We all have an era in history we would want to go back in time to and experience. Mine has always been the 1920s: The booze, the flappers, the amazing men’s tailoring and those wild all night, gin soaked cabarets. The Great Gatsby full stop (minus the getting murdered part). So when I breezed through the big brass doors of The Ned in London and witnessed a jazz band banging it out on a raised dais in the center of the enormous marble hall of a building originally built as a bank in 1924, I felt right at home.
We hear about dozens of new hotels opening around the globe each month, but there are very few that get the same attention as a place like the Ned. The opening has garnered press in business, fashion, design and gossip rags, and for good reason. The Ned is a monumental accomplishment for London-based Soho House & Co and New York’s Sydell Group. Set in the former Midland Bank building, The Ned was designed by the famed Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924. When it was built, it was the largest clearing house bank in the world.
The space includes nine restaurants, 252 bedrooms channeling 1920s and 1930s design, a range of men’s and women’s grooming services and ‘Ned’s Club,’ a social and fitness club, where members have access to a rooftop pool, gym, spa, hammam and late night lounge bar.
We stayed for four days and invited friends nightly to experience the seven bars and restaurants open to the public. (Note: Guests of the hotel can enjoy the rooftop, Lutyens Grill and the Vault Bar & Lounge, but cannot bring their own guests.) We had cocktails in the Nickel Bar, which is located in the center of the lobby and listened to the live music that ranged from classical to jazz, pop and even soul. I was praying for a full-on cabaret moment, but apparently the ‘Gatsby Girls’ only come out on Saturdays. Then we strolled over to one of the restaurants for dinner. Our favorites were Malibu Kitchen and Kaia (modern Asian-Pacific) simply because they were light, refreshing and healthy. Not the usual British fare of meat and potatoes or fried fish (We are generalizing here and don’t worry, we had plenty of both as well!).
Dominating the belly of the building, behind the 20 ton vault door, is the original Midland Bank strongroom, home to The Vault bar & lounge. This shiny and chic cocktail lounge is lined with 3,800 original safety deposit boxes and is the ideal spot for a nightcap. The bar serves drinks, as well as a late-night Italian menu, along with DJs, live music and member events. Since this area is for members there is a no photos policy and again, you cannot bring guests but it is absolutely worth experiencing.
We stayed in a medium room and it was more than perfect for two people. We loved the large windows, bounty of bar supplies (a pre made martini in a bottle!) and the vintage feel of the room, including the walnut king size bed, mirrored bar cabinet, and velvet club chairs. It wasn’t cheesy and every piece of furniture and fixture was quality. We have to have a quiet pause for the bathroom. Clad in black and white marble, the towels were like wrapping baby angel wings around our bodies and the bathrobe was equally as angelic. The rainfall nozzle in the shower was so refreshing I think I took more showers in those four days than I usually take in a week. Plus I simply had to try each and every product from the Cow Shed range of grooming products. Favorites being ‘Moody Cow and ‘Bullocks Bracing Body Wash’.
We are excited to see how this hotel is going to revive this boring banking part of town known as The City. When we arrived on Sunday, the streets were empty, but by 7am on Monday morning they were buzzing with suited up men and women walking so swiftly it seemed like they were mocking a Broadway musical. While taxis can be hard to find on the weekend or late night, never fear, Uber is just a tap away (just order one inside and use their internet).
Taking up one whole city block, this is truly a massive hotel. Yet it is its own wonderful little world that Jay Gatsby would surely appreciate–from the pool located in a room that formerly housed gold bullion to the rooftop bar and restaurant where one can witness dazzling sunsets over Saint Paul’s cathedral.
As Gatsby once said, “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” Cheers to that.
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