The Ned occupies a former Midland Bank in the heart of London’s financial district, with an enviable location just walking distance from most of the city’s major landmarks.
The hotel is named after Sir Edward ‘Ned’ Lutyens – one of England’s most famous and celebrated architects – who built the original bank in 1924. The renovation of the Grade-I listed building took an in-house design team five years to complete and the hotel officially opened its doors at the end of April.
The story goes that when Soho House & Co. founder Nick Jones first saw the disused Midland Bank building he fell in love, immediately calling Soho House chairman and investor Ron Burkle.
Burkle knew that this was a project far larger than anything Soho House had attempted, and introduced Jones to Andrew Zobler, CEO of the Sydell Group, of which Burkle is also a large investor.
Even before it had a name, The Ned was billed to be something special. Soho House and the Sydell Group have become synonymous with an aloof type of luxury, but here they took the opportunity to have some fun.
In a former bank in the heart of the city, the three men have created a truly egalitarian experience where walk-ins and members feel equally at home. Twenty-four-hour bar Millie’s is a nice touch as are the basic rooms – or Crash Pads – competitively priced at £150 a night.
‘The goal,’ says managing director Gareth Banner, ‘is to create a hotel that feels grand, cinematic and escapist, but also small, quirky and full of character.’ Anyone can enjoy a bit of escapism in this 1920s-inspired space.
You’re immediately transported back to another era as soon as you enter the 3,000 square metre main hall, wandering through the labyrinth of original verdite columns and rows of walnut banking counters. No expense has been spared to mimic the original grandeur.
While The Ned is an independent venture, there are plenty of nods to Soho House scattered throughout. Italian restaurant and Soho House stalwart Cecconi’s offers some of the best agnolotti dal plin you’ll try this side of Rome, while fans of the eponymous members club will recognise the Cowshed bath products and Cheeky beauty parlour.
Nine restaurants offer guests a dizzying array of options from fine dining at the Lutyens Grill steakhouse to comfort foods at New York-style deli Zobler’s, which serves smoked fish and meat bagels, matzo ball soup, potato latkes and New York cheesecake.
Malibu Kitchen has something for today’s wellness-obsessed Londoners, serving super-food salads, flatbreads, juices and smoothies, while modern Asian-Pacific-inspired restaurant Kaia specialises in poke.
Add to that a Parisian-inspired cafe, a British brasserie and a casual American diner, and you get an idea of the task the team at The Ned – or ‘Nedland’ as Banner affectionately calls it – have undertaken.
Less a hotel and more an urban playground, there’s even a subterranean swimming pool occupying a former bullion vault, and that’s not the only wry nod to the building’s former use. You’ll find its member’s bar The Vault hidden behind an original 22-tonne safe door, while the bank’s reception desk has been converted into a bandstand, a stage that has already hosted the likes of Tinie Tempah, Paloma Faith and Gary Barlow.
The list of attractions at Nedland continues. Another Soho House-inspired feature is the heated rooftop pool overlooking the city, where you’ll find the same red-and-white striped loungers that spell the start of summer each year on Instagram.
There’s also a gym, spa and hamam on the lower level for guests of the hotel and Ned’s Club members. If you already happen to have Soho House membership, then access is half price.
There are 13 different types of room to choose from, ranging from Crash Pads to the Lutyens Suite, which has two en suite bedrooms, a lounge and private access to the rooftop with views of the city and St. Paul’s Cathedral. All are decorated in the same early 20th-century swagger as downstairs.
Banner, who has managed The Hempel, The Cavendish and successfully relaunched the iconic St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel before accepting the role says The Ned represents a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.
Finally up and running after a five year gestation, the hard work is only just beginning. ‘Consistency is what distinguishes an excellent hotel from a very good one,’ he says. ‘The question now is how can we deliver the same high level of service to our guests around the clock and throughout the year?’
‘The very essence of hospitality is about warmth, shelter, cleanliness and care. That doesn’t matter whether you’re in London, New York or Bangladesh. Its something that has a common thread wherever you might find it.
‘The art is making someone feel at home while giving them an experience they won’t find at home. I like to think we’ve focused on how to get that blend right.’
The Ned delivers on both fronts, and this can best be seen in the main hall. The enormous, open space has been cleverly designed to afford privacy and is equally well-suited to enjoying an after-work drink with friends or bringing a date.
‘I don’t necessarily buy into the idea of a cult hotel,’ Banner told us. ‘But I do believe that there are game changers.’ The Ned is certainly shaping up to be one of them.