can be used for meetings, receptions, dining including afternoon tea – there is even yoga on offer.

I was recently invited to a Sky Dining event, where a three-course dinner is served as you rise 140 metres during three flights – one per course, allowing for breaks between each. Laid out for dinner, there is a completely different and very glamorous atmosphere. And of course you get to see the changing vista as the day fades, the sun sets and the lights of the city begin to twinkle below.

Private Sky Dining is available for a minimum of 60 guests and can accommodate up to 120. The price (currently £125 pp ex VAT) includes a welcome drink and canapes at ground level before boarding your flight for three courses and wine. It would make an unusual, memorable and stylish gala dinner option.

Sally Trelford is Associate Editor at CAT Media.