The London Eye is one of the most striking and memorable parts of the city landscape, with its immense wheel visible looming over the river. As one of the most popular attractions in the capital, you’ll often see long queues of people waiting to take a ride in its iconic glass capsules, and it’s absolutely worth the trip.
Read on to find out more about the London Eye, and why it’s worth a visit during your next stay in London at the Barbican Rooms Hotel.
The history of the London Eye
The London Eye was built in 1999 and was a memorable way of marking the end of the millennium, although the epic Ferris wheel wasn’t actually open to the public for rides until the following year. Once it was, it became a record-breaking ride, and was the world’s tallest wheel, and the highest public viewing point in London, too. Though it’s been ousted from some of those record-breaking spots, it is still currently the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, standing at 135 metres tall.
Another record is does retain is being London’s most visited paid attraction, drawing crowds of over 3.75 million visitors every year, and if you’re staying in the city with some London hotel packages, then it’s an essential visit to make part of your itinerary. And it’s just as popular with celebrities as it is for other regular visitors to the city, with stars including Kate Moss and Jessica alba reputedly taking numerous rides on it, over the years. If you’re planning to take a ride during your stay at the Barbican Rooms Hotel, then it’s a good idea to book online ahead of time, to save you from having to wait to ride the wheel.
The London Eye is a striking part of the city skyline, but it was actually only meant to be a temporary feature, with an original lease for five years. However, in 2002, it was granted a permanent lease, and is safely part of the city’s character for years to come.
The unique glass capsules
Around the London Eye, you’ll find 32 capsules, with one for each major borough in the capital. However, on closer inspection you might discover that the capsules, while numbered, actually miss out the supposedly unlucky number, 13, and the stunning design of each clear glass capsule is as much a part of the London Eye’s unique charm.
The glass capsules also provide the perfect view over London, as they move slowly around the wheel. In fact, the wheel does not ever stop – unless it is pausing to allow disabled passengers on or off, but as it travels at only two revolutions an hour, you have plenty of time to take in the stunning sights during the ride.
Typically, on a clear day, it’s possible to see as afar as 40 kilometres away. You’ll be able to see the majority of London’s famous landmarks with a great vantage point, including the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, London’s parks and the Shard, providing you with plenty of inspiration of other sights to visit during your stay at the London hotel packages. And when the skies are exceptionally clear, you may even be able to see as far as Windsor Castle.
For those who are a little uneasy about heights, the thought of riding in a clear glass capsule as it rises over a hundred metres over London might seem like a daunting prospect, but the unique construction of the Eye makes it a safe and comfortable experience.
Each ride takes around half an hour, and the capsules themselves are large and spacious. As the wheel moves quite slowly, you will not experience any jerks or sudden movements, making it a secure and steady-feeling experience. While the walls around you are glass, there are benches around the side, providing a place to sit down if you feel a little unsteady, or simply want to relax. If it does ever get too much though, make sure that you’re travelling with someone to help you feel calm and relaxed, and you might want to treat yourself to a soothing session at the Barbican spa afterwards!
Special experiences at the London Eye
The London Eye is open to the public and typically on a capsule you’ll be seated with other visitors, unless you are part of a large group that fills up the capsule together. However, it is also possible to book a private capsule for special occasions and events, and if you’re marking a particular occasion, you might want to invest in a private pod or experience for a more memorable ride.
If you’d like to have the capsule all to yourself and someone special, you can book a private pod to enjoy at your leisure. These can be booked for groups from 3 to 25 people, and provides a unique experience of the city for your group. You can also book a private pod for a group of friends and family, with additional extras such as canapés or champagne. It’s a great way to celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, and a wonderful experience to share with the people you love.
If you’re feeling particularly romantic, then you might even want to pop the question on the London Eye! Over the years, there have been numerous instances of secret flash mobs on board, surprising unsuspecting partners as they burst into song during the ride. The organisers of the wheel do actually offer a proposal package, including champagne, chocolates and a secret photographer who will ride on board with you, ready to capture that amazing moment.
As such as important part of the modern landscape of London, it’s hard not to look up in wonder at the London Eye, whether you see it during the day, or lit up brightly during the night. However you choose to spend time on it, it’s certainly a ride you won’t forget.