When Soho House & Co’s founder Nick Jones first clapped eyes on The Ned – a disused, if still very beautiful shell that had stood empty for a number of years – he felt instinctively its potential.
He called Ron Burkle, Soho House chairman and investor, who put him in touch with Andrew Zoble, the CEO of Sydell Group, of which Ron is a significant investor. Together they have realised this untapped potential, bringing new purpose to the space, and harnessing the property’s prime City location.
The Grade I Listed structure certainly commands attention. Designed by the acclaimed British architect Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924, its facade and cavernous ‘banking hall’ interior alike are truly staggering.
"An in-house design team, made up of Alice Lund, Adam Greco, and Rebecca King, were tasked with respectfully restoring the former Grade I Listed building to its former glory"
Indeed, within its 29,450 square metres, The Ned houses nine restaurants, 252 bedrooms, an array of men’s and women’s grooming services and ‘Ned’s Club’ – a social and fitness club where members can access a rooftop pool, gym, spa, hammam and late night lounge bar.
An in-house design team, made up of Alice Lund, Adam Greco, and Rebecca King, were tasked with respectfully restoring the former Grade I Listed building to its former glory.
“The faded glamour of a 1930’s transatlantic ocean liner was the starting point for the interior design,” Alice explains. “We trawled the bank’s archives to find out what the bank looked like in the 1930’s heyday and were inspired by the attention to detail of the grand hotels of that era.
“We also looked at forms of transit such as SS Normandie and The Orient Express to fill out their reference points.”
The key to The Ned’s authentic and truly luxurious feel, as Alice mentions, is as much down to the most intricate of details as it is the overall affect. Throughout the hotel, original features have been artfully rejuvenated and at times carefully replicated through bespoke fittings and furnishings.
“When Lutyens designed the bank he installed 92 green verdite marble columns and hundreds of walnut panelled counters for the bank tellers"
“Our approach to The Ned’s design was different, as the historic property has been reinvented and transformed in a way that still feels true to itself,” Alice affirms. “We took lots of existing motifs from the building and re-worked them to create a cohesion between the old and new.
“One example is the fishtail pattern found on one of the original grills on the ground floor. The fishtail pattern can be seen throughout the building in new additions, such as the custom-made pink leather cladding on the bar in Cecconi’s and the antique brass grill on the check-in desk.”
While the building’s Listed status brings with it a fitting sense of prestige, it inevitably presented a degree of difficulty for the design team in terms of ensuring the property was fit for purpose as a hotel.
“The building’s Grade I Listed status provided challenges, particularly when it came to the ground floor,” explains Alice. “When Lutyens designed the bank he installed 92 green verdite marble columns and hundreds of walnut panelled counters for the bank tellers.
“The whole lot was protected by the listing, and we had to work out how to fit seven restaurants and bars into the space. The bustle of the old bank’s reception area has been preserved, however, and more than 850 people can now eat on the ground floor.”
When it comes to the host of original features within the hotel, arguably its most impressive is the Midland Bank strongroom. Situated in the belly of the building and accessed through a two-metre wide vault door, the space is now home to the stylish Vault bar & lounge.
“Behind a 20-tonne, two-metre wide vault door, the Vault Bar & Lounge (Ned’s Club Downstairs) is dominated by 3,800 of the Midland Bank’s original stainless steel safe deposit boxes,” explains Alice. “Inside we’ve created a plush club space with a large bar, used by Ned’s Club members and hotel guests.
“The steel deposit boxes, although beautiful, have a fairly severe geometry so we aimed to balance this out with more abstract, playful patterned upholstery, along with soft lighting throughout.
“It was important to provide a cue for the mood, to make guests want to drink champagne and have a great time knowing that they were tucked away in privacy.”
Aside from the Vault Bar & Lounge, guests are tuly spoilt for choice when it comes to The Ned’s F&B offering. Located both on the ground floor and rooftop, The Ned’s diverse restaurants include Cecconi’s City of London, which serves up modern Italian dishes; Cafe Sou – a Parisian-inspired café; Zobler’s – a New York style deli, Millie’s Lounge – a British brasserie with a 24-hour menu; Malibu Kitchen, serving up Californian food in the City; The Nickel Bar – a casual menu of time honoured American staples and classic cocktails; Kaia – a modern Asian-Pacific-inspired restaurant specialising in healthy “bowl” food and Lutyens Grill – an American steakhouse.
For a dining experience with spectacular views, Ned’s Club Upstairs has a heated pool overlooking the London skyline, and two converted domes with outdoor terraces for eating and drinking – Princes Dome and Poultry Dome.
"Each and every facet of the hotel’s design has been considered and masterfully executed, without any trace of gimmick or pretention"
The Roof Bar features a retractable roof and heaters, complete with exclusively-designed outdoor furniture from UHS, which supplied a great deal of the barstools, seating and upholstered products throughout the hotel. Guests can enjoy views of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral here while enjoying an international menu prepared on the rotisserie grill and wood oven.
Aside from this rooftop pool, bar and dining space, Ned’s Club offers members and guests a number of other social and fitness facilities. Located on the lowest level of the building is Ned’s Club Active – a 620m2 gym for members only use. Technogym, a world-leading Italian fitness equipment brand, has provided an array of its state of the art equipment and software for impressive gym facility, including its technologically advanced luxury range of ARTIS cardio and strength equipment. Also available for use are a boxing gym, pilates and yoga studio and House Ride (spinning) facilities.
Elsewhere, the hotel’s spa, Ned’s Club Relax, features a sauna, steam room, traditional Moroccan hammam and eight treament rooms.
Equally as impressive as The Ned’s public spaces are its 252 guest rooms. Chanelling 1920s and 1930s design, the rooms are adorned with with vintage pieces, brass and mahogany furniture, hand-knotted rugs and rainforest showers.
Award-winning British bed manufacturer and Royal Warrant holder, Hypnos, supplied the guest rooms with its premium Lansdowne Royale mattress, delivering an opulent level of comfort and support thanks to its sumptuously soft and natural layers of wool and cashmere.
In keeping with the vintage feel of the rooms, a range of traditional decorative lighting designs from Chelsom have also been used, including, amongst others, two types of bathroom wall light, bespoke desk lamps and stylish floor and wall lamps.
Each and every facet of the hotel’s design has been considered and masterfully executed, without any trace of gimmick or pretention. Indeed, the diverse facilities at The Ned create the perfect blend of lively bustle and refuge, from the grandeur and buzz of the hotel’s fine dining restaurants, to the intimate exclusivity of the Vault Bar & Lounge.
This offering is made all the more unique given the hotel’s location in London’s business district, which has historically had little in the way of hotels.
“As we were working on the project the local area seemed more of a commercial district, and was pretty deserted over the weekend,” Alice comments. “The Ned has such vitality and variety – and the same goes for the people that are drawn to it – there is activity day and night now, including over the weekend.
“So it already feels very different around there – more diverse, with a different kind of energy! It also brings real glamour to the area, but in a relaxed, welcoming way.”