What's it like staying in one of London's hottest new hotels?
The City of London received an injection of vitality with the opening of The Ned. Developed by social scenemakers Soho House and tucked into a stunning heritage-listed building — once the Midland Bank headquarters — The Ned is now as much a hotel as it is a place for the social butterflies. Ever keen to get things right, the hotel has just unveiled a spruced up spa offering, which means now is the perfect time to check in if you're spending a few days in London.
Walking into The Ned is not like walking into your average hotel lobby. Instead, guests walk straight into one of London's hottest social scenes. What was formerly a banking hall has, in a stroke of genius, been turned into an open-plan space where guests spill between restaurants and bars and — if it's late enough — dance the night away to tunes spun by a live jazz band that occupies a central raised platform.
By evening, make sure you're on the list. The hotel has proved so popular that bouncers stand by the entrance vetting potential visitors and opening the doors (mostly) to guests and those with dining reservations.
Style-wise, the 'lobby' is the first taste of how this staid banking building has been lovingly — and with much attention to the preservation of heritage — converted into an Art Deco dream that is as contemporary as it is historic. Raised wood teller counters are now bar seating for the restaurants while inconspicuously delineating separate spaces; original marble and panelling features still grace the floors and walls; and even the original African verdite columns have been retained.
Wining & Dining
The Ned might be a hotel, but what has made this property such a success is its careful attention to its F&B offerings. Suits from nearby banks flock here for power lunches while socialites descend by night to see and be seen at the hotel's nine restaurants and bars.
If you've scored a membership (or are a guest), our top choice is the Lutyens Grill, a private steakhouse where decadent cuts of meat are dished up amidst the fine wood interiors of a former bank manager's office — believe us, the daily carving station is not to be passed up. Meals here are best followed up with a visit to The Vault. At the exclusive bar and lounge, set in the bank's former stronghold, decadent cocktails and light bites are served in spaces lined with punchy feminist art and some 3,800 original safety deposit boxes.
But there are plenty of other options, too. Malibu Kitchen's fresh, California-inspired fare and the New York-style deli dishes at Zoebler's are perfect for a quick pow-wow over lunch; Cecconi's hearty Italian meals and Café Sou's Parisian plates invite diners to linger longer; while Millie's Lounge, the quintessential British brasserie, serves up a quality afternoon tea.
Drawing from the Soho House model, The Ned also operates a club membership program called Ned's Club which gives subscribers access to a few of the property's best hidden extras, including the aforementioned Lutyens Grill and The Vault. Guests — quite rightly — are treated as members and are able to use the full range of facilities.
At the top of the property, Ned's Club Upstairs features stunning views across the City and St Paul's Cathedral, along with an outdoor heated pool and domed terraces for eating, drinking and socialising.
Ned's Club Active might be a rather high-falutin' name for a gym, but given the facilities here, it's also rather appropriate. Along with the full complement of cardio and strength-training equipment one would expect of a hotel gym, guests can spice up their routines with studios that host boxing, pilates, yoga and spinning classes.
And then there's the spa, a name which hardly does justice to this beautifully appointed wellness haven. Members (and hotel guests) have access to the Ned's Club Spa area, which features a gorgeous lounge where they can relax over magazines, light bites and drinks. Made to look like a classic manor home library, you almost don't want to leave when it comes time for your treatment. If you can tear yourself away, make time to lounge by the 20-metre indoor pool, get a hammam treatment, or unwind in the sauna and steam room.
In the name of inclusivity, however, everyone has access to the full range of head-to-toe Cowshed spa offerings, and you certainly won't leave here looking anything less than a million bucks. A bespoke Cowshed massage may be one of the best you'll ever have, but in here, it's just the beginning of your descent into total wellbeing. Take your pick from the full range of treatments which includes wraps, scrubs, facials and even medical options like LED light therapy and vitamin IV drips.
Planning a night out? The Cheeky nail bar offers quick, professional manicures and pedicures, while in the changing rooms, you'll find Ned's Barbershop (haircuts and wet shaves for gents) and Ned's Parlour (cuts, colours, blowouts and styling for ladies).
If it all gets a bit too much, check into one of the hotel's 252 guest rooms and suites. A full range of offerings are available, running from intimate crash pads to sweeping regal suites. Each style of room is ever so slightly different, but all marry 21st Century mod cons with serious glamour inspired by the twenties and thirties.
Expect thoroughly elegant spaces decked out with plush patterns, antique-look fixtures and furnishings, and plenty of carved oak. Each room features a slightly different setup, so you could be lounging in leather wingbacks, pouring drinks from vintage bar cabinets, or sleeping on cloud-like canopied beds.
If you have to leave the room, getting ready becomes an exquisitely luxurious experience with marble-tiled bathrooms, full-sized Cowshed products and — depending on the room — free-standing bathtubs.
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