Travel: What it’s like to stay at The Ned in London
- Credit: Archant
The hotel by Cobham-raised Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House Group, has just been named top Large Hotel of the Year in Visit England’s Awards of Excellence
When Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House & Co, first saw Midland Bank’s flagship London building in 2012, he fell in love. In fact, the entrepreneur, who grew up in Cobham and has built 18 members’ clubs and 37 restaurants around the world,
was “floored” by the detail and scale of the building – “It was the most beautiful building I’d ever seen,” he says.
The 320,000 square feet building designed by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens – the celebrated architect who put his stamp on so many buildings in Surrey and across the country throughout his life – is indeed something of a masterpiece. The fact that
this vast building laid empty for nearly eight years before Jones set eyes on it is actually rather heartbreaking.
Most Soho House properties take their cues from the English countryside but as The Ned is situated in the heart of London’s financial district, with its long banking heritage, the transformation is much more in-keeping with its own surroundings – think 1920s’ art deco and all things a dapper gentleman and his fine lady would enjoy.
Take a walk around and you’ll see that many of the Grade-I building’s original features – from the vaulted ceilings and 92 African verditecovered columns to the old wood-panelled tellers’ offices and wrought iron windows – remain perfectly intact.
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There’s are many hidden treasures to uncover during a visit too; from the bank chairman’s private lift, designed to whisk him up to his office and board meetings in a flash; to the basement vault, which once housed deposits of more than £335 million hidden behind its 20-tonne door. As the inspiration for the vault in Goldfinger, it’s a must see for movie buffs, while inside is now a cosy space where Ned Club members and hotel guests can sit among the 3,800 deposit boxes and enjoy a quiet
It’s far different from the hustle and bustle of the Grand Banking Hall upstairs, which on the Sunday we stayed was awash with diners making the most of The Ned’s renowned Sunday lunches, served while the uplifting tunes of a jazz or swing band usually play out from the raised Nickel Stage in the centre of the hall. It’s busy and hectic and the atmosphere is contagiously electric.
Despite the potential to be eating with 850 people (a total of eight restaurants sit among the banking hall) the dining experience at The Ned is strangely intimate. We chose Kai, the pan Asian restaurant towards the back of the hall and enjoyed
Champagne (served in saucers, of course) and a selection of sushi and tapas-style dishes (the black cod gyoza is to die for) by waiters who made us feel like we were the only couple in the room.
By mid-evening the lobby transforms into a dance floor, where you can lindy hop the night away if you so desire or spectate from the stylish booths of Millie’s Lounge – as we did thanks to my other half’s fear of public dancing!
Club members and hotel guests also have access to the rooftop, where things are a little more akin to the usual Soho House style. There’s a heated pool, views of St Paul’s Cathedral and no less than two DJs adding to the chilled-out Ibiza vibe.
If you’ve not got a head for heights, then you can still get your leisure fill in the club spa and gym on the basement levels of the hotel. The spa has teamed up with British brand Cowshed to offer a menu of bespoke treatments but you’ll also find a wide selection of products in each of the 250 bedrooms – there were no less than 10 different shower washes and shampoos to choose from in ours.
Indeed, it seems the team at The Ned have thought of everything here but then they really ought to have in order to justify the five-figure annual membership fee. If that’s not in your reach then a stay at the hotel is a much more affordable way to experience The Ned. And an experience it truly is.
Rebecca was a guest at The Ned prior to Covid-19 closures. The hotel is opening gradually, accepting bookings for bedrooms and some restaurants. For updates and booking enquiries, tel: 020 3828 2000 or visit: thened.com