London's newest viewing platform, Lift 109 at Battersea Power Station, is now open. Here's what you can expect from the attraction.
Lift 109 has taken up residence in the most north-westerly of Battersea Power Station's four iconic chimneys, whizzing you up through the inside of the shaft and out into the sky above.
Before you even set foot in the lift, there's a small exhibition detailing the history of Battersea Power Station, from construction to second world war, to its recent relaunch as a high-end shopping centre.
At one end of the exhibition, a screen counts down to the next lift ride, before unexpectedly swinging open and letting you into a darkened room. An immersive light show experience begins, beaming projections onto the walls, depicting fire and sparks with accompanying soundtrack, presumably designed to recall the building's industrial history — but by this point, we're itching to just get in the lift.
From the light show, two regular metal lifts open their doors and swallow visitors. Don't be disappointed — these aren't the lift, just a method to convey you up a few more floors. Stepping out of these first lifts, look up through the glass ceiling in the corridor to get a closer look at the chimney you'll soon be ascending. From here, it's a short spiral staircase of 39 steps to the main lift (a step-free option is available, but you need to book that in advance).
The lift itself is a circular glass number, and puts us in mind of the pods on the London Eye; transparent windows offer 360° views, and there's a wooden bench in the centre for anyone who wishes to remain seated.
The ascent begins, taking you up close and personal to the inside of that world-famous (replica) chimney. Look up through the lift's glass ceiling to see the seriously awe-inspiring sight of the shaft illuminated in a futuristic light show, with accompanying soundtrack.
Though expected, the emergence from the chimney into the sky above feels sudden, a brief moment of doubt as to whether the lift will actually stop or if we're about to have our own Great Glass Elevator moment.
Out here, the lift doubles up as the viewing platform (so you remain inside the lift at all times), with information boards at waist height pointing out the landmarks you can see around you.
Our inaugural flight took place at night, and a particularly foggy night at that. Still, with most of London's observation decks and viewing platforms located in east and central London, it's a refreshing change to have somewhere out this far west to gaze upon the skyline from a different angle.
Looming most large are the other three Battersea towers, and the cluster of skyscrapers at St George's Wharf in Vauxhall, with the BT Tower and The Shard among the other more obvious landmarks.
Visiting in November 2022, the giant observation wheel of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park was easily visible, and Albert Bridge looks beautiful illuminated on the inky Thames at night.
Apparently, the likes of Wimbledon Centre Court and Hampton Court Palace are visible in daylight, though we'll have to take their word for that.
In our opinion, the experience comes to an end a little too soon. With 360° views of London to look at, and plenty of fellow lift-riders all vying for the same viewpoint, it's a challenge to get a good view of everything in the 10 minutes or so before we're sucked back down into the chimney.
Lift 109 is now open at Battersea Power Station. You'll find the entrance inside the new Battersea Power Station shopping centre. Book tickets in advance.
All images by the author.