Regal Revolving Resto Reopens

LONDON -- Fancy a meal in the revolving restaurant at the top of the BT Tower when it briefly opens after having closed in 1980?

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network hope to get a reservation at London's 'top dining spot'.

However, that won’t be easy. BT Group received 59,448 applications in a ballot for the 1,400 bookings that will become available when the dining room opens to the public for two weeks, from July 25 to Aug. 7, 2015.

Guests will be served a four-course lunch for £49.95 ($78) or a seven-course dinner for £67.95. A free glass of Champagne will help steady diners’ nerves when they arrive at the 34th floor.

London has many tall buildings now, but they are clustered, mainly in the City and Canary Wharf financial districts. The BT Tower, which opened in October 1965, offers a 360-degree sweeping panorama. It’s a view that money usually won’t buy.

If you weren’t alive when the 189-meter (620-foot) communications tower was built, it would be hard to appreciate just how exciting it was. The narrow structure looked like something straight out of science fiction and was even featured in Doctor Who. It’s the height of 25 double-decker buses parked end to end.

For comparison with other London buildings: The Gherkin is 180 meters tall; the NatWest Tower, 183m; Canary Wharf, 244m; and the Shard, 309.6m.

Elsewhere: The Eiffel Tower is 320m; the Empire State Building, 443m; and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, 829.8m.

The restaurant was the height of glamor during its heyday, in the 1960s, as shown in this vintage photo. The restaurant is in the widest part of the BT Tower, with a total diameter of almost 20 meters. The outer part of the floor revolves and completes a full circle every 22 minutes.

Thousands of visitors queued to visit the viewing platforms at what was originally called the Post Office Tower. Those closed after a bomb that had been hidden in a washroom detonated at 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, 1971. While the platforms remained closed, the restaurant did reopen. It finally shut down when the lease ran out nine years later.

The tower was first conceived in 1936, but the project was delayed by World War II. It was finally completed on July 15, 1964, and officially opened by Prime Minister Harold Wilson on Oct. 8 the following year.

The current opening is to celebrate the communication tower’s 50th anniversary. Any profit will go to charity. BT plans to hold an additional ballot later this year to offer more than 2,500 people the opportunity to visit the 34th floor, where they’ll be served free drinks and snacks.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers a vintage 1960s glimpse of the chic revolving restaurant.