The BT Tower, a Once-Futuristic London Landmark, Will Become a Hotel

St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and the London Eye are all important landmarks in Britain’s capital. Yet you can’t spend the night in any of them.

But after another staple of the city’s skyline, the BT Tower, was sold to an American group on Wednesday, plans are afoot to turn it into a hotel: one that rises 581 feet (177 meters) above the ground.

“We will take our time to carefully develop proposals that respect the London landmark’s rich history and open the building for everyone to enjoy,” Tyler Morse, the chief executive of MCR Hotels, which bought the tower, said in a statement. The sale price was 275 million pounds ($346 million), the seller, BT Group, said in a statement.

MCR owns several notable hotels, including the TWA Hotel, which occupies the Eero Saarinen-designed former TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport, and the High Line Hotel in New York City, which was formerly a dormitory for the General Theological Seminary.

“We see many parallels between the TWA Hotel and the BT Tower,” Mr. Morse said. “Both are world-renowned, groundbreaking pieces of architecture.”

The structure, initially known as the Post Office Tower, was completed in 1964 in central London, just south of Regent’s Park. Standing 620 feet including its spire, it surpassed the Milbank Tower as the tallest building in London, though it was overtaken in 1980 by the NatWest Tower. (The Shard, at 1,016 feet, currently holds that title.)

It was designed to hold microwave aerials to carry telecommunications traffic between London and the rest of the country. The public could also visit Britain’s first revolving restaurant at the top.

Advances in technology eventually began to make elements of the tower obsolete. In 2011, the microwave dishes at the top, a distinctive aspect of the tower’s look, were removed.

“A number of network operations that were traditionally provided from BT Tower are now delivered via BT Group’s fixed and mobile networks,” BT Group said in its statement.

Don’t book a room just yet. “BT Group will take a number of years to vacate the premises, due to the scale and complexity of the work to move technical equipment, and there will be significant time for design development and engagement with local communities before proposals are revealed,” MCR said in a statement.

Although immediately recognizable to Londoners as well as frequent visitors, the tower was not necessarily a favorite for many. It was cited as one of the world’s “most hated buildings” alongside the Tour Montparnasse in Paris and the Empire State Plaza in Albany, N.Y., in a 2015 T Magazine article.

But the architect Amanda Levete defended it, saying: “It was the first building with an observation deck — that way of engaging with the city was actually pioneered by the tower. It had a restaurant that wasn’t particularly expensive. High rises today are about exploiting the skyline for private gain.”

“It holds so much meaning in an elegant slender cylinder.”

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