It opened its doors to guests earlier this year and was immediately the hottest new venue in town. Say hello to Ned — that is, The Ned — a cool £200 million joint venture between Soho House chief executive Nick Jones and US hotelier Rydell Group that has transformed a former bank building into a combined luxury hotel and members club. This eleven-storey social space features nine uniquely themed restaurants and 252 bedrooms, not to mention a bunch of other incredible stuff (of equally incredible proportions), including but not limited to: gym, pool, library, rooftop, grooming services. It simply stuns.
Named after the bank’s architect, Sir Edwin “Ned” Lutyens, the Grade I-listed building’s interiors have had quite the opulent upgrade. The original 92 African verdict columns are still there, and serve to palatial effect. The first time I visited the Ned I was struck by the sheer scale of it. It’s big. It’s also a dream for design buffs. Richly patterned furnishings exude 1920s/30s glamour; bedrooms are sumptuously styled with vintage pieces, plush fabrics, king-sized beds, and polished walnut and mahogany panelling.
The thing I like best about The Ned is its range of restaurants and their distinct ‘personalities’. Eight bars and restaurants, each themed around a particular cuisine, occupy the large hall on ground level: Cecconi’s does modern Italian dishes; Cafe Sou is Parisian-inspired; Zobbler’s is a New York-style deli serving quick & easy sandwiches (think: something you can grab on your lunch break); Millie’s Lounge is a 24-hour British brasserie, bright and spacious by day, dark and buzzing by night; Kaia is a modern Asian-pacific-inspired restaurant specialising in poke bowls and vegetable skewers; The Nickel Bar is an American-style bar that offers staple Chicago diner dishes like mac and cheese; Malibu Kitchen focuses on Californian health, serving superfood salads, juices and smoothies; and finally Lutyen’s Grill is a steakhouse for members and hotel guests only.
I’m most familiar with Cecconis and Millie’s Lounge, although I’ve also eaten at Zobbler’s and Lutyen’s Grill. Of all four, I’d say Millie’s Lounge and Cecconi’s are the ones vying for first place, and you’re not missing out on too much at Lutyen’s. I also have to emphasise that Zobbler’s isn’t the place for a dinner date: in true New York deli-style it is fast and functional rather than romantic, and since the menu is limited mainly to sandwiches you’ll be in and out of there in quite literally a couple of bites. If low-lit romance is what you’re after, go for Millie’s or Cecconi’s. Must-orders at Cecconis include their pizzas – the most popular item on their menu and the no.1 draw for me – and their tagliatelle bolognese; both are excellent.
Above all, though, there’s one thing that consistently draws me back to The Ned week after week: the Sunday brunch at Millie’s Lounge. Millie and I are on a first name basis by now. For £35, from 12-5pm every Sunday, you can eat as much as you like from a mouthwatering buffet spread that includes a breakfast section (eggs cooked your way on the spot, sausages, bacon, baked beans, bread, pastries, yogurt), a salad section, a lunch section (lobsters, oysters, chicken, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, veggies, etc), and a separate table for desserts. Much to the pleasure of my insatiable sweet tooth, the dessert spread here is very (dangerously) generous. In fact, some of the desserts I’ve had here have been the best I’ve ever had; Victoria sponge cake, lemon drizzle cake, carrot cake, Eton mess, freshly baked brownies and chocolate chip cookies are just a few amongst one too many of the treats I’ve piled mile-high on my plate. You have my veteran word that 1) all of the food here is absolutely delicious, 2) winding up in a food coma is pretty much inevitable, and 3) there’s a good chance you’ll be back here again next Sunday.
It’s not just the great food that makes a Sunday at Millie’s Lounge so attractive, but the beautiful surroundings. It’s a bit too dark and crowded for me in the evening, but during the day huge painted glass windows flood the space with natural light — and for that reason you want to be sitting in the comfortable booths right next to them. Unfortunately Millie’s Lounge only seats groups of 6 people or more at the booths, but if you can pull together a crew for it, trust me, it’s worth it!
You can still have a blast at The Ned without being a member, but members do get access to some fantastic perks worth talking about. Hotel guests can also experience these throughout the duration of their stay. A state-of-the-art fitness centre, a library workspace/reading room, the bank building’s original underground vault converted into a bar, a rooftop bar and heated pool overlooking London’s skyline, as well as the aforementioned members-only steakhouse Lutyen’s Grill — these are the things The Ned offers behind its more exclusive doors.
I’ve been a hotel guest here a few times already so can assure you from first-hand experience that all these things are top quality; The Ned has high standards and maintains them throughout. The gym sprawls across what is effectively two ‘floors’: a central space houses strength and cardio equipment, while a short staircase at the back leads down to a large studio filled with more equipment (e.g. battle ropes, sandbags, monkey and pull-up bars), a boxing ring, and two ‘smaller’ studios for spin classes and pilates. An indoor swimming pool and sauna are also included in the fitness facilities on the 2nd floor.
On a sunny day you’ve got to get yourself up to the rooftop, where you’ll find a pool surrounded by big sofa beds, a bar, and a restaurant. When the sun goes down you should follow suit and head underground to the luxurious late-night lounge bar situated inside the former bank’s vault, lined with the original 3,800 safety deposit boxes and the entrance to which is a formidable 20-tonne 2-metre wide vault door. It goes without me saying that this bar is really something special; I could go on about great bars at any hotel, but the fact is that having an old VAULT for a bar is entirely unique to The Ned. If you ever get the chance to go you really must do, because it’s not like anything found anywhere else. I promise you will be wowed!
I think that ultimately, the idea behind The Ned is to offer something for everybody. You can do it all here — business meetings, work breaks, nights outs —and of course if you’re a member or hotel guest you can do even more! No matter the occasion, you can always rely on The Ned to be a solid choice. It’s fashionable, functional, and guaranteed fun, which is why it’s already cemented its status as one of the top haunts around.
The Ned membership costs is £3500 per annum, £2500 for founding members, and £1500 for under 30s. Book rooms via thened.com