The Ned, London; Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square; Courtyard by Marriott Stockholm Kungsholmen
The former Midland Bank HQ has undergone a fabulous fiveyear renovation costing an estimated £200 million
BACKGROUND A partnership between Soho House and Co and the Sydell Group, which runs several hotels in the US, the Ned opened in the City in May.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Part luxury hotel, part members’ club, the Ned is housed in the Grade I listed former Midland Bank HQ, built in the 1920s and 1930s and designed by Sir Edwin “Ned” Lutyens. It has undergone a fabulous five-year renovation costing an estimated £200 million. The 3,000 sqm ground-floor banking hall has been transformed into an open-plan restaurant emporium housing eight venues. Featuring vaulted ceilings, arches and 92 green verdite columns, with the food and drink outlets separated by original walnut banking counters, and a raised stage hosting daily live music, it makes for quite a first impression.
Amidst all this is the reception desk for the 252room hotel, where we were welcomed warmly. Hotel guests get temporary membership to Ned’s Club, which comprises a rooftop restaurant, bar and pool, a groundfloor restaurant and a lower-ground bar, gym and pool.
WHERE IS IT? At 27 Poultry, a minute’s walk from Bank station. There’s also an entrance on Princes Street.
ROOMS Like the public areas, the design of the rooms – on floors one to seven – is inspired by the era in which the property was built. Categories range from Crash Pad (17-19 sqm) and Cosy (20-30 sqm) to Medium (25-35 sqm), Large (35-45 sqm), Heritage (30-45 sqm, with period features) and a range of suites (45-100 sqm). Décor varies – Cosy rooms are 1920s influenced, for example, while Medium is 1930s art deco in style. All offer free wifi, movies, tea, coffee and bottled water, smart TVs, Roberts digital radios, minibars, safes, chargers and fluffy robes. My Medium room was peaceful and spacious with a wonderfully comfortable king-size walnut bed.
Bathrooms have walk-in rainshowers (plus tubs in higher categories) and a huge range of full-size Cowshed products (available to buy). A partnership with Mr Porter and Net-a-Porter allows you to purchase clothing you might have forgotten.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Seven of the eight ground-floor restaurants are open to the public – British lounge Millie’s, a branch of Venetian chain Cecconi’s, Jewish-style New York deli Zobler’s, Asia-Pacific eatery Kaia, Parisian-style Café Sou, the Malibu Kitchen and the Nickel bar. We had a great lunch at Zobler’s, tucking into hot dogs with the works and turkey club sandwiches, and a reliably good breakfast in Cecconi’s. For dinner, we tried the other groundfloor restaurant, Lutyen’s Grill, open to members and hotel guests only and set in its own wood-panelled rooms. Service was spot-on and our steaks perfectly cooked. After listening to the jazz band onstage, we descended to the members-only Vault bar. Accessed via the original 20-tonne bank vault door, it’s a lively late-night haunt with DJs. The rooftop restaurant, bar and infinity pool offer 360-degree views of the skyline.
MEETING FACILITIES There are six rooms on the sixth floor, the largest for 210 people theatre-style.
LEISURE FACILITIES On the three lower floors are a Cowshed spa with treatment rooms, a steam room, sauna, hammam and a lovely 20-metre pool; a 620 sqm gym with Technogym kit, a boxing ring and spin, pilates and yoga studios; plus a barbershop, nail bar, hair and make-up salons, and a Club room for relaxation. Book in for two nights – you’ll need it to get around everything… Michelle Harbi
VERDICT A fantastic renovation of a landmark building. Being a hybrid of hotel and club means it has the kind of extensive facilities you wouldn’t normally find in a property of this size. Add to that its sense of glamour and superb City location, and it’s definitely one to try.