Words and Photos by Dawn Klavon
Fancy a UK adventure this summer? With international travel picking up, combined with the Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee festivities over the past few months, London is a hot travel destination for 2022.
The Eye Has It
The London Eye, the largest observation wheel in the world, stands 443 feet tall (equivalent to 64 red telephone boxes piled on top of each other) and provides one of the highest viewing points in London. It proudly sits on the banks of the River Thames offering 360-degree, breathtaking views of the river and sites such as the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and St. Pauls’ Cathedral.
There are 32 pods in total: one for each of the London boroughs. For superstitious reasons, they are numbered up to 33, with pod 13 left out for good luck. Since it officially opened to the public in March 2000, it has become the United Kingdom’s most popular paid-for visitor attraction, loved by Britons and tourists alike.
We’ll Drink to That
So what could make it even better — a VIP Pub Car! For not much more than a regular ticket price, adult visitors to the London Eye can bypass the regular line (which can be long with summer tourist crowds); gather in an air-conditioned, indoor VIP lounge; and stroll onto their own pub car, complete with cushioned seating, staggering views, and a fabulous bar serving each guest two beverage
“We saw the VIP experience let us skip the line and have two free drinks,” said
Alexa Patti, visiting from New York. “The price was right, and it seems like a great experience compared to packing everyone into the cars otherwise.”
Up to 12 guests at a time are welcomed onto the Pub Pod by their bartender, who graciously offers cocktails, craft beers, wines, or nonalcoholic beverages. The 30-minute adventure runs 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Thursdays to Sundays.
The price tag for this special indulgence is 65 British pounds per person (about U.S. $76 U.S. dollars). For comparison, a standard ticket costs 36 British pounds (about $42 U.S. dollars), and a ticket with a fast pass costs 51 British pounds (about $60 U.S. dollars). As the Brits say, brilliant!
“I’m really impressed with the Pub experience, over the normal experience, plus the fast track – and the drinks paid for themselves.” said Dustin Kocylowsky, of New York. “We lucked out, truthfully.”
No Heightened Awareness
No worries for those afraid of heights — the London Eye is a very comfortable experience. Often mistakenly called a Ferris wheel, these 32 pods are completely enclosed, climate-controlled, positioned on the outside of the wheel structure, fully motorized, and the entire structure is supported by an A-frame on one side only
The hub and spindle weigh in at 330 tons — equivalent to 49 double decker buses and 20 times heavier than Big Ben. The ride is smooth and slow, you hardly notice you are moving.
The view from the London Eye Pub Pod is what guests obsess about; on a clear day, visitors can see around 25 miles out from the top. Each guest receives a 360-degree viewing guide pointing out every site, from Harrods to Downing Street to MI6 Headquarters to the Tower of London. The slow ride makes it perfect for aerial photography. Adventurous UK visitors will enjoy the views, VIP treatment, specialty cocktails, and unique experience equivalent to the Eiffel Tower. Cheers!