Soho House founder Nick Jones is changing tack with The Ned, his vast new five-star London hotel with a historic soul in the heart of the city. Estelle Lee checks in to see if it stands up to the hype
Until quite recently, if you wanted access to an outpost of Nick Jones’ Soho House empire, from Mayfair to Malibu, you had to have bona fide membership or a friend in the field of meeedya and never ever, ever, wear a suit. Rumour had it amongst the creative industries that ‘suits’ were verboten – you were more likely to fall over hipster men with beards as long as their man buns peering into MacBook Pros and turmeric lattes. All terribly annoying if one worked in high finance and wanted somewhere beautiful to go and spend one’s money.
Luckily, Nick Jones recognised the demand from the money men and grabbed the bull by the horns in acquiring the vast former Midland Bank building on Poultry, next door to the Bank of England and blowing raspberries at Coq d’Argent across the road. The Grade–I listed building is named after ‘Ned’, its 1924 architect – Edward Lutyens to you or I. And like the name, it is quite a statement in its concept – bigger and more unique than anything that has gone before.
With the help of billionaire investment, the 13-storey bank has been converted into a 252-bedroom hotel, a private members’ club, health club, roof-top pool, spa, gym and salon. Seven restaurants on the ground floor give non-members a glimpse of the high life.
And what a life… the general effect is like walking into a 1920s Harrods open-plan food court, with vast marble columns, acres of walnut panelling and plush upholstery. Live music plays in the evening and fills the space with the bonhomie of a Golden Age gone by. It’s hard not to have your head turned by the glamour of it all. As with all things Nick Jones touches, food comes first. Whether you’re after Californian clean eating, British fare, Jewish-style deli food or a good steak – it’s all here.
I’ll be the first to admit that The Ned might not be the place that jumps to mind when you think ‘family hotel’, but my children were treated like little princes in Cecconi’s as they wolfed down the best pasta that had ever been made for them. Toy Minis were delivered to our vast double suite with smoothies on arrival, and a blissfully warm pool for a morning swim with a centuries-old view is something I’m sure they won’t forget. There’s something about the old English magic of London that is fascinating to children, with views of skaters at the tower, the Monument and lights on the Thames.
This is a standalone venture (you must have a separate membership if you want access to The Ned private members’ club) and not related to the Soho House empire. But devotees will notice the familiar touches creeping in – the vintage bedrooms are equipped with the full range of Cowshed products, fabulously stocked mini-bar, enamel roll-top bath and an epic bed.
The bedrooms are luxurious without being naff or flashy, but it’s the public areas that are the real excitement. Every part of The Ned has its own historic heart and soul. Guests can party like it’s the 18th century in the palatial Tapestry Room on the sixth floor, al fresco brunch on the poolside terrace with 360-degree views of some of the world’s finest architecture, or sip cocktails in true villain style within the bank’s original vaults (which appeared in Goldfinger). The restoration is respectful in retaining the truth of the building, but unswerving in Jones’ ambition to create a temple to fine dining and entertainment that doesn’t shun non-members – or children. And heck, they can wear what they like.
thened.com; 0203 828 2000
Images: Simon Brown