Hotel opened by Elizabeth II and once graced by The Supremes would see facades and internal courtyard restored

Plans have been submitted for an extensive retrofit and extension of the Ariel Hotel at Heathrow, one of Britain’s earliest dedicated airport hotels.

The proposed project, designed by Ackroyd Lowrie, aims to revitalise the pioneering building, originally opened in 1960 by Queen Elizabeth II. The Ariel Hotel has previously been featured by the Twentieth Century Society as part of its ‘Building of the Month’ series.

The refurbishment plan includes a two-storey extension to add 113 hotel rooms, restoration of the original façade, and removal of later interventions. Additionally, a new 98-bed aparthotel will be constructed within the existing site, replacing a car wash and parking spaces.


Source: Ackroyd Lowrie

The hotel today

Joe Maguire, project architect for Acroyd Lowrie, said: “The primary design concept is to restore the building to bring back its original sleek, symmetrical character. The broad black bands of the original design created the effect of the hotel appearing to float over the edge of the runway at Heathrow like a flying saucer, and ensured it was an immediate success, attracting air passengers from abroad.

“Interventions in the subsequent six decades have caused much of this history to become lost so one of our core design principles was to reinstate as much of the hotel’s former glory and glamour as possible,” he added.

“A full planning application has now been submitted for this significant restoration and we hope for a positive outcome that will enable new travellers to enjoy this iconic piece of aviation history.”

The original building was constructed by J. Lyons and Co. and designed by Russell Diplock & Associates. The restoration plan seeks to rejuvenate the facades with a combination of black, white, and dark grey panelling, matching the hotel’s original appearance.

The retrofit of the existing hotel will provide additional restaurant space, meeting rooms, and an entrance route for aparthotel guests.

Other features of the proposal include the reinstatement of an accessible courtyard at the first floor level, a rooftop courtyard with raised planting and a wildflower meadow, and extensive landscaping to provide shade, shelter, and reduce noise pollution.