The London skyline offers some of the most iconic views anywhere. There are many spots where you can enjoy that view including the Shard, Skygarden, the London Eye, Up at the O2 to name a few.
When Lift 109 opened at the newly restored and rejuvenated Battersea Power Station, I was wondering if London needed another viewpoint. I was curious to see if it had something different to offer, so I decided to check it out for myself.
Let me share my experience with you in this review of Lift 109 at the Battersea Power Station so you can decide if it’s worth visiting.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclosure below for information.
- About Battersea Power Station
- Interesting Facts About Battersea Power Station
- What is Lift 109?
- My Experience at Lift 109
- Lift 109 Review
- Lift 109 FAQs
- When did Lift 109 open?
- What are the opening hours for Lift 109?
- How much does Lift 109 cost?
- How can you save money when visiting Lift 109?
- Do you need to book Lift 109 in advance?
- How long does the Lift 109 experience take?
- Are there places to eat near Lift 109?
- Is there any place to get a drink near Lift 109?
- How do you get to Lift 109?
- Is Lift 109 Worth It?
- Expert Tips for Visiting Lift 109
About Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station provided power to London from the 1930s to the 1980s. In its heyday it produced 1/5 of London’s power and delivered electricity to well-known places like the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
After it closed, the building became derelict. It was purchased and sold several times until the current shareholders SP Setia, Darby Property and the Employers Provident Fund began work to redevelop it in 2012.
They wanted to create a new community on the 42-acre site around the Battersea Power Station that would include homes, shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, cultural venues, and parks. The centerpiece of the plan was turning the Battersea Power Station into a venue where people could enjoy themselves. It opened to the public in October 2022, but more shops, restaurants, and attractions will be added soon.
Interesting Facts About Battersea Power Station
You know the Battersea Power Station is something special when you see it. I wanted to share some of the facts that helped make it iconic.
- Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was one of the architects who designed the building. He was also behind the origination of the red phone boxes.
- During World War II, RAF pilots used the steam from the chimney to guide them home when it was misty. The German Air Force also used it for navigation so the building was not significantly damaged from bombs.
- It was the largest power station in Europe, and could generate 500 megawatts of electricity.
- The main Boiler House was so big it could fit St. Paul’s Cathedral inside.
- In 1964, an electrical failure at Battersea Power Station caused the BBC to delay launching BBC Two by a day.
- In 1977, an inflatable pig was tied to one of the southern chimneys for the front cover of Pink Floyd’s album, Animals. It got loose and flew into the Heathrow flight path and finally landed off the coast of Kent.
- Some popular movies, including Superman III, The Dark Knight, and the King’s Speech used Battersea Power Station as a set.
- You can see original pieces (part of the chimney, part of a switchgear) of the Battersea Power Station in the park area by the river.
What is Lift 109?
Lift 109 is a glass elevator inside of one of Battersea Power Station’s iconic chimneys that takes you 109 meters (almost 358 feet) above the ground for a special panoramic view over London.
My Experience at Lift 109
As my Thames Clipper boat approached the Battersea Power Station pier, I looked up at the chimneys towering over everything. I would be going to the top of one of those! I was excited but also wondering if it was going to be scary or unsettling in some way.
I got off the boat and made my way through the plaza to the north entrance. Since I visited London during winter (early December), they had an ice rink and a small fun fair there.
The building looks huge so I wondered if it would be difficult to find the entrance to Lift 109. There was an information desk right in front of me so I decided to just ask instead of trying to figure out the map on my own. They told me it was a floor up and to the right.
I took the escalator from the upper ground (UG) where I entered to the first floor (there is also an elevator). Almost immediately I saw the Lift 109 gift shop. As I walked toward the door of the gift shop, I saw a sign pointing to the entrance to Lift 109 which was across the hall where I could see a security scanning machine.
I arrived about 10 minutes before my scheduled time so they told me to come back in 5 minutes. When I returned, they did a hand search of my small backpack. Then I emptied my pockets and went through the metal detector before heading to the holding area.
Note: Lift 109 does not allow any rolling bags or anything bigger than about 8 inches x 11 inches. They do not have any bag storage. Since the Battersea area is a new development at the time of writing there are not any luggage storage options close by. You can check the best options for storing bags here.
The Exhibition in The Gallery
After a few minutes they let our time-slot group into the Gallery where there is an exhibition. Some people formed a queue to enter the next area without looking around the room. You might as well take the opportunity to learn as there is no benefit to being at the front of the line, everyone moves on together.
Around the perimeter of the room, there are display boards that explain the history of Battersea Power Station. In the middle of the room there is an interactive lighting installation. Touch the screen on the table to learn more facts about the Battersea Power Station and at the same time ‘generate energy’ that powers the light.
When it was time for us to leave the Gallery, they had each party take one of those cheesy souvenir photos before going to another small waiting area. Once all the photos were done it was time for us (all 15 in the timed entry group) to enter the Infinity Room through the large industrial door.
Inside the Infinity Room
The Infinity Room was dark but then images of London appeared on all the walls which then turned into abstract artwork. Our guide told us that several of the walls were interactive. As you moved the images changed.
The show was supposed to tell the story of how energy is produced with heat and water but there was no narration. The images on the walls were mesmerizing and I had fun with the interactive element, but not sure I learned anything.
When the show was over we split into two groups to get into the two elevators. These elevators were normal size and seemed similar to many others I had been in before. It took us to the 12th floor which was the top of the main building which was 55 meters high (about 180 feet).
Once we exited the elevator there was a sky window where we could look up to the top of the chimney. That is where we were headed next and it still seemed so far away. Before we could get on the next elevator, we needed to climb 39 spiral steps around the chimney. (If you are unable to do stairs, there is another elevator that you can take but you must book that in advance.)
Up to the Top of the Chimney
After waiting for a few minutes the door to the Lift 109 elevator opened and we could all go in. There was plenty of room for everyone to stand along with a small bench in the center for those that wanted to sit. (I didn’t see anyone in our group use the bench.)
This elevator was circular with a circumference just smaller than the chimney and the sides were floor to ceiling glass. A large portion of the ceiling was glass too and as I looked up, I could see lights going all the way up the inside of the chimney and sunlight up at the top.
It started moving slowly up towards the top. I felt like I was watching a light show and then before I knew it, we went from the darkness of the chimney to the bright sunshine with views across all of London.
We had time to walk around and enjoy the sights. Around the edge there were notes about landmarks that could be seen and their distance away. Visibility wasn’t perfect on the day I went so I couldn’t see Hampton Court Palace or the Greenwich Observatory. It wasn’t a big deal because I could see the US Embassy, the Shard, Big Ben, the London Eye, Wembley, and much more.
I tried to take some pictures but they don’t do the view justice. The sun was in a difficult spot and there were lots of reflections from the other people in the lift. Since the lift is round, you can’t press your phone right up against the glass because it is not flat.
I made it around to see all sides, then went back to try to get better pictures. Then without any warning the lift started to move down. It was smooth and slow but did startle me a bit. I think we were up at the top for almost 10 minutes, but the time passed quickly and I wished we could have stayed a little longer.
When the circular lift reached the bottom, we went down the same spiral stairs we had gone up. Then we got in the elevator that had brought us to the 12th floor. When we got back down to the bottom the back doors opened and we exited to the gift shop.
Here you can get a souvenir of your experience or maybe a gift for that Anglophile in your life. They have the photos that you took at the beginning ready for purchase (£5 each). I was tempted but didn’t buy anything.
Lift 109 Review
I enjoyed my Lift 109 experience. Going in, I was thinking it was going to be just another observation deck with distant views because of its location, but I was wrong.
The moment when the lift pops above the top of the chimney is spectacular. I said “wow” out loud. The switch from darkness to light along with the view was quite dramatic.
You do get a wonderful view of London and can easily spot many of its iconic landmarks. Many are in the distance though, so some may say the view is not as good as it is at the Shard or Skygarden. I think you may be able to see further though as there is nothing blocking except for the other chimneys.
I found the exhibition interesting as I didn’t know much about the history of the Battersea Power Station before my visit. It was also a good way to be entertained while waiting to go up.
The whole experience is indoors. For me that was a draw because I knew I wouldn’t be standing outside in the cold (although it was a bit chilly inside Battersea Power Station). On the downside then you have to deal with trying to take photos through the glass. It’s probably best to focus on enjoying the experience rather than trying to get a good photo.
Lift 109 is not your typical observation deck. It’s not just a space in an iconic building where you can enjoy the views. It’s a unique experience that I would like to do again. Maybe next time, I will try it when it’s dark, which I imagine would be quite different.
Lift 109 FAQs
When did Lift 109 open?
It opened to the public November 15, 2022.
What are the opening hours for Lift 109?
It is open from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, seven days a week.
How much does Lift 109 cost?
It depends on when you want to go and whether or not you book in advance. It will be cheapest (£15.90 per adult including booking fee) if you book at least a day in advance and plan on going Monday through Thursday. Booking the same day will cost £22.94 per adult.
Tickets for children 3 – 15 start at £11.50. They also have family tickets for £50.36 if booked in advance for a Monday through Thursday.
How can you save money when visiting Lift 109?
Plan ahead. Book your tickets in advance for off peak times (Monday through Thursday) and you will get the best deal. Unfortunately, at the time of writing it is not part of any attraction passes like the London Pass, but that could change in the future.
Do you need to book Lift 109 in advance?
No. You can wait and get tickets when you arrive but its better to book online in advance here. If you book the day of your experience the price will be higher and there is the chance your chosen time might not be available.
How long does the Lift 109 experience take?
From the time I arrived to the time I left was about 45 minutes. When you go, I would also allow some extra time to check out the shops and restaurants at Battersea Power Station. If you visit during the winter, you could also go ice skating.
Are there places to eat near Lift 109?
Yes! The Battersea Power Station has many restaurants inside and around it. There are a wide range of options from fast food to fine dining.
Is there any place to get a drink near Lift 109?
Yes. If you are looking for something a bit different check out Control Room B inside Battersea Power Station Turbine Hall B. It used to be where the engineers worked when the power station was in operation.
How do you get to Lift 109?
Lift 109 is located on the 1st floor of Turbine Hall A inside the north end of Battersea Power Station. If you are going in the north entrance (closest to the River Thames) this means it will be in the hall on your right (and if you use the south entrance it will be on the left).
To get to Battersea Power Station, you can take the Thames Clipper boat and there is a stop right in front of the complex. Alternatively, you can take the tube (Northern line) to the Battersea Power Station. From there its less than a five minute walk to the south entrance.
Is Lift 109 Worth It?
Yes, if you book your timed-entry ticket in advance and go Monday through Thursday, you get cheaper tickets but the same experience. It’s not like other observation decks. You get to ride an elevator up one of the Battersea Power Station chimneys and then appreciate the view from the top.
There are other places that you can enjoy the views of the London skyline for free (i.e. Tate Modern or Skygarden) which are wonderful especially when you are on a tight budget. However, Lift 109 is different. It’s hard to explain the feeling when you first reach the top of the Battersea Power Station chimney, but it’s like you’re on the top of the world.
It’s also a much cheaper option than the Shard which is £28 when you book four days in advance. The viewing platform at the Shard is higher up and in a more central location, though.
Have you been to Lift 109? I would love to hear your experience.
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