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Opened in May, The Ned is Lon­don’s most talked about new ho­tel. Here’s why.

DestinAsian - - DEPARTMENTS - BY WILL HIDE

The Lon­don ho­tel that’s breath­ing new life into a 1920s bank build­ing.

Lon­don is a city of rein­car­na­tion. SITE OF ST MIL­DRED’S CHURCH, DE­MOL­ISHED 1872, reads a dis­creet blue plaque on the side of The Ned ho­tel, a short stroll from the Bank un­der­ground sta­tion in the city’s fi­nan­cial district. Af­ter serving as a place of wor­ship, the site be­came the head­quar­ters of the old Mid­land Bank, de­signed by the great English ar­chi­tect Sir Ed­ward “Ned” Lu­tyens in the 1920s. Now, fol­low­ing a four-year ren­o­va­tion, the im­pos­ing fa­cade of Port­land stone en­com­passes one of the Bri­tish cap­i­tal’s hottest new open­ings, which is part pri­vate mem­bers’ club—from the same sta­ble as Soho House— and part 252-bed ho­tel. Not to men­tion nine restau­rants, 15 bars, sev­eral spas, and a rooftop pool that boasts views of such iconic build­ings as St. Paul’s Cathe­dral and the Shard.

Step in­side The Ned and there’s an im­me­di­ate hit of money and power with fi­nan­cial types mak­ing deals over tea or some­thing al­to­gether stronger. But there is a pal­pa­ble buzz here too. Many of the orig­i­nal fixtures have been re­tained in the for­mer bank hall, a 3,000-square-me­ter ground-floor space that now houses the ho­tel’s re­cep­tion area and eight of the nine restau­rants in­clud­ing Zobler’s, a New York– style deli; Cec­co­nis, an all-day Vene­tian brasserie serving the same north Ital­ian fa­vorites as its May­fair sis­ter branch; and 24hour Mil­lie’s Lounge, which dishes up fish and chips, roast chicken, or scones with jam and cream, de­pend­ing on the time of day. On week­ends there’s live mu­sic here from mid-morn­ing on­ward, rang­ing from lo­cal singer-song­writ­ers to jazz trios. Half close your eyes and you could be in­side a grand, pre–World War II transat­lantic liner, with acres of wood, chan­de­liers, and an air of Art Deco.

Up­stairs, there are 13 room types, all of which re­tain a solid sense of Bri­tish­ness in their dec­o­ra­tion that some might find rather old-fash­ioned, from the 100-squareme­ter Lu­tyens Suite with two bed­rooms and pri­vate rooftop ac­cess, to the small­est rooms, dubbed “Crash Pads,” which are all of 17 square me­ters. (In a nod to mil­len­ni­als, the lat­ter are dis­counted for un­der-30s.)

There’s also Lon­don’s largest ham­mam, a gym with a full-size box­ing ring, and two pools, one in­doors and one on the roof. And in the belly of the build­ing lies The Vault, which once stored bil­lions of pounds worth of gold bul­lion be­hind a 20-ton steel door (it’s still there). Now, it serves Ne­gro­nis and mar­ti­nis un­til 3 a.m. De­pend­ing on how Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions go, many Lon­don­ers might wish to just shut the door and carry on or­der­ing.

Clock­wise from above: The Ned’s her­itage­listed fa­cade on Poul­try street; the sit­ting area of a suite; the en­trance to The Vault, the ho­tel’s sub­ter­ranean bar and an ac­tual for­mer bank vault where a for­tune of gold bul­lion was once stored.

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