Trendy members club Soho House has opened a very grand outlet in the heart of the London’s City in what was a flagship branch of the Midland Bank.
In the 1920’s, architect Edwin Lutyens (a favourite of mine) was commissioned by Midland to build three branches, of which this was the most ostentatious. The main hall contains no less than 92 pillars made from a green stone shipped in from South Africa. And they say today’s bankers have too much cash. At one stage this was the biggest banking hall in the world.
Fast forward almost 100 years to 2012 when Nick Jones (founder of Soho House) paid the building a visit. The bank had been sitting empty and unloved for eight years. Jones fell in love and this set the wheels in motion for the creation of a five-star hotel packed with smart eateries, gyms, beauty parlours and bars.
Jones has partnered o n this project with Andrew Zobler, CEO of North American hotel chain, the Sydell Group. Zobler was determined that the Ned — named after the nickname Lutyens went by — would offer a New York-style deli. Zobler never expected it to be named in his honour, but he took such a large role in ensuring its authenticity, Jones kept referring to it as Zobler’s Deli and the name stuck.
The old lady banking hall is a temple of taste. Soaring columns delineate the huge area. Jazz plays at a tasteful level and City-types hold discussions in hushed tones. If I was local I’d come here to work at my laptop — and perhaps pop down to Cheeky’s nail bar for a manicure or to the in-house gym or spa. I could move every couple of hours to a new dining area — from Jewish deli to French café to Asian poke restaurant to an outpost of Cecconi’s, to name just a few.
Zobler has vetted the challah and bagels — all of which are supplied by none other than the lovely Challah Queen, Tami Isaacs Pearce. I picked a Lower East Side bagel —smooth cream cheese, salty lox, sliced tomatoes, crunchy rings of red onion and a scattering of tiny, tart capers and aromatic dill.
Coffee is poured in chunky mugs branded with the Zobler’s cartoon fish.
The waitress brought over a pile of mini Danish which I took back to the JC office for my fellow fressers to enjoy.
Highly recommended if you’re looking for a moment of luxurious calm.